How Will PC MMO Games Fare in the Future?

By Jeff Francis
The future of PC mmo games

Over the years, I've seen a number of gaming wars break out over platforms. There was originally the fight between Atari and Intellivsion, which then moved on to the Nintendo and Colecovision. Now we have Xbox and PlayStation, but the most interesting struggle is that between the PC and mobile games. This struggle is highlighted by the most recent quarterly report by NCSoft that shows the revenue from PC games dropping while those of mobile games rising. The last couple of years have not seen any major mmos released for the PC, and quite a few gamers are pondering what the PC mmo games future will look like. How will the future of PC mmo games pan out?

Aion wings

The quarterly report from NCSoft does do a good job of capturing the state of the industry. Games such as Aion and Guild Wars 2 have dropped in revenue, and poor WildStar isn't even listed as its own entity. However, the profits from mobile games have jumped 400% since the first quarter of 2017. One would think that the future of PC mmo games is very bleak. Even the company's juggernaut, Lineage, lost ground as the mobile version of the game gained a lot of traction.

First, we have to understand that the PC mmo market is going through a change that is totally expected and natural. The limitations that technology had for two decades has been removed. It used to be that the only way you could play a good game or watch videos was on your desktop. Then the laptop allowed for some portability, but it was still somewhat cumbersome. Now tablets and smart phones allow players to take their games with them wherever they go. This trend should continue as mobile devices become more powerful and networks are strengthened to ensure smooth reception. But does this mean that the future of PC mmo games is bleak and full of despair?

The answer to that question is of course not. It is true that one can see the PC mmo games future as a downward trend, but it does not mean that such games are going to cease to exist. Right now, there is some cannibalization as mobile versions of PC mmo games are released, such as is the case with Lineage and Lineage Mobile. Yet the most forward-thinking developers are looking to use mobile devices as an addition to their PC mmo and not a subtraction. Jagex is releasing a mobile version of RuneScape that allows for cross-platform play between PCs and mobile devices. This keeps the PC version of the game current and in the thoughts and minds of gamers, no matter how much they're attached to their mobile devices. Embracing different platforms is a winning move for PC mmo games. Many titles have released versions for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, with Blade & Soul being the latest to make the move.

League of Legends Jinx

Another factor to consider when pondering the PC mmo games future is technology. It is true that mobile devices are becoming more powerful, but the same can be said for desktop computers. When it comes to raw power, nothing beats the desktop. The sheer memory and computing power of a desktop PC ensures that it's still the main platform for creating a cutting-edge, immersive online rpg. Don't expect this trend to change any time in the future.

One reason why I don't worry about the future of PC mmo games is that as long as the game is great and fun, then gamers will still be clamoring to play it. League of Legends does over a billion dollars a year in revenue and shows no signs of slowing down, but it remains defiantly a PC-only title. The demise of World of Warcraft has been predicted for years, but millions of players are still willing to shell out a monthly subscription fee in order to play it. While Turbine spun off Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online to focus on making mobile games, both of these PC mmo games continue to survive because they have a dedicated player base. As long as there are quality games, the future of PC mmo games will never truly be beyond redemption. Just look at the massive success of eSports PC games, such as Dota 2 and League of Legends, and the insane number of streams you can watch on a daily basis.

So what does the future of PC mmo games hold? To be honest, you can expect some decline in players as more and more people look to their mobile devices for gaming. Yet there's no reason to expect the demise of PC mmo games at all. The humble desktop is still the most powerful gaming platform there is, and the gaming experience it offers is second to none. This shouldn't change in the near future as desktops will continue to get more powerful even as mobile devices do the same. Allowing for cross-platform play can keep a number of mmo games relevant, but the best way to keep gamers playing PC mmo games is to make sure that they're actually good and fun to play. Players will seek out a great game to play, no matter what platform it's on. It's always been about the gaming experience itself.


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