Sex sells – but will it sell enough to support five MMOEG / MMOVSGs that are scheduled to be released 06?
[note: this is an adult themed thread and many of the links will take you to content that is ‘not safe for work’]
For those with better things to do than keep up with MMO acronym variants: the terms MMOEG (MMO Erotic Games) and MMOVSG (MMO Virtual Sex Games) are used pretty much interchangeably for a genre of multi-player online game that gives primacy to some aspect of sex or sexuality (actually there are many more variation on the acronym theme and the inevitable augments over which one is best).
This year’s potential (I say potential as it’s never a good idea to count your MMOs before they are hatched) new entrants are:
- Heavenly Bodies
- Naughty America: The Game
- Rapture Online
Red Light DistrictRed Light Center [ed. 03 Jan 06, thx 2 qDot]
- Spend the Night
- Sociolotron (actually already out of Beta)
Commercially the question that I think hangs over these games (like a dildo of Damocles one might say) is: What’s the point?
Well, sex. Obviously. But the problem that these MMOs face is that if cyber-sex interests you there is no shortage of ways to explore it. From email and IM to creative use of text and emotes in vanilla MMOs – cyber sex is almost always an option. What’s more MMOs avatars are getting ‘sexier’ all the time (if you are interested in what can be done with current avatars keep your eyes out for wowadult which is specialising in WoW based machinima porn). This tension is explored in lenght on MMORGY by Isabelle Pavlov in her piece Better Sex Thru MMOG or MMOVSG?
Moreover, if what comes out of the box in an MMO does not fit your desires you can always grab yourself a Second Life account (props to Linden for joining the 100k group btw) and create whatever body, animation, location and devices you want. Also there's probably a significant group of like minded people to interact with.
While the question of whether any of these ventures will survive does come down to the basic question of this business, such as: Is it any good, what is the minimum size of community needed to make the experience work AND sustain the business model? The answers are not that simple to determine. This is because there are a number of roles / market niches that MMOEGs might address. which is illustrated by looking at the range of approaches the current crop of hopefuls have taken.
Naughty America, for instance, is basically an online dating service. As their press blurb says “This is the evolution of online dating…the chance to meet real people in the real world”. The structure of Naught America seems geared up to facilitate ‘real’ encounters as well as virtual ones - the blurb also mentions WebCam. Though with a press release that states “A massively multiplayer online world that allows players to do what they've always wanted to: be naughty.” the marketing department are being either heavily disingenuous, naive or targeting a market that knows just about nothing about online gaming - which is interesting in respect of MMOs and the mainstream.
At the other end of the spectrum we have Sociolotron which encourages role play and actively discourages real-world contact based on that play. The guidelines make this clear, stating “You must not use the system to plan or start a real life relationship”. While it’s debatable whether Socioloron is a good game it’s certainly trying to be an MMORPG just with a lot of adult option. On the game side there is perma-death and the developer(s) provide the mechanics for a system of player self-governance.
An MMOEG that looks like it will sit in the middle is Blacklove’s Rapture Online. Rapture is attempting to facilitate online eroticism and Blacklove seem to be trying to create a genuinely quality product, but I fear Rapture might fall between the cracks being too convoluted for match making service and not broadly gamey enough for MMOers.
I wonder thought if any of this will have an impact on mainstream MMOs. Sex and virtual environments is not new and few publishers seem like they want to add adult themes to their MMO (here I’m really thinking of graphical environments as I think there is more choice if one is talking about text spaces) and so cut out a sizable demographic. But focusing on killin ‘n skillin seems to me to be excluding a lot of possibilities and nuances that could really enrich an MMO, so maybe adult shards with some those options added in might be a way to go. Of the games out there I would encourage people to look at the mechanics of Socilotron for inspiration for ways that sex and its consequences can be integrated into game play.