Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Death of the Sword and the Wand?

For the life of me, I can't remember where I read this but there has been some rumblings about how much more mileage the fantasy MMO has left in it. For 2007, here are some of the big MMOs that are coming out:
  • Warhammer Online
  • Age of Conan
  • Gods and Heroes
  • Lord of the Rings Online
  • Vanguard
  • Pirates of the Burning Sea
With the exception of Pirates, all of those are fantasy based games. Mark Jacob's in the Past, Present and Future round table during GDC said this:

"the first thing that we can learn from wow is: never ask me again ever if the market is saturated and it can't grow any more. We’ve heard this for ten years. Every journalist asked me, so is that it, 10,000 is that it? With UO. With Everquest... same thing. Camelot. City of Heroes. All I kept hearing still from journos is 'is the market saturated'. There will be another World of Warcraft. I don't think it'll be Warhammer. But there will be one, and it will expand the market."

You know what, I really want to agree with him...but I can't given the steady stream of fantasy titles coming out of the industry. I should agree with him because we've seen people make statements like "...all you'll ever need is 64K of RAM...", that's being off by several orders of magnitude. What makes me not agree with him is that the MMO industry is stuck in a fantasy rut right now. Games like Tabula Rasa, Star Trek Online and Star Gate Worlds are far from proving themselves to be the savior. I don't see them particularly opening the market anymore than it is right now, and some of these are titles we won't see for some time.

WoW brought in most of its players due to its low barrier to entry...lets face it. Sure, it was very well polished, but you can't bring in those numbers with just polish....there's got to other factors and usability is one of them, fun is another. So, in order to grow the market even more there has to be a game that is even more polished, more fun and is just as easy or easier to use than WoW and I don't think that will happen. Why? 1) Money, 2) Time 3) did I say money??? Right now, the only company that create the WoW killer is, ironically, Blizzard because they've got the resources to do so. So, the only company that can grow the market is also Blizzard and they won't do it with another fantasy title....that market is tapped out and burnt out as of the end of this year. I'm really hoping that the industry sees this as well and starts innovating again....I mean REALLY innovating.

So, with the saturation of the market with fantasy titles, and Blizzard clearly in the drivers seat for expanding the market, I think that after 2007 the new frontier of MMOs will be sci-fi. You can bet that the wheels have already been turning over at Blizzard to capture that market. I for one welcome our new Blizzard overlords.

D out

1 comment:

Tipa said...

Fantasy genre has loads of life in it. The question is, how much life do standard choose your class/grind levels to 50/raid games have in them? I think there are plenty of games offering that particular mechanic now, and any future ones will be facing an upcliff battle.

Gods & Heroes takes the hireling system from Guild Wars and builds a game around it. And they start with Greek mythologies but hey, it's a big world out there, and I could see expansions into a world of myths, from Asian to Aztec...

Brad makes the point in his postings that Vanguard was started before WoW and EQ2 came out. The DikuMUD field wasn't quite as exhausted at that time.