The age of console MMOs?

xboxFor the very longest time, having an MMO make it to a console was a rare novelty, but nothing that turned the industry on its head.  EverQuest Online Adventures failed to live up to its big bro’s example, Phantasy Star Online had its followers but never quite made it to full-fledged MMO status, and I guess FFXI did pretty well back in the day.  But it was certainly slim pickings if you loved MMOs but wanted to play them on your TV.

Then came the Big Talk from studios working on up-and-coming titles.  Champions Online would come to consoles (it didn’t).  Age of Conan would make a splash on the Xbox 360 (nope).  True Fantasy Live would be a killer Xbox app (it was canceled).

Then, little bit by little bit, MMOs started migrating to consoles, with games like Free Realms or DCUO.  But now it’s like we’re facing an avalanche of console releases and planned releases: Defiance.  PlanetSide 2.  Diablo III.  Destiny.  The Elder Scrolls Online.  Final Fantasy XIV.  World of Tanks.  DUST 514.  War Thunder.

Now, I’m not convinced we’re moving into an age of console MMOs where the PC versions will be rendered all but extinct.  There are two different crowds here (as well as a third that overlaps the two) and serious obstacles to making PC-like MMOs work on consoles (such as chat, numerous skill choices, UI complexity, dealing with subscriptions/microtransactions).  But it’s fascinating for me to see that consoles aren’t giving the cold shoulder to MMOs any more, but appear to be eager to get a cut of the action.

As a non-console player, I’m only excited about this in a detached, historical sense.  If it helps make MMOs profitable and keep them running longer on PCs, I’m all for it.  If it grows the gaming population and breaks down misconceptions about MMOs, it’s a good thing.  I’m less-than-pleased when studios announce that their MMO is going to be console-exclusive, although that hasn’t cropped up that often at this point.

What do you think?  Are we moving into an age of console MMOs, or will these games be a sideshow on platforms that are dominated by shooters and sports titles?


9 thoughts on “The age of console MMOs?

  1. 00james June 12, 2013 / 1:07 pm

    It’s not gonna last.

    How are people supposed to roleplay (or even chat!!) when all they can say is “left, right, left, right, up, down, up, down, A, A, B, B” ???

  2. Rowan June 12, 2013 / 3:17 pm

    I certainly won’t bother with any console MMO. In fact, I only played Defiance for a couple hours during the Steam promotional weekend because it was apparent that it was intended to be controller-based instead of Keyboard/Mouse. But then, I don’t assume I’m the typical gamer. Yesterday, I read an article on Penny Arcade about the increasing use of controllers for PC games. Seemed to be comment-bait for the most part.

  3. Tyler F.M. Edwards June 12, 2013 / 3:29 pm

    Why do people keep insisting Diablo 3 is an MMO? It’s not even close to an MMO. The Secret World is closer to being a single-player RPG than Diablo 3 is to being an MMO…

  4. sente June 12, 2013 / 4:41 pm

    There are only a lot more MMOs coming to consoles if one redefines a bit what an MMO is.
    Which makes perfect sense, since the type of games consoles are suitable for is not quite the same as what old-timers associate MMOs (or rether MMORPGs) with.

    Discussing all these kinds of “MMOs” as if they had a lot in common with each other will probably be a thing of the past. They may all be multi-player games and they may possibly have some (semi-)persistent world or setting, but may not necessarily be much more they have in common.

  5. Asmiroth June 12, 2013 / 4:43 pm

    It would be hard to argue that Call of Duty is less an MMO than say Neverwinter. Monster Hunter is a prime example of a console MMO I think.

    You need lots of people, persistence of some kind (player, environment or both) and tools to communicate/act in groups. Network connectivity is naturally a pre-req.

    Consoles can provide all of that, if by a simpler interface than mouse/keyboard. They are here to stay and as a developer I would prefer coding for one/two platforms with known specs than a bajillion variants due to drivers and hardware.

  6. Mark June 13, 2013 / 12:30 pm

    I think it will be tough to keep mmo’s going on consoles and like someone else said find it a bit weird that diablo 3 is on there although I guess to some degree it sort of fits the bill.

  7. spinks June 14, 2013 / 3:27 am

    I have issues with it. Firstly it’s hard to chat unless you use voice chat and secondly, multiplayer games on consoles traditionally use multiple controllers hooked up to one box. How would a console MMO work if you have multiple players in the house?

  8. Rowan June 14, 2013 / 9:33 am

    “How would a console MMO work if you have multiple players in the house?” I doubt they’d be able to play on the same console at the same time like 4 player HALO for example. Of course you need multiple PCs now to play together. The difference is families often have multiple PCs for reasons of productivity. They don’t often have multiple XBoxes (some families might).

    On the other hand, if we redefine MMOs to include simpler action type games, then a console title with multi-player might work. I personally would not play it, see my comment above.

  9. Gamer123 August 19, 2013 / 10:26 am

    I think the biggest problem with console mmo will be the chat w/out doubt mmos on pc have keyboards and make chat pretty easy to do but for consoles you are at best with a mic at worst through kinect and games like planet side which have tons of ppl altogether it looks like a disaster in waiting in my opinion.

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