MMO 2.0 and the Next Generation of Online Gaming

Lately, there has been a lot to talk about in the MMO-verse, with Age of Conan just getting released and a World of Warcraft expansion pack on track for a holiday unveiling there seems to be nothing that can stop the momentum gained by the industry. However, despite all the success being thrown around by the top five MMOs (World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings Online, Age of Conan, EVE Online, Final Fantasy XI) there seems to be very little that is truly pushing the genre towards the “next step.”

In every walk of the technological life there are upgrades to the original. Even something as simple as the web was fully upgraded into what has become to lovingly termed: web 2.0. So the same should hold true for MMO, right? You’d think so, but very little has actually changed since the dawning of the 3D MMORPG in the heyday of Everquest. There has been smaller changes like the advent of a quest based storyline and an enhanced mini-map and traveling system, but nothing I’d really call revolutionary, or next generation. Let’s face it, nobody out there is really attempting to do anything to set a new standard in the industry.

Now I know that there is at least one EVE Online fan reading this right now in disgust. Let me say this right now, EVE Online is definitely a different experience and CCP has done a marvelous job and creating a successful MMO that strays from the typical archtype that most MMOs follow today. However, that said, they are not setting a standard in the industry. EVE Online and CCP will not be changing the way the industry makes its games and there probably won’t be any long lasting affects from their technology. The original Xbox was the first to really incorporate seamless online and now it has become the standard. MySpace truly pushed the bounds of “web 2.0” with it’s social networking applications and it has now become the standard. Apple created the first truly desirable MP3 player and it has now become the standard. All of these are examples of an industry that was expanded on by companies that wished to create a fresh experience on an old application and as such truly changed the landscape of how everybody else played in that field. So despite EVE Online’s unique gameplay they certainly haven’t changed the way developers make games.

So, where does that leave the industry? With the huge success of World of Warcraft, which handily dashes the success of the other top four MMOs combined, game developers desperately need to find new ways to make their games different and if that means employing a new combat system (Age of Conan) or seriously enhancing the PvP and RvR settings (Warhammer Online) then thats what these companies will do. Unfortunately, many of these “enhancements” are gimmicky at best and won’t be offering any true MMO 2.0 anytime soon. However, and this is just my prediction, I think it’s safe to say that after all the so called “WoW-killers” have debuted to date, the only MMO that will truly begin to pick away at the house that Blizzard built will be an MMO 2.0 game. Personally, I’m keeping my eye on Copernicus.

P.S. I am in no way calling Age of Conan’s combat system or WAR’s RvR system bad or flawed, but, rather, non-revolutionary. Yes I have tested out both; Age of Conan beta, Warhammer Online at E for All 2007.


  1. I’m still waiting for someone to incorporate external functions into their MMO. How great would it be to be able to log into an instant messenger client for your MMO? Especially on your cell phone. When i first started playing WoW, i would have gladly paid whatever the cost for a cell phone that lets me chat to characters (inside or out) or WoW.

    Quite a few games also promised these extravagant and fun crafting systems too. Total BS. EQ2 was supposed to be like this.

    Charchter creation. Why has nobody expanded on city of hereos huge charchter creation system. If they can do that much for the charchters, why cant we just dye our freaking armor (yay guild wars!)

  2. In different directions, WAR, AoC, and LoTRO push the basic design of WoW as far as it can go. LoTRO with improved storytelling and cohesion, AoC with improved combat, and WAR with integrated meaningful PvP. You could point to other games for specific elements, suhc as the character customization in CoH or the endlessly deep mini games in FFXI. Even if you duplicated the things that each of those games does the best separately and perfectly in a new MMO, you would not be looking at MMO 2.0. It would appeal to pretty much the same audience that is currentl playing MMOs.

    My guess is that MMO 2.0 will be based on mechanics currently being pioneered in FtP tween games. It will be the first high profile MMO to appeal to a larger audience than WoW. It will be extremely family friendly. And it will not appeal to most of us at all (by “us” I mean the current fans of MMOs). It will be the Wii of MMO space.

  3. @QiX
    Lineage2 tried this approach with built in MSN messenger which I thought was a solid move…
    But, alas, you are correct. I do not understand why everyone thinks they need their own Voice Chat system, when they could give the code to a message based IM with Voice and Video (Yahoo, Gtalk, Meebo)
    Could you imagine a webcam window in the corner of your screen while playing with friends..
    Wait…gotta go buy that 30″ monitor now…
    2560 x 1600 FTW!!!!

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