When it comes to the ultra-competitive online games space, the number of failures far outweighs the number of success stories. The corpses of dead games litter the digital highway, long since forgotten. And these days, the explosion of free-to-play options has dramatically changed the playing field for all online games across all genres.
But there are some games that have survived the test of time and continue to thrive with "old school" gameplay despite facing competition from much bigger — and much newer — titles. We spoke to the developers of three legendary standbys to learn just how the franchises have managed to stay so beloved for so long: Quake, EverQuest, and Runescape.
Let's dig in.
While John Carmack is busy developing mobile virtual reality for Oculus VR these days, one of the games he helped design — Quake — continues to captivate gamers after 18 years. Adam Pyle, producer of Quake Live at id Software, said the foundation of the online game was established with Quake III Arena, a game nearly 15 years old.
"Not many games have held an audience for over a decade, while also attracting new fans," said Pyle. "Two key elements that still resonate with gamers today are its elegant balance between simple-to-play and hard-to-master and the speed in which you can decide to play, hop into a game, and begin having fun. Within seconds you can be in-game, and the quick movement and powerful weapons lead to some really adrenaline-pumping fights. The game rules are straightforward and simple to understand, frag or be fragged, but over time a real depth arises as you strive to improve your skills. If Quake has a skill ceiling, we haven't found it yet."
Quake Live, which launched in 2010 as a web-based title and evolved into a client-based download, has emerged as one of the most popular online shooters, thanks in part to its free-to-play gameplay. Publisher Bethesda Softworks makes it easy for new gamers to log into the action seamlessly. Like Valve'sCounter Strike: Counter Offensive, Quake Live has also benefited from the exploding popularity of e-sports.
"Quake tournaments have played an important role since its inception and continue to push our competitive players to focus and hone their skills," said Pyle. "We've been proud to host a major Quake tournament at every QuakeCon since 1996, and over the past few years have really strived to improve the Quake e-sports scene at our annual event... To this day, many consider the Quake Live Duel mode to be unmatched as a game of skill."
Pyle believes the recent Steam launch of Quake Live will further grow the game's audience. His team also stays connected with gamers through Twitch livestreams and social media, which have allowed them to enhance the game based on real-time player feedback.
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