The New Flavor of MMOs: Shooters

By  |  Wednesday, April 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm

crimecraft_01Traditionally, Massive Multiplayer Online games are not the avenue for testing one’s reflexes.

World of Warcraft, the quintessential MMO, follows the typical formula of managing health and attack skills through a system of statistics. EverQuest does the same. Even EVE Online, which abandons the typical fantasy setting in favor of Sci-Fi, is a game of resource management and overarching strategy.

As you’d expect, the Halo and Call of Duty crowd (e.g., me) are turned off. Massive multiplayer shooters exist, but only on the fringes of MMO culture, where your average shoot-em-up fan isn’t likely to find them.

MTV Multiplayer ran a nice round-up today on five games that are trying to change the status quo: APB, The Agency, Combat Arms, CrimeCraft and Earthrise. Reporter Tracey John asked one developer from each game to basically justify what they’re doing. I won’t summarize each of developers’ elevator pitches here; the important takeaway is that a wave of MMO shooters will hit over the next few years, aimed at the set that thinks World of Warcraft is for squares.

It’s funny, however, that none of the pitches sound much different from one another. They all claim the same predictable formula — take straightforward shooter, add community features and character building, stir — and I was surprised to hear very little about the games themselves. After all, once you strip away all the MMO features, you still need combat that’s good enough to draw people in. Leveling up only becomes addictive after the initial hook. Avoiding the stigma of MMOs with convoluted terms like “persistent world next-gen shooter” only goes so far.

I don’t want to pre-judge these games, but I’m worried that they’ll rely too heavily on community features instead of focusing on the actual act of play. To truly avoid lure shooter fans toward MMOs, it should be the other way around.



4 Comments For This Post

  1. James Blake Says:

    I am surprised that no mention was made here of Sony Online Entertainment’s PlanetSide.

    While PlanetSide is now well beyond its prime, at the time it was a popular MMO that contained no NPCs so it required cooperation and coordination of of human players on a grand scale to capture facilities. I am not talking Battlefield here, I am talking about hundreds of players all working towards a common goal.

    Absolutely everything in the game, from driving or gunning tanks, through dropping the ordinance from bomber aircraft to driving transport lorries required human involvement.

  2. Philip Morton Says:

    Same here, PlanetSide did MMO FPS quite a while ago.

  3. John Albano Says:

    “Avoiding the stigma of MMOs with convoluted terms like “persistent world next-gen shooter” only goes so far.”

    I think the reason for that was more for using the acronym ‘PWNS’ than any attempt to avoid stigma.

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