Procrastination Amplification: Punditry on MMOs and games in general.

Where Would You Be Without an MMO?

2009 is drawing to a close and that means it’s time to look back. Have you tried to make a list of must-have games of 2009 yet? No? Go ahead, I’ll wait.

All done? Great. How many did you end up with, ten? Five?
If you’re like me, the number is likely closer to three. I’m a PC gamer, through and through. I do own a PS3, but only one game for it and that’s Rock Band. That’s not for a lack of trying however, I regularly scour the new releases hoping for a title that I’d actually like to have. There are only 2 ways this usually turns out: Either I don’t find anything I like, or I find something and then decide that it would be stupid not to get it on the PC with a better control scheme instead.

In my mind, consoles are all about multiplayer gaming on one machine, I don’t really get the point of solo or internet multiplayer gaming with them. That clearly limits the amount of available console games for me, exaggerated by the fact that I neither like shooters, action-adventures, nor fighting games.

It is therefore not surprising that the list of the top video games of 2009 on metacritic doesn’t contain many things I’m interested in, seeing as this was apparently the year of the PS3, and consoles are very much what other people like to play on anyway. Alas, narrowing the list down to PC only games doesn’t make it much better.

The top ten best reviewed games of 2009 include four action adventures, the same fighting game twice for different platforms, the same first person shooter twice, a puzzle platformer and a racing game. I haven’t played Braid and it might be interesting, but none of the other nine games interest me in the slightest.
Now, these scores are quite misleading since it seems that console game reviewers generally rate games better than PC reviewers. Modern Warfare 2 for example is rated 8 points higher on average on the PS3 than on the PC, I highly doubt that it is just that much better on the console.

So to be fair we will limit our examination to a single platform, PC games, since that’s a field I know. There we actually find more than just action games, but still spread very thin. Dragon Age: Origins scored a respectable third place, together with Torchlight (19) the only RPGs in the top 20. Empire: Total War and Dawn of War II represent the crème de la crème of real-time strategy games, and even an MMORPG (the new Eve: Online expansion) and a casual game (Plants vs. Zombies) made it into the illustrious twenty.

With all that variety, there should be enough games for everyone, but I don’t really think there are. Among the top 40 best-reviewed PC games of the year there are almost none that I would consider must-have. Dragon Age: Origins is one and I suppose Plants vs. Zombies is another, but I’m unsure if a small, cheap casual game counts. There are some other decent games in that list; Empire: Total War was fine and Torchlight gave me a couple of hours of fun but the amount of really good games is just miniscule. Reading only the genre descriptions of those top forty games, there should be 12 that fit my taste and seeing as those are the best games of the year, I should like most of them. Three out of twelve is not a very good quota in that light.

What would I do if I didn’t have an MMO to sink hours and hours into? (Except having a lot more time for real life things. Who wants that anyway?) It seems 2009 at least would have been quite boring indeed. Is it the same for you? Do you have enough games to fill the time you’d like to spend gaming? Would you still have that if you didn’t play a single game excessively (i.e. an MMO)?

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