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State of the MMO Scene

Developers aren't giving up. Funcom is working hard to bring the development of its MMORPG, Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures, to a conclusion. Being one of the first games to promote DX10 visuals, the hype for Age of Conan appears to have dwindled as of late. Much of the promised visual splendor is just not there. Then again, some aspects of the game should capture the interest of gamers, especially those keen on gory fatality moves, which this game will have plenty of - everything, from breaking necks, to severing heads.

Other announcements are expected in the coming months.

For one thing, Bethesda Softworks owner ZeniMax Media still hasn't disclosed what its MMOG studio, ZeniMax Online Studios, is working on. Earlier tittle-tattle about a potential online RPG set in the Fallout universe quieted down somewhat, quickly after Bethesda revealed they're working on a single-player RPG, a.k.a. Fallout 3. This doesn't entirely diminish the chance of a potential Fallout MMOG though. Rights to Fallout were bought by Bethesda Softworks in April 2007 for $5.75 million, to ensure the development of Fallout 3. The once-great publisher Interplay allegedly plans to use the funds gained after selling the Fallout IP to restore some of its former glory. But given Interplay's tumultuous history and the fact that Bethesda is now working strictly on Fallout 3, the odds of seeing a potential Fallout Online or even an Oblivion Online are slim.

SHOT:3: SHOT:4:

This year brought some newcomers into the picture as well. Newly formed Korea-based development studio, Reloaded, announced their own MMO project, entitled The Day. Powered by Crytek's CryEngine 2, the game is being hailed as a third person action MMO game and was said to feature heavy emphasis on PvP combat. Further details on this project are scarce, so it's too early to make any assessments. If anything, the project is ambitious and could very well bring a few innovative concepts if all goes well.

Virtual Worlds Are the Future

In the end, it's obvious that EA and Blizzard are the prime candidates for dominating the future MMOG scene. Regardless of what both companies decide to make (Diablo 3, KOTOR 3, etc.), countless other studios are desperately hopping on the online bandwagon, even though very few have managed to show potential for competing with these two giants.

It's blatant that MMOGs are the future of PC gaming and gaming in general. Analysts are saying that by 2011 revenues from subscriptions to MMOGs will hit $1.5bn. In mid-2007 research indicated that subscription-based MMOGs continue to dominate North American and European markets, accounting for 87% of all revenues. At the time, the survey ranked Runescape, WoW, EQ, Final Fantasy Online and City of Heroes/Villains as the five top MMOGs. Predictions also cited that by 2011 more than 10 million people will subscribe to MMOGs. (And that seems VERY conservative given how many people are subscribed to WoW today.)

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Reader Comments
Mitza Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
"[...] the hype for Age of Conan appears to have dwindled as of late. Much of the promised visual splendor is just not there. "

Oh, it's there! This is one of the most beautiful game worlds out there. The art direction is simply impeccable.
2Lions Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
What? The game is butt ugly. Or was when I saw it back in August. Or is 'clunky as fuck' what I was thinking of?
Gforced Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
Its very simple and everyone knows it, WOW is digital heroin.

KOTOR 3 however may just be the new designer drugs we all want for our next big high.
  tei187: playing any SW game and listening to those petty dial…
Seedling Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
Square-Enix (Final Fantasy XI Online) is also working on a new MMO, although details are pretty vague at this point.
R.B.X. Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
played a couple of mmo's myself and i spent a long time on autoassault.....
collecting rare stuff/gear.... killing/farming bosses to get those.....it's a race of who gets them 1st and will pwwn everything in sight....and of course after more peeps get those....now there's the tight battle....and then changing your skills/builds...comes into play....
and i agree mmo's are addicting...but you have to put most of your time into them....and then comes experience...the more you have the more hard to kill you are.....but all this is not acomplished without a clan/guild......
tei187 Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
am i the only firefly-serenity junkie in here? because not mentioning this upcomming (not too soon though) mmo is kinda crime and you should be punished with sticking a hungry pissed off mutant hamster in the ass... or turned on vacuum cleaner
Zolneirz Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
I want a motherfucking MMOFPS along the lines of freelancer except, you know, first person and in infantry. Fucking tired of all these "constant state of warfare" games. Peace happens, banditry is fucking fun.
  tei187: yey to the fellow bandit
Sword Fight: I want to be a bandit :(
Maj.Faux-Pas Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
Vader, you're a good guy, but.... :)

I'm not sure you know what you're talking about when you say L2 is low quality. The graphics aere better than anything before or since in the genre, not to mention the PvP. When playing the game, you can tell the develpoers thought of everything: perfect balance, good looking avatars, plenty of room for future expansions in tthe existing world. The time requirements for the game are brutal, though... can't have a life if you want to really experience the game. Well, I have a life, so I can't really play any MMO, which is sad....

