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Feb 06, 2008

Comments

1.

What I look for in MMOG's seems to be rare: a diverse selection of player races. And not just races that are just like humans except with a different height, amount of facial hair, and skin color. Not a lot of this in the mainstream, or anywhere. Also perhaps developers who are a little edgier and who aren't afraid to add adult themes without having them be the main focus of the game. Unfortunately, a more anything-goes attitude might make it rated AO, which is harder to market (and limits the audience), so developers avoid it. With these things, though, I'd throw away my WoW CD's immediately.

2.

Aion by NCSoft could easily be a WowKiller if NC prohibits botting. The botting in Lineage 2 drove tens of thousands of influencial North American players to Wow at launch, they, nor their clanmates, ever came back. A clean Aion crushes Wow in every catagory. Though...saying NC won't allow botting is like saying my alcholic father-in-law is a great guy when he's sober.

3.

To me WOW has always been like the AOL of MMOs. The old AOL slogan "so easy to use, no wonder it's number 1" even seems to fit. One of my first experiences with WOW was some 9-12 year old player following other avatars around the town square and dancing at them (yes, AT them, not WITH them).

Sadly, the population and game never got much deeper than that first experience.

I disagree with the initial comment that the intricate nature of EVE makes it hard to find a niche (it's easier because there ARE niches) and consider EVE to be the current pinnacle of MMOs. I find it a benefit that the complexity keeps the "dancing 12 year olds" away from the game.

However, as with AOL, ease of use and cute icons will will over the masses and WOW will always be more accepted by the market at large.

4.

Eve isn't the pinnacle. Its very flawed, and fairly newbie unfriendly (in my opinion) due to its learning curve.

A lot of us older charactes where quite heavily following the progress of Pirates, due to its promise of PVP orientation and a good crafting/economic system, but annecdotal reports seem to indicate that the PVP is a bit flawed and theres not enough oportunity to really make a permanant dent on the world, which is the main attraction that EVE has.

Personally I think EVE has the basic model right, but its not the right game to make it gold. Hell, tack on EVEs permanent-outcome PVP/Economics world with something like WOWs fantasy user friendliness and you'll have a damn exciting game.

5.

There is sadly nothing on the horizon of the mmorpg ocean.

There are some concepts floating around which might make it big but for any such to get enough funding to be anything but a roadkill is highly unlikely. I predict a future for the genre which has one or two more big titles before the genre crumble beneath its own weight. After these potentailly two big titles there will only be a large volume of small games left, or something big which will relate to mmorpg's like Facebook relates to the Diku Mud, not much.

There are several reasons why I predict this gloomy doomy future, the big one is the relative anarchistic culture of game development. Not many studios have the structure and industrial type of organization which can handle budgets closing in on a billion dollars. The ROI will get exponentially worse as the budgets increase due to this fact alone.

Next big mmorpg will most likely be developed by Blizzard, we know they have the ambition to make one. BioWare might be able to compete too but I dont think they will get far enough away from the WoW design, or have a big enough budget to beat WoW head on. I wish they could do both tho. ^^

6.

"I predict a future for the genre which has one or two more big titles before the genre crumble beneath its own weight."

Why would this happen? WoW has expanded the market for mainstream mmo's. I see no signs of a sudden contraction happening. Growth is still happening, and measured in millions. At some point WoW will be dated and a new blockbuster will take over the #1 position. It might be a Blizzard title, it might not be. Yes, the costs are extremely high to make an AAA mmo. But there revenue is there to justify it, too.

7.

I dont expect the market to shrink, I just dont think there will be many "genre kings" or new block buster emperors of the genre which dominate the market the way WoW does currently.

And the reason is the cost of development. The actual player need for the mechanics in the mmorpg genre will be satisfied within another line of products at a much lower cost. The current mmorpg will stop being the "hot genre" so the big investments will be moved from the mmorpg genre to whatever the new thing becomes.

Mmorpg's will still exist, but they will turn into a smaller portion of the whole industry. Anyone hunting for blockbuster status will be hunting for a product which is not labeled as mmorpg. Consider this is a long time away, at least 15 years or so.

8.

Forz is good

9.

As far as possible games go, Trials of Ascension has the design, but sadly, not the money to blend the EVE-WoW worlds as some would like. A game like that, were it produced with the polish of games like WoW, would reignite the genre.

