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Are MOBAs dead?

by Taniv Ashraf on 09/11/18 10:05:00 am

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

We can now assume that the MOBA fad is officially over when it comes to mainstream gaming. That is not to say that MOBAs are not popular anymore. That would be a dumb thing to say considering the immense popularity of Dota 2, League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm. There are a few middle tier MOBAs as well. Although they are not likely to compete with LoL and Dota 2, they have carved out a niche and have a base of players who will stick to the game for the foreseeable future. However, for every game like Heroes of the Storm which are released and get success during a rush from so many developers to put their take on the genre, there are so many who fail. Read more about lol vs hots.

There are games like Paragon, Gigantic, and Battleborn that had been released by developers along with side PR-generated fanfare only to fall flat and not pick up much steam. Paragon, despite the gorgeous, realistic seeming visuals and a passionate base of players, has offered full refunds to players and shut down for good on 27th April, 2018. Gigantic had a charm about it as well. You cannot help but praise how differently each guardian played from each other. PR once stressed how these characters would be designed to seem like completely different genres and appeal to all kinds of players. Many players commented on the unique and striking visual flair that helped the game stand out. And many gaming experts did peg it to be a hit. But somehow all of that came to a halt.

Once upon a time, the interest in MOBAs was quite high. So, the question naturally comes to mind, if the developers can execute and make a great game, why wasn’t Gigantic a hit? We think that, if the game stayed on track and released a bit earlier, the story may have been different. And instead, the developers put up a turbulent development history and when it was time to be released- Gigantic was barely stumbling out of the gates. Nobody in their right mind would want to care about a game like that and so the fad is over for Gigantic. At one point, the game was so bad that it became hard to trust and give new entries a shot.

Master X Master is a game that put a unique spin on the MOBA genre from NCsoft. The game allowed the players to tag in two heroes and out at will and was released last June. Though many reviewers didn’t think it was perfect right out the bat, but the dual hero mechanic gave it some hope. A lot of gaming experts were not too optimistic about the game as much as Gigantic and they were proven correct when Master X Master got shut down for good on Jan 31st this year. With that said, it is hard currently to imagine any developer who would risk anything and sign up to create a new MOBA. The reason is simple, it is just that hard to find a publisher with serious commitment including deep pockets and lots of patience. Instead, we are currently seeing and hearing of developers diving into the Battle Royale genre.  

Just as the MOBAs, Battle Royale Games like PUBG and Fortnite had humble beginnings as mods for other popular games like ARMA 2. At the moment, the rapid rise in popularity of PUBG and Fortnite has made this genre gain mainstream popularity by many folds. PUBG for instance, has rolled out the red carpet; taking the PC and later Xbox One world by storm. It didn’t take Fortnite long to follow up with a free-to-play version of its Battle Royale mode. This version, in fact, has garnered a lot of popularity not only on PC but has its roots in on consoles as well. Much like Dota 2 and League of Legends, these two games have become fixtures on the daily most viewed games on Twitch.

There is eerie feeling that history may be repeating itself. Thanks to the popularity of PUBG, Fortnite, and games that have come before it like DayZ, H1Z1, larger industry names are starting to identify as being interested in the genre. Hi-Rez Studios in particular has made noticeable changes. They have stepped out of the shadows of LoL, and Dota2 and have revealed a new foray into the genre with Paladins: Battlegrounds. This is set to be a spin-off of sorts to their team-based shooter. There hasn’t been much information out in the open about Paladins: Battleground. However,  Hi-Rez Studios seemingly has the rapport with a dedicated fan base. They always seem to find a way to hold on to a sustainable player base for the titles.

Although we prefer it be taken with a heavy grain of salt, there have been rumblings that the new Red Dead game will contain a battle royale mod. So, if history is set to repeat itself like it was for other MOBAs, then we can’t be surprised if Blizzard whips up something similar to what they have done with Heroes of the Storm. It is common knowledge that cracking into an established genre is not easy. However, if there are publishers armed with fortitude and capital to do the job, then it is not so difficult. So, we are tasked with answering a simple question:

There is a major concern that every publisher/developer is looking to throw their hat into the Battle Royale ring. This happened once before with the MOBAs, and while the MOBA genre is not necessarily dead, small developers don’t have much to do either. So, with the major developers diving into the Battle Royale scenario, just what are the small developers going to do? Will there be yet another scenario like Gigantic and Master X Master or will this usher in a new era of gaming? Only time will tell what will happen. For more entertainment visit celebrity oops moments.

 


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