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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.
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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