Right now, it is just what you say...roadkill. That is what will happen to most studios who even think about setting foot out there against the behemoth Blizzard is now.

Unless some company can come up with an innovative engine and toolbox set that allows studios and private persons to tinker in the field, I think we will be doomed to eat whatever the big boys serve up. For now, we sort of starve.

10.

Assuming you don't count the multi-player element of Spore as a new MMO with potential, yeah, it's going to be tough for an MMO to be big. (Spore is a wild card, I think.) But then, before WoW came out, it was tough to imagine that an MMO could grab 9 million players and be, let's be frank, that good. I think the four categories that Timothy listed are fairly accurate...but we could well be surprised too.

MMOs burning out, as a genre? Not bloody likely. They may evolve; they may look much different than WoW, but I think that massively multi-player online games will only get bigger as bandwidth and processing (including GPU) power continue to grow AND the concept gets to be more and more mainstream.

11.

While it is often hated in this space, Entropia Universe continues to expand, improve, and be more profitable.

It does not have artificial concepts like levels and quests that are completed over and over again. Rather, it has a strong player based that creates their own world events. See MMOWC for a terrific example of this.

While Second Life suffers from too much freedom with regards to player created content - Entropia walks a much better line. While Second Life goons are scripting giant purple pigs Entropia residents are having real world artists sketch tatoos to enhance their in-game avatar.

I've been around TN to know that sooner or later someone will throw out Ponzi scheme or Pyramid in a response to this thread but I challenge them to actually experience the Entropia Universe. It really is the next big thing.

12.

Don't forget about the 2d games like runsescape.

Or even lower tech browser games like travian.

I know there are a few open source hacks at second life that could take social networking 3 d.

Even without the 3 d I could see some sort of facebook application becoming a sort of issuer of avatars and record keeper of the avatars items skills and work out deals with small developers of dungeons, encounters, pvp scenarios, to award/experience or give equippment in return for some fee/revenue sharing. Perhaps the whole scenario is less level and item focussed or the levels and items are only applicable to subsets of worlds/encounters.

Would players mind a banner ad in their game play?? I think its been proven true.

I think people might want avatars that are more portable between games, and perhaps micro games, encounters, or just pub like chat rooms with a virtual dart board.

Some encounters might be multi night affairs where a group could save their progress. Some realms might be more mud like political sagas where content might be able to expand gradually as people drop in more frequently. People would conceivably have other things to do with their avatars in other realms. They wouldn't be starting new in each realm so the new places wouldn't need tons of content and the switch away from something larger when bored wouldn't be an all or nothing abandonment of an avatar.

13.

With due respect thoreau;-

With advertising copy like this;- "The Entropia Universe is more than a game. The Entropia Universe is for real. Real people, real activities and a Real Cash Economy in a massive online universe."

Entropia isn't even a contender. The MMO that will 'win' the Social MMO space will be the first one to provide a genuine creative experience (Including goons scripting giant flying penises) whilst abandoning the worthless RMT junk.

"Five licenses will allow license holders the right to exclusively operate banking services within the Entropia Universe for the first two years. The licenses will automatically continue after this period; however, the market may be then opened up to other interested parties."

...make a person think "Hey this sounds fun!".

Even RMT buffs will read this bit of Ron-Paul-enomics .......

"The Entropia Universe is the only virtual universe on the internet whose currency has a fixed exchange rate with the US Dollar"

...and think "Wow, an economy that can't expand! Brilliant!"

In the mean time, have fun trying to out ponzi Second life.

I don't mean to be rude, but seriously, lose the RMT nonsense. This whole bogo-economics thing just attracts undesirable buzz-killers in suits and meanwhile the rest of the worlds off having fun punching orcs. But folks would *like* a creative environment to play in. Just not one filled with creepy fun killers trying to coherse us into emptying our wallets.

Subscription fee = fine. RMT = incentive killer.

(This opinion is mine and mine alone btw)

14.

Uh. Sorry about the Ponzi dig. I just re-read that and its a bit nasty. I guess I'm just a bit passionate on the RMT thing. I really think its a set of handcuffs that people really need to think outside of.

15.

