Potential is a funny word, and compiling a list of ten games that I feel currently have the most potential was a more difficult task than I first anticipated. First, I tried to come up with a list of games that simply have the most potential in a general sense. The problem is, you can't do that. Potential, and how much a game has, is a subjective thing so I chose to present the ten games that I personally feel have the most potential. That's why you'll undoubtedly notice that I've left something off that you feel should be on there certainly before at least one of the games that I chose. I mean, just off the top of my head, I know that there are arguments to be made for: Jumpgate Evolution, Mortal Online, Champions Online and others. If you feel passionately that one of these, or another game should have been on my list, feel free to take some time not just to tell me that I'm an idiot, but to tell me why.
Remember, potential isn't a measure of what a game is, it's a measure of what a game could be.
10- Stargate Worlds
I'm going to start this entry by saying that I am a big fan of the Stargate franchise. Those characters in that universe entertained me for over ten years, and the idea of being able to go virtually into that same universe and have my own adventures made my socks roll up and down.
I have not, however, been living under a rock. I am well aware of the trouble that the game is in. I fully realize that there is a rather severe deadline looming and that the game will, in all likelihood, die before we have a chance to know it. I don't know if this fate was accidental, circumstantial, or the result of an incompetent foul-up or twenty and in the end, it doesn't really matter. It still cheeses me off.
It wasn't just the Stargate franchise that filled this game with potential, there were also some neat features I would have liked to see: The game's combat that made proper use of tactics and cover, the mini-game system that gave non-combatants something interesting to do, the advanced AI that was clearly at work, The Archaeologist role... There was lots to look forward to here.
So, in the event that any potential investors are reading, or that anyone might be reading from MGM, I will say this: Players are ready for a Stargate MMO. There were a lot of good ideas here and while certain factors conspired against it this time, this project, in some form or another, is worth continuing and I strongly urge you to find a way to make that happen.
9 - APB
The folks at Realtime Worlds, the company that put out the sandbox style single player Crackdown, are taking their kick at the MMORPG can with All Points Bulletin, more commonly referred to as APB.
I have to be honest, when I first heard about this game, I really didn't see the appeal. It looked to me like it was going to be just another GTA-looking game with a slightly more advanced multiplayer mode. As the game has moved through development, I'm happy to report that it looks like more than that.
I am a big fan of the proposed cops and robbers style of RvR (but we can't call it that because SOMEONE thought it would be fun to copyright the term... jerks), where bad guys commit crimes, and they are matched up with good guys whose job it is to track them down. This, in my opinion, is the next logical evolution of the GTA / Crackdown / Saint's Row style of games. Give people what they really want: the ability to put the hurt on other players with the full support of design and story not just something knocked off at the last minute that tries hard to use single player design and tools in a multiplayer world.
Also, from what I've heard about the game's character customization, this should appeal to even the clothes horses among us.
8 - The Secret World
Funcom's follow-up to Age of Conan is coming in the form of the shadow-world-behind-our-own-world, Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Call of Cthulhu game known as The Secret World.
Now, I know right from the get-go that there is a contingent of people out there who are going to say "I'm not going to touch this game as long as Funcom is attached." It's the same group of people that made those clever Failcom logos and t-shirts after the Age of Conan launch. To you folks I say, ok, cool. You're welcome to your opinion and I support voting with your dollars. Fight the good fight. To the rest of us, I think we're looking at a game that might turn some heads.
As of right now, there isn't a lot of detail available, but what I do know, I like. I like, for example, the fact that this game is being made without the restriction of classes or levels. It's a risky proposition, but the setting is right for it. Classes make logical sense in high fantasy, but not so much on the streets of Manhattan.
I think, for me at least, it's the setting itself that I see potential in. The world and basic premise have been a long time in begging for an MMO incarnation and if (and it's a big if) this is handled correctly, Funcom could be looking at a game that could hold player attention (and subscriptions) over the long term.
7 - EVE Online
I know that right now some of you are sitting at home saying, "Jon, you silly man, EVE Online isn't an upcoming game. Some guys from Iceland launched it like six years ago." To those of you out there I say first, watch your language, and second, just because a game is older doesn't mean it can't have potential.
Yes, this is going to be the only launched game that makes my list. It isn't that other launched games don't have potential. That's the beauty of MMOs, there's potential everywhere. The thing is that EVE Online simply drips the stuff. If EVE Online were a sponge that wiped up potential, you'd have to ring it out a few times before you used it again... Or maybe even replace it with some kind of Sham-Wow of potential. Let me explain why:
Three words spring immediately to mind: Walking in Stations. For years now CCP's developers have been teasing us with this little tidbit that, when launched, will change the face of a game that until now has kept its players inside of their ships. If done correctly, it's going to be a little bit like adding another whole game over top of the one that currently exists.
"Sure," you'd say to me next, "that's a bit of potential, but dripping? That might be a bit of hyperbole." I would of course answer first by complimenting you on your vocabulary use and second by telling you that the devs have hinted at other exciting aspects that could be added to the game including, but not limited to, the idea of planetary exploration. See? Potential... loads of it.
6 - World of Darkness
I honestly tossed around the idea of whether or not this game should make the list. After all, not only is there very little known about the upcoming World of Darkness MMO, but I'm not even sure what the timetable for it might be. Then I thought about the fact that it's an MMO based on what is arguably the second most famous pen and paper RPG franchise of all time.
When CCP and White Wolf merged back in November of 2006, the MMO world got excited about the fact that White Wolf's universe would be moving into the online commuity. There's lots to like about a franchise that deals with some of the most classic ideas of the horror genre and it's no wonder that people got excited. It isn't, however, the setting or the IP that raises the game's potential in my eyes. In my opinion, it's the company behind it and the circumstances that surround that game that fill it with potential.
CCP is well known for taking the idea of sandbox MMOs very seriously given the nature of its only other MMO release, EVE Online. One has to assume that if they are going to invest time and resources into a second MMO that they wouldn't deviate too significantly from the formula that made them a success and the idea of a new sandbox game steeped in the lore of the World of Darkness should be enough to get anyone excited.