Consoles and the MMOG Industry

The title may be more extreme than intended, but if the marketing teams
of some big name companies are to be believed, 2009 (or perhaps 2010)
will be the “Year of The Console MMOG.” style="font-style: italic;">*Cue loud
bombastic music!* Normally after hearing a statement like
this, it
would take all of my self control to avoid pointing and snickering like
a group of junior high cheerleaders watching the fat kid scarf down his
lunch. For all of those that are currently trying to contain your own
laughter, I understand completely.

But, believe it or not, the marketing groups may not be lying this time.

For well over 10 years, we've all heard how PC gaming is dead, consoles
will rule the world, and href="" target="_blank">Duke
Nuke 'Em
Forever is almost ready for
release. PC gaming may have its slumps, consoles are certainly more
popular now than they have ever been and Duke... well, that dead horse
has been the butt of more jokes and taken more beatings than Pee Wee
Herman (I couldn't resist). In spite of my normal reaction when the
idea of MMOG's on consoles is brought up, there are some signs that the
concept should be taken seriously by everyone.

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target="_blank"> src=""
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style="font-style: italic;">Wasn't Huxley suppose to be out
over 2 years ago?

First and foremost, a number of companies are getting involved in the
movement, and I don't mean some Mom and Pop independent development
studio. Big name companies, with big name IP's are getting ready to
step up to the plate in their attempt to bring console players around
the world into the warm and seductive world of MMOG's. Both upcoming
titles from Cryptic, href="" target="_blank">Champion's
Online and href="" target="_blank">Star
Online, are set to
release on both the PC and console. Turbine has been working hard on
pinning down the console market, posting job offers every few months
and constantly being hammered with questions regarding their two current
MMOG franchises and an eventual port over to the consoles.

In my opinion, the biggest confirmation in this new movement came from
Sony Online Entertainment. Not only are href="" target="_blank">The
, and href="" target="_blank">DC
Universe Online being created for both the PC and the PS3,
this past October,
MTV Multiplayer blog writer, Tracey John did href=""
interview with SOE
President, John Smedley in which he confirmed that all future
MMOG's would also be created for consoles. While I was initially
shocked by the announcement, I was even more convinced that this was
just a natural progression for them in the scheme of things. SOE is one
of the very few companies to have a successful (or any) MMOG created
for a console. Everquest Online Adventures, despite its age, is still
alive and maintains a diehard community.

Despite all the big wigs that are getting ready to jump into this pool,
I'm still having a hard time accepting the idea of multiple console
MMOG's having any chance of actually being successful. It's not that I
don't have faith in the companies behind them, but faith alone is not
strong enough to overcome some of the basic obstacles that every
PC-to-console ported game has faced. The lack of a keyboard, limited
number of possible button combinations on a controller, and other
dilemmas all hinder the eventual release of MMOGs onto console
platforms. Will the console editions be stripped down versions of their
PC counterparts, or will the PC gamer be forced to suffer with a
limited number of abilities/options to accommodate their less evolved

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target="_blank"> src=""
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Get ready
for DC Universe Online!

In terms of communication between players, I imagine it's possible to
circumvent this crutch by either forcing players to purchase a
controller added keyboard, or allow them to use voice communication.
There's one significant problem with that idea; some of us, like myself
(big surprise), absolutely despise in-game voice chatting. Sue me, but
I want to log into a game to play and relax. I want to get away from
everyday life for a little while, but inevitably, someone always
insists on talking about something going on in his or her lives. Unless
they've come up with a third solution I haven't thought of, I have a
hard time believing you'll be able to have any meaningful (or relevant)
communication in a console MMOG. I've got all three current consoles
(along with a few older ones), but I don't have any urge to try an MMOG
on one.

Let's face it; anyone that's spent a decent amount of time playing
online games with their consoles knows just how obnoxious and virulent
the trash talking can become. It makes the general chat channel of any
PC game seem tame by comparison. Consoles also have an image of being
"kid friendly" despite the fact that Little Johnny is swearing with his
CoD4 buddies worse than a grizzled Marine that just found out his leave
has been cancelled. The language spewed about in some of these channels
would peel the paint off the wall of Mom and Dad’s living
room. I have a difficult time believing the community in console games
wouldn't be ten times touchier than a badger in heat.

So what do you think? Will console MMOG's be the new rage in the coming
age? Will the communities consist of mainly players that are new to the
genre, old time PC players, or a good mix of both? Does one game have a
better chance of being successful on a console than the others? It's
all up in the air right now, but a lot of solid companies are making a
huge investment on the gamble. I wish them the best of luck, but I'm
still not holding my breath.

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