Big caveat upfront: this is extremely amateur analysis so take it with a pinch of salt. I've been trying to get a "professional" journalist to do something like this for years but with no luck, so figured I'd give it a go.
My source data is shit, but it was the best I could find. See bottom of post for notes on the data.
1) MMORPGs Released Per Year
This makes the genre look like it's in real trouble. The last decade has seen a dramatic dropoff in terms of new games released.
Obviously, if we're looking to the future then we need to know what games are in development, but there's no data on that.
2) MMORPGs Available to Play Per Year
This makes the genre look a lot healthier. Despite the lack of new games, the old ones are still playable, so if you are a big fan of the genre then you still have a ton a choice.
That said, we all know that it is much harder to sell an old product compared to a new product. Also, given the typical lifespan of an MMO, expect to see a big dropoff in total playable games in the next few years as the old games shut down without being replaced by newer ones.
I also wonder whether this flattening of the graph simply represents the genre reaching maturity. Perhaps the market can only support about 130 MMOs? Without population data, we'll never know, but it's fun to speculate!
Notes on the data
Yeh, my base data came from Wikipedia, hence the big caveat at the top of the post. If you look through the wiki, you'll all be able to spot games in the list that aren't massively multiplayer. What that means is that these graphs are actually very optimistic: the situation is actually much worse. But, this list didn't include many of the usual offenders for mislabelling (like Diablo or Destiny or Fortnite) so it seemed better than some other alternatives.
I had intended to go through the list and work out the player capacity of each game (i.e. the scale of the multiplayer) but that proved to be impossible. Hardly any of the games on that list give official data on the size of their multiplayer, and it seemed hard to find community players who had posted about it. Understandable for old games, but even something like Lost Ark I couldn't find any data!
In terms of data sanitisation, there were a few things I did which will affect the graphs:
- Dates were all scaled back to just the year. So, if one game cancelled in jan, and another launched in dec, the graph thinks both were playable all year. Again, this makes the graphs more optimistic than reality.
- If the game hasn't released, it's not in the graphs.
- Everything before Meridian 59 was removed. Those games may have inspired MMORPGs, but they weren't MMORPGs.
- The graphs are EU-focused. There are a bunch of games that are still running in Asia or NA, but if they got cancelled in EU then I count them as cancelled. This is, I suppose, a selfish point of view, but hell, if I can't play the game, it may as well not exist! That said, wiki is sparse on a lot of details so i expect some of the games have never been available in the EU.
Part of that is also the migration from MMO to smaller "live service" titles.
It's a different world now not only in how everything pretty well has to be a multiplayer live service but also in how most shooters have added enough RPG elements to make them RPGish.
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Most mmorpgs are released on the mobile platforms now and may or may not release on PC or console.
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Any tech based entertainment industry worried about saturation caused from 20 year old content is just making excuses for their complete lack of ability to make a worthwhile product.
The only reason people even play 20 year old outdated games is because of the lack of a viable alternative. As soon as a few games come out that are better overall than the old games, people will drop those old games super fast.
People can only play 1 game ever? Hundreds of millions of gamers out there, but you think they all play only 1 game in their entire lifetime? The new games cant even retain the young generation let alone the old generation. Why would a 14yr old kid play a 20 year old game if there was a decent choice?
Is Doom hurting Fortnite also? Maybe we should shut down all the FF games because they are taking all the players away from FFXIV LOL.
Can you just take a look at how few MMO's have come out the last 7 years?
Take a step back and see the forest my goodness.
Thing to consider with MMOs and live service titles similarly is sunk cost as well as breadth of content offerings, along with the flipside of that butting heads against a "content locust" mentality.
Not sure I get the Doom v Fortnite thing, given target audience is a consideration there.
This isn't saying all genres are oversaturated , hence "currently catered to". And yeah some of them also fall under the "for lack of competition" banner.
WoW only sold like 800k copies its first 3 months.
Eso only had 1.2mil copies sold at launch.
Its not a lack of customers, its a retention problem.
There is no extra cost to play New World after initial purchase. Yet it is barely getting 30k players right now. If they would have retained the 25mil players studios would all be trying to copy the New World formula. 24mil+ players wont even play this game FREE (since they already made the B2P purchase).
