Is it possible for a "casual" MMO to exist?

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#1 Edited by me010698 (25 posts) -

A colleague of mine and I started this discussion yesterday at work, we both love Skyrim, Witcher and other similar games and with Elder Scrolls Online making its way to us we're wondering if it has a chance.

To start, I have experience with MMO's, too much actually, I've been a successful top tier raiding guild leader in WoW, theorycrafted with the best of them, and played every class (well) imaginable, on multiple games. My colleague on the other hand has never played an MMO. And due to scheduling conflicts and as they say, "real life" I've had to give them up myself.

My discussion with her went as follows:

1. For an MMO to be good it has to be challenging but fun at all levels. There is nothing more satisfying than grouping with friends and finally toppling that boss you've previously struggled with previously.

2. For it to appeal to the "casual/console player" the single player component must be enjoyable, SW:TOR while failing at endgame did this incredibly well, it was actually a much better single player game than MMO.

3. To not alienate the "casual/console player" end game content must be accessible to a smaller group, think 3 or 4 friends vs 10-20. And I mean true end game, not a mediocre dungeon but leaving raids to larger groups. I know there are LFG options, but anyone who has MMO experience has had more "rage quit" moments than pleasant ones because one of the random group fillers turned out to be inept.

After all was said and done we were left wondering if new MMO could possibly find a balance to keep the hard core chugging along but also allow for people like us who really want to enjoy the game but can't commit to a raid schedule or pledge all waking hours to the betterment of the guild to enjoy the game in its entirety.

I truly miss good MMO's and want to be able to play one again, and play it well, but on my schedule not anyone elses. Will this be possible?

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#2 Posted by Boddicker (4347 posts) -

The Sims?

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#3 Posted by Ish_basic (4799 posts) -

Not likely, unless MMOs decide to shift to more horizontal forms of progression. Right now, skill is subverted by stats and if you're not grinding it out like a little Asian boy, you're gonna be behind, which means you're gonna have a hard time finding groups. If I'm playing an FPS, I can quit for a couple weeks, come back and still kick the same guy's ass as hard as I did 2 weeks before. In an MMO, by the time I get back, that guy is gonna have shoulder pads twice as big as mine and laugh heartily as my blows deflect harmlessly off him. PvE-wise, if that player's a friend, he's also going to be able to enter instances I can't, which means we're not going to be able to play together as much without him being willing to slum it with me. And this is why casual players flock to the FPS genre - no penalties for taking some time off.

Games like Neverwinter offer the ability to "catch up" by using special currency and the hardcore label the game as "pay to win." The bottom line is that a lot of hardcore MMO players relish stat stacking and the overpowering of other players/enemies with increasing tiers of gear and MMO design that accommodates them is naturally exclusionary to casual players with less time. Think of a new way to track player progression that doesn't involve ever-increasing stats, and maybe you'll come up with something that attracts both groups....but you'll probably just alienate the hardcore by doing that.