If you haven’t heard, the first superhero MMO, City of Heroes, is planning on shutting its doors for good come November 2012. I am personally of the opinion that this is a good thing. Now before you jump all over me about the folks that work there and the fans of the game that are losing their MMO home, let me explain.
First, I feel very sorry for the folks that are losing their livelihood. I would never wish that on anyone. I hope everyone at the company finds new and gainful employment as soon as possible. Having been unemployed for a year after graduate school, I know how awful that can be when you have a family that depends on you.
That being said, I think all MMO’s should have a life cycle that includes an end date. Why? If we eliminate the large MMO anomaly that is WoW, the MMOverse is a relatively niche entertainment sector. Unless it starts growing by leaps and bounds, there are only so many people to go around. Developers, on the other hand, keep pumping out games. Not at breakneck speed, but they are steadily coming out. Thus we have the development of the free-to-play era where there are more games than people to play them and in order to maintain players, the developers have to lower the barrier for entry to their games.
I think that if games have a life cycle, even if it is 5-10 years, it will allow for the development of new games and reign in the market saturation. People say “the more choice the better,” but at the same time how different are the games really? There is no real innovation because there is so much risk involved and there are so many opportunities to play other games. Developers create games that are clones because they think that is the safest way to make money. There are no pioneers left because the landscape has already been populated.
So here I am advocating that developers close down some games, not to eliminate choice, but to lead to a more vibrant community in the games that we do have and to inspire some innovation. EQ, AO, DAoC, UO, WAR … it is time to go. We will always have the memories, but your time is past. Make some room for the new breed.