Without a doubt -the most overused setting for any MMORPG is the medieval fantasy setting with swords and sorcery. I can say with a good deal of confidence that a good 80% of all MMORPGs use this generic setting. It’s unfortunate though because there are so many other interesting ideas out there that developers could utilize. I guess the reason for game developers to all pile on the fantasy bandwagon is because all popular free to play MMORPGs are set in a fantasy world. Enormously popular games like Atlantica Online, Silkroad Online and Dragonica Online are all set in a fantasy world. Since the ‘norm’ in the free to play world is to ‘copy’ the guys up top – it shouldn’t be surprising that nearly every game is fantasy themed. Even most browser games are fantasy themed!
I have a great deal of respect for non fantasy themed MMORPGs like Neosteam and GhostX. Neosteam is a unique ‘steam punk’ themed MMORPG published by a company called Atlus – who is better known for their console RPGs than their MMORPGs. They’re the folks behind the incredibly popular Shin Megami Tensei games. Atlus actually has another MMORPG called Megaten – which is scifi themed and a part of the Shin Megami Tensei universe. GhostX is an extremely new scifi themed MMORPG set in a dystopian future. Unlike most MMORPGs – the game is fast paced and has real time combat. Even though both of these games are mediocre at best – I actually enjoy playing them because I’m so dang tired of the generic fantasy theme that any escape from it is an enjoyable experience.
Seriously though – there are so many other ‘settings’ out there besides fantasy. Scifi for example is perhaps one of the least utilized settings for MMORPGs. Heck there aren’t ANY MMORPGs set in modern times or any set during the stone ages either. With so many unexplored options – why do game developers keep over using the generic fantasy theme already found in 80% of all MMORPGs.