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What is an MMO?

Diesen Artickel einschätzen Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) Games have become hugely popular, this article explains what an MMO is, and some of the history behind them.
MMO Anlage - What is an MMO?

Massive Multiplayer Online Games, or MMO Games have been developed for the internet, and are designed, in fact specially geared for large groups of people to all play at the same time. In some cases there are literally millions of people playing the same game at the same time, and interacting with the game and each other.

There are different styles of game available that fall into the category of an MMO, from strategy games, to first person shooter’s. The overriding theme of all of them, is an openness to players across the world, sometimes the players are divided by region or the platform of the game, but the idea is to engage as many players online as you can.

MMO Games have been around for quite a few years, the earliest ones developed in the mid 1970’s starting out as basic text driven games known as MUD’s. As the technology developed, newer, larger and better games became available, but the audience was still a smaller niche than it is today.

However. many credit the game Ultima Online for popularising the genre, and making it what it is today. This game was one of the first with a 3D Engine, allowing the player to see through the character's eyes, and it started a revolution.

The current generation of MMO Games are many and varied, but they are more popular now than ever, drawing in players from around the globe. There are also thousands of Wiki’s, web pages and forums dedicated to MMO games, often these pages are focused on 1 game, but some cover the whole genre. There are even dedicated web based businesses that tailor to the MMO Player.

As mentioned above there are many different styles of MMO Game, from first person shooter's, to strategy games on Facebook, each with their own player and fan bases. For some of the bigger games out there, there are online tournaments with serious money prizes for the winners.

The most easily recognisable and well known type of MMO is the 3rd person interactive world style of MMO, such as World of Warcraft (WoW), Everquest and Lord of The Rings Online (LoTRO). These games create a whole world for players to interact in, with long running story arcs, their own lore and histories to explore. And of course killing monsters large and small. Currently WoW is the largest, most played and publicly well known of the games, with over 9 million players worldwide. WoW brings a whole new meaning to the word Massive in Massive Multiplayer Online.

This type of MMO draws players in, with a character development that you can see, high graphics quality and a support network to assist them, and they are proving ever more popular. With new content being released for the games, there is always something new to see or do, and with each new release or upgrade, more players are enticed to join the game.

One of the other popular styles is strategy games, still bringing their own story lines, they take the classic idea of pitting your skill against another on the mass field of battle. These often take the form of a player controlling a Hero style character, working in a team to destroy or overcome your enemy team. Often with small computer controlled monsters to fight as well as each other, one of the most popular of this style is League of Legends.

Online Collectible Card Games are also very popular, such as Magic the Gathering, or Pokemon Online, but within this sphere are specifically targeted games, widening the audience of players, from action and adventure, to collectible horses, there are infinite possibilities available.

First person shooter games also have their own niche within the MMO genre, going back all the way to Quake, and the original Unreal Tournament, pitting you against other players on home networks, to the latest generation of dedicated shooter MMO games.

Massive Multiplayer Games not only allow you to develop your character, and follow the story they create, they also allow you to, in fact ask you to act and interact with other people within the world you are playing.

One of the biggest draws to MMO’s is the community that comes with them, friendships, and relationships form across borders, even continents. You can join a guild, often starting as a small group of friends, and potentially developing into huge social groups, in some instances there can be over 300 people in 1 guild, all working together for the same goals within a game.

Not only that, but everywhere you go in an MMO you have the chance to meet people, talk to them, do quests, or kill particularly challenging monsters together. These even casual short term conversations are the basis for what makes these games so appealing. Outside of the your chosen game (or games) there are hundreds, if not thousands of forums, info pages, guides and support information available, on every aspect you can think of. For example the Wiki for WoW has over 98,000 pages.

The MMO community is a growing one, as more and more people worldwide look to try new games, or new experiences. With technology advancing at a fast rate, more and more people can play more and more advanced games. With some stunning visual effects built into them, MMO games are becoming ever more adventurous in their presentation.

Alongside all of the specialist games, there is also the lure of Facebook, and the many games and apps available through social media tools, one of the biggest examples is World of Tanks, a purely Facebook game with a growing player base. Inviting you to play with your friends, for free through an already recognised service is very inviting, playing with or competing against friends is what MMO games is all about.

Having discussed what what MMO’s are, and the scope that they cover, it's understandable that many of these games are not free. As the market grew, and games developers realised the potential in the MMO market, ideas were being brought forward about how to finance such games.

Some of the first pay to play MMO’s were charged by the hour, with others offering monthly fees, the model of buying a game once and then playing for free was fast becoming outdated with the rise of the internet, and the revolutions it brought with it.

Many of the payment models used today in MMO games were developed during the early 1990’s, the monthly subscription, and free to play games. The idea of a free to play game, where there were items in the game that could be purchased for real money was also introduced, which is now one of the most popular and successful financial structures through Facebook.

More recently EA games made one of their flagship games Star Wars: The Old Republic free to play, having started with a monthly fee when player numbers started to fall, they made the main section of the game free to play, with the option of a monthly subscription to receive certain benefits, such as a faster leveling progression and access to content only available to those that do subscribe, making those that wish to see everything available in the game pay monthly to do so.

Some of the bigger dedicated MMO style games, like WoW and LoTRO all have a monthly fee, to pay for the development and facilities to maintain the games, whereas others, such as Guild Wars remain free to play once you purchase the game.

With MMO games being as popular as they are, it appears that the genre is here to stay. With millions of players worldwide and almost every style of game included, there seems to be no end to the possibilities.

From its humble origins as campus based text games, to the giant game that is World of Warcraft, the MMO has transformed gaming, its culture, and brought new worlds to people that would never have thought about playing before.

Games companies are looking to create more and more games that touch on to, or even specifically target the MMO market. As the technology improves, both for the developers and the gamers that play at home, the future for MMO Games is a bright and exciting one.

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