What is an MMO or Why The Elder Scrolls Online Will Fail

What is an MMO or Why The Elder Scrolls Online Will Fail


There’s something unique about Virtual Worlds that all MMO’s fail at. With the MMO market saturated and highly competitive, this is a story of why Elder Scrolls Online will fail.

In the last 3 years, we’ve had a flood of MMO’s that are basically clones of World of Warcraft gameplay, or at least trying.

A Few of the more recent MMO’s on the scene are:


What’s The Problem?

Besides market saturation, the problem is that none of these games really stand out as the essence of what a Virtual Persistent World is.

Some think it’s not fair to judge all MMOs by the World of Warcraft standard, but the fact is they’re all trying to duplicate the same WoW game mechanics while just putting a different pretty dress on it.

The market cannot support more than 1 or 2 Virtual Worlds, and anyone who puts out a new MMO is going to fail unless they add innovation and new exciting gameplay mechanics into their game.

..and this is why I predict The Elder Scrolls Online will fail.

I say this with a deep sadness because I absolutely love the Elder Scrolls universe. I can’t count how much time I’ve enjoyed playing Morrowind, Oblivion, and currently Skyrim. They’re just really awesome single player games (bugs aside).

There are a few elements a new MMO needs in order to survive in this ridiculously competitive market under the shadow of WoW.

Here they are along with an analysis of how The Elder Scrolls Online compares to each element…

1. A Single Persistent World

All MMO’s exist on corporate server space in a server farm cluster.

Most games have a server/network schema that breaks them up into multiple persistent worlds, but deep down inside they all want to be a single world that players can travel across.

There’s no word yet on whether ESO will be broken up into different cloned shards that are discrete, but everyone is hoping it’s one big world. We’ll see.

2. Large amount of other players existing in the same world

Eve Online has over 60,000 people online at the same time at peak hours. That’s astounding, and that’s the definition of a MMO that did something right.  On top of that, they’re all on a single continuous world, see #1 for why this is important.

The developer’s of ESO, ZeniMax Online Studios, have spent the last 5 years working to make sure that their engine can handle the gaming mass expected.

They initially licensed the HeroEngine, but only as a reference guide for building their own custom ESO Engine complete with a modern-day robust client, server and messaging layer.

The real question is if they can pull-off the type of infrastructure that will allow a single continuous virtual world without sharding.

3. Freedom to compete, cooperate, or form groups with other players

By their nature, MMO’s are sandbox games allowing freedom of action without funneling you through a specific plot with cutscenes ad nauseam.

Almost all of them allow players to group together into Guilds or Clans.  In those games that don’t, people tend to make it happen anyway by handling the logistics offline and wearing the same clothing in-game or adding some kind of abbreviation to their names.

Part of the problem that arises is the “freedom to compete” part of this element.

No MMO has ever allowed unrestricted aggressive player competition since the early days of Ultima Online and Shadowbane.

MMO’s tend to create artificial boundaries and technological limitations to Player vs Player combat.

The Elder Scrolls Online has few details other than PvP will be an important part of the game.

Specifically they’re focused on faction warfare, which is technically an artificial limitation.

4. Making an impact on the virtual environment built for you to live a virtual life

MMO’s are a virtual world and the creators WANT you to live your virtual lives in their game (and give your real life monthly dollars to them).

So they give you things to do, characters to level up, and loot to grab in order to keep you interested and then attracted via the sunk cost dilemma.

Not since Shadowbane has an MMO really understand what it takes create a serious attachment between player and world.

Being able to build houses, terra-form the ground… being able to change your world as an individual and as a group is key to building a serious natural level of attachment.

When you’re out questing, gathering your loot, making friends… you’re going to want to come “home” to your house or guild house to store your loot, decorate, making your piece of the world your own.

A place to have a social gathering that you have ownership in, is an ideal gameplay mechanic in MMOs.

Sadly, Elder Scrolls Online will not have player housing because it’s too hard to do. You won’t be able to change the world at all.

What an amazing disappointment from an MMO perspective as well as an Elder Scrolls perspective where you can own your own house in every version to date.

Just Another MMO

It sounds like the only thing that’s going to make The Elder Scrolls Online stand out is the rich ES lore backstory.

That’s great in terms of immersion, but it’s not going to keep players for long which is going to hurt the bottom line until they close down the servers.

Despite protest from the developers, they are making Just Another MMO.

Links:


Adam Colon
Adam Colon
Technophiliac, Geek, and proponent of logic & consistency in games... I am a critic with no patience for nonsense.
20 comments
TiredofCrappyMMOs
TiredofCrappyMMOs

sorry did beta for ESO it will be an unbalanced mess with factions numbers all screwed up and even racial bonuses do not lean towards a balance but further from it.


ESO is almost a rip off of GW2 as it now is will a double movement button to dodge (2times at low levels before your energy is low).

