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Copying MMOs - Akaneiro: Demon Hunters

21. June, 2013Tags: MMO Blog

akaneiroAkaneiro: Demon Hunters isn't an MMO. At the minute it's single player, but even when the multiplayer is added, it still won't be an MMO. In much of what it does - in the way you own and play it - it's very MMO-like though, almost obviously so. And while part of this may harken back to the days of shareware, there's something about it that's startlingly familiar. Is this the start of a new trend? How well will it work?

Akaneiro: Demon Hunters

Akaneiro is a game by Spicy Horse, the development house ran by American McGee. American McGee is best known for his Alice games, and his name is synonymous with a darker take on famous stories (whether that's an accurate description of him or not...). That's probably why Akaneiro is said to be based on Little Red Riding Hood, although the similarities in plot are vague. A free-to-play action-RPG available either as a download or in a browser, the use of microtransactions as a means of support isn't the only MMO-like feature that the game boasts.

Perhaps the first time you'll notice it will be when you go to redo a level and find that it's still cooling down. Although you unlock new levels and new difficulties for old levels as you progress, you'll need to wait for twenty minutes while that level refreshes. Of course, you can pay to cool down the level faster, or you can take a look at one of the other levels available.

akaneiro screenshot

You'll end up grinding the old levels quite frequently, because although nothing ever changes (even the difficulty levels don't seem wildly different), you want to level your character and grab a fresh batch of loot. Equipment is important in Akaneiro, and loot is about to be even more necessary over the coming months as crafting materials become a part of the game.

Aside from the multiplayer mode which is coming over the next few months, Akaneiro will have social features. You'll be able to chat with other adventurers and there will be leaderboards to compete upon. This still doesn't really push it into MMO territory, but it puts it on level with games like Wartune, where player interaction is largely limited to a chatbox (except in specific multiplayer areas).

Altogether, this makes for an experience that isn't an MMO, but seriously feels like it. Akaneiro is effectively a single player game that wants you to be interested in all the same things that an MMO makes you interested in, and all of it lovingly packaged in a free-to-play bundle.

It's Not the First Time

This isn't a unique occurence. You only need to take a look at Final Fantasy XII to see that there was a point where copying MMOs was a big deal. It's been happening in various ways over the last decade, and thanks in part to the huge success of the app store, everybody wants a slice of the free-to-play pie. The easiest way of doing this is to emulate the MMO experience: quick successions of rewards, little story, repetition with the promise of big rewards. 

Is it a bad thing? Not at all. There will be those who download Akaneiro for free and then complain that sometimes you'll be inconvenienced by not paying. That's rather the point. You're playing a game for free, expect the developer to want you to pay. The trend of "MMO Borrowing" is something that's going to increase in the coming years, especially considering the free-to-play potential of the PlayStation 4. Developers will borrow features from the most successful MMOs, and utilize them away from the massively multiplayer plane.


Perhaps the only negative will come of people unsure about what they want to play. Akaneiro isn't an MMO, and there's nowhere in its description that it implies otherwise, but then it IS a free-to-play browser game, with microtransactions, and multiplayer, and lots of things to buy to speed up your game. As the market floods with such games, MMO borrowing will mean that the line is blurred between multiplayer games you want to play and single player games you don't. 

What do you think?

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