I am too antsy to work. Most community managers on the West Coast aren’t even awake, but it is the first business day of 2011. The 2011. The Year of the MMO. It feels like something should be coming any second, but I have to tell myself that things were not so different a week ago. All morning I have been trying to write this post. What are my baseless speculations on the MMO genre this year?
Rift will launch within a few months. It will be p0lished and fun, and it will get generally the same reviews as it is getting with beta impressions. However, by the end of 2011 the words “fail” and “dying” will start to get tossed around as servers merge, employees are laid off, and people’s subscriptions are tossed elsewhere. No one will care at that time if the game was an actual commercial success to the company or investors. I hope I am proven wrong, but so far I see a great, polished game that has very little to show for a sustained subscription against every other subscription based game of the same ilk. DC Universe Online will generally follow suit.
Star Wars: The Old Republic will launch on either side of summer. Like Rift it will be well polished and fun. Yet, the aces in the hole for The Old Republic are going to be replayability, lore, and story. These things will stretch the time before players start wondering whether to subscribe for a few more months. BioWare is going to have a tough fight because they will have to prove that they are going to offer a service with strong updates and developer feedback to show that their subscription is worthwhile. Their biggest yardstick is BioWare’s own games and DLC because players will wonder if a locked-in subscription is worth the multiplayer features. With a very strong post-launch plan, I think they have a decent chance of a sustained million subscriber base.
Finally, Guild Wars 2, which is too close to my heart. I think it is interesting that the MMO which is farthest out from launch of these few is the most anticipated at the big MMO site MMORPG.com by far, and Guild Wars 2 holds the highest sustained hype rating ever on their site. I have a lot of hope for the game, but I am also worried about their cash shop plans and post-launch content business model. I think that the game will be ready for 2011 holiday release.
I fear you more than any spectre I have seen