“50,000! You scored 50,000 points on Double Dragon?”
Corey (Fred Savage) The Wizard, 1989
MMORPG…has it come to mean PvP? When I look over the list of MMORPG “to watch” or even those chronicled, I see PvP and the hitch of “competitive play.” It feels like a flash back to “got an app for that?”
As I have strove to add to the dialog about the MMORPG essentials or Insights into what I thought a crowd of us longed to retain, I struggle as I Look At what is upon us or nearly upon us. I still hope, I still challenge us by Looking Back so we can influence and hope for how to Look Ahead.
Looking Back – When Flannels & Burks Brought this Idea of Competitive Game Play
I remember this moment when I was looking for flannels in my father’s closet, gravitating toward Birkenstocks, and thinking “when would I have ever considered this possibility.” It was akin to this idea in 1989 when The Wizard introduced an idea of Competitive Video Game Play…and that people would enjoy watching someone else play a video game. It was surreal….but I wanted to be Jimmy Woods, the unpredictable kid who did recognized and enjoyable feats on a video game.
Here was this concept that “getting points” or “warping” to some new challenge was enough not only a spectator sport, but WORTH DOING, and the game environment itself provided enough challenge to hold interest, drop jaws, and make you feel warm and fuzzy.
I may never have made it to Los Angeles on a giant stage with 1000s of peeps cheering me on, but I enjoyed sooo many moments in MMORPGs with my friends taking on and down a challenge some crazy dev engineered…and not just for me conceptually, but for a group together. That developer in turn I bet likely enjoyed watching the forums or YouTube consuming different approaches to beating his/her puzzle. It was not formulaic, it was dynamic. The players inspired the developers, the developers pushed the players. The Environment was not merely predictable, it was responsive. Knowing thyself, knowing your team, and understanding your options, and coordinating became the challenge.
MMORPGs used to get this. They forgot it or they just evolved, and that evolution was not PvE.
Looking At – For the Most Part, PvP is the Name of the Game
Let me clear the airs of potential hypocrisy, I like PvP, I like competitive PvP, I play it. However, when I look at the range of games on the market or ones in the future, its PvP (source below, MMORPG.com).
- Albion Online: Across 800 different territories guilds can engage in PvP for control of the world
- Black Desert: Large-scale open world that would hold expansive battles such as castle sieges
- Blade & Soul: With some of the most action-oriented combat in the genre, plus highly competitive PVP
- Camelot Unchained: Focuses on Realm-vs-Realm
- City of Titans: A world of superheroes and supervillains naturally lends itself to PvP
- Crowfall: Players are expected to compete with one another, with the chance to take the throne in the offering
- Divergence Online: Third person shooter that mixes the best elements of an MMORPG and a TPS
- Gloria Victis: The game features an action-based, realistic non-target combat system with exciting PvP
- Kingdom Under Fire II: Players to engage in RTS combat
- Life is Feudal: You can take to besieging forts, raiding enemies, or just taking your foes down!
- Lineage Eternal: Large scale battles, including siege warfare
- Overwatch: You control one of several heroes in competitive 6-person team shooting matches.
….and so on…many more not mentioned. Likely over 80% I have read through are either open world or PvP Competitive.
This is not confusing to me in terms of how/why this came about. It brings excitement. It promises “unpredictable,” and it apparently draws money and marketing. Why only PvP? The Wizard planted this seed, but it was not in PvP.
And…here is the thing that really gets me about this evolution. PvP does not require or really depend on RPG. In fact, in may ways RPG gets in the way as level playing field become more important. What story driven purpose, progression, or player role really matters that much in PvP? MMORPGs and PvP are an evolutionary consequence, not dependency. In fact, the more there is in terms of Role Playing in PvP, the less likely it will be good PvP. PvP and Competitive PvP strengthen the resolve that all classes must be equal for a given situation since that given situation is an arena.
Looking Ahead – Give me a Puzzle, a Team, Milestones, and a Boss…and a Competitor
I am not talking “Wipeout” here. I am not also suggesting that PvP is not a good path to revenue and wide player attraction, but good PvE with competitive could be just as intriguing.
World First, Server First, and certainly Achievement Ranks are all things unofficially or officially leveraged. Guild Wars 2 has done some of this with achievement leaderboards and rank lists. however, it does not go far enough, its a general system covering activity/time investment in the game. In all my PvP non-competitive and competitive play, I have never had the adrenaline or moments of pride I did with my team when we took on and overcame an environment challenge.
I would suggest this is not attractive to all PvE players (anymore than all PvP players want to compete or be ranked), but I am suggesting it may bring a new angle to development or marketing. I can imagine better and more meaningful (and social) announcements, UIs, and the such to players feats, player PvE ranks/achievements, or PvE teams. I would also push farther and suggest that there are Guilds (or were) that would be interested in a new raid/dungeon or puzzle put before them and competing guilds never seen before (like Jimmy’s Super Mario 3) that would put them head to head / real time figuring it out.
Again, I don’t think this has to be “we got an app for that” approach to MMORPG, but as I see the list of development games (and getting more numerous) seem to be centered on or highly focused on PvP, and this flavor of a competitive angle seems to be the newfangled path to RoI.
In closing, as the purpose of this blog is to encourage MMORPG innovation. I leave this here for consideration, as I get restless with what appears more of the same on the market. I welcome your thoughts, too!