The Console Movement: The Future Of The MMORPG?

Some developers think that consoles are the future of the MMORPG, so we checked out who is hopping on the console train for their future MMO titles.

As the MMO industry gets stuffed with more and more competition, and World of Warcraft keeps eating that competition (kidding!), it seems that all developer eyes are now focused on new paths of innovation to reach different demographics of the gaming world. We've already seen CCP's EVE Online suck up the unemployed Math graduate demographic, SOE's Free Realms and Kingisle Entertainment's Wizard101 are both steadily converting all of our younger gamers to MMO fiends, and I'm sure between BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic and Cryptic's Star Trek Online, most sci-fi gaming fans will be mighty pleased (this could have been you, Star Wars Galaxies!).

Interestingly, however, as other MMO developers think of some great new innovations to stay in the industry, like Funcom's The Secret World and Icarus Studios' Fallen Earth, there is another barely tested demographic that bigger game companies have now set their sights on, and it goes by the name that Final Fantasy XI players have rallied against every time they hear the dreaded issue of "PS2 Limitations." What we're talking about is the console MMO and how it seems to be the trendy new thing for MMO developers.

It's no real secret that the industry is racing to capitalize on the console MMO market, as Turbine has already invested upwards of $20 million in their latest console MMO. Craig Alexander, Turbine's VP of Product Development, argues that offline RPGs, like Fable 2, Fallout 3 and Oblivion have each hit more than 3 million copies sold, while PC titles can rarely boast of these kinds of numbers. In this way, Craig predicts that this generation of MMOs will most likely be making the move to consoles, and whoever can launch the first solid console MMO title may be able claim market dominance, much in the same way that World of Warcraft did for PC MMOs.

Of course, while Turbine may be one of the most vocally supportive companies for console MMOs, it's really no secret that other developers have been inching their way to get a slice of that pie. If we look at the hilarious trifecta of Superhero MMOs (was the demand really so high?), City of Heroes, Champions Online, and DC Universe Online, it's interesting to see the level of "consolization" that seems to be taking place as we move along the line.

City of Heroes was the earliest released of the bunch, so it's sticking to its roots and staying on the PC, while Champions Online has announced that they should have an Xbox360 version launching sometime in Q4 of 2009. DC Universe Online, on the other hand, has really embraced its console focus and they seem to be really pushing a PS3 and PC simultaneous release. Aside from the sad fact that there will soon be three Superhero MMOs in the market (and no Pokemon MMO!?), it will be interesting to see how console ports will help or hinder these three competitors.

Also on the list of console developers would be CCP, creator of the thinking person's MMORPG: EVE Online. They've recently announced that their next project will be Dust 514, a console based MMO/FPS where players can interact with EVE Online players, wage tactical wars, and even act as mercenary units for their EVE comrades. Truthfully, given the massive success of first person shooters on console platforms (look at Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 or Halo!), a console based MMO/FPS could very well be the game that takes the market cake.

Finally, while NCsoft has not revealed much information on their upcoming martial arts MMO, Blade & Soul, it should be noted that NCsoft has already declared their intention to one day release a console MMO - there was even talks of a Sony and NCsoft partnership to develop an MMO for the PS3. From a stylistic point of view, it really does look like Blade & Soul could fit a console MMO port perfectly, but only if they manage to make combat as smooth as possible. Seeing the huge success of games like Street Fighter 4 and Blazblue, it would be hard to deny the plausibility of an MMO fighter for the PS3.

Ultimately, within the next few years of MMO development, it really does seem as though the there are a lot of big name companies looking to break into the console industry. Will any of them be able to dominate the show early, and become the next console World of Warcraft? Or, on the other hand, are console MMOs even a good idea, given the fact that most MMORPG players are fairly loyal to their PCs? Only time will tell for the years 2010 and 2011.

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Just deal
# Dec 07 2009 at 2:37 PM Rating: Default
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Once again the PC elitists come out of the woodwork to diss all consoles.... don't worry, your favorite MMOs aren't leaving you, they're just allowing other people to enjoy them. The kind of people who maybe can't afford a high-end computer. Remember, community is everything in an MMO. I say, the more the merrier.

Also,
Quote:
(and no Pokemon MMO!?)

Hell yes. Somebody get on this right now.
Just deal
# Dec 08 2009 at 6:04 AM Rating: Decent
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UncivilizedMike wrote:
Once again the PC elitists come out of the woodwork to diss all consoles.... don't worry, your favorite MMOs aren't leaving you, they're just allowing other people to enjoy them. The kind of people who maybe can't afford a high-end computer. Remember, community is everything in an MMO. I say, the more the merrier.

