Our Most Anticipated MMOs And How They Can Succeed

Over the past few years, I've felt that the number of quality MMORPGs entering the market yearly has been dwindling. Perhaps it's the fact that there's a massive behemoth named World of Warcraft that's attracting millions of potential customers who could be playing other MMOs, or maybe everyone has been collaborating, waiting to unleash a torrent of awesome MMORPGs into the market at the same time; hoping to smash into the Blizzard half of the pie and come away with enough crumbs and blueberry filling for everyone. Either way, even if the past few years have seen only a few really successful and innovative titles (EVE Online and Lord of the Rings Online come to mind), I'm sure most of you will understand me when I say, with confidence, that the next few years of MMO development should radically change the face of MMORPGs as we know them.

Don't believe me? During the next few years, and speaking purely about the 'mainstream' MMOs with solid, experienced development teams or extremely popular brands, players will see the release of Aion (NCsoft), Final Fantasy XIV (Square Enix), DC Universe Online (Sony Online Entertainment), Champions Online (Cryptic Studios), Guild Wars 2 (ArenaNet), Marvel Universe (Gargantuan), Star Wars: The Old Republic (BioWare / Mythic) and The Agency (Sony Online Entertainment). Of course, while a majority of you have probably already chosen your 'soon to be favourite' MMORPG of the future, I'm sure you're all very worried that this latest batch of MMOs may not end up delivering the hype and the prestige that some of these companies inspire. In this way, I've decided to compile a list of my most anticipated upcoming MMORPGs that I believe have a strong chance to succeed, and what I believe it will take to turn them into the next big thing.

Final Fantasy XIV

This really shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has heard me gush about the massive potential that Final Fantasy XI had in its early years. This time around, Square Enix has garnered even more potential for their latest Final Fantasy MMO with the offline RPG crowd already drooling in anticipation of FFXIII and the ever faithful MMO crowd drooling at SE's crowd-pleasing statements, like "we've learned a lot of lessons from Final Fantasy XI," and "we're going to make FFXIV appeal to a broader range of players."

There's no denying the fact that the Final Fantasy series is one of the most well known RPG brands in all of gaming history. Added on to this extreme brand awareness is the fact that Square Enix does tend to produce some of the most polished content the MMO world has ever seen, even if it is released on a platform that feels a little bit clunky. To be honest, if anyone has the potential to rip away a large chunk of subscribers from the dominating World of Warcraft, I can definitely see Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIV becoming a real powerhouse if they manage to release an MMO with just as much innovation and polish as they did with Final Fantasy XI.

What they need to do to succeed: In everyone's mind right now, we're all wondering just how big a hole Square Enix is going to dig themselves into when it comes to their horrendous public relations. We were recently invited on a tour of FFXI's latest content updates (http://www.zam.com/story.html?story=19214), but if SE doesn't do something to increase the stability of their public relations, I'm guessing there will be many disgruntled FFXI players who just won't be going over to their newest game. If, however, Square Enix manages to fine-tune their North American experience and create a polished gaming experience, that includes good customer service, look to see the world of Eorzea teeming with hundreds of thousands (dare I say, millions?) of keen MMO gamers.


Developed by NCsoft, the Korean company that has snagged millions of users in eastern Asia with their flagship titles Lineage and Lineage II, Aion capitalized perfectly on China's one-year stalemate with Blizzard concerning World of Warcraft's Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Of course, Aion didn't just 'stumble' upon its 5 million subscribers; it did it with its incredible graphics, its massive-scale PvPvE battlefield (The Abyss) and its smooth, intuitive battle system. In other words, Aion is definitely poised to be a top-five leader in the MMORPG race, if they can somehow solve the problem of the Asian grind mentality.

What they need to do to succeed: A lot of complaints that players have about Aion is the fact that the game tends to boil itself down to grindtastic grindiness. A lot of players note that Aion has a fairly linear quest system, and players can expect to spend hours grinding out a level at a time. One of the biggest appeal factors of World of Warcraft is the fact that players rarely feel they need to grind too much for anything, and there are many paths that lead to a single reward. On the other hand, self-declared "hardcore" MMO gamers point to the ease of access of World of Warcraft and argue that a 'real' MMORPG, like Aion, should punish players for deaths in PvE (EXP loss) and PvP (massive Abyss point losses per death).

In my opinion, if NCsoft really wants Aion to be a fierce competitor in the North American MMO industry, they need to figure out a way to make Aion a little bit more accessible while still appealing to the more hardcore PvPers and dedicated gamers. Expanding and broadening the spectrum of activities that players can participate in regarding endgame content will also go very far.The Superhero MMOs in order of estimated appearance: Champions Online and DC Universe Online

While I don't believe that there is a huge demographic of superhero MMO gamers out there, perhaps there is something that Cryptic Studios and Sony Online Entertainment know that I don't. Either way, players who were bored with the 'monopoly' that City of Heroes had on the superhero MMO market can now breathe sighs of relief as we will end up seeing two more of these super-powered monstrosities charging their way into the industry. While I'm certain that they will all boast unique features and fun gameplay, what worries me most is my personal belief that there just isn't enough superhero pie to go around. Will the next five years also see the shutting down of a superhero MMO or two?

