With just about every sandbox MMO coming from a small development studio, it can be hard enough to get funding to finish a game, yet alone get enough to buy a well know intellectual property (IP).
Theme-park MMORPG don’t seem to have this problem as there are well over a dozen of popular IPs today. From Lord of the Rings to Conan to Star Wars and Star Trek to Warhammer and so on, there seems to be no shortage of IPs to choose from. However when it comes to sandbox MMOs, I can’t seem to name one that was developed off a well known IP. Maybe Ultima Online, but I really don’t count that as 90% of the public has probably never hear of the Ultima RPG series.
So to level the playing field, I’ve listed a few well known IPs that I believe would be a perfect fit for a sandbox MMO game.
Wing Commander – Probably the best well known, non-Star Wars, space combat sim ever, Wing Commander would be perfect for a sandbox space MMO. Think of Eve Online, but with a full scale war going on. There hasn’t been a serious Wing Commander game since 1999, with the exception of an XBLA game five years ago, so a developer can really take this IP and turn it into something new.
Middle-Earth – No, not another Lord of the Rings MMO, but a game that takes place well before those events. The problem with LotRO is that it’s based off those books so you have to include the ring, Saruman, Gandalf and the rest of the fellowship, but if you create a game simply based off the Middle-Earth world, you can really create a sandbox MMO that players would flock to. With no set goal of defeating Sauron and his minions, players are free to do what they want in a world they already love.
Unforgiven or Tombstone – Why hasn’t anyone made a western MMO yet? Seriously, how bad ass would it be to be an outlaw in the Wild West? I’m don’t think an IP is even needed in this case, but I listed those two movies at they’re arguably the most famous. The western theme would be a perfect fit for a sandbox MMO and would lend itself perfectly for crafting, exploring, PvP and a bounty system. This seems like a no brainer to me. I know I’d be all over a western MMORPG and gamers seemed to have loved Red Dead Redemption as well, so no excuse that people aren’t into that genre.