The Social Experience in MMORPGs

Home/The Social Experience in MMORPGs

The Social Experience in MMORPGs

The Social Experience in MMORPGs & Free MMORPGs

It’s no secret that free to play MMORPGs have been exploding in
popularity in the past few years. Once unheard of in the West, scores
of free MMORPG
games are now available for North American and European gamers. But
while this trend has banished the dreaded monthly subscription fee, it
has come at a cost. Many rightly claim that free MMORPGs have much
lower quality than the traditional pay-to-play MMORPG offered by
Western developers such as Electronic Arts or Blizzard. This might of
been true at first but many of today’s free games have excellent
production value that even rival those of subscription MMORPGs. Games
like Project Powder and MegaTen are both high quality titles available for free that defy the stereotype.

While progress has been made on quality, free MMORPGs still lack a very important feature that comes naturally to classic titles such as EverQuest
or WoW and that is community. The social experience in a MMORPG is
arguably the most important aspect. It’s what separates the genre from
its single player cousin, the RPG. Most pay to play games are designed
in a way that encourages player cooperation and team work. Few classes
in Vanguard, for example, are self sufficient and thus require the
assistance of other players to progress. Most free to play MMORPGs try
to make each player as self sufficient as possible. The worst thing
that can happen to an average Ragnarok Online
player is running into a fellow gamer with the audacity to hunt in the
same spot as him. Since many free MMORPGs are developed in South Korea
where popular f2p titles such as MapleStory and Mir 2 originated, they all have this basic lack of social necessity.

The difference is not hard to spot. Anyone with wide experience in the MMO field knows firsthand how Asian ‘grindfests’ differ from community driven epics such as the original EQ. A good MMORPG will find a way to incorporate elements of both styles. Some people do genuinely prefer to play alone. This is why World of Warcraft
has been such a success both in America and in China. Gamers can go at
it alone from level 1 to 80 but must work together to defeat the most
powerful bosses. As the free-to-play market grows and Western
developers get more involved in it, we can only hope that more MMORPGs
with hybrid social emphasis are released. Judging by the rapid progress
that has been made in the realms of graphics and gameplay, I’m
confident we won’t have to wait long.

By | 2009-06-30T09:30:28+00:00 June 30th, 2009|Uncategorized|Comments Off on The Social Experience in MMORPGs

About the Author:

Skip to toolbar