Why wasn't EVE mentioned? do you really think wow is the only MMORPG people play? :p

I had some friends go to WoW, but never followed them because I didn't like it's style. Personally I think WoW's graphical style and instanced dungeons are inferior to the continuous, real-time, non-instanced, non- cartoony, highly detailed, aesthetically pleaseing worlds of L2 and EVE.

If I ever get a couple months off, I'll play L2. I certainly look forward to L3 and KOTOR 3.
  Vader: No, I certainly don't think WoW is the only MMORPG pe…
craigww_22 Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
I genuinely think that advanced A.I. is the future, rather than MMO games. That is, once someone invents the kind of A.I. I'm thinking of. God, that's probably decades away, how stupid.
tei187 Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
just wondering... who would go for a western mmo?
nebojats Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
No mention of Guild Wars in the "State of the MMO Scene?"

I know it's not as immersive or popular as WoW, but as far as I can tell, GW offers the most alluring and popular alternative.

I'm sure you all also know GW2 is set to be a full-on MMORPG (e.g. no more of the personalized instances outside of towns, among other upgrades).
  Amok: I'm expecting that to be so. If it comes thru, it sho…
Amok Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
Well, that's just splendid. I don't plan on paying monthly subscription fees anywhere in the future.
And I do agree with what Vader foresees and it makes me uneasy.

I hope that developers won't just gradually move over to the MMOG field and let the rest of the genres fade away.
In a selfless thought, MMOGs addict players a whole lot more. And that usually ends up hurting them.
Mitza Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
No man, I played it this week and it's fucking impressive. But, then again, I might have a shitty taste in graphics. Or you might. Moron! :)

Also, Funcom is working (for about 3 years now) on another "next-gen" MMO (whatever the fuck that means), inspired by Lovecraft apparently and produced by Ragnar Tornquist, of The Longest Journey fame.

I think it's something about these nordic people (Funcom - Norway, CCP - Iceland) that makes them approach games differently than US and EU developers. Cheers to them!
Vodoo Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
you know that "MMO's never end" reason that usually many people use in defence of the MMO genre ? its bullshit

i have respect for Blizzard because regardless of the milking process they are giving to the world of Warcraft (excuse the pun), there is still quality in it. ironically this is like saying i killed thousands of people but i drugged them so they wouldn’t feel pain.

MMO's were great....but that was when they were still games and not some brainwashing by-product that helps you shit better in the morning or is a good replacement for coffee, food or condom / birth control pills.
MoCus Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
every single MMO i have ever played was fun for a week
Ankh Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
www.darkfallonline.com

"Out Soon (tm)"

If that game ever releases I'll be happy. We need games created around PvP, not slap on sticker PvP. Full loot, no safe zones, the works. All the pussies from WoW can stay there while us men get a real game to play.
  craigww_22: There's no money in that kind of game. It wouldn't at…
psydude20 Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
My problem with MMOs is that they lack a lot of depth. Look at WoW - the primary goal of the game is to collect stuff to use to kill things to collect more stuff. Sure, there's always PvP, but in the end that's based more on gear than actual skill. I'll stick with my RTS and FPS games, thank you very much.
  Seedling: If you want depth, play FFXI. It's not the easiest of…
Samurai Jack Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
i agree psydude! i'll stick with my RTS and FPS too!! hehe

oh and Vader dude the line :"SOE recently tried to push Vanguard: Saga of Heroes (a franchise previously owned my MS) onto the MMORPG scene" .........it should be (a franchise owned *BY* MS), not *MY* MS. hehe. just thought u should know.
  Vader: Got it. Thanks.
gekido Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
big issue with pvp is the whole 'dying' thing. to have a true death for a character in a mmorpg, you end up annoying players - who have just spent how ever long creating a character...

wow handles this very well, which is one of the big things that makes it different than most other mmo type games. not sure how tabula rasa handles this, but how the game handles character death is a pretty big factor in how much time a player will dedicate to it. something that probably not many people realize.
splat Sep 03 2009, 12:00 am EDT
The next big thing for MMORPGS will be randomly generated instances. And/or user designed instances which people have to overcome.

my2cents.

I played lineage 2 for a long time - they got it wrong in that the 'grind' was excessive. eq2 got it wrong in that people want non linear MMORPGS. wow seems to have found a good balance.
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