Ten Ton Hammer's MMO Gaming Predictions for 2009

Every year, the Ten Ton Hammer staff has a little competition. We take a look at the upcoming year, take out our magic crystal ball of +1
Every year, the Ten Ton Hammer staff has a little competition. We take a look at the upcoming year, take out our magic crystal ball of +1 divination, and attempt to predict the results of the MMOs for the coming year. Last year the competition was between John "Boomjack" Hoskin and Cody "Micajah" Bye, and after a year of industry-wide ups and downs, Boomjack came out the clear and unabashed winner while Cody hung his head in shame. This year, we've got at least five network participants: Eric "Dalmarus" Campbell, Tony "RadarX" Jones, Reuben "Sardu" Waters, Danny "Ralsu" Gourley, and Cody "Micajah" Bye. Perhaps we can even get the Editor-in-Chief, Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle, to weigh in on things!

While the results of the contest won't be in for a year, we are happy to present you with four sets of our individual predictions. Leading the list are Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Champions Online, and DC Universe with a few remarks made here and there about the two upcoming NCsoft titles, Aion and Guild Wars 2. As always, these lists represent the thoughts of individuals and don't necessarily represent the opinions of the whole Ten Ton Hammer network. Without further wait, here are the predictions from four of the five participants:

Danny believes that Runes of Magic will finally raise the bar for F2P games.

Danny "Ralsu" Gourley Reasons...

1. Runes of Magic will be a huge success for a free-to-play game, and it will grease the wheels for microtransactions in the West.

2. The servers for EverQuest Online Adventures will shut down for good. The Station Pass has given EQOA life support for all of 2008, but SOE will pull the plug in 2009.

3. Turbine or SOE will release a good MMOG for the console that will cause other companies to take a closer look at that market. Since all of the current generation consoles have online capability, someone will look to cash in on that player base.

4. Guild Wars 2 will slip to 2010. Even though NCsoft is hard at work on the sequel to their runaway hit, the company has Aion on the horizon and will need to focus on that title after the loss of Tabula Rasa and the reduction in staffing.

5. Someone will give an interview on the condition of anonymity about why developers choose to work on troubled projects without pay, explaining why the gaming industry is the one field where workers won’t quit even after weeks with no pay.

6. Champions Online will be unsuccessful in capturing a share of the market against City of Heroes and DC Universe Online. Despite an excellent IP and quality production, it will be unable to draw away enough gamers from the established superhero juggernaut, City of Heroes. When DC Universe Online hits later in the year, the mass appeal of the IP and the cross-platform approach will deal a huge blow to an otherwise excellent game from Cryptic Studios.

7. Trouble getting Champions Online to take hold will cause Cryptic Studios to shift significant resources into the development of Star Trek Online, and rumors of a rushed release for STO will cause a stir in the gaming community.

8. Warner Bros and Electronic Arts will announce development of a Harry Potter MMOG in 2009. The game will take the approach Turbine did with The Lord of the Rings Online, putting gamers in the role of unknown agents contributing to the events of the novels.

Bonus 2010 prediction: Variations of Draco (xDracox, Drayco, Drako) will replace Legolas as the most popular character name in virtual worlds.

Reuben "Sardu" Waters Suspects...

1. NCsoft will regain some footing with the launch of both Aion: The Tower of Eternity and Guild Wars 2. Before year's end, expect to see an all-inclusive subscription plan for NCsoft's current line-up that includes extra incentives for players of their free-to-play titles to make the subscription a more attractive purchase for them.

Sardu suggests that 38 Studios' Copernicus project will win a "Best in Show" award.

2. 38 Studios' “Copernicus” project will not only be announced this summer, but will walk away with at least one “Best in Show” award from the various trade shows. Expect this to be the game that has everyone talking this summer.

3. The Chronicles of Spellborn will launch to mixed reviews, but will ultimately become a cult hit with a steadily increasing, loyal fan base by the end of the year.

4. Blizzard will finally announce their 'next gen MMOG project' at this year's BlizzCon, and it will be for an entirely new IP. Expect the news to be leaked to the press early, either around the launch of another triple-A title or, failing that, during SOE's Fanfest.

5. Star Trek Online will be released in October, following an extremely successful launch for Champions Online making 2009 the Year of Cryptic.

6. Jumpgate: Evolution will be one of the years biggest success stories. Even in such a diverse year for new MMOG releases, this will be the game that garners the most mainstream media attention. As a result, flight sticks will become the new 'must have' upgrade component for PC gamers.

7. SOE's The Agency will be the first game that successfully bridges the gap between MMOGs and consoles, but will also spark some controversy due to necessary install space on the PS3's hard drive. During the 2009 holiday season, Sony will release a bundled PS3 “The Agency Starter Pack”, that includes promotional materials for DC Universe Online which will release sometime in 2010.

8. At least two triple-A MMOGs will release with some form of Warhammer Online's Public Quest system in place. At a glance they'll be similar, but will ultimately expand on the base concept in meaningful ways.

Eric "Dalmarus" Campbell Deliberates...

1. F2P games may continue making inroads in the North American markets, but they'll still be viewed as the bastard children of the MMOG industry.

Dalmarus thinks that STO will release before the end of the year.

2. Star Trek Online will release before the end of the year. While its numbers won't be huge, it will have a large enough fan base to be considered a success and remain profitable.

3. Huxley will continue to remain a piece of vaporware.

4. Stargate Worlds will be pushed back to 2010, if not canceled.

5. BioWare's Star Wars: The Old Republic will garner the highest number of beta participants ever recorded as it helps soothe the continual NGE burn felt by Star Wars fans around the world.

6. SW: TOR subscriptions will break the 1 million mark, even after the initial 30 days of free play time.

7. New fantasy MMOGs will finally be the rarity instead of the norm as more companies focus their attention on other genres in an attempt to break open new markets and avoid direct competition with Blizzard.

8. With SOE releasing all future MMOGs on the PS3, Microsoft will scramble and announce a deal with a big name company to bring MMOGs to the Xbox 360 (Huxley will still not be one of them).

Tony "RadarX" Jones Rationalizes...

1. 38 Studios will find a way to break the record for most hype created in any year based on some long awaited gameplay footage.  They'll also acknowledge they are finally in alpha testing.
2. SOE will expand microtransaction items based on the success they've seen so far.  The Agency and DC Universe will both have a fully integrated system to accommodate such sales.  Cries of outrage will flood the blogosphere for weeks until something more exciting happens.

RadarX thinks Aion won't catch on in North America.

3. BioWare will release more information about Star Wars: The Old Republic. Die hard fans will take exception and start an Internet riot.
4. BioWare will release screenshots and video about their upcoming Star Wars themed MMOG and hardcore fans will forget about the prior information after examining their other gaming options.
5. NCsoft's stock will continue to plummet thanks to a sour economy.  They will also continue to reduce investment and development in North America and concentrate on their core markets.  Aion will take off in Asia but not fare so well in North America and Europe because we fear stuff that flies.
6. Cryptic Studios will put Champions Online in beta giving super hero hope to many spandex wearing City of Heroes players.  Online debates will begin using the ACTUAL Champions sourcebooks that have been collecting dust for decades.
7. Funcom will pull the plug on a console version of Age of Conan for the 360 fearing too high of a cost. Expenses will be reinvested in a PvP revamp and more boobs.
8. IGG will publish a record setting five games in 2009 proving that there is ALWAYS another untapped theme laying around or a new way to use an old one.  Most will involve pirates and magic.

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