Building a Better MMO: Five Industry Trends

By mike_fosterDate: 05-05-2012 Views:


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2012 is clearly the year of the MMO. TERA just launched, Guild Wars 2 is on its way, Star Wars: The Old Republic is charging onward and Blizzard is prepped to release its next enormous World of Warcraft expansion. Even ignoring the big guys, there are still dozens of smaller MMOs either updating their content (EVE Online, RIFT) or launching over the next few months (PlanetSide 2, The Secret World).


There's never been a better time to be an MMO developer. And, coincidentally, there's never been a better time to be an MMO player. Modern MMOs, thanks to hot competition from their brethren, are evolving and changing at one of the most rapid paces in the industry-they have to if they want to keep their registrations up and their subscribers happy.

Here are five big trends we've seen in MMOs that make games more fun, more interesting and, of course, more profitable:

Microtransactions Fuel Innovation

Nearly every MMO on the market has some sort of microtransaction. WoW and RIFT have pets and mounts, EVE Online has the PLEX system, and freemium titles like Lord of the Rings Online and Drakensang Online offer item upgrades and experience bonuses. Some feel that microtransactions damage the MMO world, but they're quite handy for helping a game make money-money that the developers can invest in more content for players.


Story-Driven Content

Players are no longer willing to "kill X number of bad guys" without a good reason. Thanks to big strides from the folks over at Blizzard and their 10-million player strong World of Warcraft, players now expect epic story arcs to go along with their quests. The basic mechanics may still be the same, but MMOs with bold stories and intriguing characters will fare better in the long haul than those without. Look for epic narrative arcs and powerful lore in new MMOs headed to market, especially those with AAA designations.


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