Thursday, February 14, 2008

MMOs Are On the Move

First, let me say thank you to all the folks who responded yesterday. For now, I think you've helped me decide to stick with playing some offline games for a while as I wait for Conan and Warhammer. There are so many I've missed, it's a good time to play catch up. Assassin's Creed is making its way to my mailbox as I type this via Gamefly. And I've barely touched Sins of a Solar Empire, and that's a sin in and of itself.

So thank you, folks. You kept me sane in a brief lapse of self-control.

Now onto the topic at hand. There's an article over at Next-Gen about how MMOs are making their way slowly and surely to the console space. I mean, look at your Xbox or more specifically your PS3 and tell me it's not basically a PC minus Windows (though PS3s can run Linux I hear).

What will no doubt worry the majority of traditional MMO players is that, as Next-Gen points out, console MMOs will likely be decidedly simpler than their PC grandpappies. Now, I don't think it's a secret to anyone who reads my blog regularly that I'm in favor of MMOs spreading their wings onto the consoles, but I also hope sincerely that they continue to be made for the PC... and more importantly that they keep their depth and scope.

However, I expect this won't be the case. The MMO as we're used to it, even with the oft-chastised WoW "Amusement Park", is far too complex for most business heads to comprehend the reason WHY they should spend upwards of 50 million dollars on a project that MIGHT make a profit EVENTUALLY, when they can spend 5-10 million on a much smaller project with less development time and almost guarantee a profit with such a budget.

Microsoft's cancelling of Marvel Universe may be very historically "Microsoftian", but it also is likely a trend we should get used to. Big budget, epic MMOs might be stalling. Very few will likely be made in the shadow of Blizzard's big gun, because investors just won't see it as viable. Instead I expect we'll see lower-budget, more focused IP MMOs sprout up. RMT? Maybe not. But games that can make a profit on box/download sales alone might be more likely.

Am I saying that with Warammer and Conan I think the big major MMO releases will stop? No... I just think we'll see fewer of them, and when a "big" epic game comes out its featureset will likely be very focused so that the developers can push that buzzword "polish" around and actually accomplish it.

Maybe I'm wrong, in fact I'd love to be. I have no doubt that MMOs are coming to consoles, and I have very little doubt that they'll do well. But I really hope that the shift doesn't mean that the epic worlds we're used to get left behind. Or, perhaps that's what is needed. Maybe, with the MMO's move into 3-D space we need a back to basics approach for a little while. Maybe that would help stifle the flow of crap that's been coming out lately.

Sorry to ramble, but that's what I do.


Scott said...

You really need to start up Sins of a Solar Empire. The game is hugely addictive and you'll find yourself killing several hours easily in one evening.

I haven't even logged into WoW or EvE for the past week since I started playing.

Bildo said...

It's definitely on my to-do list this weekend. My wife's birthday is tomorrow, and we all know what tonight is, but as soon as I can I plan on really digging in and writing my thoughts back here.

I've heard nothing but good things.

Pixey Styx said...

if i remember from one of aoc dev vids that just came out they indicated that when aoc hits the console it will be released with more content than the pc version. So maybe the short / focussed mmos might not be the norm on the consoles ... but who knows. I have maintined over in some of my posts at strangelands when i was blogging that mmos should be episodic and cheaper with shorter dev times but then what do i know he he