The vast majority of players in New World have never even done any end game dungeons. People have quit way before that because they know the End Game is totally flawed. So this is not a content locust problem in this case.
What other MMO is even worthy of playing in the last 7 years?
There has been a 7 year drought in MMO's and still these new MMO's cant get anyone to play.
Imagine if a decent movie was released and was the only 1 in theaters for 8 months LOL. It would probably be one of the highest selling just by default (unless covid stopped people).
The deck it totally stacked in favor of these new MMO's yet none can even perform.
(more intenet players, more gamers alive, lack of new releases, most are free or low cost, technology enhancements) When new studios have all these advantages and it still cant even beat a 20 year old game. There is a huge problem.
If someone wants to say in 2007 there was a saturation problem. MAYBE that could be plausible. But in 2023 with a 7 year drought with FEW AAA games released. Blaming saturation is just an excuse.
If people are trying new MMOs and a) going back to older ones or b leaving the overall genre entirely, that speaks to a problem in their design, but doesn't say it's not also because prior problems mentioned.
What other entainment industries are having a saturation problem due to 20+ year old content? I am interested in a similar example where current content cant compete with 20 year old content or even come close. Especially in a technology based industry where graphics completely dates older content from new potential customers.
I'd say this is part of the reason the focus has moved towards other formats of live service titles too. Just the natural evolution of seeking cost to return with titles you can maintain with comparatively less effort to the development cycle of new titles and bank on for years to come, and less overhead than something one might call a fully fledged MMO.
One answer may be to bring the "children's" gameplay back into MMORPGs, MOBA style arenas for example.
I would not worry too much about the dataset OP, I think if it contains too many games that are not proper MMORPG's the overall picture will be the same. Unless you have MOBA, Co-Op etc in there the picture won't change.
The bigger picture needs to include mobile mmorpgs though.
Most people in the world do not have a computer for gaming.
Mobile mmorpg are the biggest factor that is being overlooked.
(Only on here everywhere else it is acknowledged)
There are plenty of mobile mmorpgs developed and released.
More than any other platform.
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ESO and FFXIV is popular because they can be played on consoles.
People stop playing them.
DEVELOPERS THINK PEOPLE DON'T LIKE THEM ANYMORE.
They don't recognize its their fault that they suck. It's like having a trail of toilet paper stick to the bottom of their shoe and walking around the mall.
All time classic MY NEW FAVORITE POST! (Keep laying those bricks)
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OP says there are 130 playable mmorpg right now. How many of those actually follow the wow formula? Probably not that many.
Many mmorpg would probably be a bit more successful if they get more budget. But no one want to throw in the money unless it have shown to be successful in the past.
Pretty sure Chimeraland would qualify as a mobile MMO. Its very sub par. I played that and wasnt impressed at all. It seemed to have all the elements thou.
Change that to hasnt introduced any GOOD systems since then.
Free to play, cash shops, loot boxes, P2W, predatory monetization, arrows on the ground showing people where to go with autonavigating, button where character will play by itself and all you have to do is watch, limited skill buttons down to 3, UI's made for mobile, instanced everything etc...
The genre has been busy innovating, unfortunately every idea they seem to have is worthless. Do they even test these on players before they implement them? Probably not.
Music, has radio stations, spotify, even the old bands still play at concerts. Yet still new bands can get popular.
TV, plenty of old series on TV, old movies etc... yet Disney keeps pumping out record setting movies and remakes. All that content being available doesnt seem to be a problem.
Gaming, all the other genres have old games still available for players to play. Yet still we see games coming out that pass all time records of previous titles. Including brand new IP's.
Its pretty much just MMO's that seem to be complaining about saturation, just because all the lastest trash mmo's are flopping hard.
Even then, consider how much the delivery for those have changed. We've gone from cable and public broadcasting to a variety of groups competing for ownership of media and subs, with several large brands dominating that.
Sure we could compare that to MMOs and the drift in live service models, but that's not a favorable comparison and reinforces the negative points about few and long standing over any kind of medley scenario, and what that means to saturation of market on the level of how many can feasibly compete for a given space.
And in my last post you actually agreed with me, what is going on?
Where is the evidence to disprove that the new games just do not resonate with players? Where are the MMO's launching with high satisfication rating that are "not gaining customers due to saturation"?