Today Gazillion Entertainment exploded onto the MMO scene with the news that it has an exclusive 10 year deal with Marvel Comics and is going to have it's first MMO out in 2010 aimed at kids. Also, it is made up of four studios, of which NetDevil and Slipgate Ironworks are the established ones and two new studios in Amazing Society and Gargantuan. I count seven MMOs (perhaps a stand alone game are part of their vague ideas) planned to come out of four studios. It has raised funds from some big investment houses, probably off the idea that MMOs are recession proof.
Things don't look good.
First off, if NetDevil and Slipgate Ironworks are your 'established' MMO companies (my term, but they are known) things are off to a bad start. NetDevil has two failed MMOs under its belt - Jumpgate and Auto Assault - and is hanging its hat on a Jumpgate sequel / update and the LEGO MMO who's concept art makes me scratch my head. Slipgate Ironworks is John Romero's (of Daikatana infamy) studio who has been working on a MMO for a while now with nothing to publicly show for it.
The Amazing Society is meant to be releasing its kid-friendly Marvel MMO named Super Hero Squad (based on Hasbro's Super Hero Squad figures which are licensed from Marvel) in 2010. Good luck with releasing a new MMO - I'm expecting Marvel's version of FusionFall - from a new studio in less than two years. Especially since it is going to be associated with a new cartoon series launching in 2009. I can't really imagine Super Hero Squad Online getting that much of a run if the cartoon series flops.
Gargantuan Studios is developing the Marvel Universe MMO. Let's hope they fare better than Vivendi / Wolfpack, Microsoft / Sigil and Microsoft / Cryptic. The last 10 year exclusive MMO deal that Marvel signed lasted less than 3 years.
I see four studios, major IPs, lots of plans and mentions of how much money Marvel films make or the MMO industry is worth and think of Cheyenne Mountain Entertainment and FireSky. Also, it seems like the F2P / microtransaction model is the core of Gazillion's revenue plan. That's fine - I don't shun RMT out of hand - but every successful F2P title out there there are a lot of second tier or those that end up in the gaming graveyard.
Gazillion has launched with a lot of promises, but it feels to me like one big bluff.