This week we've heard how powerful, interactive, and immersive the new Xbox experience will be. Could this be a sign of MMORPG love for the future?
With every new console generation, we have to endure the cacophony of the hype train while listening for that one promising sound byte amidst the din. This one is proving no different, with the mighty marketing and public relations teams of Microsoft determined to make sure we all know how empty our future lives will be unless we buy their new product. The week has been full of explanations and extensive speeches about how the Xbox One will change our lives and the way we absorb our entertainment. As long as it involves television that is.
Television, television, Skype, television, sports, television, and -- oh yeah -- maybe some games. That's all I've been hearing. With all this talk of how watching TV and talking with friends and family will become integrated into everything we do, Im concerned the creators of this generation of consoles has forgotten the one thing we all really want -- games. Im not saying the things we were shown this week arent pretty cool, I just want to be sure that Microsoft recognizes the fact that if the games arent ground breaking and astounding, then I couldnt possibly care less about what its new console can accomplish.
The question I want to know the answer to is whether or not the market, and the console itself, is finally ready to deliver a true MMORPG. With the constant marketing barrage about how interactive, immersive, and life changing this generation of consoles will be, I expect nothing less. During the Xbox One reveal on the 21st, Microsofts Marc Whitten discussed a dizzying array of potential technological awesomeness. One of his bragging points in terms of gaming was that we would find ourselves "living in persistent worlds." If that isn't the very definition of an MMO, I don't know what is. The question though is whether they can actually deliver and, if they do, will we see MMORPGs or just a bigger version of Call of Duty?
The Xbox One certainly has enough hardware under the hood to pull it off and, with Microsofts promises of a "lag free gaming experience," the time may never be better for someone to announce a console MMORPG in the works. Sadly, this wouldn't be the first time we've been promised salvation only to find our souls rotting in hell as we wait for the Promised Land to appear. I'm looking at you Huxley. Don't be announced as a launch title if 3 years later you finally have an unplayable 2-day beta and then disappear into the realm of permanent vaporware.
Age of Conan was also supposed to be an Xbox 360 MMO. DC Universe Online? Yep - that was supposed to be too, and was in fact completed and ready to go when negotiations with Microsoft broke down over contract disagreements. The most recent company to try and launch an MMO on the 360 has been Trion with Defiance, but if the recent layoffs are any indication (or the fact I couldn't stand playing more than a couple of hours), that's not going to be considered a win in the history books. Will this finally be the console generation that gives us the MMORPG experience we've dreamed of for years?
While a full list of exclusives hasn't yet released, supposedly we'll get a lot more information about them (all 15 Xbox One launch exclusives, 8 of which are supposed to be brand new intellectual properties rather than sequel/prequels) in a few weeks at this year's E3 convention in Los Angeles. Personally, my fingers are crossed. The potential is there, but will a company step up to take the risk? Only time and future press releases will tell.