Fantasy’s Last

By Garrett Fuller

MMOGs continue to grow and develop throughout video game
culture. More and more games are being readied for launch, and with
that even more studios are popping up to create games for the future.
The field continues to grow, and it doesn’t look like it will
be stopping anytime soon.

One of the biggest complaints in the MMOG industry is the over
use of the fantasy genre as a basis for games. As game designs become
more complex, it seems more science fiction titles will be coming to
the market in the next few years. Does this mean there will be an end
to the vast amount of fantasy games we see in the field of MMOs? Will
the fantasy reservoir dry up and leave us with only the realist and
sci-fi games? Let’s explore these questions and see if we
can’t find a plausible answer.

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Age of Conan is expected to be one of the last "big
name" fantasy MMORPGs.

Licensing has become a huge part of the MMO business, and game
companies are looking for popular properties to base their games on.
With Lord of the Rings Online becoming the success story of the spring
season, it’s become more and more likely that the rest of the
successful IPs will begin to be snatched up by developers and
publishing houses.

There are several MMOs set to come out before the end of the
year, with the two largest AAA titles being Gods & Heroes and
Age of Conan. Both are set in an ancient time frame and both deal with
a kind of mythology. G&H mixes the best of Roman and Greek
legends to give players an “old world feel” to the
fantasy genre. Mythology started this whole thing, so why not tap into

Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures taps into one of the
original fantasy characters, Conan; an individual who has remained
popular in our culture over the last ninety years. Before Frodo ever
began searching for the ring, Conan was cleaving skulls with his sword,
dating way back to the 1930s. With the Lord of the Rings and Conan
already called for, are their any major fantasy properties left of that

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Warhammer has roots that date back around the same time
as D&D.

Let’s look to the world of gaming to see if anything
else has that much of an impact. At least one “hot”
property still remains: Warhammer. With Dungeons & Dragons
already having received the MMO treatment, the other major gaming
property to come out of the 1980s is Warhammer. Warhammer: Age of
Reckoning will soon make its way onto your screens in early 2008, but
what is left for fantasy gaming after that?

In the fantasy licensing battle the old school properties have
already been bought up and are now all MMOs. Where does this leave
fantasy as a genre for gamers? There will always be fantasy games to
play, but will the launch of the titles I’ve already
mentioned cause the next batch of games to come from the sci-fi genre?

Star Wars Galaxies was launched early in the MMO rise to power
and suffered drastically from poor design and mistreatment of its
player base, and although some argue that SWG has been having a bit of
a renaissance, many still believe that it was a quick end to one of the
most popular sci-fi properties’ MMO lifespan. EVE Online has
developed into a game which offers a wide universe to players and
continues to grow with updates and new features. It remains one of the
top sci-fi MMOs on the market, if not the most popular. Right now,
these two games are swimming in a sea of fantasy MMO titles. But how
long until that sea dries up?

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With many of the high-powered fantasy IPs out of the
way, sci-fi games like Tabula Rasa are primed to take over the market.

Tabula Rasa, Stargate Worlds, and Star Trek Online seem to be
heralding the shift into the sci-fi MMO market. These games will be
paving the way for more and more sci-fi titles down the line. Warhammer
40K will eventually join this push, taking MMOs into the laser
blasting, ship flying, high tech using sci-fi genre that players enjoy.
So what does this mean for the fantasy genre in MMOs? If the sci-fi
games show a rise in popularity, will it spell a decline in the
production of fantasy games?

Looking back at what we had mentioned before, I did point out
Warhammer Online and Age of Conan as two popular games coming out in
the latter half of 2007 and into 2008. These two titles are very highly
anticipated by gamers all around. The question I have is, will these
two games represent the last two “big name” fantasy
titles we will see for a while? They are strong licenses no doubt and
they are focusing on more intense game play.

But will these games be fantasy’s last stand before
the rise of sci-fi games? Popular titles, like Star Trek, could bring
in numbers that will make WoW look small. There are loads of fans -
gamers and non-gamers alike - that will jump onto certain sci-fi titles
because it’s such a vivid translation of their favorite

As the MMO industry begins to get more and more popular, we
will begin to see more MMO genres emerge. A modern day MMO (Grand Theft
Auto style) might come out or we might even see an Old West MMO. The
possibilities are endless.

So will these last few, high powered fantasy games - Lord of
the Rings, Warhammer, and Age of Conan - lead us to the end of the
fantasy MMO? Maybe. And maybe not, there are still plenty of players
out there who enjoy the classic fantasy setting. I for one would like
to see fantasy settings take a step further into non-conventional
fantasy settings, different worlds and races which take us away from
the standard elf, dwarf, and orc settings.

For now I think the next few years will see a rise in the
sci-fi and modern genre MMOs. There will always be classic fantasy
games for us to enjoy, but I think the move away from the typical
classic fantasy game is on the horizon. Until then we’ll just
have to be happy with the high powered games coming to the market in
the next year. After that, get your phasers and Star Gates ready. The
Science fiction era is upon us, and we should embrace it with open arms.

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Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016