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MMOs Headed to the Promised Land

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The term console MMO used to be an oxymoron. MMOs on one side of the room and consoles on the other. Very few dared cross the great expanse to come together. It was like a middle school dance, until now. There are many barriers to making a console MMO, the most problematic is the subscriptions fee. For many years MMOs relied on a monthly fee in order to keep the servers on. In the past couple of years the market has drastically shifted towards free-to-play. This shift opens up the genre to console gamers who aren’t used to paying a subscription fee for a game. Now many MMO developers are looking to capitalize on this by bringing their games on the next generation of consoles.

While SOE is waiting for their SOE Live event to reveal Everquest Next they did have a lot of news to share at E3. The first is that the superhero MMO DC Universe Online will be coming to the PS4. This isn’t a huge surprise since the game is already available on the PS3 but it shows strong support for the game for years to come. This is important in a time when many fans are still recovering from the sudden shutdown of a similar title, City of Heroes, this past November. For PS4DCUO will not make use of the PS4’s streaming ability but will integrate with the other social functions of the console.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is also headed to the PS4. It would be more surprising news if it wasn’t. Both FFXI and FFXIV (the first try) were available on consoles. Sony has been one of the brave few who dared to put MMOs on their consoles. In the two previous online Final Fantasy games they stuck with the subscription model however now the PS4 requires a PS+ subscription to play multiplayer. We already know that the PC version will carry a subscription fee although it’s somewhat flexible. It might be a hard sell for gamers to essentially pay $20/month to play the game. They’d be smart to discount the PS4 version’s subscription by $5/month to compensate for PS+.

More surprising was the announcement that PlanetSide 2 will be coming to the PS4. This game was released in the fall of 2012 with much fanfare and critical acclaim. I’ve personally played it and have enjoyed my time in game. It feels like a bigger, more robust, sci-fi version of Battlefield. Adam Clegg, a designer for PlanetSide 2, said that the graphics optimization is “1,000 times better." One important note is that the PS4 version will be completely separate from the PC version. Players will be on separate servers and PS4 players will not have access to any characters they currently have on the PC version. While unfortunate this is the standard for online games that are on both systems.

Another notch in the belt for Sony is that Warframe will available on the PS4 at launch. Yes this ninja, robot sci-fi stealth action third person shooter MMO is coming straight to your living room in the fall of 2013! I joke about all the things that Warframe is but it does them all so well.

The game is graphically beautiful and has a huge depth of gameplay. One difference in the PS4 version is that it will strive to utilize the touchpad on the controller. Warframe is currently available on PC in “open beta" which is a free-to-play buzzword for “released but not responsible for bugs." We can only assume that with the launch of the PS4 the team at Digital Extremes will announce some sort of official launch of the PC version.

Not to be completely shut out Microsoft announced that the smash hit World of Tanks will be coming to the Xbox 360. Wargaming boasts an impressive 60 million registered players for their free-to-play tank MMO. Wargaming has put one quite the spectacle at previous E3s by having a full sized tank at their booth. This year they moved the tank outside the nightclub where they held their E3 party. It’s no surprise they had such a big announcement. While the largest portion of their players hail from Russia this move to the Xbox 360 could give major traction to the game in the west. We know that Wargamming is also working on a similar title, World of Warplanes, with hopes of eventually bringing this title and World of Tanks together into the same play space. No word yet on whether Planes is headed to Xbox 360. We do know however that World of Tanks is NOT planned for the Xbox One.

The most surprising MMO announcement was that The Elder Scrolls Online will be coming to both the PS4 and Xbox One. Also included in that announcement was that the game will be releasing later than previously thought. It will release in Spring 2014 on all the platforms. Ever since the announcement of the game people have been wondering if this would be more like an Elder Scrolls game or more like a typical MMO. The blending of the two is hard considering the long history of single player Elder Scrolls games and their large modding community on the PC. Coming the consoles (and Mac for some reason) shows their dedication to fans looking for an online Skyrim. This raises many new questions though, such as: How big will the PVP battles be now? Will Xbox One and PS4 players be on the same servers? What does this mean for subscription fee? How will expansions be handled? Will there be any kind of mobile/tablet interaction? How many hundreds of people are they going to hire to support this game? I have been following this game closely since it’s been announced and will DEFINITELY post any answers to these and other questions about the game.

Finally an entirely new console MMO was announced The Division by Ubisoft. This title is also coming to both the PS4 and Xbox One but (possibly) not the PC. This is the next installment of the Tom Clancy series of games and was Ubisoft’s attempt to recreate the spectacle of last year’s Watch Dogs reveal. It looks like they succeeded, so many people are talking about this game. At least 50,000 of them are talking about how much they want this game on the PC. Sadly details on the game are few and hard to come by. How does the tablet integration work? How much contact do you have with other players? How easy is it to jump into action with your friends? If the hype train continues this game could put the massive back in Massively Multiplayer Online.

Overall a very exciting E3 for MMO players. Typically MMO developers shy away from the conference but not this year. It will be very interesting to see how these games do on their respective consoles. I didn’t even get to Destiny because I was focused on MMOs just announced for consoles, we knew this was coming for a while. It also looks so amazing it deserves it’s own feature.

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