I missed the original post on Massively OP, but I saw Paeroka’s post “Would you play your favorite MMO without its IP?” and I find this a fascinating question.
So let’s try to recall all the MMOs I’ve played. I started with Ragnarok Online. Despite it being based on a Korean Manga I’d never heard of it. I started it because an acquaintance on a forum posted some screenshots and said he’d been playing it. I tried it out and was hooked for many years. So the lore does not apply.
Next up was probably World of Warcraft, which was an interesting case. I was indeed a fan of WarCraft II & III, but not a huge fan of the lore. I liked the gameplay. And when people started posting about the WoW beta on our university forum I was… not enthusiastic at all, despite the IP. Zero interest. Only when a friend showed it to me in person over a year later and I played it for an hour, I also wanted to play. So I guess again the IP didn’t primarily matter. Also the lore was never really good, Thrall being green Jesus and a lot of other shortcomings.
Then came Lord of the Rings Online, this is easy. Of course I tried it because of the IP, but the game never fully made me go all in. So this never counted as a favourite.
Runes of Magic. Oh well, I’ve been lamenting every time I mention it. The IP is nonexistent I guess. I’ll always call it a bad WoW clone like no other game I’d ever seen.
Anarchy Online? Would have played without the IP, but it never counted as a favorite.
Warhammer Online. OK, this is 100% a No. I only tried it because of the IP and while it was fun it didn’t really stick, so not a favourite.
Guild Wars 2. Again a funny story. The same friend who got me hooked on WoW showed me Guild Wars 1 and I found it so unbelievably bad when watching him play for an hour or two that I downright disregarded GW2 for years. After a while I still picked it up and liked it very much. But 100% would have played it without the IP.
Marvel Heroes. I hadn’t even heard of this game until I read about it on Green Armadillo’s blog, at the end of 2014 (wow, that long ago?). Of course the IP played a part, but I’m unwilling to give it a 100% yes because again the draw was “a cool online ARPG” with the added twist of a nice IP. I have to admit I was engaged by “oh look how this character I know plays”, so maybe 25% because of the IP would be a good number. But to be fair, I’ve stayed away from the DC games for lack of enthusiasm about most of their heroes and villains. I basically only like Batman.
TESO – The Elder Scrolls Online. Ha, Elder Scrolls you say, surely that’s drawn you in because of the IP. Sadly, no. I’d never ran into the Elder Scrolls IP except that one XBox 360 game I have and I can never remember if is Morrowind or Oblivion. (OK, I just checked, it is Oblivion, and my XBox is 15 steps away from my computer, in case you were curious. But the thing is that I hated it. I think I got it early with the 360 and my last console controller experience had been some 15-20 years past and I hated the controls. I repeatedly died to the rats in the first room.) So again I might have checked out TESO earlier if not for that.
WildStar. Hmm, what about original IPs? I saw trailers and was instantly hyped. The lore didn’t seem that cool, but the art style and execution was. I miss WildStar.
EVE Online. Well, doesn’t apply. There is some lore, but it’s no IP thing.
Pokémon GO. I had played one Pokémon Game on the Game Boy but I’m not sure if this was after my first contact with PoGo. That experience was “ok”, but apparently I’m not a huge or even a fan. I only installed PoGo because I’d tried Niantic’s Ingress years before and saw some potential, but found the execution very lacking. And phone batteries didn’t last long enough. PoGo was better on all accounts. So I guess I can call this “a bit of interest from the IP”.
Star Wars: The Old Republic. I guess I started SW:TOR because of the IP but I think it would be good enough without the IP. Sure, some things are really neat and I’m the first to spew random facts about some planet we’re visiting or something announced in a new expansion. On the other hand when not playing a Jedi you can easily forget that it is a Star Wars game, if you’re doing dailies, or some grind, not the story basically. So yes, good chance I might play it, but I wouldn’t bet on it. It’s a strong IP, it’s even one of my favorites.
Final Fantasy XIV. I don’t know how small of a minority it is that started playing XIV before the big push this year and has zero clue about the Final Fantasy franchise and IP, but I am 100% in it. I think I played a single FF game on the Game Boy Advanced (I’d need to look up which), I played and liked Kingdom Hearts but I never understood any FF references in there and I saw “The Spirits Within” and I still don’t see any connection. So the parts I took in, I am 100% oblivious to and so this is a resounding Yes to the IP question. I don’t even have an idea what is FF IP and what is just FFXIV stuff, after playing it for over half a year. It’s simply a good game. Also if I read some cues right, there are several incarnations of the same hero/person in different games, with the same name and traits, but living in different worlds. Same as reboots and alternate universeses in comics. Let me just say I hate this, so if it’s true then I’m kinda playing the game despite its IP.
That turned out longer than expected, but I guess the TLDR is that I’m not easily drawn in by IPs, but it has happened. I think I mostly try games and then play them if I like them, despite their shortcomings. And sometimes I am surprised that I missed out on a good game because I didn’t try it because of the IP. Does that mean I should go and try DC Universe, Star Trek Online and lament that I didn’t play Age of Conan?