Sunday, September 2, 2012

Death of the 'Classic Game'

After getting back from PAX, I check the City of Heroes site to see if they are having a Labor Day sale like most places.  The last thing I expected to see was this.  Paragon Studios is now gone.  Like Onlive and 38 Studios, they were just sent home.  No warning (that we know of), just a heaping helping of cold s**t.

I was stunned.  As far as people knew, the game was making money.  The failure of Aion dug deep, so they axed...City?!  Well, I guess they didn't attend business school, or should at least ask for their money back if they did.  Supposedly the servers will remain on until the end of November, but who knows if that will last?  So the most unique MMO, and the game with the best character creator ever made will be gone.  Forever.

This brings me to the true topic of this blog post.  It's an idea I've had for a few days, but this development brings it to the forefront.  It also illustrates my point perfectly.  Constantly connected and always/only online games help usher in the death of the classic game.

What do I mean by this?  Well, take a great game that you would consider a classic.  I'm picking Legend of Zelda for the NES.  You can find this game for a few bucks, and even pick up a cheap NES or similar device to play it.  You can download it on your Wii or 3DS.  The point is you can play it, even now.  So it can remain a classic, since you can enjoy it to this day and beyond.  You can introduce new people to it.  Let your children experience it.  Can you do that with World of Warcraft?  EverQuest?  Now, yes.  What about in 5 years?  Not likely.  10 years?  I doubt it.  These games that hundreds of thousands of people enjoy will just be...gone.  Lost.  Since they require a server, you can't even enjoy them offline.  They can't be preserved.  Therefore, they can't really be classics, as they cannot be passed on.  They can only exist as screenshots and stories.

Your grandchildren will not know what WoW is.  They will likely be able to play Legend of Zelda.

Think about that for a minute.  Strange, isn't it?  A game that at one point had 10 million subscribers will vanish.  Sure, there will exist private servers, but they cannot sustain forever.  You won't be able to snag it on eBay in 15 years when you remember how cool the game was.  The more games that required you to be online, or have no offline component, the less games that survive to be 'classics'.  These games cannot and will not be ported to other systems.  There is no "Virtual Console" for old MMOs.

They just cease to be.

And that, to me, is one of the worst fates.  Thank you Cryptic for making a great game.  Thank you Paragon Studios for making that game even better.  As many people on the forums said, you allowed me to fly.

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