View Full Version : Pre-E3: MMO roundup

May 4th, 2006, 19:25
Via Joystiq (http://www.joystiq.com/2006/05/04/pre-e3-mmo-roundup/)

Massively multiplayer online games, known by a series of acronyms beginning with MMO, are a rising trend among developers. With monthly fees meaning regular income, and a player base too addicted to stop, developers trip over themselves to enter this lucrative market.

We can guarantee we'll be seeing a lot of MMOs at E3, so that's why we're bringing you this comprehensive overview of every MMO we currently know to be in development -- excluding expansions of existing MMOs. Here's a quick summary of the trends that we see emerging from this list:

East meets West. Nine out of the thirty-one games listed are Korean MMOs hoping to make it in America and Europe, with several companies banking on the success of such a translation.

Elves and Orcs. Despite a number of fantasy-themed MMOs, there are several under development that have no sign of the fantastic about them -- instead, we see themes from sci-fi to pirates.
Microtransactions. Pay for currency, don't pay for the game -- this increasingly common strategy allows gamers to try games for free. Those who become heavy players end up pouring in more cash than they would have paid for an all-you-can-play monthly subscription.

Casual MMOs. Two of the titles listed below are trying to break into the casual space, with appealing cutesy graphics and Flash-based play. Most casual titles aren't persistent, though games like Runescape have done well out of the browser-based market so far.
New developers. Thirteen of the studios below are working on their first MMO, or their first game altogether. This could mean increased innovation, or more problems -- MMOs are risky business.
However, there are some challenges many of the companies listed below will need to overcome to make their products succeed:

Carve out a niche. Many of the games in development look similar at a first glance, and developers will have to make their product unique and appealing.

The Anti-WoW. An ever-growing proportion of gamers play nothing but World of Warcraft. Developers face the challenge of luring them away, as well as competing with the World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade expansion, released later this year. The same applies to other MMOs -- will gamers want to give up an all-powerful character to start again in an unknown world?
Freeloaders. Offering free play with micropayments is all very well, but a certain number of micropayments are needed for this to succeed -- getting the balance right may prove tricky.

9 Dragons

Developer: Indy21
Platform: PC
MMO History: Publisher Acclaim was recently resurrected as a company focusing on the localisation of Korean MMOs. 9 Dragons and BOTS are its first two titles.
About the Game: 9 Dragons is a martial-arts-themed MMO, focusing on kung-fu action with a graphical theme reminiscent of single-player RPG Jade Empire. Winner of a "Game of the Year" award in Korea, the game includes quests and mini-games to train skills.

Release Date: Around Nov 2006; beta applications open.

Age of Conan

Developer: Funcom
Platform: PC
MMO History: The company behind Anarchy Online, Funcom has already established a hold in the non-fantasy MMO world, despite the spectre of its cancelled Norse-themed MMO Midgard.
About the Game: Themed around the eponymous fantasy hero, Age of Conan is an action-themed MMO set in a "dark, lush, violent and sinful" world. Players complete the single-player game to become a hero, then enter the MMO stage. More announcements will be made at E3.
Release Date: 2006

Developer: NHN Games
Platform: PC
MMO History: Another Korean game being translated to the West, Archlord joins British publisher Codemasters' existing MMO lineup which includes RF Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online.
About the Game: A fantasy-based MMO with a twist; players compete in both PvE and PvP trials to become the "ArchLord", supreme ruler for a month. Includes Orcs, Elves, and Humans, covering eight classes. More than a million signed up for the Korean open beta.
Release Date: Q3 2006


Developer: N-Log Corp
Platform: PC

MMO History: The first release for the resurrected Acclaim, BOTS will test their Korean-to-Western MMO strategy.
About the Game: A casual multiplayer action title that only just falls into the MMO category, BOTS allows players to pit robots against each other. Free to play, but with microtransactions and in-game ads driving revenue. Over a million registered players in Asia.
Release Date: Q2 2006. Closed beta in progress.

The Chronicles of Spellborn

Developer: Spellborn International Ltd
Platform: PC
MMO History: This is Spellborn International's first MMO. The privately-owned company was established in 2004.

About the Game: Based on the Unreal engine, set in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world, The Chronicles of Spellborn is centred around skill-based combat and PvP. The game also involves quests and fighting for various in-game rewards, such as control of realms and statues of renowned players.
Release Date: Q4 2006; Open Beta in Q3 2006.


