Game Theory and what an MMO needs to do to Succeed

We have seen an endless procession of new MMOs launch in the last few years and while there is always a lot of hope for them, they all ultimately fail.  Why is this?

An MMO or multiplayer game is different to a single player game in that it introduces competition, thus making the game more exciting and more social, they should be more popular, therefore the rewards are greater for a designer that gets it right.

Unfortunately, most game-designers look to single-player games for inspiration, where a player only challenges themselves, not other people.  I think that game-designers should look elsewhere.

If we look at Casinos, we see an environment that thrives on multiplayer competitive games for its living.  Here is a more obvious source of inspiration for MMOs than single-player games.

Casino games are high on luck and excitement, with just enough skill to make learning the game worth a player's time.  Also, there is almost no long-term carry-over from previous games.

The mistake most modern MMOs make is that they think that they need to reward skill more and differentiate between players.  This may make a "Better" game, say like Bridge, but it isn't a very popular game, and it isn't played in Casinos.  The way to a successful MMO is to make luck a very high component in the game, and allow players fortunes to rise and fall easily in the game.

Even creating a fake MMO, where you are really creating a single player game with social interaction, is not going to work, because ultimately people will compete.  No matter what you give them they will look across at other players and compare.

MMOs fail most often, because most of the time the game designers are creating a game with the wrong objectives.  They are trying to create Bridge, and not Texas Hold 'Em.

That is just my opinion, I could be wrong.


  • Thats quite the in depth theory I can see you care about the game ^^
  • I applaud your effort but for me personally, the less left up to chance the better. :) Then again, I've never been to a casino as I'm simply not tall enough to see where my dice go.

  • Nice Theory and yeah it's true. The game designers make awesome nice looking games with new functions and so on, but if there are not enough "excitement" in all stages of the game then people will loose the "excitement" feeling. The line between excitement and boring (or what ever you call it) is hard to define tho. Every game have their own line and their own "excitement" feeling. What I think that could bring Ashes of Creation to the line between that, are the extra focus on both crafting and economic sites - crafting for the luck feeling and economic like gambling feeling- together they make the excitement + they have the functions what the modern MMO's have with PvE and PvP XD  
  • I would counter that what you put forth may be exciting for some people but the raw design of RNG based mechanics does not in turn mean that a game is going to be better received.

    Imagine this, you must kill, collect, or locate "x" number of quest objectives but these objectives only have a 50% rate of spawn or drop. You are then forced to "compete" with others in the area in hope that you are in the right place, get the killing blow, and perhaps even then get the drop (on top of having to locate the mob). While this is not even a high chance of risk (50%) and the competition would be high you end up with a Grind quest. Now maybe the reward is that you get some awesome mount, or item crafting component (since it has been mentioned that mob Equipment drops are going to be less integral to AoC). This might give you the chance to get that cool thing to show off but that does not take away the grind. All it says to most that observe is not, "That player has skill. Or WOW how did they get that?" what normally comes off is "Well there is someone who likely does not have a job and spends 16 hours a day grinding cracked harpy talons to get that bird mount."

    There are many kinds of players of different archetypes that play in an MMO, you have PvPer, Explorers, Achievers, and socialites. They all play the game for vastly different reasons and tipping the game design in any one direction often has a diametrically responsive change for the other player types.

    Strong MMOs in the past or at the very least ones that have survived have either focused on single parts of those archetypes or they struck a balance with a few to keep the wobbling and spinning top from falling over. If you look at games like Eve despite having a notoriously high skill-cap and time sink they are able to give a part of the game to each of the archetypes. When it comes to WoW which normally is seen as much more approachable they also do a great job with providing areas that all the archetypes can find a home in. In contrast if you look at games like Warhammer Online which sunk too much of its focus into PvP (large scale PvP at that) and neglected its other player types. Whereas games like Wildstar were too heavily focused on Achievers and even had to shut down PvP servers due to lack of interest and population.

    Now none of this is to say that you are completely off the mark in that you CAN create excitement by risk but it is by no means the staple that defines a good game. A great game plays into the tension and release cycle that drives our mental chemistry. A game that draws you in for that ONE big RNG roll is great, after you had to socialize with your friends, to collectively find the hidden boss room, and out witting the other players attempting to go for it at the same time. 

    A great game give you the option to be more than you are in a given moment and makes you put that invest time on the razors edge. It calls to something more primal, that held breath right before the hunter takes the shot. :)
  • ArchivedUserArchivedUser Guest
    edited September 2017
    I think it would be better to say that familiarity breeds boredom.
    When you know what to expect, when there is no change, there is no real interest.

    RNG can play a role in that because it replaces the familiar, mundane and boring with the unfamiliar.
    The unfamiliar in turn generates interest and a need to understand it.

    BUT...there are somethings we like boring.
    It gives a sense of stability.
    A sense of belonging.

    Applying RNG to things that should be stable and unchanging is just as bad as making interesting things that change predictable and boring.

    Even chaos and order must balance.

  • Just my point of view, but chance games bore me to death, what's the interaction or skill or learning or simple brain engagement. 
    I'll always choose a skill based board game at christmas because I want to whoomp the butt off my highly competitive father, because it's fun.... yeah, I'll never choose to play simple chance games, where's the fun?

    As to bridge and texas hold em, well I'd say that they both have the same aspects of both chance and skill... to only a slightly different degree. Possibly Bridge and Snap are better examples, but I'm sure I know which of those I'd be getting bored with quickly. 
    Yes snap was a lot of fun when I hadn't even hit teenage years yet, but otherwise the only fun I've had with snap since has included inebriation. 

    Having said all of that, the development team do seem to be open to feedback if the game presented in alphas etc turns out to not be engaging enough. . . 

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