With the explosive growth of MMORPGs on the PC, people are probably asking themselves when MMORPGs will come to consoles. Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening… ever. Sony gambled by releasing their famous “Everquest” title to the Playstation 2 and the end result was failure. The game simply didn’t attract enough attention from gamers.
The console MMORPG market is simply too small. Let’s look at the numbers for a minute. For this scenario we will only look at the United States. Let’s assume that a fictional game publisher, Altay Games, wants to make an MMORPG for the console market. Let’s also assume that this MMORPG will be published on all three of the ‘next gen’ consoles, Wii, Xbox360 and Playstation 3. If you all up all the ‘next gen’ console sales, you’ll end up with approximately 29 million units. There are over 200 million internet users in the US. Those numbers alone are discouraging enough for a game publisher to even consider trying to bring an MMORPG to the console, but let’s go a bit further. For a game publisher to release a game on any console, they have to pay the company that owns the console, in this case our fictional game publisher, Altay Games, would have to pay a license fee to Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony. On top of those fees, how the heck could Altay Games collect monthly subscription fees? They’d have to work with all three console companies to develop a platform to collect monthly subscriptions. At the end, there is no way any MMORPG company can justify all these expenses for such a small market. There are simply too many barriers to entry.
MMORPGs have thrived on the PC simply because there are no barriers to entry for a game publisher. If we look at Outspark, the company behind Secret of the Solstice and Fiesta, it’s amazing how easy it is to publish MMORPGs. Outspark’s business plan, like most MMORG Publishers, is to bring popular MMORPGs from Asia to the United States. Since MMORPGs in Asia are already on the PC, there are no expenses relating to porting the game or anything. The only expenses MMORPG Publishers face today to bring an MMORPG to the United States is licensing and translation fees. Sure there are other fees associated with maintaining a game, but it’s a lot cheaper to publish an MMORPG on the PC than a console.
If MMORPGs can’t expand to consoles, where can they expand? I Predict cell phones. Think about it. The cell phone market is ginormous; yes that’s actually a word. Almost every single person in the United States has a cell phone, and even people in Asia and Europe have cell phones. Believe it or not, there are almost twice as many cell phone users worldwide than internet users. With cell phones being a bigger market than PCs and automatically having access to some sort of internet, MMORPGs have a lot of room to potential here. One free MMORPG that I found extremely fascinating was Shadow of Legend. The game is playable on both cell phones and PCs. The game doesn’t have ‘Perfect World’ like graphics, but they’re tolerable. When I first started playing the game on the PC, I was wondering why the game had such poor graphics, but after I learned that the game works on cell phones, I was immediately impressed. Sure the game had its faults, but cell phone MMORPGs are still extremely new.