Console Franchises That Would Make Great MMOGs
One of the biggest moneymakers in recent video game history has been Blizzard's World of Warcraft. With over 11 million paying monthly subscribers at its peak of popularity, it is easy to see why Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs) like WoW are such a tempting prospect for video game companies. However, outside of the moderately successful Final Fantasy XI (and possibly the upcoming Final Fantasy XIV) there hasn't really been anything available on consoles to topple the superiority of WoW and Massive Multiplayer gaming in general. Now that Blizzard has merged with console publisher Activision, we might ask ourselves whether these two companies are cooking up something massive on consoles. After all, WoW can't go on FOREVER, can it? Activision isn't the only company capable of making a successful console MMOG. Here are five franchises that we think would make fertile inspiration for great massively multiplayer games.
A game set in the Fable universe would be the most obvious and most readily accepted console MMO. Peter Molyneux has already imbued the game with features that would fit a massively multiplayer game perfectly: fully customizable characters, the ability to own property and store loot, and different branch paths for characters to take depending on their style of play. Now the only task would be to make the whole thing work together, with human characters taking the place of most of the NPCs. Fable 2 was a pretty good game, but short-lived. A longer and deeper online experience would be much more rewarding (and profitable for Lionhead).
We love wandering the wastes in Fallout 3, collecting scraps to recycle as weapons or equipment, fighting off hideous mutant creatures and solving the (apocalyptic) world's problems. But you know, sometimes we just feel so lonely doing it. Fallout is such a longstanding and venerable video game property that many people were (and still are) scandalized that Bethesda had the gall to turn it into a first-person shooter. We're so over that pointless fanboy argument, and we are eager to see what else Bethesda could do with the franchise. They aren't exactly experienced with making MMO-style games, but Fallout would be one universe we would love to explore with other living, breathing humans.
This sensation from Japan already sorta has online play (and it's even subscription based!) all that is needed now is to add the "massive" component into the mix. Monster Hunter is a series of games in which players hunt awesome beasts on land, sea and air with a small party of other players. There isn't any of the character leveling found in other RPG style games; instead players collect natural resources and body parts from defeated wyverns to craft better and more effective hunting gear. The problem is that the game lacks a competitive element - everyone is the greatest hunter in the land when it comes to a mostly single-player experience. A massively multiplayer online version would allow individual hunters, parties and villages to compete with one another to track and bring down the rarest and deadliest beasts, some of which could require 100 or more players to actually kill.
Do you know what's hot right now, grandpa? Vampires. Seriously, from Russian sci-fi movies (Nightwatch) to gothic teenage novels (Twilight), people just can't seem to get enough of those nocturnal, bloodsucking Transylvanians. The Castlevania universe would make an awesome setting for an MMO, because it has a long and distinguished history as a video game franchise, it features a wealth of different story arcs and characters, and the gothic milieu is still virgin territory as far as massive online games are concerned. The only problem will be filtering out all of the Twilight fans who will undoubtedly flood servers and mess up the gaming experience for those who actually want to kill, rather than be, vampires.
Grand Theft Auto
This one is almost a no-brainer. Spurred by fan interventions like San Andreas MP, the developers at Rockstar have finally gotten the message and started implementing online modes in their wildly popular franchise, with the PSP version of Liberty City Stories and more recently GTA IV containing fairly robust competitive multiplayer modes. But alongside our wildest fantasies about what COULD be possible in a massively multiplayer Grand Theft Auto game, these cops and robbers diversions feel somewhat uninspiring. We know that Rockstar has the talent, the bankroll and the audacity to bring a fully persistent online version of GTA to life, and consoles would be a natural place for this to happen.
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