Friday, January 16, 2015

Q Attack, Round 7 - Are Persistent Online Worlds the Future of Console Gaming?
Tiger and Rabbit tackle the world of massively multiplayer online games in this edition of Q Attack. Are Persistent Online Worlds the future of console gaming? According to one of our bloggers, it is, but which blogger? Read on Qgers and Qbits to find out.


Tiger: So I was playing a little bit of Destiny the other day.

Rabbit: Uh-huh.

Tiger: And got sucked into one of those community challenges.

Rabbit: Is that so?

Tiger: There was a good sized group of us fighting this thing.

Rabbit: Oh really?

Tiger: Why are you doing that?

Rabbit: Doing what?

Tiger: Adding in some little quip after every sentence I say.

Rabbit: I’m trying to show you that I’m engaged with what you are saying.

Tiger: Well, please stop, it’s annoying.

Rabbit: Fine, I’ll stop.

Tiger: Good.

Rabbit: I guess so.

Tiger: No, really, just stop talking.

Rabbit: I will, I promise.

Tiger: What is wrong with you!?

Rabbit: Me? You keep asking me questions!

Tiger: Fine, I’m stopping. Alright, as I was saying-

Rabbit: Yes, please continue.

Tiger: *rolls eyes* Anyway, so I was playing this community event in Destiny, the ones where you just randomly run into them and can choose to stick around or not, and we were so close to killing this thing off. Then suddenly, everyone left and the ones who did remain, we couldn’t take the guy down within the time limit.

Rabbit: That sucks.

Tiger: It does, I really dislike that I can’t play Destiny offline. I like playing with people but only when I feel like it. I really enjoy just running around a game by myself sometimes.

Rabbit: I can understand that. It was something that really annoyed me about Demon’s Souls when I first started playing it. Your world can get invaded by other players and sometimes they were leveled up a lot more than you. I got canned so many times by high level invaders that I ended up playing most of that game offline.

Tiger: That’s exactly why I didn’t get into the Demon’s Souls or Dark Souls games. They looked interesting but I disliked the whole idea that someone could just come in and do that. There was another game, I can’t remember what it was, but I remember the developer saying that if you didn’t play it often; another player could invade your castle and steal all your loot. That type of persistent online world sounds cool at first but for those of us who don’t play the same game all the time, it can be a pain.

Rabbit: That is true but I think the idea is pretty cool too. I really think we’re starting to move into a new era of MMOs. It’s no longer about World of Warcraft or League of Legends, even though those games are still big, but I think we’re starting to see MMOs designed for the console gamer in mind.

Tiger: I can see that, the MMO market has really missed out on a valuable demographic in regards to console gamers. Making MMOs more accessible to console gamers could open up a whole new revenue stream for them.

Rabbit: To me, it’s about the connectivity with other players and a persistent world; those are the key features of a PC MMO that seem to be translating to console games. Actually, let’s call them that; Persistent Online Worlds or POW for short. MMOs are usually PC games that have you play with a ton of other people. You probably have a subscription or lots of in-game purchases. Whereas with POWs, they are designed for consoles, you don’t play with as many people; but you can purchase expansions etc.

Tiger: Are you serious? POWs?

Rabbit: I think I’m on to something here. Anyway, I just wanted to really try and differentiate between what we think of when we say ‘MMO’ versus games like Destiny. Do you think of Destiny as an MMO?

Tiger: I don’t actually.

Rabbit: But it is, if you boil it down, right?

Tiger: I guess it is. So yeah, I will placate to you on this. MMOs are games like Dota or Everquest; POWs are games like Destiny, Dark Souls, or The Tomorrow Children. Okay?

Rabbit: Awesomeista. But doesn’t it feel like there has been a shift with these types of games? I know we both don’t follow MMOs mostly because they are on PC and the ones that we have played, Warframe and the LotR game, have that very PC feel to them. But now we have The Tomorrow Children and No Man’s Sky, which kind of sounds like one of these persistent online games.

