Monday, May 07, 2007

The Challenge

Bah! Brent said the word "innovation" on his latest podcast...don't worry, he'll be suitably flogged for doing so. He brought up a little question near the end there, and like the sucker that I am, I will have to bite on it. The question is as follows (paraphrasing):

"Does the desire for truly significant innovation in MMOs actually mean that you're looking for the invention of a new genre of games, or are you not looking for the innovation of the MMO genre as much as you're looking for some small feature development that will add to the overall "cool factor" and immersion of the MMO genre without completely breaking down all of those afore mentioned design patterns that we've come to know and love...".

Now, in some way, I've already addressed this issue, but I'll go over my position on this whole innovation thing again...so some of this may be repeating myself just a tad. First, we're not going to see any innovation in 2007 or 2008 MMO offerings. What we're going to see is a handful of highly polished MMOs doing 2-3 things very right. These next two years or so are also going to be standardization years in which MMO companies informally agree and implement feature sets that players expect in their games, i.e. customizable interface, PvP, Combat, Crafting, changing world...etc etc. I'm not expecting a redefinition of the genre...what I'm expecting is an incremental feature development that adds to the MMO experience. What I'm also expecting is for each MMO company to launch HIGH QUALITY games...with no excuses of why they couldn't do so. Call me anal, but I want high quality software.

Does the MMO industry need innovation? Not right now they don't. What they need to do is execute what they currently know correctly and with a high degree of quality...and, of course, mix in a few features here and there to differentiate themselves from the competition. The reason other MMOs got spanked by WoW in 2004-present isn't because of a lack of innovation...it's because of a lack of quality, fun and accessibility. That's it.

Now, the biggest proponents of "innovation" in my little circle are Garry and Ryan of MOG...hands down. I have said this before, that I don't think we're going to see the type of MMO that they want for some time to come. We're at the flat part of the innovation curve right now, so we're not going to see much in upcoming titles...although, I think most will be fun to play.

D out.

P.S Brent, I've scheduled your flogging for 3pm on Sunday...hope that time is good for you :)

1 comment:

Cameron said...

Agreed. Innovation is cool, but first we need publishers to stop spewing out subpar products to try and get some of this "subscription-model" money they're hearing so much about.

Only once quality is an industry standard should we start looking at cool and innovative ideas. Otherwise it will be far too easy for a really cool idea to drown under poor implementation.