What they need to do to succeed: Personally speaking, the biggest problem I have with superhero MMOs is the fact that you start with a lot of things that most MMOs use to 'tempt' players. For example, players can create a wickedly awesome costume in Champions Online, and because players start with their wickedly awesome costume, this sort of negates the main reason why I look forward to new armour in the first place. A friend of mine also whined about the lure of games like City of Heroes, and he opined that the game's real appeal was simply in creating fantastical characters. To me, whichever superhero MMO that can somehow grow to become more than just making a superhero and getting bigger explosive powers will probably be the one that lasts in this competitive market. They need to figure out how to attract MMO gamers beyond your average comic book fan!

This just about wraps up Part I of what I intend to be a three part series. Remember, I can't cover everything I want in every upcoming MMO genre, so if you have something that you really expect from our upcoming 'next-gen' MMORPGs, be sure to leave a comment and lead a discussion!

Christopher "Pwyff" Tom


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Asian grinder mentality
# Sep 09 2009 at 6:47 PM Rating: Decent
Asian grinder mentality is not just NCsoft games problem but also SE FF11 problem and also FF14 possible problem, just to point out that aion has grind problem while nothing being mentioned about FF14 grind is kinda bias.

Look at FF11, everything in game is heavily grind, from crafting, leveling to endgame content with sucky drop rate.

In order for you to get a level you have to kill the same monster over and over for few hours and not only that, you NEED to get a party in order to do that or else you can grind solo from lvl 1-75 for a year or so killing DC monster for 100+xp each kill (non-bst and non-blm) or do the same campaign battle over and over and over.

Furthermore, FF14 will not have XP system to level up but using skill system, i am pretty skeptical about that and still on "wait and see mode" at the moment.
Heard about Darkfall anyone? this game does not give exp points when killing monster but earn you random skill up on what ever weapon you are using and the facts is, in this game you need to grind for weeks in order to get decent skill up for 1 type of weapon.

Wait, isn't it japan also part of asia?

Edited, Sep 9th 2009 10:49pm by Azuthkujata
Aion in the West
# Aug 24 2009 at 1:43 PM Rating: Decent
212 posts
I play Aion with my online time. As Pwyff has said, its designed around Asia's concept of an online world. With so many western online gaming standarts deteriorated from years of WoW dominance and envy. Most players coming from that universe of deteriorated online gaming will try out Aion but end up saying "gosh this sucks because it takes too long to level" and end up going back to WoW. When you read or hear other online gamers raving about Aion, they are being fed the action packed trailers and pvp systems. They truely have no idea what they are getting themselves into.

Aion is only going to attract a handful of western players that will play it for years to come. Similar on the scale of what happened with Lineage II. Some players bought it, subscribed to the offical servers for less than 6 months then they just decided to go back to their previous title, play on a private server or try ffxi(and ended up loving ffxi).

As for Final Fantasy XIV, I dont care for what other players and journalists have to say about this title. I am very impressed for what FFXI was while i was playing it. I was so pleased, I would undoubtedly atempt Final Fantasy XIV, and if I like it, ill stay.
MMOs everywhere
# Aug 23 2009 at 10:47 PM Rating: Decent
11,630 posts
There are really dozens of MMOs in development currently.

A few that have stood out in my opinion, and that it would be fun if you would cover in later parts (part IV?) would be Star Gate Worlds. A MMO who throws out gear importance and focus on strategy. It is more important to find cover and shoot at your opponent, than to have the hottest armor and gun. Quite an interesting twist they promise, with skilled game play being more important than item camping and level grinding. I would almost say it will be a Quake Online in the end, except still not matter who has the BFG or Quad damage.

The second is Dragonball Online, which will feature aging. You character start as a kid and then grows with time, something no past MMO seem to have attempted. As expected there are tournaments to play in, but also a marriage system with the intent on creating new stronger kids that will grow up that you can play. (I just hope the system won't end up with a bunch of weaklings who can't get married because everyone wants the strong people)

In my opinion it is this kind of new thinking that the MMO world needs. And it is partially why Aion is a little tempting with its flying system. (Sure WoW also has flying, but when the choice is a flying mount of to be an angel, I'd go with being an angel. Still, vampire would be coolest, and not an Western vampire, but one of those sexy Japanese ones)
The List: Top 10 MMOs of 2012
# Aug 20 2009 at 9:52 AM Rating: Decent
You can have also a look at the interesting review of Jon Wood at mmorpg.com

