FUTURE MMOS: When gaming, the web and reality cross over
GAMING has become one of the fastest growing industries in the world today. With millions of people currently playing single online titles such as World of Warcraft, while still managing to show a steady growth curve, the sky is not even measurable as the limit anymore.
Even if you’re not an online gamer, nor are you familiar with massive multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs), it is still interesting to know what the future of online gaming may hold and the impact that it will have on the entertainment industry as a whole. We may even see the first attempts at a crossing over of gaming, the web and reality.
The unique aspect of MMORPGs, such as WoW is that they are constantly changing. With continual updates and expansions being developed, as well as the social bonds that are formed between players online, MMORPGs are perpetual by nature. Player activity actively changes these massive gaming worlds, keeping them fresh and ever-evolving.
For gamers, MMORPGs are exciting virtual worlds into which we escape to have countless interesting adventures. For the rest of the world, a MMORPG is a form of entertainment - comparable to books or movies, just more interactive. Games are also able to story-tell like no other genre and newer technology is making gaming more visually appealing than ever before.
MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!
To put gaming investment into perspective, to develop a MMORPG the same scale as WoW costs anywhere between $60 million and $100 m. With that sort of money you could theoretically buy a new game every 10 minutes for the next 20 years.
Developing MMOs is therefore a life or death risk, but with the decade-long success of WoW (which has certainly set the benchmark — reaping in over $1 billion every year) we can certainly expect to see more MMOs being developed in the foreseeable future.
The only scary part is that online games such as WoW are designed to be played at the exclusion of everything else and thrive on how much of the player’s time they can consume. There was even that case in 2009 where a young Chinese girl died of exhaustion after playing WoW for several days straight. However, MMOs are not something to be feared, and it is interesting to follow their evolution and study their compelling nature.
FUTURE ONLINE GAMING
With WoW having monopolised the online gaming market, it may take some time before we see a new and innovative release come to our screens. However, the fact that WoW only covers a single genre, there is a lot of room for the MMO model to evolve and grow in the future. Not everyone is into orcs and elves and medieval folklore. In the near future we may see interactive home décor simulations, fishing games, multiplayer motoring games or educational puzzle titles — all playable with others in a 3D online environment.
We’re likely to see a lot more user-generated content driving the development of future gaming too. Player-driven content is the lifeblood of MMOs and the fact that players can change the course of a game’s story will result in unique experiences for every player.
We may also see development of social games and web-based games in the future. These have the potential to grow and compel gamers and prove to be profitable at the same time. Sponsorship could come in the form of website links and web adverts. Farmville, for example, could have you visit www.jerrysfarmsupplies.com to get your new watering-can game card allowing you to progress further in your virtual farming endeavours.
Such ventures could provide the exorbitant funding that is required to develop online gaming further. This means guaranteed customers for selected stores, exercise and sunlight for gamers and the neccessary funds to develop multiplayer gaming further; win-win-win. It may be aggressive advertising at its best, but at least it will get gamers off their chairs and into the daylight.
The future of online gaming will certainly be something exciting to behold, no doubt. I leave you with one of my favourite gaming quotes:
“When we look at the future of MMORPGs, we think virtual reality. We dream about being able to lead another life where you are the boss and control everything. In real life, you are influenced by everyone else. In virtual reality, you get to choose your paths and if you think something is wrong, you change it.” — www.astahost.com
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