No doubt you’ve all heard the news that plans are afoot to release an MMO version of the Elder Scrolls series. If you’ve been living in an internet-free cave then I’ll just link Bio Break who has a nice list of all the links to the fanfare going on at the moment.
Notwithstanding my own personal thoughts on this news, the really interesting thing for me here is the fact that a new title offered as an MMO is now seen as a negative trait, not a positive one. Go back just a few short years in time and the opposite was the norm – any MMO announcement was greeted with rhapsody bordering on hysteria. So, why the change? It boils down into two distinct reasons. The first is the simply dismal history of MMO production over the last four or five years. Disappointment has followed disillusion, which in turn has been backed up by jaw-dropping awfulness. Whereas in the past an MMO title was the opportunity for both developers and players to experiment with a new subset to video gaming, now we simply receive a churning out of rehashed ideas that were done to death by various expansions of WoW and all its varied clones. New games are released that claim to offer completely new variations on the theme, (group challenges in Rift and voice-overs in SWTOR being merely two examples), and hordes of players scramble to get their slice of the new pie, elbowing each other out of the way, while mindlessly exhorting the fantastic values of the new franchise; pity anyone with the temerity to point out that they might be in for some disappointment. Which invariably they are, as a few months down the track the glossy new title is revealed to be the empty shell of chewed up candy that some of us thought it would be.
So, we are dealing with an extremely poor track record here. In the last three months the games that have taken up most of my gaming moments have been Skyrim and Close Combat III, as I’ve gone back in time to a game that was great then and still is now. You can’t go back in time with an MMO – you’re stuck with what you have right now.
The second reason for the negative reaction to the Elder Scrolls MMO announcement is more social in aspect than the first. It has been brought into stark relief by the fact that many of us have spent a few hundred hours in Skyrim recently. And we’ve had a really nice time … on our own. The thought of having some drooling goober-face interrupt my pleasant wanderings in the snow covered surrounds to challenge me to a lop-sided duel so he can then spit on my corpse for no good reason whatsoever fills me with more horror than the prospect of having to watch the opening ceremony of the coming Olympic Games. Lets be honest here – apart from an extremely small sample size of the general gaming population, there is nobody out there with whom I would want to spend time with in an online environment. The one thing that sites like Facebook have done is demonstrate clearly for those who are able to see that people are vacuous, stupid, dimwitted, gullible morons. And those are just the people that I know. We baulk at the thought of an MMO version of Skyrim because we know that the game will be totally and utterly fucked to high heaven by the vast majority of players with whom we will be forced to associate.
Sure they’ll make some money with this MMO version, and why shouldn’t they? Everyone should be free to make money. Just don’t expect me to help you do it.