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July 17th, 2012, 10:49
The content-driven MMO is not the only viable approach to designing these games. There are other ways to keep people interested.

It's all about the underpinning of systems and gameplay.

For instance, a solid economy and a rich and interesting crafting system is one way to sustain interest for a long, long time - without actually having to create content as a developer.

The obvious route is to let players create their own content - and I'm surprised so few developers have attempted to do that in a meaningful way. But it all comes down to the design of the systems that need to be in place to create a stable server community and let people interact without breaking the game or the experience for each other.

EvE online is a good example of an MMO that actually succeeded in doing this sufficiently well to make the game last for a significant amount of people. Unfortunately, I think the game is way too sterile and bland in terms of the moment-to-moment gameplay - and the sense of identity is just too weak for my part.

ArcheAge looks to be the only major MMO on the horizon really interested in trying to do something like this - and it's also doing the smart thing and adding a lot of themepark elements to the mix. It's supposedly a very rich and varied world with a lot of content on the side.

However, I think it's unrealistic to expect such games to maintain a very large population. Perhaps it's feasible to maintain 500K - if you do a REALLY good job, but most people are simply not interested in a long-term experience demanding a large investment on their part. They just want to relax and kick back after getting home from work.
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