Daniweb isn lt the first forum I joined, (but thankfully its the only one I am currently on). And over the years as I've browsed literally 100's of forums, in the past I always seem to see one question that always pervades. (Well at least on the gaming ones). And that question is "When is World Of Warcraft Coming out on 360!?!?". And for those millions of gamers the answer has never been no... but it’s never been yes either. Since the launch of the 360 back in 2005, rumors and outright lies have been sneaked up left and right.
So this does beg the question why arent there many MMO's on consoles?
Let's get this straight, there have been MMO's on consoles and some of them are still played to this day! Such has Final Fantasy 11 and the newly announced final fantasy 14. As well as Sega's MMO like (Not a real MMO but you still get charged monthly) Phantasy Star Online series.
Console popularity has seemingly doubled with every generation of consoles, bringing in more and more people. In fact consoles have gotten so popular its arguable that console gaming has almost crippled the pc gaming industry (at least currently). So with more games starting out on consoles and being ported to pc, why are so little publishers interested in trying their luck on consoles with MMO's?
I'm going to try to throw out some of my theories, I would also like to hear some of yours Dani Web Community :D
The Subscription Fee!
Its getting more and more popular to charge your user base a "Fee" per month to even play online. Sega started it with Seganet, Microsoft perfected it and Sony had no choice but to join in. Sadly most Major MMO's these days also carry one of these Subscription fees, usually 14-15 dollars a month.
It does seem a little hard to expect console players who already pay per month for ISP service, their console service and a suscription fee each month. For many gamers this may break the bank and cost a large percentage of a user base to just keep playing elsewhere.
But this begs the question why not just allow us to play an MMO for free online? Sadly its a financial hit no publisher seems to want to take. Over the years certain changes have been made to the profit models of mmo’s to a free to play system. However the majority of games that run under this model are designed to make you want to “pay” for those extras. Giving an almost unfair advantage to players who are willing to literally put their money where their mouth is. Now there are an almost alarming amount of games coming out on this model that are built as big budget games that are as good as their retail counter parts and are slowly changing the free to play game’s stigma.
However this system for free to play doesn’t seem to bode well for publishers. No one wants to launch a game for free on Xbox Live and allow people to use Microsoft points to buy extra “premium” goodies. Although I think most of us agree this would actually be a really awesome idea. There is some light to be shed though, NC Soft is taking a big gamble late this summer with Guild Wars 2, a fully featured MMO with no online subscription fee. Players just pay the one time retail fee and their free to play for how long as they want. If this model ends up being profitable we might see more companies take the plunge and hopefully we see it on consoles.
Console Gamer Stigma
Whether we like it or not, the majority of the game industry has placed a stigma on all console gamers. No matter how much monster you drink or hours you spend playing Halo online “pwning noobs”, the publishers still feel your less hardcore then the pc gaming crowd. And therefore feel you don’t wanna play games that require large amount of time or learning curve to play. (Hence why we just started seeing the first RTS games being released on consoles since the n64 days) MMO’s fall under the large time consumption category of games, and depending on which game even the learning curve might be a bit difficult. While there is no denying there are more casual gamers playing xbox games opposed to pc games. This doesn’t mean the truly hardcore don’t exist. There are plenty of people who gladly threw away 100 of hours playing Skyrim in the last year alone. I think its time for the Publisher to re-asses how “hardcore” console gamers can be.
Now to be honest I could sum up every reason I posted up there into one sentence. Publishers don’t make MMO’s on consoles because they feel they won’t sell well. However I feel it’s a little more complex of an issue then a single sentence. Now I’m not gonna trounce around claiming my explanations are facts, as I stated there just theories. Do you guys agree with my crazy theories? Or do you think there is another reason behind this madness?