Massively Overthinking: Are there any ‘blue oceans’ left in the MMO market?


Stage Up Labs’ Lars Doucet recently penned a blog post virtually begging folks to not attempt to compete with ROBLOX by remaking it as ROBLOX-but-with-one-special-thing, like higher graphics or increased maturity. I’m glossing over a extremely detailed article right here, however that’s as a result of I wish to get to the half that sparked my consideration: the half the place Doucet suggests pivoting to a “blue ocean strategy” as a substitute. The phrase comes from a 2004 guide that encourages entrepreneurs to create demand in untapped areas reasonably than attempt to struggle over closely contested zero-sum recreation markets.

That’s what I wish to speak about on this week’s Massively Overthinking. The MMO market is totally stuffed stuffed with video games which can be mainly another recreation however with a twist. We don’t name them WoW clones for nothing, in spite of everything. However probably the most profitable MMOs from the final decade don’t actually have all that a lot in frequent with WoW. They’ve much more than a twist, and in some instances, they’re going after new forms of avid gamers who may by no means have thought-about an MMORPG earlier than.

Are there any “blue oceans” left within the MMO market? What are the untapped areas, concepts, and playerbases the place upcoming video games might actually make a mark?


Andrew Ross (@dengarsw): Yeesh, the place to start out! I’m clearly biased, however MMOARGs are virtually none. Most are IP-based, few are price your time except you get pleasure from promoting. A part of this, in my view, is as a result of doing one thing extremely combat-based is only a unhealthy thought, because it makes folks stand nonetheless or (with some firms) act in bizarre ways in which might get them in bother with native regulation enforcement. As most video games are about fight, clearly few devs have the creativeness to create one thing on this area.

VR is kind of comparable, besides that it additionally has the burden of a better value of entry plus dangers of movement illness. However rattling, we might most likely have an Animal Crossing-like MMO. There are tons of digital chatrooms, however none that I can consider the place we are able to go fishing or catch bugs whereas NPCs look on, hoping we give/promote them our hauls. The most effective chatrooms do have interactive set items, however typically lack polish and permit for all types of immersion-breaking craziness. Please, deformed Sonic, don’t stand so near me.

However I feel you are able to do fight in VR higher too, and with out making everybody run round all swords and wizardry like. Experiences like Star Trek: Bridge Crew or the multiperson ships in Elite: Harmful instantly come to thoughts, however so does Sea of Thieves to a level (although all that working round and being on a ship most likely isn’t good for a VR recreation trying to keep away from movement illness). Fantasy isn’t going to present you something clean to experience in, particularly as a gaggle, however sci-fi will. Even in non-VR, this sort of play is unusual, which is why the lack of Star Wars Galaxies nonetheless hurts and other people nonetheless assist Star Citizen. You don’t even must do area, essentially. One in all my favourite VR video games is The Time Machine, the place you play a sort of digital prehistoric animal biologist.

Lastly, there’s simply conventional turn-based fight for MMOs. Some folks simply aren’t nice at motion fight however nonetheless wish to play with their buddies. Last Fantasy XI isn’t fairly turn-based, however the truth that it’s nonetheless round when its greater brother’s doing very effectively helps present there’s a market, and it’s not only a factor of the previous. I feel flip primarily based cooperative fight is an enormous a part of the explanation why Pokemon Sword and Protect attracted further consideration and even had folks get “caught” early on by hyper-focusing on group battles for acquiring pokemon. It’s an enormous purpose why I feel Monster Hunter Tales 2 acquired much more consideration than even I used to be anticipating.

There’s so many genres on the market, however we actually don’t sort out them. Group story-based MMOs a la SWTOR, diplomacy video games like A Story within the Desert, GM-initiated video games just like the Asheron’s Name collection, crafting and econ video games, puzzle video games, train video games… devs are very a lot connected to the simplicity of constructing video games about fight that they neglect there are other forms of battle. There’s a lot on the market, and a lot attention-grabbing tech, it’s frankly boring how comparable many “AAA” video games are, particularly within the MMO sphere.


Ben Griggs (@braxwolf): The reply to this query may return to the age outdated debate of how we outline MMO. When you efficiently argue that Fortnite and PUBG are large, multiplayer, and on-line, then you may additional take the step of claiming that the battle royale model was a model new strategy to MMOs. If, nonetheless, you outline MMO strictly by the video games that got here earlier than, then we’ll by no means see something new from the area, solely iterations on the identical normal model. Given sufficient time and iterations, the fashionable MMO could very effectively not resemble the MMO of yesteryear.


Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Personally, I feel the large blue ocean of the following decade has already been scouted out, and it’s most likely too late for true newcomers now too, and that’s the social-oriented cozy MMO that we’re seeing in growth by everybody from Raph Koster to the parents on Palia. The MMO market may be very undoubtedly a pink ocean with all the foundations established, so the one manner ahead is to chart a brand new course. On this case, I really feel as if it’s charting a brand new course into waters that was crowded and now not are. However the demand for social experiences on-line by no means went away. There’s cash to be made there for positive.


Colin Henry (@ChaosConstant): I’m of the opinion that, at this level, there may be nothing new underneath the solar. All the pieces is simply an iteration on video games that got here earlier than it, with some new twist added in or mashed along with concepts from a distinct style. This sounds unhealthy, nevertheless it isn’t essentially. Are there any “blue oceans” left in portray? In some unspecified time in the future, will humanity have created sufficient work after which there might be no extra marketplace for them and artists will simply need to pack it in and discover a completely different line of labor? It’s not like individuals are clamoring to be the innovator within the subsequent new technological development within the area of advantageous artwork. But there may be an never-ending provide of human creativity that retains producing an limitless number of inventive works. The medium hasn’t modified considerably in a whole lot of years, nevertheless it’s what folks do with it that makes it attention-grabbing. The identical might be true for video games.


Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Oh there are undoubtedly untapped areas available in the market. While you step again and have a look at the broad historical past of MMORPGs, the interval from 1997 to 2004 was nothing however studios exploring completely different areas and carving out their very own niches. Some had been extra profitable, some had nice potential, and a few had been by no means realized. However WoW put a tough cease on that sort of pioneering and experimentation for an excellent whereas — however fortunately, not ceaselessly.

Online game growth tends to cluster round market leaders with an try and clone, and that’s by no means not going to occur. However we all the time see new concepts or nice revitalization of outdated concepts (with new twists) come out of nowhere to take the group by storm. It’s occurred to MMOs a number of instances previously, and it’ll once more sooner or later. It’s only a matter of time and willingness on behalf of studios to create a imaginative and prescient that isn’t a carbon-copy of another person’s blueprint.


Sam Kash (@thesamkash): Properly, there’s all the time going to be “blue oceans” nevertheless it’s robust to nail down what these are. A minimum of if I knew what some had been I do know I’d be busy making and promoting them earlier than I instructed everybody about them! Actually although, typically it may be a loopy mixture that in the end boils all the way down to hitting on the proper place and proper time. I imply, even when I believed Fortnite was nice originally I definitely by no means would’ve anticipated it to turn into the world large behemoth that it turned out to be.

And I’m positive there are many nice IPs on the market which have diehard fan bases that might make huge splashes within the MMO area however haven’t been created but. I all the time thought a real Pokemon MMO would make for an superior expertise. One thing the place gamers might truly create and be part of participant run gyms and maintain tournaments in opposition to each other. The winner will get to truly take over the health club. Perhaps one thing akin to how a guild captures a maintain in RvR video games.


Tyler Edwards (blog): I feel this may be exhausting to reply as a result of if it’s a really new thought, then by definition it hasn’t been considered but. Absolutely there are progressive recreation designs on the market that merely haven’t occurred to anybody but. You may’t show a adverse, so I don’t suppose anybody can say that there’s really no hope for brand new floor to be damaged within the MMO area.

Ben can be proper to level out that quite a lot of it boils to definitions. There’s nonetheless loads of innovation within the on-line area, simply not all the time within the realm of conventional MMORPGs.

However one factor I’ll say that I really feel we nonetheless don’t have is a big scale, purely PvE sandbox MMO. For some time I believed New World is likely to be this, nevertheless it appears to be going for extra of a sandpark vibe, and it nonetheless contains quite a lot of PvP.

I’ve all the time preferred the thought of a sandbox constructed round territorial management that’s fully PvE. Add some highly effective NPC faction — zombies, robots, demons, take your decide — that’s always threatening to overwhelm participant holdings, requiring a coordinated cooperative struggle effort to carry off. There would most likely must be some secure zones that may by no means fall to the unhealthy guys, however the very best assets and rewards would require capturing territories within the wider world, the place the roving NPC armies are a continuing menace. Embody all the sandbox trappings — participant pushed economic system, in depth crafting, merchandise decay, housing. Simply no PvP in any respect. All the pieces is about working collectively in opposition to the larger menace.

I don’t see it taking place, however I feel the setting of Horizon Zero Daybreak could be good for a recreation like this. Think about participant tribes attempting to carve out territory and survive in opposition to the onslaught of bestial machines. I’d play that.

I’ve additionally talked in the past about how the world is still lacking a proper, quality MMORTS, which might maybe be mixed with the above concepts.


MOP Patron Adam Babloyan: Neverwinter was my gateway into MMOs. Not the cynical Cryptic money seize, however the BioWare RPG. Particularly, the persistent world servers followers created. I simply cherished the thought of an all the time on-line world that I might discover and quest in at my leisure that was frequently having content material added to it.

This new breed of contemporary on-line recreation, the place the underfunded and infrequently underhanded developer is attempting to hawk folks as content material to me, merely doesn’t activate the a part of my mind that goes “this can be a online game.”

What I’ve all the time needed from this style is mainly what the style may be very slowly turning into. Elder Scrolls On-line is the poster boy of this transformation, because it began out life as a Darkish Age of Camelot me-too however has basically morphed into single-player persistent world RPG. Positive, you may play it as an MMO, however then, you may as well play EVE On-line as a purely PvE recreation too.

The Secret World, Star Wars: The Previous Republic, and Last Fantasy XIV all have helped push the style to this shift as a response to altering participant priorities. It’d be a good level to say what I’ve all the time needed wasn’t fairly an MMORPG, but when all of the MMORPGs turn into MORPGs, that’s going to be a distinction with out distinction.

I’d argue the most important untapped playerbase is the gamer that performs an Murderer’s Creed or Witcher recreation for 500+ hours. The pseudo-MORPG gamer – and let’s make no mistake, that’s precisely the place these open-world RPGs are heading. It’s only a race now to see who will get there first, the MMO builders, or the Ubisofts/CDPRs. I imply, Rockstar’s already there to a level.


blankEach week, be part of the Massively OP employees for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable wherein we talk about the MMO trade subjects du jour – after which invite you to hitch the fray within the feedback. Overthinking it’s actually the entire level. Your flip!

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