From nerd to world domination, one great game at a time.

Darren over at Common Sense Gamer had a bit of news today based on a quote from Codemasters, with the basis of it being that they want to release one MMO per year. Being the ever lovable doom and gloom guy that Darren can be, he then references the dot com crash and relates it to the MMO market of today, his main point being that he thinks the MMO market is not as big as most assume it to be.

First off I think Codemasters publishing one MMO per year is entirely feasible. They did not say they are internally developing one MMO per year, simply publishing one. They had little to do with the development of LoTRO, they just handled the marketing and publishing in Europe in exchange for a cut of the profits. As more developers jump into the MMO space, and we expand beyond the traditional fantasy setting, the market will support more frequent releases of top-tier MMO games.

More publishers getting involved with MMOs can only be a good thing, as it means more competition to acquire the rights to new games, thus raising the overall standard and giving developers more places to sell their game. When SOE, EA, Codemasters and others compete for the rights to publish a game, the winner ends up being the developer, and the consumer in the end. Like the free agent market in sports, the more teams bidding, the higher the payout for the player. The player in this situation is the developer, and with more money, they will be given more time and resources to craft better gaming experiences.

In addition to this, I think that the MMO market is only as big as the next great game. If someone ships a Sci-Fi WoW-like game next year, who is to say that won’t get 5 million or more subscribers, many of which might never have bothered with WoW because they don’t care for fantasy games. Or perhaps Warhammer will live up to it’s hype and deliver a truly groundbreaking PvP game, which might attract a large portion of the console and FPS crowd, a segment that previously might have ignored MMOs.

My point is that the MMO market is only limited in size based on what products are available. There is no magic ‘cap’ that once hit will result in a stable base of players who jump from one MMO to the other, without bringing in new players. Like the console market in the late 90s, the more competition we saw, the larger the market got. Each year we heard how this was the year the growth would stop, yet the videogame market as a whole continues to expand, going from a ‘nerd’ industry to something that is now more mainstream than most movies or music, an industry were Halo is bigger than any blockbuster you see over the summer, or any CD you have purchased this year.

3 Responses to From nerd to world domination, one great game at a time.

  1. Lucifrank says:

    I don’t question Codemaster’s ability to publish a game a year. I would question the potential quality of these games and how financially lucrative pumping out disposable MMOs will be for them.

  2. darrenl says:

    First….not so much doom and gloom…just cynical. You’ll get like that too when you have some milage under your belt in any industry :) Have a discussoin with a group of techies with 10+ year experience and you’ll get where I’m coming from.

    I do question their ability to deliver one MMO per year. I just don’t think there is the talent out there right now to meet that schedule and produce a quality product that a) the market can bare and b) that people would want to play.

    More publishers getting “into” the fray does not translate directly to “the bar being raised”…usually the scenario of wading through the crap to find the diamond comes up.

    Alot of what you say here is “what if…”. What if Warhammer is successfull. What if a Sci-fi game comes out that get 5+ million. Again…that’s all dot com thinking that you cannot take to the bank…nor should the game industry. Unless you take measured steps to ensure that your product is successful, all the “what ifs” in the world will never help you. That means a) knowing your market, b) controlling the scope of your project and b) controlling the cost.

    The Halos and WoWs are not trends of the gaming market, they are blips.

  3. syncaine says:

    I would call Halo a trend. FF7 before it blowing up RPG games on consoles, Doom before that blowing up FPS. Each major milestone in gaming pushes the genre further, into levels we thought they could never reach. Not long ago a 1 million+ copies seller was rare, now it happens monthly. If we go back to the SNES/Genesis days, and I told you videogames would be bigger than movies soon, you would call me crazy.

    As for Codemasters pumping out junk, that just depends on what they decide to pick up. Sure it could be junk, or it could be one quality title a year. I think one quality title a year is very doable.

    I would be very interested to see how long the average MMO fan sticks with one game. For some reason, I have a feeling it’s somewhere around 3-6 months, with something really good holding them for 8-12. Using that baseless assumption, 1-2 quality MMOs a year is very supportable.

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