Infinite Crisis is just one of the more recent examples of why the deluge of new multiplayer online battle arena and massively multiplayer online games needs to stop. A lot of them keep failing, and the price of failure is steep – layoffs and studio shutdowns.
Aleksander’s article is like so many others in assuming that there is no success possible for these MOBA and FPS games that isn’t multi-million dollar home-run success. Another example of this is the bizarre attitude around the GameCube or other Nintendo platforms from the past 15 years that aren’t the Wii, or the Sony handhelds Playstation Portable and Vita. What do all of these consoles have in common? They were declared failures by some press despite selling tens of millions of consoles and millions of games. Well, maybe not quite that many for the Vita, but that platform has been a great home for smaller downloadable handheld games.
Briefly mentioned in Aleksander’s article are other free-to-play games that have found some level of success, obviously short of World of Warcraft, but well enough to keep some companies going. The fault of games like Infinite Crisis and others that are inevitably shut down is usually in creating an unsustainable environment for the level of success they could have if their cost to operate the game on a continuing basis were lower. Instead, it’s all or nothing for many games developed for many English-speaking audiences.
Here’s where I digress for far longer onto MOBA as a name for a genre of games. ¯\_(?)_/¯
Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) is a dumb as hell name for a genre of games that are at this point mostly Defense of the Ancients (DOTA) clones with different skins that are designed to entice different groups of players into signing up. Infinite Crisis was exactly that, a DOTA clone with comic-book characters dumped into it with whatever rule changes to the regular game were needed to not be a complete clone and whatever h was needed for their particular business model.
Harkening back to the 90s PC Gamer days when every first-person shooter was a Doom clone by calling MOBAs DOTA clones is appropriate. DOTA clone doesn’t sound like a name invented by a bunch of greedy game industry fat cats. Though first-person-shooter probably seemed dumb as hell when that term was entering our collective vocabularies, too.
Doom clones were almost universally terrible but businesses were making enough money from them to keep afloat and a few made something good along the way. For example, Strife, was one of my favorite Doom clones and it was one of the first really good FPS-RPGs games. Fallout 3 is a bit more of what you’d think of as an FPS-RPG, but Strife was the first good one. You might be thinking that the Wizardry games and some Ultimas were FPS-RPGS, but they had no guns or shooting to fulfill the FPS half of the genre name.
Not content to leave well enough alone, the overflow of DOTA clones screwed up the re-release of Strife when it was updated by Night Dive Studios for modern operating systems on Steam. A MOBA was taking the namespace on Steam. Instead, the official Steam name for Strife is The Original Strife: Veteran Edition. Awful.
MOBA isn’t even as descriptive a title as FPS, it could describe almost any competitive or cooperative online multiplayer game. My beloved ioquake3 engine could be described as a MOBA because it is online and multiplayer and has arenas to battle in.