MMORPGs are not everyone's cup of team, but they're someone's cup of tea, and not just small groups of people either as there are millions upon millions of players who log in on a daily basis to complete quests, level up their characters, and take on challenges with friends and groups of people whom they may have never met. MMORPGs are certainly role playing games, but they're also games which people play for the involvement in a thriving community of other players who find it fun to be immersed in the very same world. Some people use MMOs to escape the real world, others simply enjoy the gameplay style and are fascinated by the vast worlds that have been built before them by a team of developers and dreamers. Whatever the reasons people play, MMOs are popular, some more than others, and it's a game type which would lend itself extremely well to the world of virtual reality. It's time for a VR MMORPG.
Leading up to the launch of Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One, based on the best-selling book of the same name, it seemed appropriate to address the nature of the film as the story is based on a global civilization of people who log into a virtual world that acts as one giant MMO. It helps put into perspective how perfect the platform is for this type of game, and with the advancements in VR up to this point as well as the amount of time it's had to mature which also allowed time for people to adopt the hardware, could likely do very well. One only needs to look at VRChat on Steam for the Vive and Oculus Rift headsets to see how wildly popular an MMORPG might be. While this isn't a really an MMORPG, it does showcase that people are willing to hop into a virtual world where they can interact with potentially hundreds or even thousands of other players.
What's even more impressive about the popularity with this title is that it's early access, yet it has still been so well-received that it has a "very positive" rating and has amassed over 13,000 reviews. This may not seem like a lot and it doesn't tell you exactly how many times the game has been downloaded or how many active players there are, but it does show that something like this has promise and a following of enough people that a big-scale VR MMORPG could prove to be something which players would jump into, and the number of reviews isn't necessarily reflective of the number of actual downloads and people actively playing. Will it help sell more headsets and get more people into the world of VR? No, probably not, but there are forms of entertainment which are already doing that, and VR is still technically new so it will take time before it truly goes mainstream, but there is enough of a user base of consumers who already own VR headsets that would likely buy into an actual MMO for virtual reality, that much is clear.
That said there are likely hurdles in place which keep games in this category from releasing, and one of those hurdles is no doubt that big studios and game publishing companies are weary of the risk that would be taken by dumping money, time, and resources into developing an MMORPG for the virtual reality platform, even a few years after the major headsets have been out and have started to pick up steam with consumers. MMOs take development teams in massive numbers to keep things going and that's after they have gotten off the ground, and would likely take more work due to the game being in VR. The idea of a VR MMORPG is an enticing one to players though, having been glorified in pop culture for a while now with books like Ready Player One and anime shows like Sword Art Online, and although the companies that would be able to put out a quality title in this genre may find it to be too much of a risk at the moment, there definitely seems to be a market for it and a large number of consumers who would be interested in such a game, all that remains is to wait for companies to see the demand and fulfill it.