TESO apathy: Has the MMO marketplace finally hit a saturation point?

I’m still catching up on E3 2012 stuff. Reading a ton of posts, watching videos and drinking it all in. One interesting theme I’ve plucked out of this huge mass of content (almost all of it produced by people who write about games for a living, so keep that in mind…game journos get a lot more over-exposed to genres that we regular gamers do) is a reaction to The Elder Scrolls Online that ranges from tepid to openly hostile.

It seems (in game journalist circles anyway) that no one wants this game.

I’m not sure I want it, either, so this isn’t meant as any kind of attack on gaming journalists or on anyone. But I think it postulates an interesting question. If “we” aren’t excited about an Elder Scrolls MMO, does it mean we’re just done with MMOs?

Though at the same time my friends are SUPER excited over the upcoming Guild Wars 2 MMO.

So are we seeing the difference between gaming journalists and regular gamers? Or is it that the Elder Scrolls have such a long history of being deep single player experiences that’s putting us off TESO?

Game Informer ran a bunch of video interviews on TESO that actually piqued my interest a little bit at least. The combat actually sounds a bit GW2-ish. Instead of a bunch of skills you’ll just have a handful but all of them will be “awesome” and the goal is to have the player’s concentration focused on the game, not the UI. These are both good things in my mind.

OTOH it’s hard to get away from the “more of the same” vibe that TESO gives off, too.

So is GW2 going to be the last hurrah for AAA MMO titles? Or is TESO just something unique: a setting that none of us want to play with (lots of) others in. My feeling has always been that most Elder Scrolls players are more interested in smaller-scale multiplayer (if they want multiplayer at all) that they can experience with friends, rather then running through a world of characters named Legolaazzs and Drizzzt.

[Apologies for typos…I’m writing on the big screen TV and can’t see what I’m writing very well! LOL]

14 thoughts on “TESO apathy: Has the MMO marketplace finally hit a saturation point?

  1. I’m one of those currently tepid about TESO (but still want to play it) but super psyched about GW2. For me I think it has more to do with not really knowing that much about TESO because there’s so little information at this point. It’s hard to get that excited about something you know so little about, whereas GW2 is practically on our doorstep and I have seen for myself what it has in store. That’s where I’m coming from anyway, I’m certainly not done with MMOs.

  2. There’s the obvious problem in that the TES:O project was obviously started in that window post-WoW when MMOs were the inevitable future of gaming (or at least RPGs) and thus is completely out of tune with the current ‘MMOs are doomed’ zeitgeist.

    But, I think there’s another problem too. It’s that some proportion of us playing MMOs don’t *actually like* MMOs as such, instead what we like are huge non-linear fantasy worlds were we can wander around doing lots of different stuff and have all sorts of fiddly little details which we can twiddle around with our own schedule, MMOs are just the only package that those sort of fantasy worlds come in these days…

    …expect, of course, for single-player Elder Scrolls games, which not only do the huge non-linear consistent fantasy world thing a ton better than any MMO due to not having the same technical constraints, but don’t have any of those annoying other people whom we were mostly never interested in anyway ‘cos they just break the versimillitude of the place 😛

    So the MMO that looks to be more Elder Scrollsy — making a walk the earth and stumble over stuff to do mechanic central — than previous MMO iterations, gets a lot of love, because that’s seen as an upgrade to what we had before. On the other hand the Elder Scrolls game that’s now an MMO gets a big fat meh at because it’s an obvious downgrade to what we had beore.

    And given the fact that the success of Ultima Online and World of Warcraft completely killed those franchises as far as getting further non-MMO games were concerned, that’s a big fat meh *at best* for TES:O. The more normal range among this particular audience is going to be from ‘ignore it and hope it goes away’ to ‘do everything you can to make sure it goes down in flames of raging hatedom’. No amount of ‘It’s an entirely different team from single player’ is going to cut ice with the hardened cynical watchers of game publisher pronouncements.

    TL;DR:

    GW2 Good because closer to single-player Elder Scrolls than other MMOs, TES:O bad because further away from single-player Elder Scrolls than other Elder Scrolls games + experience says single player games stop once the franchise gets an MMO.

  3. @Skapusniak You’ve got a major point about what players have *actually* been hooked on with MMOs: “huge non-linear fantasy worlds were we can wander around doing lots of different stuff and have all sorts of fiddly little details which we can twiddle around with our own schedule”

    Minecraft, Terraria and all the other recent sandboxes have made this abundantly clear. Games that allow players to manipulate the world, expand it, and with few restraints have been pretty successful lately. I think its for the exactly the reason you state.

