About a week ago, Massively OP posed a question to their staff and readers inspired by a post they saw on Reddit. The question was a simple one, one you can probably guess if you looked at the title of this post at all, but it’s an interesting question nonetheless:
Would you play your favorite MMO without its IP attached to it?
While I missed the initial post when Massively OP made it, it became a topic of some discussion amongst my fellow bloggers that participated in Blaugust this year. Nogamara and Paeroka even made posts about it!
And naturally, it got me thinking. Would I play my favorite MMO without its IP? After thinking about it for a bit, I came to the realization that the answer was yes, but with some caveats because, see, playing a game without the IP is somewhat run of the mill for me. I’ve done it before and I will absolutely do it again.
I had zero knowledge about the Warcraft universe before obtaining and jumping into World of Warcraft. WoW was a game I started playing legitimately because I saw one of my college roommates playing it once, I thought the world was gorgeous, and I was intrigued by the idea of a game world that I could roleplay in with other people. Sure, I picked up lore as I went along and there were wikis available for me to catch up on the necessary lore to understand the significance of plot events as I stumbled upon them, but I happily played World of Warcraft without ever having touched anything else in the franchise.
(To be honest, I had zero interest in the titles that came before it simply because of the kinds of games they were. Real-time strategy games are not my favorite things in the world, so I tend to not touch those by default.)
And you might think that I had some semblance of knowledge about the Elder Scrolls universe before I jumped into playing The Elder Scrolls Online, and that would be true.
The second time.
Before I started streaming TESO regularly, I had tried it once before. I had seen another streamer play it, and it looked pretty cool, so I had picked up the base game at one point when it had gone on sale. While I enjoyed what I played of it at the time, I didn’t truly embrace it until I had started streaming my very first playthrough of Skyrim and had far too much fun with it. Having that knowledge of Skyrim did make running through familiar locales from the game a lot more fun when I got to them in TESO, but I wouldn’t say that had been the motivating factor in getting me to pick up and play Elder Scrolls Online.
At best, I would say my knowledge of the Elder Scrolls IP is painfully minimal. I know what I do because other people have given me lore tidbits as I played or I’ve picked up on some things in the course of playing. And while having some knowledge has made my ESO experience a lot more enjoyable, I wouldn’t say that the IP was the only reason I started playing it.
Final Fantasy XIV is also a bit of a strange outlier for me in that while I acknowledge it’s part of an IP, I consider it its own unique game and largely separate from the IP it comes from. Given that each Final Fantasy game is basically its own self-contained universe and the other games never really acknowledging any of the other ones in the series, it’s fairly easy to divorce FF14 from the rest of the Final Fantasy series. Sure, the jobs tend to be the same between games, and NPCs with similar names will make an appearance, but the IP isn’t the reason I picked this one up. I was fascinated by the mechanics of the game itself (namely that one character could be every class in the game) and the roleplay was pretty fantastic. The story is amazing, as well, which is why I keep going back to Eorzea. The IP has nothing to do with it.
Now, there are some games where I have played them specifically because of the IP.
The Lord of the Rings Online is one such game, and, yeah, I freely admit I started playing it because of the fact that it was a Lord of the Rings game. I’ve talked before about how much this universe means to me. I’ve read all the books several times. I’ve seen all the movies. The idea that I could have a character of my very own exist in the same world at the same time as the Fellowship of the Ring was a huge draw for me. And while I played it and enjoyed it (the community on the roleplay servers was freaking amazing at the time I played), I will admit that the IP wasn’t necessarily enough to keep me playing. I had a hard time finding a space for myself there, especially given my lack of friends in the space, and it sadly became a game that fell by the wayside for me.
I found I had similar problems with Star Wars: The Old Republic. While I started playing it because of the IP (the Star Wars universe is another favorite of mine), I genuinely think it’s capable of standing on its own without it. SWTOR is a solid game, although I will admit I take issue with how the developers chose to implement certain things. I greatly enjoyed my time in SWTOR, but I never quite stuck with it due to the aforementioned issues.
I’ve even tried a couple of Dungeons and Dragons-inspired MMOs (Dungeons and Dragons Online, and Neverwinter) out of love for D&D on the whole, but they also failed to really grab my interest. And there are games with completely original IPs (such as Funcom’s Secret World, Amazon’s New World, and the now-deceased Wildstar) that I’ve played and enjoyed.
Overall, I’d say that for me, the IP doesn’t much matter. It may be a reason to get me to try a game, but that has no bearing on whether or not I’ll actually stick with it. Sticking with a game requires me to enjoy something about the game I’m playing, whether that’s the lore, the world, or even the story. That matters more to me than the IP does.
What about you, dear readers? Would you play your favorite MMO without its IP?