Apr 24, 2010

What is the Difference between an MMO and a Non-MMO?

So, there I was, doing some PvP, right in the middle of a field, taking hits from somewhere off in the trees, an enemy scout, being supported by a healer, was raining ranged death upon my party, eventually, we worked out where the scout was, our healer brought one of the support classes back to life, then he hit them with a tremendous explosion and took the pair of ‘em out, got an achievement and some exp for it too..

Sounded exciting, didn’t it?  Maybe a tale from Warcraft or EQ2s Battlegrounds, perhaps a bit of Warhammer Online? Nope, that was Battlefield Bad Company 2, “That no MMO!” you might say, in the style of Admiral Akbar, but there are some similarities…

Not an MMO?

Yes, I chose my words carefully to sound as ambigious as I could, but other than that, that was an accurate account of a game of Bad Company (Arica Harbour was the map, on Rush if you’re wondering) but the point I’m making is “What does an MMO have that other games doesn’t?”

Bad Company, Call of Duty, MAG, Uncharted 2 etc. are all shooters and all have exp systems, with leveling up, unlocking new items/perks/abilities, which is just like what an MMO has, and with MMOs having more and more instanced dungeons, and in EQ2′s case, Guild Halls becoming lobbies for finding instance groups, the lack of overworld is easily overlooked.  Warcraft even has that Dungeon Finder thing, which takes all the effort out of looking for a group and just puts you in one, basicly the same as server browser for your FPS of choice.

An MMO doesn’t have to be about beards, orcs, magic and swords.  Global Agenda is classed as an MMO, that also happens to be a real time shooter.  You also have games like Black Prophecy, APB and Perpetuum Online all show that games with other themes are coming, and games like TERA showing that MMOs needn’t be about clicking buttons and watching hotbars, but are these games going to Massively Multiplayer Online games, or just Multiplayer Online games?

Persistant server = MMO?

I don’t know about you, but I miss the 70 person raids of EQ1, and the Epic zones we used to raid. EQ2 only has Veeshan’s Peak, nowhere near as grand as Temple of Veeshan or Kael Drakkel.  Thankfully theres no 7 hour Plane of Sky raids either, but I get the impression MMO developers are scaling things back to make them easier to develop, then police afterwards to stop cheating.

Do robots dream of electric online games? :D

There has been alot of talk on the various blogs about MMOs merging servers to keep the games reasonably populated, but with games being focused on instances as opposed to the sprawling public dungeons of EQ1, you will still see vast areas of the game world being relatively underpopulated.

Does an MMO have to be an RPG? Does it even need to be “Massively Multiplayer” any more? Does something like this count as an MMO? Persistant Servers for normally “Non-MMO” multiplayer games are fast becoming the same as a “normal” MMO in terms of player numbers you can actually interact with, and with games like Team Fortress 2 adding a rudimentary crafting system,  they’re even getting some of the more advanced features of an MMO.

What do people think? Is the old Massively Multiplayer game dying out? Do you want more games to be taking on MMO-like features? Do you play on a persistant game server, and does it match a “proper” MMO?


  • An MMO for me has to have the massive element. CoD or similar games are not MMO's as they have much smaller numbers. An MMO can have 1000's of people on a server which is something you don't get from games like CoD.

    Having the ability to level your character doesn't make it an MMO, just a game with character progression.

    Of course the game doesn't have to be an RPG which is why we are MMO-Symposium and not MMORPG-Symposium. :)

  • I guess I've seen, and participated, in this kind of discussion before, but…these days my answer to this question is changing. Mainly because of the change in certain MMOs.

    IMO some of the most popular MMOs seem to switch to a hub-playstyle like any other multiplayergame out there. In EQ2 everyone is standing in the guildhall and instantly port to whatever instance they need to go to. Apart from the chatchannels there is very little interaction between the thousands of players except 6 at a time when doing an instance. The dungeon finder in WoW seems to have the exact same impact on that game.

    Due to timerestraints I mostly solo these days, but I REALLY like having other players running around in my chosen cyberworld. The world seems more vibrant and immersive to me this way and theres always an opportunity for some quick collaboration or swapping of info regarding the hunting-area.

    Recently I've been playing Monster Hunter Tri on my Wii, and the multiplayer-part of this game is kind of similar to how many MMOs work now…just VERY instanced! Im not saying that these MMOs arent persistant worlds, but that due to certain features implemented, most players are playing the game as IF it werent a persistant world…

  • [...] one of our writer’s here asked a similar question in a post here where he asked about what makes an MMO. Does it have to be an RPG, have crafting, be persistent? [...]

Leave a comment