Developer: Quest Online, Inc
Platform: PC
MMO History: David Allen, creator of Mordor and Demise, is behind this project. His MMO resumé consists of Horizons: Empire of Istaria; Crusade is QOL's first MMO.
About the Game: Crusade's motto is "Crush, Conquer, Convert". Only announced a week before E3 2006, little is known about the game; it is based in a fantasy world and includes two warring player factions, with PvE and PvP-oriented play.
Release Date: TBA

Dark and Light

Developer: NP Cube
Platform: PC
MMO History: Dark and Light is the first MMO from French developer NP Cube and Mauritian publisher Farlan Entertainment.

About the Game: Set in a large, non-sharded world with "no loading zones", Dark and Light is a fantasy-themed MMO with a number of races ranging from fairies to orcs. It is billed as the "largest MMORPG ever," and includes airborne travel on dragons and gliders. Gameplay allows for exploration as well as combat, with a free pregame Settlers of Ganareth currently underway to begin population of the world.
Release Date: May 30, 2006.

Darkfall Online

Developers: Aventurine and Razorwax
Platform: PC
MMO History: This is the first outing for Greek developer and publisher Aventurine (who have acquired Razorwax, a Norwegian company working on the title since 2001).
About the Game: Combining both fantasy MMO concepts with some RTS features, Darkfall Online allows players to build their own empire centred around land ownership and resources. With six races to choose from, character classes are flexible, with many choices for specialisation. Combat options include fighting from horseback and naval battles. The game looks to be heavily PvP oriented, with no safe zones.
Release Date: 2006

Dofus Arena

Developer: Ankama
Platform: PC, Mac (Flash-based)

MMO History: Dofus Arena is essentially a spinoff from Ankama's first MMO Dofus. A casual, Flash-based 2D MMO, rather than a 3D Windows-based MMO, Dofus claims over 700,000 players and won the Audience Award at the Independent Games Festival.
About the Game: A PvP-based game, Dofus Arena is free to play and pits players with opposing teams of characters against each other. The final version will be presented at E3.
Release Date: Currently in beta, expected to go gold soon.

Dungeon Runners

Developer: NCsoft
Platform: PC
MMO History: A new title from an established MMO publisher known for its non-traditional themes, Dungeon Runners is a return to the fantasy genre. NCsoft's MMO pedigree includes City of Heroes, Guild Wars and Auto Assault.
About the Game: Based on the idea of conquering multiple dungeons, Dungeon Runners involves adventuring in instances alone or with other players. As with Guild Wars, it effectively falls into the "online multiplayer RPG" category rather than the true MMO space, though its visuals are more reminiscent of World of Warcraft. We'll learn more at E3.
Release Date: Q3 2006

Endless Saga

Developer: Webzen
Platform: PS3, PC
MMO History: Webzen, a Korean company, is developing another console MMO, Huxley, as well as the popular MU Online and Soul of the Ultimate Nation.
About the Game: Very little is known about Endless Saga other than its platform -- as a PS3 MMO title, it stands out. The game's trailer appears fantasy-themed, and the website refers to the Unreal engine, which may power the game.
Release Date: 2007


Developer: TMSGames

Platform: PC
MMO History: Horror-based MMOs aren't a lively genre, but browser-based zombiefest Urban Dead has proved popular. This appears to be TMSGames' first MMO endeavour, though the studio is dedicated to massively multiplayer development.

About the Game: A zombie-horror survival MMO, Exanimus promises a break from fantasy themes. Players will be able to take the role of zombies or humans. The game is in early stages now -- we may see more at E3.

Release Date: TBA


Developer: NCsoft

Platform: PC
MMO History: Another MMO from Korean-based veteran NCsoft, and another Korean game trying to make it in the West.
About the Game: Robot fighting. What more can we say? Very little, though we hope to find out more at E3.
Release Date: Q4 2006

Fallen Earth

Developer: Icarus Studios
Platform: PC
MMO History: This is Icarus' first MMO, and first product -- the company claims to have assembled world-class talent for the project, and the game has been under development since 2003.
About the Game: Fallen Earth is a post-apocalyptic survivalist MMO, set in a world where 99% of the human population has been wiped out by a virus. Genetic mutation and manipulation is central to the game's theme, and it involves a zoneless single world. Fallen Earth intends to be a "cross-media experience" that only begins in MMO form.
Release Date: TBA; beta signup is available.

Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising

Developer: Perpetual Entertainment, Inc.
Platform: PC
MMO History: This is one of Perpetual's first titles, being developed alongside a second MMO, although it's being handled by veteran publisher Sony Online Entertainment's Platform Publishing label.
About the Game: A Rome-themed MMO, Gods and Heroes: Rome Rising is based on the premise that Roman mythology was fact. The game will involve quests, squad-based combat, controllable NPCs and realm-versus-realm PvP, and will be on show at E3.

