Why Console MMO Games Keep Missing the Mark
Since the first beginnings of the glory days of PC gaming, MMOs have been an influential genre in the success of PC gaming. Games such as World of Warcraft, Runescape, EVE Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic are just some examples of the dynamic games that have been major influencers of MMO gaming in the last few years. For the most part, PC and consoles have relatively the same experiences with games. However, when it comes to the MMO genre, the console world has never been able to truly experience what occurs in the PC world.
March 20th marked the release of the newest endeavor by longtime games studio Rare. Sea of Thieves is an open world RPG that puts players into the role of a sea traveling pirate. The style of the game very much mirrors that of the popular genre of MMOs, or Massive Multiplayer Online games. It’s a genre of game that has been one of the most well enjoyed and influential. Despite Sea of Thieves having many aspects of an MMO and being fairly popular, it doesn’t quite get there. The console world still lacks the true MMO experience.
MMOs On Console
As MMOs are such a huge part of the PC gaming industry, and PC and console gaming are fairly equal sides of the gaming industry as a whole, then why isn’t MMO gaming a larger part of the console scene?
Well, the aspect has been explored be a myriad of developers and publishers, but none of the MMOs that have been launched on console platforms have even reached close to the success of PC MMOs.
Such examples of console pushed MMOs include Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy XI, Free Realms, and DC Universe Online. While these game are not outright failures financially or reception wise, they are some of the more popular console MMOs to be released, yet they all failed to make the console MMO world equivalent to that of the PC world.
These games go back to releasing among the years of the early and mid-2000s, so the history of trying to fully bring the MMO experience to console has been long running. Sea of Thieves is only the most recent example of the exploratory idea.
It is still too early to tell whether Sea of Thieves will be a successful MMO on console, unfortunately, it is doubtful that it will be. This is not to do with Sea of Thieves as much as it is to do with how MMOs function.The MMO genre is complex and highly intricate. Transferring that accurately to a more option limited platform such as console is highly difficult.
Why it Doesn’t Work
This is due to 3 main problems:
The differences between a keyboard and mouse and a controller are vast. Controllers are far simpler as they contain fewer button combinations. Which can be useful or efficient for a game where you don’t need a large myriad of game options. Unfortunately, MMOs require a large myriad of options. From scrolling through menus to assigning hotkeys, MMOs typically require a lot of options to make them efficient.
Not Enough People
One obvious aspect of an MMO is the vast number of players that are available to interact with. It isn’t uncommon for a PC MMO to have several hundred players on one server at the same time. It is part of the great appeal of these game types. This isn’t as much of a problem today with increases in technology. However, this was a big issue in the past generations of consoles. Maintaining a large player server on the Xbox 360 or PlayStation 2-3 generation would have been incredibly difficult. This difficulty in achieving a key component of MMOs has made the console MMO genre stand still in its growth. The fascinating culture that occurs on PC within MMO games had a hard time growing in the console world.
Bouncing off to social aspect that draws in crowds to MMOs, communication is a huge part of MMOs on PC. Players are constantly sending chat messages and join parties with one another in almost all MMO games. Having hundreds of players meeting one another while playing an adventure oriented game has played a huge role in the success of MMOs on PC. Unfortunately, this same experience is hard to accomplish on a console platform. This also has to do with the hardware limitations of console.
Most in-game communication on console games is done through voice chat. This works well when you are in a party of a few people. However, if you were to have hundreds of people in one game, selecting and communicating with them via voice chat would be incredibly difficult. Sea of Thieves accomplishes this somewhat by having proximity speech, where you can talk automatically to players near you. Yet sea of Thieves does not have the mass number of players most MMOs do.
By their very structure and manufactured setup, PCs are made for MMOs. Everything about them accommodates and perfects what MMOs strive to portray. The console world may never be able to experience MMOs in the same way that PC players can. However, with advancements in gaming technology, it is hard to say where console gaming will be in a few years.
Perhaps a game similar to Sea of Thieves will be released in the coming years that can perfectly embody the technical and cultural aspects that make MMO gaming on PC so great.
Want to see for yourself? Try Sea of Thieves Here!