  Character building is the same as with GW2 you use skills and get XP in that field so you can get other skills but you can also spend points to improve the skills you have to make them better.

  a single shard is going to be a mess since the server didn't have enough things to kill or gather for crafting and this is just during beta tests.


  finally they want everything hushed up and no feedback that is seen by anyone besides their people so no such thing as brainstorming (I think they learned this from Stalin that the truth was dangerous).


  I loved the graphics and the storyline but I will wait for the game to go F2P which won't be long i am sure and less time before the game can't support itself.

Robla
Robla

"Not since Shadowbane has an MMO really understand what it takes create a serious attachment between player and world."


Mortal Online- from StarVault AB

free fps
free fps

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Gorcin Kurejsepi
Gorcin Kurejsepi

Let's hope the best part about TSO is not the single player. The MMO market was a bit stale for quite a while, but it's picking up this year. Eve was the only real unique player (ha) out there, especially with Dust. Now it's shifting with End of Nations, (a failed attempt from BioWare with The Old Republic - still an attempt), GW2 with some new features, Tera and it's ACS (Another half hearted attempt), and Hopefully, TSO. I can't believe that tagline "IT HAS SINGLE PLAYER" made me play The Old Republic for a month. I'm so ashamed.

Jay Griffiths
Jay Griffiths

Need more sandbox MMOs. Love Eve Online. Need a fantasy-themed game that mimics a lot of that game's mechanics, where death is meaningful, the players drive (and supply) the economy, and the game is about working with others rather than playing a single player (or instanced with a few friends) game where other people just happen to be playing around you without having to interact with you (see SWTOR).

Diane
Diane

I have to say that having a home base you can make your own really does make you feel better about the game and want to keep playing it. That was one thing I loved about the Fable series (yes I know not a PC game) was that in the second game you could purchase a house and decorate it and by the third one there was even more you were able to do with this. The fact that there are so many MMO's is the reason I am picky about what I play. I do only have so many hours in the day afterall.

Elias Sideras
Elias Sideras

You mean to tell me Guild Wars 2 is trying to duplicate WoW? That's bullshit to the maximum. I dunno about TSO, but from the looks of it yeah, wtf happend to the art style it doesn't even feel like elder scrolls. But Guild Wars 2? No, it's about as innovative as they'll get in the MMO market. Then there's Dust 514 and Planetside 2, TSO might fail but the market is actually looking to be going up for the first time since WoW.

Josh Simon
Josh Simon

uh why are you talking to yourself? :P

Adam Shipowick
Adam Shipowick

I think the initial Wow of the Scrolls Online will draw a huge audience at the start. I'm kinda thinking that you may be right, over time if there is not something more unique offered people will drift back to wow or some F2P Open World MMO. Only time will tell, whatever happens I'm more than interested!

Adam Colon
Adam Colon

Despite this grim analysis, Are you still going to play Elder Scrolls Online?

Zachary Miller
Zachary Miller

If GSC pulls of STALKER Online......holy f*cking shit!

Elias Sideras
Elias Sideras

Well sure, but an MMO is still an MMO, it's supposed to be massive and be multiplayer. You are basically describing sandbox games and sure they are pretty abscent sadly. But I wouldn't say that MMO's are becoming worse or being more like WoW because they aren't sandbox games. Guild Wars 2's WvWvW is in some ways a sandbox. You do that, it's a crazy concept I want to see more of :)

Adam Colon
Adam Colon

I can't say I agree. Guild Wars II is all about story line and the plot changing dynamically with the players' actions. It hails this feature as being JUST LIKE SINGLE PLAYER. It's fractured into multiple servers instead of one large game world, no player housing, and structured limitation based PvP. Planetside2 is barely an MMO, with that said... it's going to be fun. It's an awesome concept. The entire concept around Dust 510 is awesome, you're right. I'm going to right a followup article about Dust 510 soon. Nice catch.

Adam Colon
Adam Colon

You got a point there, Adam. Honestly, I just want to go around sneaking and pickpocketing other players and then running home to my underworld lair to drop off my phat loot. Hey, Adam... don't forget to share this page... and upvote the reddit link if you so desire. BTW: How's the wife doing?

Adam Colon
Adam Colon

Well, Adam... that IS a pretty grim analysis. I'd like to believe that the designers at ZeniMax are just fucking with us... or setting expectations REALLY low... and they're going to sneak in player housing of an epic nature. That's what I hope, but I doubt it because they've spent 5 years building this only to NOW get feedback from the gaming population as a whole. Which tells me a lot about their designers. On the other hand, management could be telling them not to innovate too much, we just want to make money. If we capture 1% of the WoW demographic of pre-teen females who like pink unicorns that urinate love... WE'LL BE RICH!

RufusBenAbu
RufusBenAbu

Its in development be Cybertime Systems, GSC is no more ;_;