At the 04 Game Developer's Conference I attended a tutorial Tuesday by the Sony contingent (Raph, Rich, Gordon, Developing a Massively Multiplayer Game). Somewhere in the QA late in the day, a claim regarding the business of MMOGs emerged. Namely, given the current western MMOG ecosystem consisting of "AAA", "Mid-range" and "Boutique" games, the claim was that the economics of the subscription business model will eventually squeeze out the Mid-range MMOGs.
What would it be like to live in an MMOG ecosystem at whose center were a few big generic MMOGs and at whose fringes were lots of smaller, less-stable, yet arguably more innovative MMOG experiments? There would be a vague problem of transitions: how to flow ideas from the edges to the center? How to encourage players to play in the fringes without being orphaned?
Fast forward to a point floated by Peter Molyneux (AI: Gameplay and Design) in a later session: wouldn't it be nice if in the future player profiles could be exchanged between games. Somehow games might collect, save, and then share player meta-info with other games. Then games could then adapt and configure themselves using this information to enhance the player experience.
On the face of it Peter's idea is interesting. Could there be a universe of confederated MMOGs linked by shared player information? But why stop with player metadata, why not outright transfer characters?
Would character transfer lower the barrier of entry of players to participate in small MMOGs and thereby encourage a vibrant, innovative, game-design culture? This may smack of nuttiness for those of you who played AD&D and can recall endless Game Master (GM) "multi-universe" arguments (how to move characters between different GM universes), but perhaps not.