MMORPG Shared Traits
Today, there are a variety of online role playing games for one to choose from. For those who are speculating what might be the best possible choice, it might be surprising to know how similar some of the most popular role playing games are with one another. Three of the most widely popular online role playing games are World of Warcraft, EverQuest, and Runescape, each achieving millions of monthly subscribers. While each game has its own differences, what makes these top games appeal to such a wide audience? Taking a look at the birth of the massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) and comparing Runescape, EverQuest, and World of Warcraft, the answer should be attainable.
Popularity of MMORPGs
Around the globe, there are many people playing massive multiplayer online role playing games often referred to as MMORPG. “A role playing game on the computer played by many people. An MMORPG differs from a regular computer role playing game because its environment is perpetual. People log in, join the game, take on their role and leave whenever they wish, but the game continues” (Radix-64, 2009). According to RPGEvolution.com, the first massive multiplayer online role playing game is credited to Meridian 59 in 1996 (n.d.). After Meridian there were a few other MMORPGs (MMOs for short), but none that were as successful as EverQuest (RPGEvolution, n.d.). Runescape and World of Warcraft followed later and both grew in their own right. Runescape passed the millionth subscriber in 2007 (Slashdot.org, 2007) while World of Warcraft is currently estimated to have around 11.5 million subscribers as of late laste year (Elliot, 2008).
RuneScape is a game set in the medieval era that adds fantasy to the mix. To start, a player would create a character through the RuneScape character creation section. Once a player has determined what type, kind, and how their character will look they come up with a name for the character they have created and enter the virtual world of RuneScape. While in this virtual world, players are able to create items they can use in their and sell in order to make in-game money. As the player battles a variety of monsters, the character has the ability to gain levels and raise the combat skills they have. The company does not charge to play this game, however, to be able to unlock all the features of the game you need to pay five dollars a month for a membership fee.
EverQuest is set in a mystical land and the players are able to use weapons and magic. You start by creating your character and journey through the lands and do various tasks called quest. After completing quests and killing monsters, the player’s character gains levels and becomes more powerful. There are many different types of classes and races that a person can choose to be. Throughout the game, players are able to chat with friends, join their friend in an adventuring group, fight monsters, and explore dungeons.
World of Warcraft MMO
World of Warcraft is set in a land called Azeroth and has come out with expansions that allow the players to venture to new lands called Outlands and Northrend. The player is able to select the class and race and some features of the character that they want to play before entering the virtual world. World of Warcraft allows you to chat, explore dungeons, and run around the world in game with friends. They have an auction house where you can sell items that you have found or made.
Similarities between MMORPGs
All of these games allow players to customize the way your character looks if only to a limited degree. These games also support a robust and diverse social network, which allows you to play with old friends as well as make new ones. There are actually a number of programs that people use in conjunction with these games. Many people attach headsets with microphones to their computers, so they can speak rather than simply type with to communicate with their friends. More advanced games, like World of Warcraft, indeed have their own voice chat set up within the game engine. EverQuest and World of Warcraft are not simply a game of running around and killing monsters all while completely relatively unimportant tasks. The stories these two share are deep, spawning novels, pen and paper role playing games, and even a movie or two. The quests your character takes on can actually help shape the world. If you are lucky enough to be one of the first players to complete a task on a realm, you not only gain the reputation; you also have a chance of opening more game content for the rest of the players. Another important concept to consider when looking at these games is that they do have what are typically referred to as realms. Everyone can play EverQuest or everyone can play World of Warcraft, but if they all play in the same place at the same time—with millions upon millions of players—it is going to get awful crowded in a hurry. As a result, when you log onto a more popular MMO, you typically have to choose a realm. Think of the realm as a node. There is a limited number of spots open for new characters on any given realm. This helps keep server stress manageable, which maintains a low amount of downtime. Keeping the game up for longer periods of time is likely to enhance customer satisfaction, because no one wants to be kicked offline in the middle of a raid—raids are usually large quests where particularly powerful monsters or villains must be defeated, are quite difficult, and require several (5-40) player characters to complete. Newer games don’t always have the customization abilities of more established games, because that takes market research as well as development dollars. Nonetheless, all of these MMORPGs allow you to level a character and advance through the game based on quests and killing various monsters. You typically get to choose a race and a class which determine your basic abilities and can give you boosts that are unavailable to other races and classes. Each of these games also includes an exciting element which allows you to fight other players characters. This is called PvP (or, Player versus Player). Typically, you are only awarded if the character you fight and win against is around your own level. Sometimes, you need to get permission to fight against another player character, but not always.
Differences between MMORPGs
Even as we look at these games and how they are the same, we should take a moment to consider how they are different. After all, if they were all the same, it would really only be one game. The maps that characters travel are different for each game, each containing their own “worldly wonders” and obstacles. The capabilities and controls of the character are quite different for each game as well. Each of the games allows you to create different objects including weapons, armor, herbs, and more—but, the effectiveness and ease of creating those items is different for each game.
In conclusion, we are able to see that some of the top MMORPGs have a variety of things in common. RuneScape, World of WarCraft, and EverQuest have the players to vouch for their success. New MMOs seem to be hitting the market with increasing alacrity. Future game developers would be wise to consider what is already popular in these games as well as what they are missing to draw in new players as well as win over some of the players that have been online in the character form for years. What was once just a fad has become a phenomenon. MMOs are not just for the socially shunned teenager anymore. Everyone from high school athletes to college professors and homemakers can be found amongst the ranks of the digital elite. There is even a rising concern in the medical community that these games are leading to a new type of addiction. Business have started to utilize the same style of game to conduct training seminars and hold meetings. It has even opened up a whole new option for marketing to the masses. An inexpensive digital billboard might be all one needs to spring the next great idea to the forefront of the economy. With subscriptions ranging between $5 a month and $15 a month on average, that is millions upon millions being exchanged each month, just for the option of playing a game consumers have already bought and paid for. Taking World of Warcraft’s numbers alone, we’d be looking at a starting $172,500,000 each month just in subscriptions. That doesn’t account for the mass market paperbacks, collectible card game, t-shirts, comic books, and movie currently in the works. This is a very lucrative market, and the consumers will drive it. Consumers will vote with their dollars and the companies will listen. For one considering what MMO is the best, consider first who holds the market share. That many millions of people might just be on to something.
Elliot, P. (2008). World of Warcraft Hits 11.5 Million Subscribers. Eurogamer Network Ltd.. Retrieved September 27, 2009, from http://www.gamesindustry.biz/articles/world-of-warcraft-hits-11-5-million-subscribers
LovetoKnow Corp.. (n.d.). Your Dictionary - MMORPG. Retrieved September 27, 2009, from http://www.yourdictionary.com/computer/mmorpg
Radix-64. (2009, March 24). MMORPG . Message posted to http://geekdictionary.computing.net/define/mmorpg
RPG Evolution. (n.d.). RPG Evolution. Retrieved September 27, 2009, from http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/Spring05/Hill/mmorpg.html
Slashdot.org. (2005). Runescape Passes 1 Million Subscribers. Retrieved September 27, 2009, from http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/05/05/2031230