How Drakensang Online is following the steps of the greatest MMORPG of all time.
Drakensang Online can be called a dead game nowdays. It's not that it doesnt have a playerbase. It simply has become stale over the years and you can say that the developers have given up on the idea of making it relevant again. This is what almost happened with World of Warcraft.
Before we begin, its important to note that, just because there is a pattern in both games, that doesn't make them the same. They are 2 completely different games with different budgets, playerbases, gameplay etc.
Main, non-gameplay, difference between the 2 games.
To understand the pattern in both games we are going to need to take a step back and see the history of gaming on the MMORPG industry. It is 2004. The most famous MMORPG games at the time were Runescape, Everquest etc. All of these games were incredibly hardcore. This is when WoW releases. Seen then by the community as a the casual MMORPG it manages to grow exponentially due to its casual nature as well as some smart marketing. The game keeps growing till 2011, where it reaches its peak...
On the other hand we have Drakensang Online. Released at 2011, this game didn't grow for the same reasons as WoW. It was one of the first actually good browser games, growing so much, that it became an actual, downloadable, with launcher, game. Drakensang Online was also quite good for a free to play game Their release history is the main difference between these 2 games. But everything else is quite the same.
What both games nailed.
- They both created an immersive world. The world felt mostly alive, the story made sense and the creativity and fantasy was insanely addictive to discover.
- The visuals were great for the time.
- The gameplay was exciting and PVP was thrilling.
- There was a lot of grinding, making players simply play more!
- Doing stuff felt rewarding. Completing hard quests, hitting milestones, defeating bosses, made you feel like you achieved a lot. Getting an Epic item, felt EPIC
What made both games fall in popularity nowdays.
- Even though the lore would still be immersive over the years, the introduction of new villains to defeat each time made the proccess of defeating villains feel repetitive, something that must never happen for a game! This was especially felt with WoW, since it is a much older game.
- The games became casual-oriented. I get asked a lot why is it considered bad for a game to appeal to a casual audience. Its because of 2 main reasons:
1) The game becomes less challenging, therefore beating it, does not excite the player too much. It doesn't need to be impossible, just hard enough to feel good once you complete it.
2) End-game is accesible. With end-game, I am reffering to the hardest and latest parts of the content. Having most players able to reach end-game content can feel underwhelming for a player when they actually reach that place, because the feeling of being one of the select few to have reached that content is gone.
- They would reward you more, for doing less. Another casual thing. But I believe it should be mentioned on its own, since it is so important. For example, owning a mount in both games would be seen as something rare and hard to achieve. Nowdays everyone has it and its a given that everyone has it, making it unexciting.
- Graphics have become outdated.
What WoW did to escape its doom.
WoW did one simple thing. If people want the oldschool WoW, they can have it. They released classic WoW servers. This of course is not a permanent solution, because people will eventually get bored with classic WoW. So their next step should be to release the rest of the Expansions that were liked by the community. Another solution would be to make WoW, hard like Classic. This of course could result in the dissatisfaction of the casual playerbase, but it has been proven that more people prefer the harder take on WoW, rather than the casual.
Should Drakensang Online follow WoW's steps?
Unfortunatelly, Drakensang Online is in a much different state than WoW. The main problem being that its community isn't that connected. One big factor to the success of the WoW classic launch was the nostalgia built upon the community all these years. The nostalgia in Drakensang classic is not that common. The occasional "good old days" can be seen, but its rare.
So, what should Drakensang do, to save it self?
Releasing an old version of the game can be seen as the lazy way to keep your game alive. Although it still is pretty hard, it shouldn't be as hard as releasing a brand new game. After looking at the history of many MMORPG games, the solution seems clear to me. Drakensang 2, will save the genre. MMORPGs do not work like most other games though. They continously release new content in the form of Expansions. Drakensang 2 will essentially be a re-release of the old Drakensang Online, with the exception that it will keep all the hardcore features throughout its lifespan but will also have some modern technologies and ideas in place. A micture of the 2 should make the perfect formula for a top-down MMORPG. About how the story will continue, I would recommend redoing the old lore, with some slight alterations.