When we think about the Internet, we usually tend to regard it as a relatively new occurrence, a phenomenon of the present. However, we tend to forget that the Internet has been around for quite some time; a couple of decades, to put it more plainly. Although this piece of online history is significantly shorter than the time humans spent without modern computer technology, we can still observe in it some trends that marked a time that has passed. There was almost no person who, some twelve years ago, didn’t play World of Warcraft. Nearly twenty years ago, RuneScape came out, and so did Anarchy online, all very popular games in their time. They were eventually replaced by other games of the same genre. However, in the past five years, there were not many MMORPG games neither released nor very much played among the gaming public. This, of course, begs the question: has the time of MMORPG passed?
What are MMORPG?
The acronym MMORPG stands for Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games. As can be seen from some of the more famous examples mentioned above, it includes a great number of players, interacting with one another in the online world. This alternative online world is most often one of fantasy, but it can also be a science-fiction world. This concept was very appealing to people, as the MMORPG industry in the West, in 2006, acquired a profit of over a billion dollars. What is common for these games, is that they are all centered around the player; more specifically, around the player’s virtual character. Most often, the progression of the game for every individual player is tied to the character’s personal growth, by earning some kind of experience points, which enable the player to level up.
How has the popularity of MMORPG changed over the years?
There were some precursors to the genre, but generally, the first successful MMORPG was considered to be Neverwinter Nights, published in 1991, which opened the door to a long line of similar games that captivated the attention and love of gamers all across the world. Since then, the market had been growing steadily, and it reached some unexpected heights, as in 2014, World of Warcraft had total revenue of over a billion dollars and more than ten million subscribers. However, hardly any new games published after that year managed to become popular with the audience; the time of MMORPG has passed.
Why are MMORPG not popular today?
The users that celebrated MMORPG are mostly millennials, who are usually convinced that things on the Internet should be free. They still value the products of their effort, and that is why they were able to sit through hours of ‘grind’ –the boring parts of gameplay that contribute to faster movement between player levels. However, it is precisely the steady growth that ultimately led to the demise of the MMORPG industry. Most of these games were not funded by enthusiastic gamers, but rather by investors who wish to see their money spent wisely, for an optimal profit. In order to do that, MMORPG games needed to be able to reach a wider audience, which is getting younger and younger every day, and does not enjoy the same things that their parents or older siblings enjoyed. The time MMORPG has certainly passed, a normal step in the evolution of entertainment, which should serve as a warning that trends do not last forever.