The 2008 MMORPG Year in review:
What happened, and what didnt happen.

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Hey all. Well 2008 was a big year for MMORPGs including 2 huge new games being released and a huge expansion on the biggest MMO in history. However, to many players 2008 was either a very big letdown or at least didn’t meet expectations. The 2 big releases, AoC and WAR struggled out of the gate. WoW was WoW. And players continue to wonder where is the MMO industry heading.

Age of Conan
AOC fell flat on its face in Vanguard like fashion. Many players just didn’t have the computer muscle to handle this game. Add to that huge client instability (memory leaks) and you’ve the makings for a disastrous launch. Add to that an inconsistent gameplay exemplified by a wonderful beginning (lev 1-20) followed by a struggling mid game (20-70) and little end game (Hurray! I’m lev 80….I do what now?) and it became very frustrating to even the most die hard Conan fan. Although AoC continues to move forward, Funcom will need a significant (and preferably free) expansion and major public relations damage control to bring this MMO back from the brink.

Warhammer Online
While WAR was much more successful it didn’t achieve the desired ‘uber ultra mega MMO’ status that many had hoped. WAR came shooting out of the gates and players were itching to test their mettle against one another. And that they did. However, while Mythic did a great job at balancing the sides, it neglected to balance the population. Hey, fact is one on one, Custer was balanced against his indian foes. In addition, a somewhat lacking end game has made players feel annoyed. However, recent attention to incentives for open RvR has given WAR a good shot in the arm. I expect them to continue this. I hope they now turn their attention to the underperforming PVE.

World of Warcraft
WOTLK expansion for world of warcraft was a solid expansion that made some necessary adjustments to its matured (dare I say aging) population. However, is it best to cure to WoW burnout by prescribing more WoW? Leveling from 70-80 was quick…perhaps too quick. The deathknight was a great addition. The release, gameplay, balance was very polished. In the end, I gave it a halfhearted “yay!” while wondering “can’t any other MMO see what Blizzard does and just take notes?”. If I want to play the best online game, will I be forced to play WoW forever? I asked the same thing about EQ1 5 years ago …so I feel good that the answer will be no. However, there was no "WoW Killer" and honestly, there never will be. Only time will erode Blizzard's hold on the MMO industry as it did with Everquest.

Other MMOs
Did you know that LOTRO, EQ2 and EvE both had expansions this year? Will they ever crawl their way out of the MMO ‘minor league’? Fact is both are very solid games. EvE is still considered the best Space game out there. The 9th EvE expansion was designed to allow for 1000+ player battles and reduced lag. However, the bots and complexity still hold it back from a larger audience. LOTRO is as immersive, fun, and smooth. Aside from this game’s poor PvP, I just don’t know why it didn’t shine. Legolas fatigue perhaps? The Moria expansion will make LOTRO players very happy, but it wasn’t enough to take this game to the next level. I still hold out hope that LOTRO will be ‘refound’ by the MMO players.

What's ahead in 2009
The MMO player’s eyes are now turning to 2009 …many with a ‘once bitten, twice shy’ attitude. It is because of this I plan to start putting down overviews of the upcoming games and expansions. When able, I will use the ‘uber ultra mega MMO website admin’ status I have (cough, cough) to give you early reviews of these games and expansions (Like I did with Age of Conan and Warhammer Online reviews). But soon, I want to give you a flavor of what MMOs are coming down the pike. What to look forward to , and what to look out for. Darkfall Online, Aion, Spellborne, Star Wars: The Old Republic? Will they make it? Will they thrive? What the heck is an Alfar? These are questions I hope to answer. Go HERE to see the overviews

--Of the 2 big new releases, AoC drowned while Warhammer kept its head above water
--WOTLK was a solid expansion worth its price, but doesn't change the game
--EvE and LOTRO continue to remain the best MMOs you're not playing
--There was no "WoW Killer". Only time will slowly erode Blizzard's hold on the MMORPG industry

Please feel free to comment either for or against my findings. I don’t mind criticism as long as it’s constructive.

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