Dust 514
# Aug 20 2009 at 8:36 AM Rating: Decent
727 posts
You should take a look at this one as well. The combining of a console mmo with a pc mmo is truly one of the landmarks of the gaming industry.
Sorry Guys!
# Aug 17 2009 at 3:13 PM Rating: Excellent
I think I downplayed the fact that this was part one in a three part series, so I'm sorry if any of you thought that I really only thought that Aion, FFXIV and Champions Online / DCUO were the only MMOs that I'm anticipating. I'm definitely going to be covering more MMOs in Parts II and III of my series! Sorry if that wasn't communicated well enough.
Sorry Guys!
# Aug 18 2009 at 8:35 AM Rating: Decent
Um... you still overlooked that Marvel Universe Online isn't happening because the company is focusing on their Movie titles instead. in your original article. :-)

Sorry Guys!
# Aug 18 2009 at 12:30 PM Rating: Excellent
Ahhh I see what you're talking about - fixed.
#REDACTED, Posted: Aug 18 2009 at 3:35 AM, Rating: Sub-Default, (Expand Post) Interested in why you gave FFXIV top billing - any sense in order? Alphapbetically, release dates? etc.
no comments on Old republic?
# Aug 17 2009 at 12:48 PM Rating: Decent
I should keep an eye out on the Star Wars title. I've been a Bioware fan since Baldur's Gate came out. They put out some pretty good games. but so far I haven't been keeping up on the Star Wars. That's the only one in the group I might be interested in.
# Aug 17 2009 at 10:36 AM Rating: Default
Addendum: Europe
# Aug 17 2009 at 8:30 AM Rating: Decent
863 posts
What they need to do to succeed: In everyone's mind right now, we're all wondering just how big a hole Square Enix is going to dig themselves into when it comes to their horrendous public relations. We were recently invited on a tour of FFXI's latest content updates (http://www.zam.com/story.html?story=19214), but if SE doesn't do something to increase the stability of their public relations, I'm guessing there will be many disgruntled FFXI players who just won't be going over to their newest game. If, however, Square Enix manages to fine-tune their North American experience and create a polished gaming experience, that includes good customer service, look to see the world of Eorzea teeming with hundreds of thousands (dare I say, millions?) of keen MMO gamers.

Whilst I do agree with the fact that Blizzard has done pretty well with keeping in touch with the players compared to say SE, I have to say that pretty much ONLY goes for NA players. On the EU forums there is no response to anything said, not even during Beta for WotLK was it possible for us EU players to get some form of response from Blizz. In fact it was more effective to somehow contact a NA player who could then post the idea/feedback on the US beta forums. So, I agree, blizzard is doing fairly well, but they can do a whole lot better when catering to their whole fanbase and not just a small part of it.

I hope, just like you, SE does better with communicating with their players, but unlike Blizzard I really hope they make sure to communicate with their whole playerbase instead of just one part of it. "Fine-tune their North American experience" should be "Fine-tune their World experience" imo.
Star Trek Online
# Aug 17 2009 at 3:34 AM Rating: Good
2,915 posts
I'm looking for good things to come of Star Trek Online myself, also being developed by Cryptic.

I think this statement regarding user experience in the Star Trek Universe says much about what this game has potential to offer:

Total Customization

Using Cryptic’s Total Customization technology, every ship you command can be customized by you, from its color to its construction. Your ship will retain a Star Trek "feel," but it will also represent your style. What’s more, anyone can create their own species in Star Trek Online, meaning you can tell your own story about how you came to be in the galaxy. Leave your mark on the Star Trek universe!
Star Trek Online
# Aug 18 2009 at 5:27 AM Rating: Decent
I'm glad that someone else is looking forward to STO. I have wanted this game for so long, and I can hardly wait for it. :)
Please note
# Aug 16 2009 at 5:53 PM Rating: Decent
The Marvel Universe game has been Canceled.

Confirmation of the project's cancellation arrived on February 11, 2008, although rumors of the possible cancellation had existed since at least November of the previous year.[6] Shane Kim, the head of Microsoft Games Studios, stated in an interview that the cancellation was primarily due to the competitive market for subscription-based MMOs, and that while one current MMO was successful, "everything else wouldn’t meet our level or definition of commercial success".[1]

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marvel_Universe_Online

Cryptic instead moved over to do Champions. Given how many movies Marvel currently has in production this is not unexpected at all.

Also another project in the works from Cryptic Studios is Star Trek Online.

Just a few things, really.

#REDACTED, Posted: Aug 17 2009 at 1:48 AM, Rating: Sub-Default, (Expand Post) Edit: actually I got bored reading the first time to the end "this is part 1 of 3" which puts things more in perspective, this sounded like another puff-piece for Final Fantasy and sickened me.
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