MMOs are dead; hey, let’s give ESO another try

MMOs are not dead because people aren’t forced to group or because people can’t commit 18 hours to camping a spawn anymore. MMOs are dying because the generation that loved them is growing up, had kids, and generally has other things to do. The newer generation visits MMOs but doesn’t live in them the way we did.

Maybe it’s time for a new paradigm in online gaming.*


I posted this as a comment on Facebook earlier today and am wondering if maybe I hit a nail on the head, at least as far as my own MMO experience goes. I play them, but I don’t live them anymore like I used to; and even then, I don’t play them nearly as much as I think I’d like to.

(It’s like the person who keeps waiting for that other person to call because they said they would, but they haven’t yet and it’s been 3 weeks. If that person wanted to call they’d have done so by now. We make time for the things we find important.)

I still call myself a gamer, I still keep a bunch of games around, and I even keep some of them up to date, but I don’t really actually play all that much. I do way more thinking about gaming and talking about gaming than actual gaming, and even the thinking and talking are down to an all-time low compared to, say, 2009 and the heyday of this blog. (Man, time really flies.)

I suspect MMOs will end up being a mere blip on the evolutionary landscape of whatever gaming is turning into, because whatever it becomes it’s clear gaming itself isn’t going to go away anytime soon — it just probably won’t look like what the dinosaurs from the turn of the millennium think it should or would.


In the meantime I’m downloading The Elder Scrolls Online again, mostly because of this fascinating article that a friend linked on Facebook and that led to the above-mentioned comment. Sometimes MMOs are a cynical labour of trying to screw as much money out of people as possible, and sometimes they’re a hopeless labour of love, but they’re almost always made by at least a few people who are literally pouring themselves into something that usually doesn’t have a whole lot of chances of succeeding, or not for any length of time. And when someone cares that much, it makes me want to take another look at a game I tried and cavalierly abandoned after a few weeks — not because it was awful, but because it didn’t galvanise me the way Asheron’s Call and the early MMOs did.

The problem is, no game can. One can’t go back. Maybe it’s time for me to admit that, move on, and find my own new paradigm.

PS: Yes, I’m still mad at World of Warcraft.


*I don’t think I’ve ever quoted myself quite this blatantly before. I don’t know whether to feel cool, conceited or just a little bit dirty.

4 thoughts on “MMOs are dead; hey, let’s give ESO another try

  1. Everything is true down to the post scriptum!
    I’ll always be in love with mmos I think, for all the great times and memories, and I love hating them too sometime. We all look back with fond memories and harbour that tiniest of hopes that one day, there could be another “the mmo”, another home. But that was for a different time. I really don’t think you’ll ever recreate that.

    Eso though….uhhh. 😉 Am gonna hit FFXIV again this winter and finally HoT!

    1. HoT? OMG I’m so out of touch I don’t even know all my game acronyms anymore!??!?!!oneone

      I like FFXIV, I have fun when I’m in it, but it doesn’t hold me. Then again, nothing does. So I’ll probably be back there at some point in the coming year.

  2. The paradigm shift is this: not all games are merely games, so don’t treat them as such. Lotro is the only game that features a real music system that encourages real musicians to be creative, and of course because of the freedom to have real bands the social aspect skyrockets. When people get together, stop thinking it’s only a game. There’s been seminars, talks, poetry reading nights, even courses for Tolkien and literature are run on lotro by universities. We need a shift from ‘gaming’ to ‘a place to meet and socialise’ or ‘a play to meet and play music’ or ‘a place to study and learn’. Have a course run every Thursday at the Bird and Baby in of the Shire, or meet with friends at the Prancing Pony and share in game beers while also having a beer irl.

    While your kids raid in the game, you can be attending a lecture on literature. Especially in a place as rich as Middle Earth, whose lore cannot be compared to anything else, with Turbine having essentially expanded on what Tolkien did in a successful way, we owe to keep it alive by becoming part of that world, by taking our social life and even work in that world.

    And part of all that can also happen in other games too, like ESO.

    I suspect with VR this will be happening anyway, but it’s never too late to start now. Oh, and we should consider spending some money to support these amazing online projects. But things will change dramatically when non gamers begin to realise the huge potential of MMOs for reasons other than gaming – and when MMOs finally begin to think of themselves as more than gaming communities.

    Already we have things like crafting and housing that are immensely popular, and why? Because there are people who don’t want to go hack and slash, we want to stay in a house with friends. Who want to do nothing but fish. Now expand this…or have a work meeting in game. Or take a course in literature, like Coursera runs on Lotro. Or play music all day long and make new music (currently only possible on lotro). Or. Or. Or.

    The paradigm shift is: MMOs are permanent worlds that can be a lot more than just a game.

  3. I finally got around to reading the ESO article and it made me realise why I didn’t bother with it after the beta weekends. It felt like a multiplayer console game rather than an MMO (as I’m used to). Which makes sense as that was what they were working towards.

    At least now I know that I wasn’t going slightly crazy.

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