Also,
Quote:
(and no Pokemon MMO!?)

Hell yes. Somebody get on this right now.


Heh.

I love it when someone pops up, gives their opinions, but doesn't really back up what they say, much.

#1: I never called myself a "PC Elitist". I simply recognized the fact that MMORPGs have special requirements that other games don't have, in order for it to qualify as an "MMORPG". Communication, and a large HDD are two of those requirements, which consoles do not seem to do easily. Those aren't the ONLY two requirements, mind you.

#2: I own many consoles. 360, Wii, PS2 Slim, N64, SNES, NES, Genesis, and I even had a Gamecube before the Wii came out. I'm hardly a "PC Elitist" or a "Console Hater".

#3: You don't need a "high-end computer" to play most MMORPGs. A rig capable of running WoW at modest settings costs less than a PS3.

#4: Community IS everything in an MMO. Having to type with an on-screen keyboard, though, makes communication a chore, and makes people stop what they're doing to type. I used to hate that sh*t in FFXI, you'd see someone standing with their back to the mob instead of fighting it because the mob moved while they were typing with the on-screen keyboard. That makes people NOT want to communicate during play, and hurts the "community" effort.

#5: "Other people to Enjoy Them": In FFXI, PS2 players were detracting from my enjoyment. You had the people who'd lag constantly because of the PS2's inferior hardware, you'd have the aforementioned people who stand still doing nothing because they were typing, and then the developers refused to add some content because of "PS2 Limitations". *I* couldn't get some of the things I wanted because of PS2 players? Ugh.

#6: Pokemon? Eeew. No comment.
Leave it alone
# Dec 06 2009 at 9:04 PM Rating: Default
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Oh please. Just about every other gaming genre that started out on pcs has been hijacked by consoles. Take FPS games for example. Made big by PCs, dumbed down by consoles. It makes me angry the number of gaming franchises that get big initially on PC, only for the developers to release sequels on console only. Either that or include a token simplified/dumbed-down console port for pcs. Let us have at least one genre that's the domain of PCs rather than being squeezed in to the limited platform of those kids toys.
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Playstation Only realms then
# Dec 06 2009 at 1:34 PM Rating: Default
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Put them on a different realm where all they play is other knothead playstation players and it's fine with me.

When FFXI did that and mixed them in with PC players.. game took a big dump with lag. Became enough of an issue with at least 8 of us that played together to move to WoW 4.5 years ago and don't regret it at all. Plus WoW doesn't have that slow odd Japanese methodology that Axion seems not to have been able to shake loose. Have tried that for 3 months, and I'm dropping it. Great graphics just don't make up for smooth fluid game-play.
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# Dec 05 2009 at 6:56 PM Rating: Decent
They make it playable on the PC...I HATE consoles they're so....limiting. From the number of moves you can perform to how you communicate...very limited and of course the biggie; Upgrading. Unless you want to break the warranty about the only thing you can upgrade on them are the HDDs, Memory, and Optical Drives. Everything else that actually matters (CPU & GPU) are all locked...fact I don't even think you can upgrade the memory even though I don't see why they couldn't make the consoles like a laptop (where you can upgrade the memory).

That's why I loved the Xbox360 (maybe Xbox??) and PS3 (maybe PS2??) finally consoles are starting to use industry standards such as HDDs, USB, and Ethernet Ports. If the consoles continue down this road they'll eventually be mini-PCs and the games for them will run either on the console or on the PC just fine without the need for platform links (like what WINE does for Linux). I'd buy Halo 3 if I could play it on the PC...but because (as far as I know) I can only play it on the XBox360 I won't get it.
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Meh.
# Dec 05 2009 at 2:56 PM Rating: Good
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The problem with console games, is the lack of upgradeability and the fact that many are not fully backwards-compatible. I think the Wii is the one and only that is pretty much 100% (what, like 99.9%?) backwards-compatible with the N64 and even some of the previous systems via Virtual Console.

MMORPGs tend to be more complicated than your average game, with the need to access the internet and the need to download (and store!) updates.

Console HDDs are very expensive given their size -- the Xbox360 HDD is what, at least $150 or more for an 80 GB HDD? I can put a 500GB or larger HDD into my PC easily for that price. Once one of these drives fail, you have a pretty expensive bill, and even then, you have to have the console worked on by a tech (unless you open it up yourself, voiding the warranty in the process most likely).

