Kickstarter Thoughts: Are Old School MMORPGs Dead And Gone?

A lot has been written about Kickstarter as a means of funding games, and even as a tool for promoting a game, but it occurs to me that it may also be useful as a means of doing market research for your game.

Let me explain.

All market research is about is in finding out if there actually is a market for your product, and if there is finding out who that market is: age group, wealth level, location, gender, that sort of thing.

But firstly, actually finding out there is a market is really important. If there isn’t there is no point actually spending money developing a product in the first place. It seems to me that Kickstarter could be really useful for a developer to figure out if gamers are interested in their proposed game in the first place.

I’m saying all this because in looking at the Pantheon Kickstarter, with 16 days to go there are only 2589 backers listed. Now lets say that that number is doubled by the due date and Visionary Realms somehow manages to get to $800K, which at this rate is doubtful anyway. That’s only about 5180 backers, or people interested enough to fund the game.

My question, is this a big enough market to support a MMORPG with all the ongoing costs?

Consider that most of the backers will get the game free as a pledge reward, they’ll only have to pay for the ongoing subscription. The initial backing will be used for development.

But I also wonder if all the calls we hear for the industry to go back and create new old school MMORPGs with forced grouping, long travel, corpse runs, and all those features long since whittled away actually are representative of gamers.

Sure we all get nostalgic from time to time. I’ve enjoyed revisiting Everquest and Asheron’s Call, but after having done so I’m not sure I’d want to remain in those games. Certainly I’d love for those worlds to be revisited by developers, and to have a lot of the same features, but also take advantage of the improvements the genre has seen over the years.

But with only a few thousand gamers backing the latest game to promise to go old school, I wonder if it’s about time to concede that those days have gone. Or at least have fallen into a very niche category.