#5: Star Trek Online
Like Gene Roddenberry, who came up with the whole Star Trek franchise in the first place, I have hope for the future. Right now, there’s a lot of controversy surrounding STO, which stems from the fact that no one has played it yet. While some are quick to jump on the “this is going to fail” bandwagon, I am more optimistic. I’m of the opinion that in order to fail with the Star Trek franchise, the developers behind it have to be in some way incompetent. Star Trek is so huge, with the bar being set so low by a slew of poor video game adaptations of the universe that any halfway decent Trek game should have a fighting chance.
Given that, no matter how you might feel about recent business model decisions, the team over at Cryptic Studios isn’t incompetent. Quite the opposite, in fact. While some in the MMO community might disagree with some of the baseline design decisions on the game, Star Trek fans will enjoy the opportunity to explore strange, new worlds and civilizations, interact with new and old friends and shoot down some Klingons.
If Cryptic plays their cards just right with updates and even by then a possible expansion, STO could easily be among the top ranked games of 2012.
#4: Final Fantasy XIV
When I was doing my “Top Ten Games with Potential” column, I thought that I was going to be hunted down and killed with an impossibly large sword for leaving this game off of my list. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel that the upcoming addition to the Final Fantasy saga was a game with potential, but it wasn’t as deep on my radar as it is now.
Having seen the public reaction to a recent flood of information about the game and the enthusiastic response with which it was met, hope for this game’s future is high. Enthusiastic pre-launch fans though aren’t enough to push a game up this list. After all, hype is just an indication of potential players. It’s up to the developers to make sure that the game has long term playability.
So, in choosing Final Fantasy XIV’s place on the charts in 2012, it really came down to three things: The excitement of the game’s fans as mentioned above, the franchise and the developers.
The Final Fantasy franchise speaks for itself. It’s spawned fourteen sequels and a number of movies. Over the years, it’s become one of those franchises that, whenever a new incarnation is released, people will play. Square Enix has sold well over 80 million units from its Final Fantasy franchise and let’s not forget that even six years after its initial launch, the game’s predecessor still has a strong and loyal following of fans and was, quietly, one of the most successful MMOs ever made. Why wouldn’t a new Final Fantasy be among the top ranks of 2012?
#3: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Star Wars: The Old Republic is this year’s golden child. Player and media expectations for this game are through the roof, so it really shouldn’t come as a direct shock to anyone that I feel like the game is going to have some serious staying power, climbing all the way to the number three spot in 2012.
If the game releases as expected in October 2010, that gives it just a trickle over a year in existence to bound its way up to the number three position. By 2012 the game will be past its wobbly-kneed beginnings and should be on a solid run with an expansion or two under its belt. Being familiar with just what Bioware is able to accomplish in its work with RPGs, I have the utmost confidence that The Old Republic will deliver the personal, story-based experience that is supposed to run through MMORPGs.
Throw in Bioware’s experience, EA’s market muscle and the ever-popular Star Wars IP, and this is a game that might just be harder to screw up than launch successfully.
#2: Guild Wars 2
Details are few and far between on what a follow up to the massively popular Guild Wars series will actually be. No launch date has been officially set for this sequel, but an educated guess puts it out in 2011 or 2012.
The original Guild Wars franchise made a name for itself by providing a product that was designed and marketed differently from their competition. They proved that the subscription wasn’t the only possible avenue for an MMORPG and in doing so gained a remarkable following.
When Guild Wars 2 launches, look for its rise to be similar to that of its predecessor as it takes the number two slot in the top games of 2012 contest.
#1: World of Warcraft
I know that there are those of you out there who were hoping for something, anything; else to top this chart and to be honest I would have liked that too. For so many years now WoW has been the king of the MMO castle and for some, especially those who are looking for a change, the idea that WoW will still be standing tall even three years down the road from here is a tough pill to swallow.
So, as justification, I’ll ask those of you out there who wanted something else the same question that I asked myself. “Is there any legitimate or realistic reason to believe that WoW won’t still be the number one MMO on the market in 2012?”
Unfortunately, answers like: It’s too grindy, it’s too easy, the graphics are getting older, it’s a hand-holding linear experience, etc. etc. etc. just don’t hold water. Obviously these factors haven’t significantly slowed the game down up until now, and there’s no reason to believe that three years are going to change much.
World of Warcraft will still be a behemoth in 2012, and it says here that it will still be the biggest and most popular game on the market. Maybe Guild Wars 2 or Star Wars will be able to surpass it, but the smart money remains on the guys at Blizzard.