THE DAILY GRIND: IS THE SANDBOX MMO RESURGENCE THE RESULT OF NOSTALGIA?

Do you think of the recent emergence of sandbox MMOs is based only on nostalgia? Or is it a necessity to push the genre forward as a whole?

Here’s the thing: I tend to think of nostalgia as a bit of a cheap word; when used pejoratively, as it so often is in MMO land, it’s a way of dismissing people’s memories, feelings, and opinions without having to provide an actual argument. We sink to absurdity when we suggest that, say, someone who is actively playing an older game or an emulator is just doing so “out of nostalgia.” That just isn’t how nostalgia works!
Even so, much of game design is predicated to some degree on nostalgia. Games from Albion Online to Das Tal openly declare classic Ultima Online a core influence. Any MMO that’s a sequel, a spiritual successor, or part of a branded franchise is brazenly using nostalgia to attract loyalists. It’s not something unique to sandboxes.

But “only” on nostalgia? Nope. I’d say the recent emergence of sandbox MMOs is based on money and a genuine desire to push the genre away from on-rails, curated gameplay and back to untamed virtual worlds. A huge number of gamers enjoyed and still enjoy that gameplay, and the market is simply shifting, however slowly, to try to meet that perceived demand.

Maybe you say differently. Is nostalgia responsible for the re-emergence of sandbox MMOs?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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