A couple of years ago at the old (somewhat lamented) E3 I walked around the floor and asked everyone who was displaying an MMOG, "okay, so suppose I'm already playing WoW - why would I switch to your game?" Not one had a good answer. They blustered a bit, said things like "we have much better textures" (I'm not making that up), or "we have a better storyline" (that no one will read), etc. Basically no one had a half-way credible answer to this very simple question.

It's true that the market for MMOGs keeps expanding. WoW is closing in on (or surpassing) 10M users even now. And there are many others, from Second Life to MapleStory to Runescape, that have taken the persistent world uber-genre to new places.

But for me, there's really very little out there that's in any way compelling. There are a few very interesting projects (that I can't talk about specifically :) ) in progress, none of which comes remotely close to WoW's deep dark shadow. But of the games that are announced or coming out soon... meh. Nothing really moves me. And I don't that they'll move many other people either. Sure, the die-hard fans of Conan or Warhammer will flock to those games, and coming out with a themed game like PotBS can get you some users, but we're talking hundreds of thousands in the best case, not millions. Don't get me wrong, that can still be a terrific business, but it's not $1.5B in annual revenues.

Awhile back I asked here on TN about what's next after WoW, and while there was some good discussion, I detected no real answers. There's no heir apparent on the market or in known production that has much chance of scooping up millions and millions of WoW users who, at some point in the next 12-24 months, begin to think "well that was fun, but I want something new." Despite innovation from people behind such games as EVE, PotBS, and the social worlds largely coming out of Asia, MMOGs have grown pretty well moribund. Vanguard and Tabula Rasa are just the latest nails in the "traditional MMO" coffin.

I sure hope something astonishing and new comes over the horizon in the near future -- something that re-energizes the existing player-base, that attracts new players in, that creates new forms of gameplay rather than rehashing yet again the old worn tropes, and that opens new direction for virtual world/MMOG development. But, having been in the thick of trying to launch something that could be in that vein, unless things change dramatically I have little hope we're going to see anything like that any time soon.

16.

How about Burnout Paradise? Or ooh-err Home?

17.

Mike Sellers>A couple of years ago at the old (somewhat lamented) E3 I walked around the floor and asked everyone who was displaying an MMOG, "okay, so suppose I'm already playing WoW - why would I switch to your game?" Not one had a good answer.

It was a trick question, of course. Yes, I know you know this, but for the benefit of everyone else the good answer would have been to say they weren't trying to get players to switch from WoW. If you can attract people away by being the next big, shiny product, that means you have a user base of people who are attracted by big, shiny products. When the next big, shiny product comes along, they'll show you exactly the same amount of loyalty that they showed WoW, and leave.

To get players, you have to target either virtual world newbies (of which there will be fewer in coming years, thanks to all the kiddie worlds out there) or virtual world oldbies who have finally grokked the gameplay. Unless you can get newbies by finding a massive untapped source (India, for example) or a AAA IP (are there any left?), or a different platform (iPhones?) you'll only get them by offering something new; after all, if they liked what was already on offer, they'd be playing something else already. For oldbies, you have to give them the familiar but the different; they don't want to play what they already play, but they don't want what they play to be wildly dissimilar. One Big Idea might be enough to get them.

Aiming at newbies can also pick you up some of the more enlightened oldbies, and this is what BioWare and Areae are doing. Aiming at oldbies using a Big Idea as a weapon is what Mythic and Funcom are doing (albeit with the same Big Idea).

Richard

18.

I think 38 Studios might have the creative talent and financial clout to be a contender for the #1 spot. Is it 2010 their game is scheduled for?

19.

@Richard Bartle

I don't think you are quite right here because what you see with WoW is that scores of people try out new and shiny but after the novelty wears off they go back to WoW.

20.

I think the big untapped market is the casual player who just wants to play 10 hours a week in a world designed for that playstyle. As soon as you allow sixty hour a week people in there, you have to tune your gameplay to that playstyle, and it goes downhill from there.

Lots of tricks haven't been tried yet. How about rebooting servers everyday with a different database each day of the week? So a casual player can have all the advantages of "always being around", while only playing one day a week. People get by with play a card game once a week. Doesn't have to be every day. Why not MMOGs?

21.

