Wednesday, September 19, 2018

...and Even More Contraction in MMO Space

For some reason, I've not been paying too much attention to some of the other MMOs that I've tried out, but while Rift Prime seems to be doing fairly well at the moment TERA has just completed a bunch of server merges.

The TERA merges went live yesterday, and in NA (at least) the PC version of TERA is down to one PvE and one PvP server each. Prior to the merge, if you logged in you could get a boost of 20 character slots to cover your stable of toons across the servers, but naturally I was unaware of that so I lost three toons (two of which were only L1, so it's not too bad).

So all of those "TERA is doing fine, much better than [insert MMO here]!" comments I've seen on other MMOs make me wonder whether that was just wishful thinking or whether TERA isn't even close to as popular as the MMO community thought it was.

From my perspective, it seems that the MMO shakedown that began with Marvel Heroes' shutdown is continuing, and even gathering a bit of steam.

Does that mean the MMO is becoming a genre of one (WoW) with a couple of hangers on? No, but I also believe that the MMO genre is retreating to a much smaller footprint in much the same way that a fad comes and goes. MOBAs are the new hotness, and in about 5-6 years they'll fade from view as well to be replaced by something else.

I don't think TERA is on life support, but it definitely isn't doing as well as it could be.


  1. What makes you think Rift Prime is doing well? Curious as every comment I've seen about it more recently has been about its population dwindling away.

    1. It's doing okay, relatively speaking. Considering ArcheAge is down to just a couple of servers, TERA is down to two PC servers, Age of Conan is on life support, Wildstar is going away, and people continually talk about how dead LOTRO, SWTOR, Star Trek Online, and Neverwinter are, it's surviving. It's following the same pattern of every other MMO, where there's a lot of interest and a gradual decline over time.

      Even WoW is getting flak from the forums and Reddit for having a "meh" expansion so far (one that Rohan, for one, doesn't agree with), which tells me that their "new expac bump" for BfA will be shorter than other ones. If I'd a guess at the WoW population, it's likely around 2-3 million subs right now, and it'll likely slip to under 2 within a year.

      So in terms of the overall MMO decline, Rift Prime is doing as well as a purely sub server in an MMO world can be, particularly one not named World of Warcraft or FFXIV.

      That being said, I tend to take the complaints from the forums and whatnot with a grain of salt, especially given that MMOs constantly try to please the forums (and MMO Champion, etc.), frequently to their detriment. After all, listening to the "old school way" refrain constantly heard on WoW forums is how Wildstar became Wildstar, and every WoW-killer MMO thinks they have a chance against WoW.

    2. I'm not taking forum and reddit complaints as gospel, but I was wondering why you chose that particular game as an example of one doing well. And to be fair you didn't really answer the question, because "its single server hasn't shut down yet" isn't exactly a sign of anything in particular. :P

    3. Oh, that.

      I chose Rift Prime as an example of a game that is "on it's last legs" and "nobody plays there" vs the constant drumbeat of "TERA is full of players" that I see on a lot of these "other" MMOs, particularly in chat, such as on ArcheAge or GW2. When I hear about other MMOs on SWTOR, lOTRO, or AoC it's always "The MMO Who Must Not Be Named" (WoW) for some reason. I even had a recent conversation with a TERA fan --an actual, face to face conversation with a TERA fan-- who insisted that TERA was the best MMO out there and most of these other MMOs (outside of WoW) weren't going to last much longer. So when I discovered that TERA's server merge left it with the same number of servers as Age of Conan, yeah, I found that a comparison with another "dying" MMO might be warranted.

      As for what makes me think Rift Prime is doing (relatively) well? Because Rift Prime was designed to run for at least a year's worth of progression, so if it's still around it's doing well enough for Trion to keep the server operational.

    4. I wonder if Rift Prime is simply following the pattern of the EQ progression servers? A big burst of population that slowly declines over time. (I know that Blizzard expects the Classic servers to do the same thing, but they say they are committed to running those servers for as long as WoW exists.)

    5. That seems to be the general trend of all MMO servers, Pallais. Or at least that's what Tobold of Tobold's Blog is fond of saying.

      My own experience over several WoW and SWTOR expacs is that server population rises at the onset of an expac and then gradually falls as people get to the end of the content, get bored, and leave. LOTRO's server population is a bit more complex, as a sizeable subset of LOTRO players just simply hang around and play instruments, roleplay, and simply goof around. It doesn't mean that LOTRO's server population doesn't follow the same pattern, it's just that for a sizable portion of it's population they just don't care about expacs and new content.

      I personally hope that Blizz does follow through and keep Wow Classic up and running for the long haul, but my belief is that they'll simply tie it into a regular WoW subscription.

    6. Reading the news about Trion today made me think of this conversation...

    7. I just read it myself. Sounds like the German company bought Trion for the assets and not the staff, although the concept of a company such as Trion simply laying everybody off to spite the purchasers isn't unheard of; that's what happened when the boardgame company Avalon Hill was bought by Hasbro back in the 90s.

  2. TERA is a game I forget exists, and I rarely see anything on it except on Massivelyop.
    I’m no number cruncher, but I’d guess Wow has more than 2-3 million. Let’s wildly guess 8!
    LOTRO...the population on Landroval and Gladden, the two servers where I have characters seems lively enough.
    I don’t play SWTOR or Star Trek Online but would try Neverwinter again. There are so many good options for play right now, time’s the issue, just not enough time.

    1. At the beginning of an expac I could see a spike up to 5, but I think that 8 is being very optimistic. When WoW was at 8 million --prior to the server "don't-call-them-merges" in late Cataclysm or early Mists-- I could go to the Ghostlands, Redridge Mountains, or all sorts of Vanilla or BC locations and not see a soul. After the merges things looked better, but that's still a scenario where 8 million are playing in server space that would accommodate 13 million.