    The only MMO that I like which is similar to WoW, is WoW. I’ve been completely turned off by all the spin-offs and latecomers offering the same experience. That includes TESO. There’s nothing to be excited about. Especially since we know TESO won’t offer that open-world experience online. This is a fundamentally flawed venture that demonstrates the designers haven’t a clue what players love about the series. Not the faintest idea.

  4. For me personally, it’s that TESO doesn’t seem to offer anything I haven’t seen yet or anything that I’m still interested in. Maybe it’s a great game but I’m not sure their marketing is up to par then, as they haven’t told us why we HAVE to have this game.

    Other than that, SWTOR just came out and lots of people were hyped – and some still are, others like the game and others don’t. Then there is Guild Wars 2. And I saw lots of people being excited about TERA. While at the same time last year, there weren’t any MMOs on the horizon. I guess a fourth MMO after three other new ones is just a bit too much. For me it is, at least.

  5. I like my Xbox. I do t think I’d like or even ask to have an Xbox motorcycle, toaster, or toothbrush. TES is just so much a solo experience that anything else is just unnecessary. Even if it were an RTS or Diablo clone I’d be against it.

  6. I don’t think people are done with “the mmo genre”, but many I think are done with the same old game we keep getting handed. I’m interested in social, innovative, virtual worlds, not the simplistic pew pew, go here then go there non-world games that seem to be the norm, and TESO seems to be that, from what I’ve seen so far…

    If they build better games, I’m pretty confident the audience and interest is out there.

  7. I want Skyrim on a private server with one or two or three friends. I don’t want Skyrim like you describe, full of avatars with dumb names hopping all over at the stable waiting for the next pissing contest to start.

    Imagine how much fun it would be to have a Pubbers shard of Skyrim.

  8. Why did the mini-multiplayer game type die out? It seems like such a natural extension of so many RPGs that I’m surpriesed no one offers it. Editors are still available (though they also seem to be dying out), so you could build worlds, but I have not seen anything that allows setting up private servers since…well, Neverwinter? Unfortunately I came into that too late.

    Having no idea what the networking programming would be like, how hard is it to implement?

    Love,

    Cassandra

  9. As Kotaku put it, everyone who wants to play a game like WoW… is already playing WoW. GWII is a different kind of game. So is Firefall, btw (I’m in the beta). At first glance they look like the same MMORPG you’ve been playing since UO or earlier (MUDders say hey!) but 20 minutes in the game and you realize this is a genuinely new experience that just happens to be shared with thousands of other people in real time.

    Alas, TESO isn’t promising a genuinely new experience, or even the great TES experience but with friends. It’s promising a brand new WoW reskin and all that entails – skinner box gameplay and the 400,000 idiots who claim to hate WoW but want to play a game just like it, and then having played it, quit and go back to WoW after 2 months.

    No thanks Bethesda. You push the boundaries of what’s possible in sandbox gameplay, but nobody wants your sad attempt to understand what was already working Everquest 🙁

  10. Also – if you all want to play non-linear sandbox multiplayer games try one of the many fine Minecraft servers out there. Optionally with mods for anything from industrial-era technology in IC2 (including a deeply engaging nuclear power minigame) to Fullmetal Alchemist-style Equivalent Exchange to Myst-style infinite customized dimensions to fully emulated 8 bit era computer systems programmed in Lua and Forth (ComputerCraft and Redpower, respectively) and all kinds of working machinery to control with them. You think TES is big? Minecraft worlds are each larger than the surface of the earth and there are effectively infinite numbers of them. 😛

    There’s a spectrum between walled garden theme parks and truly unlimited and emergent virtual worlds, and fortunately we get our pick of them. TESO isn’t gonna deliver on the sandbox end, but Mojang already did it.

  11. Making TESO resemble the standard MMO is abig mistake because thats not what players generally associate with ES and why it gained such popularity. Skyrim was a huge success for its freedoms, its open world and free character&skills progression. I don’t see how there could be any gain to the franchise by taking exactly the things away that make it so great -we have plenty of MMOs that already do what Zenimax intend with TESO. apparently they have missed yesterday’s news.

    GW2 has garnered that much hype because of all the deviations from the traditional WoW model (no holy trinity, different questing, crafting, wvw etc.); it will fall incredibly deep should it disappoint in that department.

  12. It is interesting. I suspect that most players are interested in the Elder Scrolls *gameplay*, not the IP. TESO might handle the IP just fine, but it’s not going to be an Elder Scrolls *game*… and for that, I suspect it will fail. That’s a curious dichotomy, though; do you use the IP for the name or for the gameplay? Seems like either could do, depending on the IP, but you need to make sure you know what you’re doing, using an established brand.

    For me, at least, that’s part of my annoyance with SWTOR. I wanted KOTOR 3-8 offline, no freakin’ sub. SWTOR failed in that regard.

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