Opening my eyes to web-based MMOGs
Back in June, I ran a two-part Focus article on web-based MMOGs. Although I had been aware of this sector for a number of years, I had been glancing at it from time to time rather than watching it consistently. So, the background research I did for the piece turned out to be not just interesting, but also enlightening in terms of how many titles are out there and how popular some have become.
It’s a broad category, as demonstrated by the fact that two experts who agreed to share their perspectives represented quite different types of offerings. Part 1 featured Maid Marian Entertainment principal Gene Endrody, creator of the Shockwave-based Sherwood Dungeon, which has accumulated some 1.5 million accounts despite very limited exposure in game publication. In Part 2, we heard from Lars Koschin, who heads up the US office of Gameforge. This company, which develops and operates various browser-based titles such as Ikariam and OGame, states that it has 10 million active users.
In looking at their games and many others, it was readily apparent that I hadn’t kept up very well. Sure, RPG Vault has covered a few releases, and I knew of others. However, the segment as a whole turned out to be much larger and far more popular than I had realized. Naturally, I’m trying to catch up my awareness, and also to set up more coverage. One piece that’s coming soon is a Q&A on RuneScape, which has largely flown below the radar in terms of visibility, but is generally regarded as number two in terms of subscriber count with about a million.
And considering the titles mentioned above are less than the proverbial tip of the iceberg, there’s much, much more out there to learn about. So, I’m looking forward to presenting more frequent coverage over the coming weeks and months as I bring myself at least a little closer to being up to speed.
MMOGs for younger users
Last Friday’s column included some personal comments on the Austin GDC, which I had just returned from the day before. As mentioned therein, MMOGs targeting younger users was a focus at the event, both in various formal presentations and as a frequent topic of conversation. This was largely expected, especially the former since the session schedule was available beforehand. Consequently, I was able to arrange for a feature on this topic area. Part 1 is up today, with observations from representatives of KingsIsle’s Wizard101 and Gaia Online. Part 2, which is scheduled for next week, will feature a co-founder of Meteor Games, which is currently working on Twin Skies; the company’s principals previous endeavor was Neopets.
Many of the projects in this area have a major are socially oriented component, so they’re not “traditional” MMOGs with the kinds and mix of content that term implies. There’s also a connection to the topic above since quite a number are web-based. These factors and others have contributed to lower overall visibility for this segment too. However, even hardcore gamers may want to pay it some more attention.
Why? Well, a major reason is that games for kids and youths can also be fun for other age groups. With more of them coming, the likelihood of finding one (or more) you’ll enjoy is growing. It’s easy to sit back and tell yourself you’re a serious online gamer who only plays traditional releases. The same “reasoning can be used to justify not looking at so-called casual MMOGs, web-based ones, etc. But if the result is not trying releases that you’d enjoy, whether regularly or occasionally, this attitude becomes self-defeating. As always, I encourage you to make informed choices as to what you’ll play.