I know I’m probably missing some or wrong about some, but those are the MMOs that I can pick off the top of my head that are looking at release dates roughly within the next year or so. It’s an interesting list really.
JG:E and Black Prophecy are space ships, now with joysticks, Fallen Earth and Aion are more traditional MMOs, one post apoc, the other fantasy post apoc. Crimecraft, APB, and the Agency are all going for a third person shooter feel, and are to some extent pressing against the bounds of how we define MMO. Champions is the next installment in online superhero gaming, which remains to be seen whether it’ll redefine it’s niche or enter on more or less even footing with it’s aged competitor. Metaplace is already in open beta which means release is right around the corner now, and to say it’s somewhat different than the current crop of MMOs would be a hell of an understatement.
In other words, this next year will be a completely different year for MMOs than the last one. Change, evolution, revolution, and old guard all coming out right next to each other. Somewhat surprisingly, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of the third person shooter of which TR is the most famous MMO predecessor. To great extent, the future of the entire will likely be shaped on where Aion fits in the pack, if it comes out on top, it could be the groundhog heralding six more years of diku, if it’s near the bottom it could finally kill off future funding for diku MMOs all together as we move forward.
In large part, this is the year I’ve been waiting for. I’ve noticed that my posts about design have been trailing off over the last six months. In large part it was that I mostly felt I’d said just about everything that I personally needed to say about MMOs, though perhaps not always in detail. Once I’d caught up to a certain point, criticism of design really didn’t matter that much, since the current “state of the art” was still in the hands of the designers working on projects that are only now getting ready for release.
Something that faces the blogosphere, in particular, is that I doubt anyone is going to wind up giving all the games a “fair” shake. Lets face it, if you think it takes three months of play to be allowed to form an opinion on an MMO, you’re not going to have the time or money to form an opinion about every game on the list. So by and large, going forward, you’re going to get a whole lot of opinions formed from trial periods or first months even from people you wouldn’t have expected it from. The fact that most people aren’t just going to abandon whatever MMO they are playing now, also means all of this reviewing and opinion forming is going to have to take place alongside their typical gaming, leaving even less time to devote to each new game.
And again this is just brand new games, I’m not even addressing all the expansion packs and content patches that are going to be released over the next 12 months.