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Space simulators and worlds at war: The state of MMO PC games in 2014

Hayden Dingman | Jan. 5, 2015
2014 saw the release of four major MMOs, an MMO alpha, and a ton of expansions for legacy games. Now what were you saying about MMOs being a dead genre?

It's hard to know how Elite: Dangerous will go though, considering it just launched "for real" mid-December after a nigh-endless procession of alphas, betas, and gammas. Right now, the biggest challenge for Elite is steering new players towards content. It's all well and good to let players go off and explore and find their own path, but there's maybe such a thing as too much freedom? Right now Elite is a fantastic simulator, but not so much a fantastic game if you're just looking to jump in and find your place in the universe.

I'll be keeping an eye on this one in 2015 though. Hell, I've got a flight stick taking up permanent occupancy on my desk right now. And with Star Citizen (maybe) just around the corner, the world of space pseudo-MMOs is going to get pretty crowded before you know it.

Every Other Game (But Mostly Dragon Age)
Dragon Age: Inquisition

Let's face it: In 2014, every game became an MMO. Some did so quite literally, with titles like Watch Dogs and The Crew adding in all sorts of weird drop-in-drop-out multiplayer functionality to (ostensibly) single-player games. Sometimes it was great! Sometimes the servers went down and made it impossible to even play the games by myself, which made me want to snap my damn keyboard in half.

Other games remained devoutly singleplayer, but the MMO feedback loop was impossible to miss. The chief offender here was Dragon Age: Inquisition, which touted "120 hours of content" prior to launch. And there probably are 120 hours of content, but a lot of it is meaningless fetch quests of the "Collect 10 MacGuffins" variety. Dragon Age is a great game (one of the ten best this year, in fact), but even World of Warcraft has largely abandoned those boring grinds.

Don't expect that trend to reverse anytime soon though. 2015 will surely shove out even more "always-connected" experiences. Far from dying out, the MMO genre is stronger than ever. It's just cropping up in places where nobody really wants to say "MMO," for fear it's a dirty word.


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