Yesterday, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated that there would be no MMORPGs on the Wii. This got me to thinking about why there aren’t many MMORPGs on consoles, they definitely have a large player base than the PC. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but currently the only MMORPGs that have been released to consoles have been Phantasy Star, Final Fantasy XI and EverQuest Online Adventures. Phantasy Star appearing on both DreamCast and Xbox 360, FFXI on Xbox360 and PS2 and EQ just on PS2. Wow, who knew they ported EQ to the PS2? Anyway, even with Microsoft’s Xbox Live service there were no MMORPG on the first Xbox and there are currently none on PS3, although there are a few that have been announced for the PS3.
So whats stopping consoles makers from releasing a successful MMORPG on there given platform? I mean if the dying PC gaming market can boost dozens of MMORPGs with 10’s of Millions of gamers, why can’t console makers?
It comes back to the fact that PC’s are just a better gaming platform then consoles for certain genres of gaming. MMORPG’s and RTS games are just not as good as they are on a PC and probably never will be. But lets break down what that really means.
Communication – Obviously a big part of MMORPGs. Using a controller is not an option when you need to communicate in-game. So you need to either get a headset or a keyboard if your console supports it. This adds to the cost which might turn away some console gamers as keyboards can be expensive.
Interface – The interface of MMORPGs today is very point and click. This again can’t be done quick enough with a controller to make it effective. A controller only has so many buttons. Have you seen some of the MMORPGs today? In LOTRO I had 4 complete bars full of actions, items and skills so that I could use them instantly. Having 8 buttons just isn’t good enough.
Fees – Gamers are already paying a monthly fee on Xbox Live, so to charge them again per MMO, would be pushing it. I think developers know this and are worried that the player base will be very small because of it. On the other hand P3’s online service is free, so go figure.
Information – Ask any MMORPG player and I would guess that 99% of them have used websites while playing to find locations, complete quests or just to find out what to do next. This isn’t possible on a console. Theres no CTRL + ALT + Delete to minimize your game, check out a map of your gaming world then quickly switch back. If you want to use your consoles browser, well your looking at at least 5 mins before you get back into your game. Log out, open browser, search, log back into game, not to mention all the loading screens. Or you can go to your PC to find the info. Then again, I have 2 monitors so I have all my info right next to my screen while I play, can’t do that on a console.
Competition – Consoles have a much larger gaming library compared to the PC. Sure the PC gets all the best games ;) but they can’t match the volume of games produced by console makers. I would think this might have some impact on developers worried that they would not be able to keep a hold on gamers like the PC can. With a major game release what seems almost on a monthly basis, console gamers might move on too quickly.
System Hog – MMORPGs are single player games when it comes to the console. So if you have a MMORPG gamer on a console, they are not only hogging the console to themselves, but also the TV. I WANT TO WATCH AMEICAN IDOL DAMMIT!! (j/k)
So what can console makers do to get a piece of the MMORPG pie? We’ll they can make there next console a PC :)