Release Date: TBA

Hello Kitty Online World

Developer: Typhoon Games

Platform: PC
MMO History: Neither a Hello Kitty MMO nor a Sanrio-based MMO have been seen before, but the cutesy cartoon space has been well filled with games like Neopets. Typhoon has worked on several Hong Kong-based games.

About the Game: Reaffirm your masculinity by playing with fluffy pink kittens. Hello Kitty Online World will allow you to customise your character, build a house and buy furniture, all within a Hello Kitty setting.

Release Date: TBA


Developer: H-Studio
Platform: Xbox 360, PC
MMO History: Huxley joins Korean publisher Webzen's MMO family. With two other MMOs lined up, Webzen will presumably be launching a three-way attack on the Western market.
About the Game: Breaking out of the RPG style of many MMOs, Huxley is a massively-multiplayer first-person shooter, or MMOFPS. The game is based on the Unreal 3 engine and set in a post-apocalyptic world, where two factions of humans battle for survival. Vehicles and a selection of weaponry feature in the game.
Release Date: Q3 2006

The Lord of the Rings Online

Developer: Turbine, Inc
Platform: PC
MMO History: Although many MMOs draw heavily from Tolkein's imagination, and other games of the books have been released, this is the first MMO to invoke the Lord of the Rings franchise. Originally announced by Sierra in 1998, the game has suffered delays and become a Turbine product.
About the Game: Set in Middle-earth shortly after Frodo and his companions leave the Shire, The Lord of the Rings Online allows players to interact with Tolkein's characters in a story-driven PvE environment. It involves standard MMO features such as a class system and four playable races: dwarves, elves, hobbits and humans. No orcs, unfortunately.
Release Date: TBA

Naughty America: The Game

Developer: Naughty America

Platform: PC
MMO History: While social-themed online worlds and sex-themed online games have been around for a while, this is Naughty America's first foray into either.

About the Game: A cross between online dating and an MMO, Naughty America: The Game is primarily a social space with added sex. Cartoon sex, that is.

Release Date: Summer 2006

Phantasy Star Universe

Developer: Sega
Platform: PS2, PC, Xbox 360
MMO History: After the popular Phantasy Star Online, spanning the Dreamcast, Gamecube, PC and Xbox platforms, Sega is no stranger to console conversions. Originally scheduled for a March '06 release, this title has been delayed.
About the Game: Phantasy Star Universe is effectively an RPG with both single- and multiplayer components rather than an MMO. It features hack-and-slash combat with strafing and dual-wielding, player-controlled vehicles and three planets to explore.
Release Date: 2006

Pirates of the Burning Sea

Developer: Flying Lab Software
Platform: PC
MMO History: There's only one other pirate-themed MMO (Puzzle Pirates) out at the moment, so the way is clear for more; this is Flying Lab's first MMO release.
About the Game: Set amid the high seas, Pirates of the Burning Sea lets players partake in naval combat against other players and NPCs. Players can side with one of three powers -- Britain, France and Spain -- to conquer the Caribbean. The game also supports piracy and trader-style gameplay as well as combat and adventure.
Release Date: TBA; beta signups are open.

Pirates of the Caribbean Online

Developer: Disney
Platform: PC
MMO History: After developing kiddy MMO Toontown Online, Disney has turned its attention to one of its popular movie franchises to make a game that has broad appeal. However, pirate fans may have to choose between this and competitor Pirates of the Burning Sea.
About the Game: Little is known about Pirates of the Caribbean Online; players will be able to interact with the movie characters Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, on the route to creating a pirate and setting sail on the seas. Expect evil undead pirates and a large amount of movie crossover. More will be revealed at E3.
Release Date: 2007

Project Wiki

Developer: Webzen
Platform: PC
MMO History: Another of Webzen's titles, joining dissimilar brethren Huxley and Soul of the Ultimate Nation at E3 this year. As a casual title, it departs from Webzen's previous MMO efforts.
About the Game: Project Wiki is nothing to do with collaborative editing and all about a fairytale land for casual gamers. With a cartoonish feel, the title is designed to appeal to a wide market.
Release Date: 2006

Roma Victor

Developer: Red Bedlam Ltd
Platform: PC
MMO History: This is Red Bedlam's first MMO and one of the first to focus on an authentic historical setting. The game was recently in the press for its in-game punishment of virtual crucifixion.
About the Game: Roma Victor aims to reproduce a historically accurate Roman world, circa 180AD, though players won't have to speak Latin (unfortunately). It involves a revenue model based around in-game currency rather than a monthly fee.
Release Date: July 2006

