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SummaryThe End Of the Gaming Industry
The GoodIn 1999 the concept of an MMO was still brand new. This was the first widely released game that incorporated the "ability" to play with thousands of other players in a huge gaming world. The "potential" for player to player interaction in this game was immense. In addition, for the day, the graphics were unbelievable, considering the scope of the game.
The BadInstead of leading the gaming industry into a new renaissance, this game literally destroyed the entire industry.
Why? It's complicated, but I will try to break it down.
1) The development team of this game released an absurdly unfinished product. Yet people played it anyway. I tried it in April of 1999, and dropped it by May 1999 because of how bad it was. Unfortunately I was in the vast minority.
This gave developers the green light to release games that were essentially still in BETA and have players actually fund their development. This problem still persists today!
2) While this game gave players the "ability" to play with other people, it was designed to be played by SINGLE player. Thus it was one of the first SINGLE PLAYER ONLINE GAMES. Why on earth would you pay a monthly fee for a game, when comparative single player games exist that do not require a monthly fee? Developers noticed how players didn't seem to care! Quite frankly it goes to show you just how stupid many of us are. :(
This gave developers the green light to build massive SINGLE player games, and yet charge a monthly fee for them.
3) The game itself is utterly dull and vapid. Even in 1999 people lamented that in Everquest all you could do was kill brown rats, to move onto white rats, to move onto black rats. After black rats you moved onto big brown spiders, then big red spiders, and then the cycle repeats.
I knew people who played this game while watching TV. One of my friends actually would watch TV, eat food, and play ANOTHER GAME, yet still play Everquest because it was so simple!
Not only that, but people would play these games for 12+ hours a day! Why would you do that to yourself?!
The game developers noticed how quite a few people responded to this completely boring design and thus started making every other MMO in exactly the same manner. Innovation was scrapped for blatant copying of an older boring design.
4) Everquest made huge amounts of money, and that is the single element of this game that killed the gaming industry as a whole. Previous to the release of Everquest MMO type games had existed (IE UO did well, just not this well). But this is the first one to REALLY cash in. At its peak this game was bringing in tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars a month, in addition to the CD sales! Compared to most games that relied entirely off of someone just buying a CD.
In the years previous to 1999 a new gaming genre was released just about every 3-4 years. These new genres were almost always a breath of fresh air. Just to name a few: side scrollers, 4x strategy, real time strategy, first person shooter, online first person shooter, clicking role playing games, etc, etc, etc...
But after 1999 there hasn't been a major new genre created. Realize the impact of that statement! In almost 13 years we haven't seen a new video game genre. That would be as if in 1999 we were all still playing ONLY side scrollers like Super Mario Bros!
Why did this game kill innovation in the gaming industry? Because everyone saw how much more money the subscription based online games were making and everyone in the industry dropped what they were doing to make them. So many flooded the market that the asking price for a subscription dropped to ZERO. Countless studios shutdown simply due to their greed and inability to manage programs of this scope. And countless more shutdown because they released "cookie cutter" MMOs that bored the tears out of the people who played them.
Instead of innovating, these companies simply copied a very expensive genre and it killed the entire industry.
Most of the companies left in the gaming industry do not make new games, they simply re-create games made AT LEAST 13 years ago.
The Bottom LineEverquest was a blatant slot machine game that was easiest played by yourself. Players would kill red creatures until they leveled, then they would kill black creatures, then white, then purple. Once completed they would kill another creature in the red color and start the cycle all over again. This pattern would repeat for possibly 300-400 hours (or more in some cases). Some of us hated this type of game, but millions apparently loved this style of game.
This game made so much money that it killed the video gaming industry in the later 90's and early 2000's. Just about everyone in the industry dropped their innovative projects (because of greed) and tried to copy it's design. The vast majority failed miserably. And because of it we haven't seen a new gaming genre released in almost 13 years.
Welcome to the Dark Ages of gaming.