Consoles are okay for offline and single-player games, but for MMORPGs, I think FFXI taught us all a very valuable lesson.

WoW, for example, is constantly making upgrades to the game's engine. This requires a bit stronger computer to continue playing the game, but most people end up upgrading their computers every so often anyways.

A Console RPG doesn't have that luxury, and during the latter years of an MMORPG's (or the console it is on) life, updates/content/etc start to get harder and harder to implement (the aforementioned "PS2 Limitations" phrase being thrown around constantly).

Few consoles ship with keyboards, or even have officially supported keyboards of any actual practicality. The xbox360 "can" work with most USB keyboards, but there are limitations, quirks, and sometimes outright bugs associated with those. Using an on-screen keyboard to type effectively lowers you to 5-10 WPM tops, and is very difficult, if not impossible, to do while actually playing the game (you have to stop what you're doing to type).

It is very difficult to release user-created customizations and content for Console MMORPGs; WoW's Addon system would be fairly hard to implement on a console for example. Some addons, particularly those that are graphic intensive (Atlas and the like) use up quite a bit of HDD space, and with the Xbox in mind, you're already running a bit short unless you bought the ultra-expensive Elite version with the 80GB HDD.

While we're on the subject of HDD size, this also puts a hard-cap on how much the MMORPG can grow, how much until you just cannot fit anything on that console's HDD. An MMORPG needs to be able to grow in any and every direction possible; putting a hard-cap on things right out of the gate is a very bad idea. People love MMORPGs because they are ever-growing and there's always something new to do.

Maybe when Consoles get to the point you can put your own HDDs in them, allow you to upgrade their hardware.... oh wait, that's basically what a PC is nowadays.

Sandinmygum mentioned that they don't like computers because they have to "sit at a desk"... no you don't.

Nothing is preventing you from plugging an xbox360 controller into your PC and/or setting up some sort of wireless gamepad.
Nothing is preventing you from hooking your computer up to a 40+ inch HDTV and sitting on the sofa.
Nothing is preventing you from getting a wireless keyboard/mouse.

I think somewhere along the line, we will release that the line between "PC" and "Console" is getting more and more blurry until someone in these companies blinks their eyes in realization and says "Hey... what's the point of making incredibly expensive consoles when a PC can do the same dang thing? Just put the game out for PC instead!"
No way!
# Dec 05 2009 at 11:41 AM Rating: Excellent
A PC game only has to sell itself. A console game not only has to sell itself, but also sell the console as well. It actually has to be a "killer app". I don;t see that happening any time soon. One of the big limitations of consoles is incompatibility between platforms. Due to the greed of the console companies, they try to lock the consumer into their "system" (and I really laugh at the concept of a console being a system) by not allowing a cross platform format for games. Instead of being able to go after a "console market", a game developer is actually looking at a smaller piece of the pie - the Xbox, PS2, or Wii market unless they want to put additional development dollars towards adding another platform.
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Feh
# Dec 05 2009 at 9:55 AM Rating: Good
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They tried this with Everquest. What a massive failure that was, and it shows that the article writer should have done more research on the topic since this failed experiment was not mentioned.

GuaireAmalasan did an excellent job at listing the numerous drawbacks of consoles when it comes to games of this type. The only advantage a console has is that every one of them is made the same. With PC's we have issues of Game A doesn't work on my system because it clashes with a video card made by Company B, etc. There are so many combinations to make a PC that it's impossible to test them all. Consoles don't have that problem. However it's just not enough of a plus to outweigh all the minuses.

No more console mmorpgs
# Dec 05 2009 at 8:32 AM Rating: Decent
The limitations of consoles are so numerous, limited controls, bad resolution, simplified games all go for a dumbing down of a game. I like to be able to customized everything and that option is very limited in consoles. I always run the highest resolution with a good frame rate and I can not stand the blurry quirky console mmorpg games.
I'm all for console MMOs
# Dec 04 2009 at 9:29 PM Rating: Good
I played FFXI on the ps2 for 3.5 years.
One of the reason I had to quit was because my PS2 was already old, and I had to change the guts out (laser) to get it to read CDs to install X-packs... it finally just stop working.

I now have a PS3, and am very excited about FFXIV.
If I could put WoW (or download a MMO, make an ISO CD) on my PS3, I would.

I'm Just not that big of a fan of sitting in front of a Computer to play games.
I was the kid who didn't have a computer to play that "new" computer game, I had the latest console game and could chill on my couch.

More MMOs (free, and p2p) should be out there for consoles, I'd try them out.
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