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MMO Business

It sounds like two schools of thought or behavior are being grabbed and treated as one entire thought of it's own. Steam downloads, Pokemon, Pokemon clones and other expensive short-term games that appear so popular we're shown as a contradiction to MMOs where players want long-term or never-ending games to be successful based on their longevity, but I don't see it quite the same.

I started thinking about this contradiction from consumer and prosumer viewpoints. America has over the years turned from a producer society to a consumer society. Today we want instant gratification more than ever before. Lose weight instantly with a pill, wake up instantly with an energy drink. Instant food, instant cure, jobs, wealth, we want things and we want them now.

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As a disclaimer: I think we can have fun in video games both instantly and as a cumulative experience without any one way being bad. Is it only that ding that triggers a smile to quickly go away until the next ding, do you smile as you take a 20 minute ride on your mount to get to the next zone or is it varying degrees of both?

I certainly know little about MMO business, but in my Internet travels I've come to view a wave of trendsetters and followers as really not wanting a long-lasting MMO at all. They are quick to ask for more, no matter what form "more" takes, but they are even quicker to leave.

I think we can have fun in video games both instantly and as a cumulative experience without any one way being bad.It's another school of thought that houses players filled with what I see as older gamers and newer "hardcore" gamers constantly going casual. They actually find fun instead of strictly taking fun. There will be some overlap in both schools, but it's the second group I just created that want a long-term MMO.

In no other area are players more keenly aware of extreme consumerism than with endgame or raiding. If the MMO can't keep up which none really can they leave, start hopping back and forth as updates come out or they shift from being consumers and become pro-sumers.

Progression-junkies-turned-casual stop only chasing the next level or piece of increasingly stronger gear. They slow down and start finding ways to feed a circular pattern of gameplay in which they start creating within the virtual world they may have come to love so much. Again, overlap will happen and playstyles are not black-and-white. I know people who love raiding that I don't place in the consumer group, and I know auction house addicts that I would not put in the pro-sumer group.

Continuing on, Ravious writes that he doesn't want an indefinite home, but just a vacation sweet-spot. Who wouldn't want to stay on vacation forever? Consumers may like that idea, but it's not conducive to the way they play. In the strictest sense, they only look at one small part of an MMO and need a constant supply of fresh new content, which is the contradiction makes sense to me. It's the prosumers that view many vacation spots within one virtual world as being a place that's appealing to stay in long-term. I don't want to stay in Tetris or Mario-land indefinitely(although they are lots of fun), but I'd love to stay in the gigantic world of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, Middle-earth or Taborea for a very long time.

Prosumers stay in the same written worlds created by J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King and David Weber as long as we can and it's not limited to gobbling up or consuming the world. The words and books are limited in quantity but the dream isn't. They sit down and write fanfiction. They sit down and roleplay adventures within the world's settings using nothing but pen and paper. This is the type of online roleplaying game where prosumers pitch their tents. Food is created to mimic food from these worlds, pictures are drawn and a slew of endless creations manifest themselves outside and inside the game. They live part-time in a never-ending game of buy and sell and interact with real people endlessly.

I may have shined an unsightly light on raiders, but it's really just the extreme, unhealthy end of feeding an addiction of counting numbers at the expense of all else. It could happen anywhere in any game. Raiding is just really easy to view in a linear fashion hence it works as a good example, but even just the single-minded desire to race through levels instead of enjoying each level works as another example.

It does seem like MMOs have taken over MMORPGs which has squeezed out immersion and roleplaying to be replaced by more forms of instant gratification and consumerism.So in a strange twist of rationale, consumers are always asking for more or judge the success of an MMO on how long it can live. They want it to feed them as long as possible, but they themselves are short-term players because no game can actually keep up with the rate at which they eat up the only part of the game they are interested in. An MMO's success may be initially judged on a factor of how long it can feed consumers. If they don't see it lasting very long, there's not much point in getting invested. The specific fun consumers get relies on the stamina of a game to keep feeding them. Prosumers are also pleased to have a never-ending game, but they can enjoy the game in the moment at any given time. It's definitely great that the game evolves, changes and has consumables added, but it's not nearly as large a focus, and the game's success doesn't hinge only on a steady stream of new levels or items. The key factor may be closer to how well a virtual world supplies fun content that players use. Many view this as a delineation between sandbox and themepark MMOs.

Maybe, cynically I'd look at prosumers as losing out, but they get by the best they can for the most part. They do after all create a lot of the fun they have. Consumer's rightly have fun too, but I wonder if it's really an RPG consumers want. Is it that hard to find the same adrenaline rush, the same psychological food in other non-RPG games that have online capabilities? It does seem like MMOs have taken over MMORPGs which has squeezed out immersion and roleplaying to be replaced by more forms of instant gratification and consumerism. A lot of focus is on feeding a chase to get gear to chase more gear in a cycle, but some horizontal content does get added. Dungeons do sometimes come out lively and fun as a separate entity apart from the loot that is promised at the end of it. Zones are often added along with new features which expand the world to just live in.

In the end, I have hope that MMORPGs won't die. If there's a market for something in the world no matter how small someone, somewhere will fill that market.

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Posted in Computer Games Post Date 03/18/2017


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