I think 2010 will be a memorable year for MMOs, but more like the equivalent of 78 A.D. in Pompeii. We bloggers will have a nice year of navel gazing and pontificating, but after that, buckle up.
– Guilds (I use “guild” as the catchall for any social network, like alliance, clan, corporation, etc) will finally get recognized as something more than a place to raid, and a place to chat. There are just too many that do not fit that description, and have been around for longer than many currently released MMOs. The people in these guilds transcend the games they play, and they need to be given much more attention than they have been. I’d like to see more cooperative, multiplayer content that doesn’t consist of “everyone stab this boss and follow the script.” And give guilds more tools to be the “onramp to socialization.” Let guilds help new players catch up to the veteran playerbase, give them meaningful incentives to teach new players, and reward them for getting players to stick with a game over the long term.
– Going along with that, all those players who bemoan guilds during their regular group nights with friends will have an epiphany and finally accept that, yes, they are guilds too. Games and players both haven’t yet caught up to guild evolution. I predict that I will be writing about this quite a bit in 2010…
Above: No, guilds do not have to be a militaristic organization with a tyrannical guild leader who eats your dkp for lunch and forbids you from leaving your chair during a 12 hour gaming session. I can still dream though, can’t I?!
– 38 Studios will give us more about “Copernicus,” which isn’t asking much, since we pretty much just have 5 concept art pictures. We’ll also begin to see some of the out-of-game items that will tie in with their MMO, like comic books, print stories, and painted collectibles. In addition, they’ll contact me about working for them, because I’m a stone’s throw away from their Maynard office, and I’ll work for free.
– Brad McQuaid will finish his retrospective on why Vanguard failed. And shortly after, Vanguard will shut down.
– Star Trek Online will launch this year. And it will also shut down this year.
– Bioware will reveal more about the multiplayer gameplay of Star Wars: The Old Republic, and beta will create quite a buzz, but the game will not launch this year.
– NC Soft will throw up its hands on the Western Market, and will close all North American offices.
– Lego Universe will have a hugely successful launch and will bring in tons of new players to the MMO genre. We might not see it immediately, but this game will out do WoW. Yes, I’m dubbing it a WoW killer. It will redefine how we view MMOs, giving us a simple but catchy overarching storyline, some fresh “class” choices, and (finally) a real purpose to player created content. Plus, no elves! Heck, you can even designate some of your creations “smashable.” Seige warfare anyone?! Waagh!
– Veteran bloggers will flippantly dismiss Lego Universe, and will continue to insist that the game is no good, despite the fact that it’s a huge hit with millions. The Brittany Spears music analogy will also be tossed around a few times too.
– Someone will ask the question, “why was Raph Koster politely given a pass on Metaplace, while Brad McQuaid continues to be everyone’s MMO uber villain?”
– Some game developer studio will announce plans for a historical-based MMO, a genre that is rich with content and has not really been explored by MMO developers as a possible game setting. Imagine a historically accurate MMO about Ancient Egypt or the Crusades. Or better yet, time travel! The expansions are endless…
– Eve will have 5 c-f scandals, but this year might be the final straw for the “foundation” guilds that make Eve what it is. Frustration factor, along with several new competing titles, might create a brain drain among the Eve elite. I keep comparing Eve to EQ, and at the risk of complete blog exile, I would compare Eve’s 2010 to EQ’s 2004.
That’s it for my predictions. I’m not including anything about WoW, because there’s really nothing to predict. Not a whole lot of cheer in my post, unless you like Brittany Spears or McDonalds. Go Legos!