Soul of the Ultimate Nation

Developer: Webzen
Platform: PC
MMO History: Webzen, developers of MU Online, have several new titles underway in a number of settings; this title seems closest to MU with its fantasy theme. Webzen have claimed that MU has 40 million registered accounts worldwide.
About the Game: Soul of the Ultimate Nation aims to incorporate console-style play into a PC MMO (an endeavour which bodes well for Webzen's other, console-based MMO titles). The game is set in a fantasy world and focuses strongly on a battle system.
Release Date: 2006 (Korea)

Space Cowboy Online

Developer: Masangsoft/Gala-Net, Inc
Platform: PC
MMO History: With a beta-test community of 60,000 the game looks to be off to a good start; developed in Korea by Masangsoft, this is another Eastern import now handled by Gala-Net, following on from fantasy flight-based MMO Flyff.
About the Game: Free to play, Space Cowboy Online is a 3D space shooter that allows players to pilot their own fighter ships. The game involves both PvE and PvP combat and includes voice integration. Microtransactions provide the revenue.
Release Date: May 2006
Square Enix's Untitled MMORPG

Developer: Square Enix
Platform: PS3, PC
MMO History: Makers of the PC and console MMO Final Fantasy XI, Square Enix has delivered the only next-gen console MMO currently on sale. However, the company has shunned the 360 for its new untitled project.
About the Game: Very little is known about the game other than its platform and developer; we hope to learn more at E3.
Release Date: TBA

Stargate Worlds

Developer: Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment
Platform: PC
MMO History: Cheyenne has brought various industry veterans onboard, but this is their first MMO. It's also one of the few MMOs to be based around a television series.
About the Game: Stargate Worlds is set in the world of Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis, and will focus on small groups (much like the TV series). PvP combat will also be a feature, and the game features a number of races and three major factions. Development is in early stages.
Release Date: TBA

Star Trek Online

Developer: Perpetual Entertainment
Platform: PC
MMO History: This is one of two MMOs under development by Perpetual, a young American studio, as well as another franchise-based MMO that concentrates on a popular TV series.
About the Game: Star Trek Online intends to encompass the universe of Star Trek, from holodecks to away missions. There will be PvP opportunities as well as solo and grouped PvE. A number of races and classes (departments) will be playable, though the only faction available to begin with is Starfleet.
Release Date: TBA

Tabula Rasa

Developer: Destination Games
Platform: PC
MMO History: Part of established MMO publisher NCsoft's upcoming lineup, Tabula Rasa joins the likes of City of Heroes and Guild Wars. However, the game has had a bumpy development history, despite being spearheaded by veteran developer Richard Garriott.
About the Game: Tabula Rasa is an action-based MMO which is centred around a war between rebel soldiers and a warlike alien race. Players will have access to futuristic weapons and mystical powers, working together to stop the oncoming enemy. The game is designed to appeal to FPS, RPG and MMO fans, and has built-in voice chat.
Release Date: Oct 2006; Beta slot competition open.

Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom

Developer: Sony Online Entertainment
Platform: PS3
MMO History: Part of MMO giant Sony Online Entertainment's stable of games, Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom joins a number of successful titles such as EverQuest, although the company's recent changes to its Star Wars Galaxies game have caused criticism.
About the Game: Billed as "the future of the action-RPG", Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom intends to combine a single-player RPG with an online multiplayer component to create a next-gen MMO. The setting is one of strength and fantasy; the story kicks off with the assassination of a king gone awry.
Release Date: TBA

Vanguard: Saga of Heroes

Developer: Sigil Games
Platform: PC
MMO History: Founded by ex-Sony Online Entertainment developers, Sigil's first MMO product is Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. After signing a publishing deal with Microsoft in 2002, the studio attracted more talent.
About the Game: Vanguard: Saga of Heroes takes place in a fantasy world where people are struggling to rebuild after a war. Involving 19 classic fantasy races and 15 professions, as well as tradeskills, this looks to be a fairly traditional fantasy MMO.
Release Date: 2006; currently in closed beta.

Warhammer Online
Developer: Mythic Entertainment
Platform: PC
MMO History: Mythic is well known for its MMO Dark age of Camelot, and has picked up the Warhammer franchise for a new MMO.
About the Game: Warhammer Online is set in a time of conflict, with warring factions tearing the world apart. There are six playable armies and no knowledge of the Warhammer games is needed to play, although it will likely appeal to Warhammer fans more than non-fans.
Release Date: 2007
Honourable mention goes to the expansions we're hoping to see at E3, which include World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade and a new chapter of Guild Wars. The MMO landscape certainly looks interesting -- if crowded -- in the near future.