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AAA MMORPGs in the future (In my opinion)

GladDogGladDog Member RarePosts: 1,097

First of all, this is not a doom and gloom post.  This is my opinion about the future of AAA titles.  And we all know that everyone has an opinion, as well as an *******, but we won’t go there. 

I believe there is a strong future for MMORPGs, but the genre is enduring a reset.  There are plenty of players out there, 5.5 million in WoW, more than 3 million in ESO between the three platforms, over a million in SW:TOR.  Whales, subs, ftp, blah blah blah, I’m talking total players, no matter how they play it.  And how many are still playing EQ1, EQ2, Tera, Aion, Lineage II, Guild Wars 2… and how many are playing BDO?  I don’t care for the game, but they have a lot of dedicated players.

So, the problem is that we were all spoiled by AAA releases that cost more to make than some USA city budgets.  There won’t be any more of those any time soon.  I think that anymore a typical budget for a “AAA” MMORPG from a large publisher is going to be 10-15 million USD, not 100+ million like several games from the turn of the decade like SW:TOR.  And the large publishers cannot figure out how to do that yet.  That is why titles like EQ:N get cancelled. 

I believe that the formula for the resurgence of the MMORPG is simple, and it is being shown by Pantheon, well titled for this subject; Rise of the Fallen.  A small studio gets a good deal on a game engine and develops a concept.  They come up with an overall plan, and then figure out ways to finance it.  Their release plan is for five years, not two like old AAA projects.  The guys making Pantheon are making an investment.  Once the game is finished and money is flowing in, they can start drawing a paycheck, including pay for what they already invested.  They got an angel investor, they are seeking pre-payment on their website, and they did a Kickstarter (it failed, but now that there is a lot of info out on the game, they may try again and it will probably be successful).

Pantheon has a plan to have 10 races and 16 classes (they have 12 on their website, but have hinted that there are more to come).  They have not stated a level cap, but I think they want something around 80.  Don’t expect that at release.  4-6 races, 6-8 classes and a level cap of 40-50 are more likely.   Their team doesn’t get paid yet, so the guys doing this need to have day jobs.  So it is likely that not everything they are planning will be in the release. 

Every race requires a huge investment in time (balancing stats, hit box sizes, class limitations because of gamebreaking racial traits, appearance customization, etc).

Every class requires balancing and lots of testing.  Melee needs a way to deal with ranged attacks; cloth wearing mages need a way to deal with heavy hitters.  I don’t except more than two each of the ‘classic’ classes to be released, and there might only be one ‘rogue’ type and one ‘mage’ type because of how complex they are to design. 

Adding to the level cap means adding quests, monsters that are appropriate to the player level, dungeons, and so on.  This is probably the longest step, since the maps evolve as players level.  Once the tools are in place to make areas and dungeons, making this stuff is easy.  However, making GOOD areas and dungeons is not.  That takes tons of time and a lot of testing.  We have all been in areas of a game that we swear up and down we will NEVER go back to… and we have all been in areas that we stay in even after we have outleveled them because of how fun they are.  Well, getting these to be workable is a HUGE time sync for the design team.

Once the game releases and money is flowing in, a lot of guys on the team will quit their day jobs and become full time for Pantheon.  Then we will see their eventual dream of 10 races, 16 classes and a level cap of 80 realized.  And after a year or two, this game, if it goes well, will evolve into an AAA title.

And once the big studios see this method of getting a game off of the ground is successful, they will be making games that will evolve into AAA titles.  They should be able to mimic their methods with paid staff that gets a title running in 3-4 years that will evolve into an AAA title in 1-2 years.  The cost will be a more reasonable 10-15 million USD.  With lower monetary risks they can take chances on niche titles.  And once that happens we will see the renaissance of the MMORPG.

Just my opinion, any others out there?

The world is going to the dogs, which is just how I planned it!


  • nariusseldonnariusseldon Member EpicPosts: 27,775
    GladDog said:

    Just my opinion, any others out there?

    Yes. Pantheon will not make big money, and AAA devs will make other online games, may be MMO hybrid, but will not bother to touch old school MMORPGs for at least 5-10 years. 
  • KyleranKyleran Member LegendaryPosts: 41,217
    I think all it will take is one moderately successful indy MMORPG and AAA interest will return.

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  • HorusraHorusra Member EpicPosts: 4,411
    edited April 2016
    wait a game that has not released, has not "succeed", and has not pulled these millions of followers is the future?
  • GladDogGladDog Member RarePosts: 1,097
    edited April 2016
    Pantheon does not need to be a 'WoW killer'.  It does not need to have 250,000 subscribers.  It needs to make money.  If they can release a game that is self sufficient and profitable with well under two million invested, you had better believe that the entire industry will take note.  If they can put out a solid, fun, good looking product with a big variety of unique classes and races, that they can improve to what their vision is for the game; I think that will count as AAA in the immediate future.

    *** added as an edit ***

    I'm using Pantheon as an example, but there are several other upcoming titles that are using the same business model, such as City of Titans.

    The world is going to the dogs, which is just how I planned it!

  • aim4theheadxaim4theheadx Member UncommonPosts: 14
    As someone who dreams of making a AAA mmo in the next 20 years i see it like this.

    For one we need to seriously take notes from Korea , they stretch budgets like noone else in the genre. Black Desert is a prime example , i doubt they had more than 15-20M spent into the base game (pre mediah expansion). Other than the lackluster PVE , its a AAA game in visuals , combat , scale and detail of the open world.

    I have no idea why Koreans are able to be this efficient with money , but i am going to make it my mission to find out. 

    The problem with Western budgets is that most of it is wasted on Marketing trying to attract casuals that will play it for a few months tops , which i think is foolish. True MMO players are like a cult, release some cool videos , show some quality and the game will promote itself. Look at BDO again for an example of that , all they did was put a few videos on youtube and the PVP community did all the leg work for them. 400k copies sold in a month for a game with no marketing is pretty damn good. 

    I personally dont believe these big publishers are going to be dumping money into the genre anymore. Its going to be up to the community to really latch onto a game , support it , and through expansions eventually we may get the game we've been waiting for. 

  • nariusseldonnariusseldon Member EpicPosts: 27,775
    GladDog said:
    Pantheon does not need to be a 'WoW killer'.  It does not need to have 250,000 subscribers.  It needs to make money.  If they can release a game that is self sufficient and profitable with well under two million invested, you had better believe that the entire industry will take note. 
    I don't believe that at all. Not the AAA companies.

    Why would they care about small $2M games when they can make games like TD and rakes in $330M the first week? The simple thing to do is not to make mmorpgs anymore, and all of them get the memo.
  • BrenicsBrenics Member RarePosts: 1,939
    Lol I stopped reading when you said eso has 3m. I then knew it was going to Brads game. This was nothing but an advertisment. Bad enough we get them from ads which is great because I love this site. But I don't need it in threads. You say it will be the next big thing then throw us some free keys to see.
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