Let me introduce myself – I am a professional writer. I have to put in the word professional in there so people know that writing is work and not a hobby for me. I get paid to do it. A large part of my work nowadays is writing about MMO games. Isn’t that great?
I thought about writing this post to let my readers know a little bit about how MMO games are written about. Notice I used the more general term “written about” rather than reviewed. We will get to that later.
The Problem with MMO Game Reviews
The writing process looks like this
Problem 1: No one has the time to properly review the whole game.
With MMOs I have to download huge clients. This can take a very long time. Then I need to register an account, create a character and then play for a very long time. How long? At least a few hours, more likely several days.
The problem boils down to this: MMO are endless. All the content takes either forever or at the very least several hundred hours to finish. A person cannot fairly review a game after playing it a little bit but what can you do? Obviously no one has enough time to play the low-level, mid-level and endgame of every MMO they need to write about. That’s why I feel MMO reviews are all less fair than other types of reviews.
Book reviewers can read the entire book before they write about it. Movie critics finish the movie before they review it. Restaurant reviewers can sit down and eat an entire meal but can a MMO reviewer really play most of the game unless they devote a year to it?
Problem 2: How do you compare apples and oranges?
I try to be fair and review a game as it is. Comparisons are always made but only similar games should be compared, otherwise it just doesn’t make sense.
But did you know players are always looking for similar games?
It’s true! They always say “I want games like Runescape but better,” “is there any sandbox game like old SWG,” “any games similar to Maplestory,” “I need a game to replace WoW,” “no download games like Club Penguin,” etc. Almost no one ever says “I want a game totally unlike any other.”
Then do you know what happens when you do tell them about some “games like Runescape/Maplestory/WoW/whatever”? They get mad because “that isn’t like Runescape at all they don’t have any crafting!” or “that game sucks its not like WoW at all the PvP is too different.”
To these people: get a grip! There is no game exactly like RS/MS/WoW/SWG. There never will be. Okay? All the games that reviewers/writers will point out for you will be similar to it in one way or another but it can never really be the same.
Problem 3: MMOs change all the time.
This is one genre of games that is always changing. It’s not like video games where developers can sell the whole game. MMOs are constantly updated and things get moved, changed, nerfed, broken, fixed, etc. all the time. So yeah maybe that review you read says something that isn’t true anymore because it got changed.
One day you write glowingly about how players never really need to buy anything off the cash shop then the next day PvP gets broken for free players because a bunch of new items were added to the shop. That’s how it is with MMOGs.
The Problem with MMO Game Reviews: Conclusion
I’m not going to complain too much though. Writing is a great job. Playing MMO games is fun. Combining the two is awesome. It’s just not as easy or as fun as you would expect.