The Secret is Out: Every PC Game Should be a MOBA20 Jul 2013
Did you know that DOTA 2 made Valve more money in the time it’s taking you to read this sentence than 95% of other game genres will earn in their entire lifetimes? Or that League of Legends is a property so valuable that Goldman Sachs would have to leverage half of their wealth just to book a sit-down sandwich lunch with the game’s lead developer? These are indisputable scientific facts, and the reason why every PC game may as well just be a MOBA title from here on out.
MOBAs are ‘multiplayer online battle arenas,’ otherwise known as DOTA-likes, or ‘lane pushers’ or ‘that genre every single PC developer and publisher is trying to break into right now.’ And why wouldn’t they? It’s easy money.
Now, you’re going to hear a lot of nay-saying from people who claim this is just like what happened with MMOs and WWII shooters before them. To which I say – exactly! Who can forget incredible MMO titles like Auto Assault, Hellgate: London and Tabula Rasa? Every one of them a success on par with World of Warcraft.
You’ve probably heard some nasty rumours about some of those games I just listed being shut down. Well, the truth is they actually did make astonishing amounts of cash and only had to close because they were making too much money and it seemed unfair to the rest of the games. They were MMOs, just like World of Warcraft is, so by default they were swimming in oceans of subscription currency. Any other explanation simply isn’t rational.
Look. Making successful, generation-defining games is simple. All you have to do is look at what type of game is making lots of money at the moment, and do that.
Know how many people play DOTA 2 and League of Legends combined? No, nor does anybody because it’s really hard to figure that out. But it’s a lot. We’re talking millions of people. Let’s say … oooh, 50 million people.
How many of those people do you need to coax over to your game in order to make it a success? Not many, right! There are 284,181 people playing DOTA 2 on Steam at this very moment. Let’s say you entice just 10% of those players with your all-new MOBA game. That’s 28,000 eager souls! Congrats, you are now the 9th most played game on Steam today. Doesn’t that feel good?
It’s true that breaking someone’s 6,000 hour MOBA habit with your entirely new and untested game might be tricky. A few may sample your offering for a bit, decide it’s rubbish compared to DOTA 2/LoL and go back to the title they’ve been spending more time with than their friends, family and newborn child. But that’s likely to be a minority; maybe around 98-99% of them. That still leaves you a sweet playerbase of around 300-400 people to sell new character skins to. Brilliant!
If you’re already in the middle of making a game, I’d strongly urge you to turn it into a MOBA at this point. That very same tactic is almost definitely going to probably work for End of Nations, which has been in development for roughly ten thousand years as an RTS-MMO and almost two whole weeks as a MOBA. Don’t worry about pissing off the people who’ve been following your game through development, they’ll love your sudden change of direction. How do I know that? Because everybody unconditionally loves MOBAs!
How hard can it be to make one, anyway? DOTA 2 only has one map with a bunch of trees and rivers and stuff on it. You can probably just pay the intern to churn out some Middle Earth knock-off piece with mountains and forests and a couple of home bases in each corner. Sorry, did I just say “pay” the intern? My mistake there. Gotta keep the costs low if you want to make it in the big leagues.
I suppose you’ll need some heroes to go with the map as well. You have a couple of choices here. Either do what most people do and copy that colourful, cartoon-serious World of Warcraft style (just throw some darts at DeviantArt until you hit a couple of artists who can handle this,) or license a major property with some well established characters. DC Comics is already taken by Infinite Crisis, but has anybody made a move on Archie yet? Betty Cooper vs Jughead Jones in a battle royale. Think about it.
There’s literally no down-side to doing this, because as we’ve seen with MMOs and free-to-play Facebook games the market will sustain an indefinite number of near-identical titles with absolutely no problems whatsoever.
Don’t just take my word for it, look at EA and their Dawngate MOBA. When have you ever known a gigantic, unwieldy corporation like EA to make a late investment mistake in an overcrowded genre field? I know, right? Never!
So don’t listen to no-goodniks and possible Communists like Jon Chey when they say things like “The last thing I would do is say ‘I’m going to build a Dota clone, and I’m going to outcompete League of Legends and Dota 2.’ I mean, how are you going to do that? … They’re never going to leave their game to play your game because it’s 20% better – even if it is, which it probably isn’t!” He’s just jealous of your forthcoming inevitable success.
Did all those Californian gold miners of the 1800s get rich by sitting around? No! They took action, headed to those sweet yellow veins of money and then bought huge mansions in the country which is why very few of them were ever heard from again, probably. Get those MOBA development juices flowing, today! And if not, I have some toxic mortgage securities you might be interested in. Or how about this lovely bridge?