After watching the road littered with the bodies of the would-be kings of the MMO world over the last few years, and seeing the size of the PC Game section at the local Fry’s and Best Buy shrink and get less interesting, I have come to wonder what Will Be Next. While Tarkheena and I continue to play World of Warcraft, and enjoy it, I long for something new and exciting like most of you probably do. Run-on sentences aside, the outlook for the Next Big Thing is bleak.
We’ve seen Vanguard (for well-documented resons), AoC, and WAR fail (Yes, I know it’s still got a following, but I don’t think it’s what they expected, or even close) over the last 2 years. Even the “success” of games like EQ2 and EVE are niche and not mainstream. So who are the contenders for the throne? Let’s have a quick look at who I’m going to be keeping my eye on over the next couple of years.
1. Copernicus. The folks at 38 Studios are making a fantasy MMO (a plus for me) and they’re promising Something Different. They will have lore for sure. They will have marketing around the lore. They will have books and comics (I’m betting) and t-shirts and 3D models of your character. You know they will have the functionality of Azeroth Advisor built into their client (they own it). They are looking at making the most 360 degree product that has ever been produced. I hope their game lives up to it. I like their chances at this point, but there is a certain segment of the population that would reject another fantasy MMO out of hand. Going to be an uphill battle for them in that regard.
2. Star Wars: The Old Republic. They have the IP. They don’t have to develop lore, just stick to canon. They are already getting push back on their art direction, which is distressing. There are also some that don’t like the idea of quest-driven story lines. These are the same people who would probably call the game “grindy” if it didn’t have a quest focus. i think it’s too soon to get our panties in a wad over this decision or that one.
3. Champions Online. This is clearly the dark horse in the bunch. It’s got outstanding potential if the old Champions system is brought to the online game seamlessly and cleanly. For you comix fans out there, this is going to finally be an alternative to the flawed CoX franchise.
Something else to consider is whatever the unannounced new MMO is that Blizzard is working on. If they apply what they have learned with WoW and don’t re-make some of their mistakes then they are obviously a force that will produce the fastest-selling MMO in history.
My concern is that the market is jaded and will just dismiss any new (non-Blizzard) MMO out of habit. None of these is going to be WoW out of the box. it took WoW 4 years to get to the point where it is. WoW has been called a “technically excellent but soulless” game. That it’s technically excellent is difficult to dispute. That’s it’s soulless is open to debate, but it’s certainly got it’s share of apparently soulless players.
I’m really rooting for one of these new games to break through and “be somebody.” I’ll probably still play WoW but I want to play something new, that can achive critical mass and hold a player base for more than a few months.
Anyone else feeling the same way?