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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Longevity: The Inherent Problem of Online Gaming

Since the inception of MMO gaming, there have been critics and champions of the genre. Many have claimed that the games are merely designed to extort money from players under the guise of providing a service or exaggerated grind fests that are meant to pad out an empty or shallow game. Perhaps one of the largest complaints of traditional gamers is that an MMO has no finite end and they do not wish to hear a story that will never end. However, this is not the fatal flaw of MMO gaming.

online gaming

The Inherent Problem

One thing that cannot be denied about MMO gaming are technical limitations. This does not refer to graphics or computer specs. The free to play game Runescape requires very little processing power, but has been popular for years. No, the technical limitations which ultimately doom an MMO game is the server. For server's are held up by the company which made the game and only for as long as it is profitable. Eventually, even the longest running MMO will have to be shut down. They cannot last as long as even the oldest nes games.

The Server Problem

No matter how feeble the hardware, a game can live on through it's software. Emulation of nes, snes and countless other game systems has proven that much. As many as thirty years after their creation, software from nes games persist online, in databases, in cartridges, they have many sources and can be reproduced easily, as demonstrated with the Wii's Virtual Console.

MMO games however, can only exist as long as they are willed by the servers. Even if the software persists, the world will be gone and the players who populate the world with it. Offline games can exist through their software alone, however, when a server goes down, an MMO game is gone for good. Asheron's Call 2, the Matrix Online, and Tabula Rasa among others are canceled MMO's, which can never be revisited. The server's are down, with grand events to close out their life times. No matter how much MMO players may want to deny it, they cannot play the game forever.

Time is Fleeting

No matter how old, so long as the software exists a game can be reborn. The problem with MMO gaming, even if people do not want to admit it, is that time spent on them is gone for good. All that remains are the memory's of the game. In this way, time is fleeting, for even if the story of a game is great, such as the epic cinematic story telling of WoW, or even the simple, buggy storytelling of Asheron's Call, players will never be able to revisit it once gone.

In this way, MMO games are limited when compared to offline games. They may last for decades, but once they disappear they can never be revisited. A good book, a beloved film, and especially ancient games can be reproduced as long as the software exists. However, MMO games are built for the players and with the players. When the by and the with disappear, it is nothing at all.

Take Heart

This problem is one that many may not face for years. Everquest has endured since 1999, for over 11 years. There is no reason to despair or to be upset. A game is meant to be enjoyed. Even if all that is left are the memories of times spent with comrades, playing, raiding, and questing, this is not so bad a fate. Players who enjoy the game need not fear the end which will eventually come.

MMO games cannot persist as offline games do, mainly because of their player centric and money making needs. Despite that, like any game, they are meant to be enjoyed. They will not last forever, but sometimes the best things in life hit like a bolt of lightning and vanish with just as much speed.

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