25 Apr 2013

How long until the MOBA market dies?

Ever since DotA was initially released as a mere custom map for Warcraft 3, a new era for RTS games was born. Aptly named MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena), this new genre has exploded in popularity in the last couple of years.

I enjoy playing League of Legends and DotA 2. In the past, I've even put a lot of hours into Heroes of Newerth whilst it was in beta. Because the MOBA community numbers in the millions, lots of game developers are trying to seize a piece of the cake.

In fact, there are so many of these games in production, that within the next year the market will be flooded and diversified to the point of ruin, just like the MMORPG genre. People say you can't have too much of a good thing. Take one look at the MMO market and say that again. Sure, there's a lot to choose from; but the premise behind Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games is to play online in with a huge playerbase. In fact, the term massive is getting more redundant by the day. Why? Because with every shit developer in the world looking for some easy money, new MMORPG games come out weekly. With each new release, a chunk of the people who play MMO games peel off to play it. Eventually, there will be so many games that when you finally find one you enjoy- you will be annoyed to discover that there are only 10 other players.

The reason I'm ranting about the MMORPG market is because this is happening to the MOBA market. Slowly but surely the genre is being overpopulated with bad titles. There's a Lord of the Rings MOBA, even Marvel and Blizzard are making their own versions for a slice of profit. And that's what it comes down to. The gaming industry is happy to kill off a brilliant genre of game for a little bit of money.

You can argue that more battle arena games are better and you would be partly right. It's like the arms race. More competition means developers have to step up your game and beat the other companies to the next level of content. However, that's not what will happen. Instead, all you will see is clones of LoL and DotA with copyrighted characters from another franchise. Instead of trying to innovate the MOBA genre, companies will simply fall into complacency and copy the others.

It's happened since the beginning of the gaming industry, someone makes a popular game that breaks ground and pushes the industry to new heights. For the next year, every major developer tries to copy them on the simple principle: 'If they can make money from it so can we!'. One step forward, two steps back. Up until recently, this shameless copycat behavior can be seen as nothing but an annoying tribute to some of the greatest gaming experiences ever produced.  However, with gaming becoming deeply tethered to the internet in the last few years, reproducing the same game with a different cover is damaging the online community and the industry. The worst part is that ultimately, there's nothing anyone can do about it.

I understand my article may make the issue seem more serious than it is. It's not killing the gaming industry, you will still be able to play your favorite MOBA games and enjoy them with your friends. They will still be fun, and you will still have people to play with. But in a few years when you're waiting for 30 minutes in a queue to play one match, how long will it take for you to find another genre and drop MOBA's altogether?

I'm sure this is a topic lots of people have an opinion on. If you have any input leave a comment and let us know!


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