Why Modern MMOs Suck, And How We Can Keep Them From Sucking

That's the title of a new editorial on Virtual Reality, which ultimately claims that the MMORPG industry needs more innovation - something many of us have been saying for several years now. EverQuest, EverQuest II, Ultima Online, World of Warcraft, and EVE Online are all referenced by name:
The problem with the MMO industry is that it hasn't changed in 10 years. Since 1999, we've seen online search go from zero to Google, social networking go from nothing to Facebook, blogging go from zilch to over 112 million, and MMOs go from EverQuest 1 to EverQuest 3. How is that possible? Where is the innovation?

The most successful modern MMOs (read: World of Warcraft) became successful not by coming up with new ideas, but rather by refining old ideas and making them infinitely accessible. And there's nothing wrong with that, per se. Other game genres are rarely redefined or re-imaged. Mostly they're just repackaged. But MMOs are different.

Games in other genres give us a path, a goal. They're a journey from Point A to Point B, and the game is what happens in between. But MMOs, by their nature, cannot and should not give us a path. They have no waypoints or save spots. They have no final bosses. Instead of a straight line (or even lots of branching lines), MMOs give us a sandbox and some shovels and tell us to make sandcastles with our friends. They give us, in other words, a world.