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In his latest RPG Scrollbars column for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, Richard Cobbett laments the stagnation of the MMORPG genre and analyzes the failure to move on of the major players in that space. It's a pretty sobering read that paints a grim future for a genre that is becoming more and more niche as time goes. Here's an excerpt:
In case you missed the hype, Everquest Next was due to be a crazy leap forward in many ways. A world built of voxels that could be blown up by spells, carved through to find secrets, torn up by epic battles. Rallying Calls, in which cities would need to be constructed by players, face threat by invasion, and then defended by vigilante players long after construction. Monsters driven by global AI instead of simple hand-placement, making it possible to defend the roads from settlement to settlement, but also have their cultures encroach upon civilisation if left unchecked. Worlds that players would not only live in, but construct, with Everquest Next intended as both a demonstration of how much freedom there would be, and as a place where buildings and other key bits of architecture would be directly sourced. Not since Richard Garriott's infamous dragon story has a world sounded so reactive, right down to nomadic orcs relocating if their settlements ended up repeatedly raided.
The problem is, where else could be the source of an MMO with that same level of potential oomph? All the major players now have tried and failed and moved on. CCP could have merged the trust it places in players in Eve Online with a more personable setting with World of Darkness. Nope, gone. Blizzard's Project Titan? Gone, with some pieces going to Overwatch, and Hearthstone probably more profitable than it would ever have been. Funcom? Hahaha, no. NCSoft perhaps could, but past attempts like Tabula Rasa and more recently Wildstar have left it licking burned fingers.