Tiger: It’s true that it feels like MMOs are evolving into something else or maybe just adapting. I mean, there is a reason why we don’t have some of the PC MMOs on consoles whether it be for licensing reasons or lack of inputs or what have you. There is that opportunity to really attract new consumers. Look at Warframe when it came out on PS4, I know so many people that played that game. It was hugely popular considering it came from a developer that is not well known to console gamers.

Rabbit: I was surprised that SOE hasn’t been more active on the PS4. I mean, Planetside was announced but that’s it. You’d think since they are part of Sony that they would have had something ready for launch or close to launch.

Tiger: We don’t have Elder Scrolls Online yet either.

Rabbit: Can you honestly tell me that you want Elder Scrolls Online?

Tiger: *sighs* No. I really don’t want to pay a subscription fee.

Rabbit: That’s why I’m excited about The Tomorrow Children. Well, at least I don’t think it will have subscription fees. Anyway, it looks like a really interesting POW. Some crazy Russian experiment goes wrong in the 1960s and suddenly all humanity is wiped out. You play an astral projection or something and have to help collect resources and fight monsters to keep your town alive. I don’t know how to explain it; you really need to watch some alpha gameplay.

Tiger: I did see some of the alpha and it looks great, I’m not sure about the gameplay though.

Rabbit: I find it really cool that things are constantly happening, even when you aren’t playing the game. You could be gone for a couple of days, come back into the game and find that your town has been expanded or maybe even destroyed. Islands of various materials form and disappear. You can even rescue little capsules that turn into inhabitants for your town. All this happens while you play with or at least parallel to other players. So even if you aren’t directly playing with another person, you are always working collaboratively with others to gain the necessary resources for your town.

Tiger: That’s actually a pretty interesting idea. I could see there’s a lot of potential with the persistent online worlds but I still think there are drawbacks too. What happens if you play with people who aren’t very “cooperative?” I could see the possibility that a player could steal resources from you.

Rabbit: At least in The Tomorrow Children there is an ability to report players and if they get too many reports, will actually be arrested in the game.

Tiger: *laughs* That’s awesome.
Rabbit: So, what do you think? Are POWs the future of console gaming?

Tiger: I hope not. I like some of the ideas that come with POWs but I don’t want this to become a trend. There’s too many downsides to me. For one, you have to get other people to help you beat certain missions. Like in Destiny, organizing a group of five of your friends to play for a few hours is harder than it sounds. I also dislike that you do have the possibility of subscriptions or lots of micro transactions. I want to be able to play a game when I want to play it and with whom I want to play them with.

Rabbit: That’s a lot of “wants.”

Tiger: It’s true though, why should I be forced into a community of gamers when I don’t necessarily want to be a part of that in-game community.

Rabbit: Wow, so anti-social.

Tiger: *crosses arms* Technically speaking, I’m avoidant.

Rabbit: I do see your points but I think this could be a great future for console gaming. Now, I’m not saying that every game needs to utilize POWs but I think a lot could benefit from them. I love the possibility that when you leave a game for a week, it continues to grow and evolve without you being there. An overgrown jungle could turn into a sprawling civilization or an overpopulated city could be turned into a wasteland; all while you were away. Subscriptions can be a pain but I think the idea of expansions could be worth the price. Instead of getting a sequel every year, you get meaningful expansions that allow you to continue the story you started with the same character.

Tiger: That to me is the best argument for MMOs over traditional RPGs. I remember how much more I cared about playing Mass Effect 2 and 3 because I could use “my” Commander Shepard from the first game. I know WoW just had a big expansion come out a few months ago. Having the option to experience new content with your leveled up character is great. Don’t forget though, you can technically do that with a lot of other RPGs. Skyrim, for example, had story DLC.

Rabbit: That is true but not on the scale that some MMOs do. Could you imagine playing a POW that lasts 10+ years? Destiny is supposedly one of those games.

Tiger: *humph* Destiny wasn’t a 10 day game for me.

Rabbit: I just love the idea of what games like The Tomorrow Children may bring to the console table. You can work together or work alone towards a common community goal in an ever persistent world that will change because of your actions. The future of console gaming is coming, be ready – POW!

Are Persistent Online Worlds the Future of Console Gaming?

Tiger     vs     Rabbit

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