GDC: MMOs, past, present and future

Here’s Alice’s post with notes from the panel discussion

And some highlights here.  So the moderator asks them all for three predictions – veeerry innnteresting!

Raph [Koster]: I would say we are about to see a truly massive explosion in the quantity of online worlds, like Korea saw. The vast majority will not be retail box products. We’re starting to see… you saw darkstar just open sourced a perfectly viable MMO engine. You can pick it up for free. We’re going to start to see a helluva lot more… stuff. Number 2: no offense to megapublishers: I think the most important and significant pubs are going to come from the film and television industries. The most active virtual worlds publisher in the last six months is VIACOM. I really really think that anybody in this room who is not watching the way big media is moving into this space is missing a major, major story. This is a short term prediction. My third one… these are all things happening now that no-one’s noticing, so I’m cheating. 3 is the non-game: the poster child to this is Second Life. That stuff is not going to decline. It’s drawing in insane amounts of investment and attention, all this writing on SL. You saw PS Home? Would that exist without SL? No. Recently on the web you see people checking out all these SL clones… Kaneva, HidiHi…no-one here is paying the slightest bit of attention, and their bragging about the three fundamental concepts: user generated upload, the ability to cash out and make money (whoa ! World of Warcraft it AIN’T!)… And entertainment isn’t going to slip from the number one spot. But they won’t necessarily look like what we think is an MMO.

Mark J[acobs]: we’re going to see a lot more types of games. We’ll see rps, fps,.. explosion in different types of games. After that… lots of corpses. So many failures its’ going to be unbelievable. There’s so much dumb money chasing around this space it’s shocking. Here come the mass media, and they’re shouting, omg we wanna be just like World of Warcraft. Here’s a lot of money, make a great game, but there’s only a handful of people who know how to make it really well. I’m predicting disaster. Number 3 prediction: you’ll see someone beat wow. It wont’ be us. But World of Warcraft, like every other game, will have its day.

 Rob [Pardo]: … because of wow, and all the dumb money and all the publisher pressure, there’ll be lots of games that shouldn’t have been MMOs but would have been great boxed products. Lots of publishers are pushing for that subscription pie, but they’ll fail. Last prediction: from here on out everyone’s going to be thinking globally about their MMOs. Previous to us everyone thought Europe didn’t have a market for MMOs, but we have more than a million and a half in Europe.

Mark K[ern]: our definition of MMO is going to change. The line will blur. Xbox Live Achievements. Lots of box games will take on persistent attributes. The way we pay for our games is completely going to change. No box product gets sold in Asia. Once those channels open up, it’ll be hard to tell what’s an MMO and what’s not. It’s also going to get really cheap to start an MMO. It used to cost 10m dollars to launch a website, once upon a time. It was an arcane art. But nowadays there are solutions out of the box to allow people to build persistent communities. Content is still expensive, but getting in on the ground floor? Much easier to do. Last prediction: lots of experiments in convergence of social networking and MMO virtual space. MySpace… and MMOs. There’s all sorts of crossover opportunity. If you’re running a socnet without a virtual bit of some sort in 5 years you’ll look like a dinosaur.

Daniel [James]: I don’t think big media companies will be able to execute their way out of a paper bag. A lot of people will lose their shirt in this space. Yes. This medium’s going to destroy television. This is great! The advertising business will migrate to this medium. Big media are throwing money away because they realise this is happening. The wrinkle on the social networking… […] … ok going in to wacky land now because everyone’s said all the sensible stuff, I think there’ll be lots of regulatory things arising between what players want and what the government wants.. I’m wondering whether I should offshore myself now in case they think I’m gambling or porn or whatever because of what my players like doing in my virtual space. It’s a television-eater.

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One thought on “GDC: MMOs, past, present and future

  1. […] particularly interesting that there was very little discussion along these lines by the industry experts at GDC who made predictions about the future of MMOs.  Though they may have been referring to projects like this with talk about “big […]

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