It strikes me that Cunzy11's and Hellinar's comments are directly linked. At least part (I think a big part) of what makes players come back to WoW time and time again is how invested they are in the world. Social capital in their connections with others, material capital in currency and other resources, and cultural capital in the form mostly of "credentials" (the items, levels, ranks, and talents of toons). Sure, they can to a certain extent take another kind of cultural capital -- their competence in playing MMOs (something Tim's other thread pointed us toward thinking about) -- to other worlds, but the stakes that have accumulated for them in WoW are constraining, just as our ties in other domains of our lives are.

Connected to this is the fact that, as many have observed, in order to broaden the potential player base of an MMO, one has to make progress in the game dependent on something other than skill. If the need to broaden the market means that players cannot be strongly differentiated (to the point of being excluded from certain content) by differing individual skill, then differentiation (Bourdieu's Distinction) in MMOs ends up coming about through differing amounts of *effort*.

So Hellinar's recommendations are exactly on point, because they would effectively remove some or all of the ability to accumulate certain kinds of capital. Of course, then the question becomes whether that kind of limited investment is likely not only to attract players, but to keep them. We want both to start afresh on something like a level playing field, and also be able to get durable rewards for our efforts. We can't have our cake and eat it, too.

22.

@dmx

No blood no foul as we used to say on the playground.

I think your opinions are based on news reports and forum reading and not on actual gameplay.

It might be nice if you gave Entropia 6 months investing $20/month. If your hands get a little RMT on them we won't tell your friends.

Heck, maybe TN will let you post a series of articles in the Nate Combs Eve Online style.

23.

Cunzy1>I don't think you are quite right here because what you see with WoW is that scores of people try out new and shiny but after the novelty wears off they go back to WoW.

That's because the shine often wears off.

There is a longer argument that explains this in terms of the Hero's Journey, which basically says that players want to "win" a game, but if it doesn't acknowledge they've won then they leave in frustration and try to win elsewhere. At some point, this elsewhere either fails to match the experience of the original game, or it matches it all too well. In either case, the player will either return to the original game to seek atonement or move on to the next ersatz version of the original game.

Either way, the game that lured them away has a big problem in keeping them.

Richard

24.

@thoreau. Ah I'll pass man. Honestly, its not why I'm interested in virtual worlds. VR is for me purely about fun and escapism. By day I slave over yet-another-boring-fucking-web-app , perhaps occasionally below the radar flipping across to the eve forums to see how the 'war' is going, and then returning to this boring life. But I get my $120K/y thereabouts, and thats fine. By night, assuming some young lady doesnt divert attention (getting rarer as I get older, alas) , on goes the space helmet and I'm off exploring worlds. I'm just not interested.

Look, I'll tell you what I see as the essential flaw in Entropias strategy Its trying to combine the "disney world" aproach to virtual worlds with RMT. As much as I deeply dislike the interaction with the buzz-kill world of money and the flights of fantasy of VR, I can accept grudgingly that some artists would like to make a few $$$ for the effort. Hey, sure , nothing really wrong with that. I *dont* like the slum-lord rent gouging sort of nonsense and personally I think its an artificial colonisation of mental space. But whatever. SL at least compensates with its creativity.

But to the best of my knowledge Entropia boasts a world thats pre-built and sparkly and , well, already there.

Hows that different to WOW or EVE? Well not much really. But the difference is, I can pay $100K on a spacestation in entropia, but for the same money I can get all my mates together and capture one in EVE, *AND* have $99,990 left over an IRL hobby yacht and gods own keg party on the deck.

So with neither the sand box to go nuts in , and no way to go and blow up that guy who spent $100K on a spacestation and take his stuff off him, whats the incentive?

25.

I think somone will soon work out that in order to make a MMO game you don't have to make an RPG. I would love to see more diverse choice of MMO games, who knows, maybe even an MMO RTS from Blizzard?

26.

@dmx

The difference is in Eve the game devs own the spaceship. In WoW, Blizzard owns the dungeon.

In Entropia, a guy who plays the game owns the spaceship where you hunt. In Entropia, players own various plots of land where you hunt and mine.

Coming up soon in Entropia is another round of Landgrabs where societies fight over prime real estate. Winners get the use of land for 6 months and the ability to gain revenue from taxing the use of the land (a % of loot.) Owners of land can also control what mobs live on that land, their maturity, and spawn density.

