For 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?