What’s The Bloody Point? Browser-Based MMORTS Games
For those of you new to MMOGameCentral, What’s The Bloody Point is my bi-weekly ranting article where I complain about a specific issue within the gaming industry. For this weeks What’s The Bloody Point, I’m going to be attacking browser-based MMORTS games. I’ve been following browser-based MMORTS games since their conception in 2005, and even played one of the first MMORTS browser games ever released, Age of Penguins, but seven years down the line, they’re really starting to get on my nerves.
Taking a look at the Age of Penguins website, and then comparing it to modern day MMORTS titles such as Evony, it’s clear that the genre has come a long way in just a few years. But outside of graphics, shinier websites and aggressive marketing campaigns, have they really evolved in terms of features and mechanics? I’ve written game descriptions, reviews and summaries for over 250 different MMORTS games, and in all honesty, 90% of them can be summed up with just a couple of sentences.
“Gather resources, endure ridiculously slow build times to construct buildings, likewise for troops, and then attack enemy encampments and other players.”
Sure, you can probably sum up every genre with a few words but at least online shooting games and RPG titles bring some kind of innovation with a new game. The browser-based MMORTS genre is filled with clones, big name developers releasing 2-3 strategy games using the same game engine, just adding different pictures and models. Occasionally there are some uniquely themed strategy games that hit the genre, such as Desert Operations and Grepolis, but for all intents and purposes, they still offer an almost identical experience to browser-based MMORTS games that were released years ago.
It’s not all doom and gloom, over the last year a number of innovative browser-based MMORTS games have released that have injected more appeal into a stale genre. Among these titles a few stand out, Final Eden, Edgeworld and Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances. Final Eden and Edgeworld both offer a totally unique approach to combat, although they share the same feature as both are published by Kabam Games. A large reason behind the success of Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances is also the combat, bringing me to believe that improving the combat systems of today’s MMORTS games it the way forward.
So What’s The Bloody Point? Sadly it’s all about the money. You can argue that every business is about the money but the browser-based gaming industry isn’t really your average business setup. A big name developer, such as Kabam Games or gPotato, could release a poor title, but it wouldn’t stop players trying their next game. Whereas other businesses that disappoint their customers will be losing business on a regular basis. Practically every single MMORTS game offers an item mall, and at the end of the day, that’s the only purpose they serve. Clawing money away from players that are, for some reason, willing to spend hundreds of dollars on faster build times or stronger units.
Check out my next bi-weekly rant about online console multiplayer FPS games here.