Sunday, July 17, 2011

IP Based MMO's are a Fantastic Opportunity

Mr. Gordan, I would like to voice my disagreement.

I think IP based MMO's are a fantastic boon to the industry, and though they may be high risk in some ways, let's be honest: How often does a scenario like what happened with SWG happen? There are few instances where the same IP even can be used for two different MMO's, much less there be a demand for it.

Intellectual Properties, as much as we like to hem and haw about how there are no more original games coming out, give a very stable start to any game. Were it not for their IP's, I don't think Star Wars Galaxies would have survived NGE at all, and possibly not even made it to that point. Simply the brand name "Star Wars" got people in the door and gave the company the money to back up whatever ideas the development team has going.

Now, we've seen companies do lackluster things with this opportunity. Warhammer was a solid game, but failed to live up to the hype. SWTOR is using a tried and true quest based/theme park/raid formula. Even Dungeons and Dragons Online swerved a bit but maintained a status quo for the genre. Given that these companies are investing in proven brands they would also be likely to invest in proven models. However, should we deviate from the path a bit we can find that IP's are in fact an excellent opportunity for the genre to grow.

Let's use SWG as an example. Yes, it came out before WoW, but it also came out after Everquest. There certainly might have been a pressure to make the game similar to that. Instead, they chose a sandbox method with huge worlds you could plant a house on, skill based progression, and a real faction war where you could set up a bunker to assist in plotting attacks. It was no paradise, for sure, and had its fair share of problems. But it was something different, and had a familiar IP and setting to get people comfortable to try it out.

That's what the genre needs more of right now. New concepts with familiar settings in order to bring these fresh ideas to the forefront, and fine tune them into fun experiences. Players go into Wurm Online and EVE Online, spend five, ten minutes and get confused beyond belief and leave. SWG had a complexity to it, but new players would stick around because they wanted to be like Boba Fett/Han Solo/Lando Calrissian. Familiar IP's give oddball concepts exactly what they need from players: A chance.

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