Great ideas don’t always translate into a successful business model and
the gaming world has seen its fair share of seemingly sure fire
concepts crash and burn, but every once in a while something comes
along that has so many pieces of the puzzle put together that success
is virtually guaranteed.  Susan Wu and her team of MMOG
veterans at Ohai games believe they have found that magical formula and
after sitting down with her at GDC to talk about the company’s first
title, City of Eternals,
and the future of gaming, it’s hard to argue with her.  

City of Eternals is
a browser based, free-to-play MMOG currently in beta testing that
features a highly social core and uses a player’s facebook profile to
auto populate both your avatar and your friends list. style="font-style: italic;">City of Eternals
isn’t a facebook game however, it is flash based clientless game that
exists on its own web site and can be hosted through HTML embedding by
anyone who wishes to add it to their own pages.  The game is
set in a vampire themed world that blends many core values of the
popular vampire mythos, including the uber-popular romance of Twilight.

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Of the many innovations in the game, perhaps the most interesting is
the live feed. Based on RSS technology the game creates a hyperlinkable
feed that populates the games front page with a stream of information
that players will be able to directly interact with. By clicking on one
of those links, you will be able to load directly into that area and
help your friends or experience a similar adventure. This feed will
also be able to be streamed to the players social networking page if
they so desired. The game will give players the ability to explore,
craft, co-operatively defeat monsters, or do any other number of
activities that would be expected in a traditional MMOG. Fans of
leaderboards will also enjoy City
of Eternals
as there is a live feed at the bottom of the
games website that features leaders in multiple aspects of the game.

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Susan was confident that the timing was right to “bridge the gap
between MMO and social gaming” and that “most social games today are
not that social”. By removing the barriers that keep the vast majority
of players away from MMOGs, Ohai believes they can tap a much larger
market than has previously been accessed, and be financially successful
doing it. “Farmville has 100 million players that spend, on average, 1
to 2 dollars each per year on one end of the spectrum and then you have
a game like World of
that is enormously successful in their own way
with only approximately 12 million players but yet they still manage to
make over a billion dollars a year. We think there is a huge
opportunity in the market, there is a new efficient frontier so to
speak, of MMOGs that target 20 to 30 million players and monetize at 20
dollars each per year.” Making an MMOG for “Your aunt who loves fashion
wars, or your wife who doesn’t like MMOs” sounds like a great way to get
the most out of that new frontier.

Their formula for tapping that market is to become to MMO gaming what
the iPhone was to smart phones and what the Wii became to consoles, a
blend of accessibility and ease of use that can finally topple the
misconceptions surrounding MMOGs. By making between 6 and 8 games per
year with a process that she described as “MMOs developed and iterated
almost as easily as publishing a blog on Wordpress”, Ohai hopes to
create games that everyone wants to play and will provide “fun within
30 seconds”.

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While the first title seems to have a pretty specific core audience,
the second planned title, known only as style="font-style: italic;">Project Unicorn Parade
so far, looks to draw in anyone who likes animals – a market that Susan
described as being “basically everyone in the world”. Considering the
strong team and amazing leadership at Ohai, coupled with a vision that
has a firm grasp on what the public wants, it is this writer’s opinion
that Ohai and City of
are in for a lot of success in the coming months.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016