Is older better?
About a week ago Jef Reahard of Massively posted an article about older MMOs being better than newer MMOs and not just some nostalgia from people playing their first MMO. I think Jef has a point there, but I would not necessarily agree that older MMOs are generally better.
Rather I think the perhaps less varied content one sees in newer MMOs is a question of market adaption, trying to capture a wider audience. Even a relatively simple MMO may have a learning curve for an entirely new player that is a bit higher than many other games. There is also a lot more online and multiplayer games of different types being offered today than a few years ago; grabbing the complete attention of a player for a long time is less likely today.
Newer games are adapting (or trying to adapt) to the new market conditions, grabbing more players than the typical MMO games have done in the past (except WoW). This direction is better graphics and settings, cool effects and various other things to draw people in and play for a while – but also keeping things simple so that even a fresh player can get into it and perhaps get hooked for a while.
The player category that may be hurt by this is the MMO veteran. Having mastered many MMO gameplay elements in the past the veteran quickly relatively quickly identifies and understands many of the mechanics and features of a new game. Even a moderatly complex game (including all sorts of games) may be too simple – it has all been done before.
I think Jef’s point is certainly valid in the view of the veteran player and this is a target audience that older MMOs may be in a good position to capture – at least if some of the actually bad parts that may have been there in the beginning are fixed. Veterans may be more time-constrained nowadays, but still crave for that extra involvement that would be needed to provide a proper level of stimuli in the game.