I agree with the escapism in VWs. When I play EQ2 I just want to kill stuff so I can get my heroic weapon. But Entropia is different. Rather than giving all my hard earned dollar to some corporation I give some to other players via the taxes I pay on player owned land. Sure, MA gets their share but if I'm clever I can reduce that amount to near nothing.

note-I know I'm using a loose definition of 'own.' To be sure, ultimately MA owns everything within the Entropia Universe. But the players who purchase or win land areas via battle have a large enough degree of control over those areas that some level of ownership is present.

27.

With all due respect, I think most people overlook something VERY significant with regard to populating virtual worlds. If not the #1 factor.

The freshman college dorm effect, for lack of a better term.


We are all 'class of 82' or 'class of 98' in a sense. Or pick your year - the year is irrelevant. Our 'class' has little to do with how old we are. Our 'class' is the year we discovered the worlds ourselves.

Take 1998 for instance. What was big then? Ultima Online. AOL. For the hardcore VR types Activeworlds offered incredible promise.

All of these still exist; all of them retain whopping, active memberships. Many have known online friends for decades. Perhaps the technology hasn't kept up in some cases, but the friends are still there. The social element cannot be underemphasised. Failing a social element, you may as well play box games. For nonsocial purposes, box games play better anyway. Nobody's been dished internet drama from a Zerg. Gimli never has to quit the raid and mow his lawn.

And sure, people move around; sometimes entire clans together. Yet this is the exception that proves the rule. Sure, we'll move from one platform to another, but it's a huge re-investment every time, generally less and less fun with every jump.

Our 'starry-eyed noob' days can never be reclaimed. Those precious wonderful days of discovery occur in whatever place that was hot the year you personally entered the virtual environment, with others like you. It doesn't matter if they are 8 or 80 - they are your comrades in discovery.

So what could compete successfully with World of Warcraft? The answer is obvious: Another World of Warcraft. Or something just plain similar, or... even something not so good! But key to the point: something as yet unconquered. The class of 2010 will joyously rush in to fill such a world, not having ties elsewhere.

And in so doing, repeat *all* of the past - everything from the laughter of goofing off, the bonehead scams, the 'been there-done that' quests, the desire for Powerful Sword X, the failed online romances, the guilds, the RL meets... you name it. The good stuff we already do with existing friends, the bad stuff we are now smart enough not to repeat. For the class of 2010, everything that was done back practically in the BBS days is all new again. The difference between their chosen platform and ours: not the technology, really.

The key: it will be *their* world; their undiscovered country, their frontier.

28.

I would love to see the Wii hardware incorporated into a good MMO. The Wii allows for a whole new level of immersion and you can get good physical workout as a bonus. Here's an example of what can be done with the basic wii hardware (head tracking). The possibilities are fantastic!

link .


29.

Here's another example about Wii, finger tracking, related to the post above.

link

30.

I don't think there will be any one game that "kills" WoW. Warhammer Online has a good chance of making a dent in their numbers, particularly with long time WoW players (like myself and friends) looking for something new and refreshing. That is of course if their execution is a good as their promise (which it should if Mythic are still the same company they used to be).

I think moreso that WoW will simply die of a combination of old age (aging economy, stagnant gameplay, top heavy player base) and being chipped away at by new clones and wannabes. Death by a thousand cuts...

31.

ross>I would love to see the Wii hardware incorporated into a good MMO.

Three hours a night of using a Wii would kill me.

Richard

32.

@Richard. Yes. What my family refers to as "Wiipetitive Motion Disorder."

33.

I couldn't agree more with Future Shock. No one will take the reins from WoW. It will die a slow, agonizing death. I can see it getting worse and worse from my own perspective. The heart was just taken out of it and it was reduced to a game of "Collect the Purps".

I recently got off the WoW-crack myself and am taking a much-needed break from the metaverse. Of all the MMOGs I played I think EvE attracted me most. I hear and understand the arguments about it being unfriendly to nubs and well...I liked that. It took me a while but I really started to appreciate it. If I get back into MMOGs this year that is the one I might gravitate to.

I think in terms of new things coming up that Spore will be worth a try. It's being pushed out by EA (which is unfortunate) but it could be fun.

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