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A Time of Change?

May 23, 2007

On all accounts 2007 will be an interesting year for the MMORPG world, Lord of the Rings Online was released just over a month ago and we have Age of Conan and Warhammer Online to look forward to as well.

One of my research interests is what makes guilds stay together and come apart,  and where people go when they leave, so from this perspective the most interesting thing will be the affect these  rivals to WoW on player communities. Will core guild members stick together in new MMORPGs, or will whole new guild memberships be born? How many people will actually become players of two MMORPGs, or possibly even more? Either way it will be fascinating to see just how strong ‘virtual’ communities can be.

Another example of behaviour change that might be occurring, noted by arch-MMORPG blogger, Tobold, is the possibility that LOTRO allows for more relaxed/less time intensive play compared to the frenetic levels many experience in WoW . Unsurprisingly there is a mixture of agreement and disagreement in the replies to his post, but enough people agree to suggest there is something happening here.

Whether LOTRO is offering an escape from the competitive, all consuming nature of WoW or whether it’s because there is as yet no end-level content to aspire to in LOTRO remains to be seen, but there’s the possibility, as a few commenters point out, that you’re never quite as rabid about your second MMORPG (WoW being the first for many, myself included).

This is a subject I’ll be keeping my eye on, as it may determine how future MMORPG titles decide on release content or how a particularly gameworld/franchise impacts player involvement, amongst other things!

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