Sony Online Entertainment had a comeback year in 2009. The company has kept updates on its top games and launched Free Realms for the younger crowd. However, games that had been announced like The Agency and DC Universe told two different stories. Below let us take a look at what 2010 is going to look like for SOE, the company that gave us EverQuest and Star Wars Galaxies.
DC Universe is a game we got to see a lot of in 2009. From a playable demo at NY Comicon in February to a studio tour in September at the Austin Studio, DC Universe seems to be coming along nicely. The game has very fast paced action and could actually be the first real MMO to make the leap onto consoles. SOE has been very happy about showing off DC Universe and rightfully so, the game has some top comic guys on the team like Jim Lee and Marv Wolfman to create the story and mood as well as having the studio in Austin constantly working on updates and improvements. There are two questions that remain for the game: Will it launch in 2010? Also, how will the game do in an already super hero heavy MMO market with Champions and City of Heroes?
DC Universe seems to have all the pieces in place to launch in 2010, but SOE may be really stepping up on the polish of this game. The demos we saw last year were fast paced and looked to move MMOs into a more console feeling. That is the other trick with this title, getting it ready and adaptable for the PS3. If SOE can pull that off then we may see a new batch of players entering into the MMO market. We expect to see big showings from DC Universe at E3, San Diego Comicon, and NY Comicon this year which should play up to the launch date at the end of 2010. Still, there is no way to tell if the game will be ready by then.
The question of how well DC Universe will do in the super hero market is difficult to tell. While players in Champions Online and City of Heroes may not be so quick to give up their already maximum level super heroes, DC Universe does offer the chance for them to fight the Joker and Lex Luther. Also teaming up with Batman, Green Lantern, and Wonder Woman does sound kind of cool. The other great thing about DC Universe is that you can play as a villain as well. We have not heard too much about the PvP system in the game, but if the pacing from the demos is any indicator, we could see very fast paced battles in PvP combat coming with DC Universe. It does seem like SOE is taking their time with the game. Keep in mind that Marvel is on the horizon as well, but we have yet to see anything on that from other than rumors and speculation. For now, it looks like DC Universe will be the first super hero MMO out of the gate with a major IP behind it.
SOE's other game that has been in the works for a while is The Agency. The Agency has a very different story behind it for 2009. We first saw a demo of the game back in 2008 in NY at an SOE event. The game looked very clean and exciting. Ideas like getting text messages on your cell phone when your spy car was ready got the press really excited. Yet in 2009, The Agency went underground. We had not heard much about the game at all until a demo showed up at E3. After that, lead Designer Matt Wilson left the project to open another studio. SOE confirmed that The Agency development was not impacted by this and the game was still in the works. Overall, we hope to see more of The Agency in 2010 as the spy genre does have a place in MMOs. We will just have to wait and see.
SOE continues to work on other projects and has hinted at some unannounced MMOs being made, one for Facebook which John Smedley mentioned at his AGDC keynote. The other has been shrouded in rumor and speculation. The rumors of a Star Wars: Clone Wars MMO for kids on the heels of Free Realms continues to haunt the intranets. Again we will just have to wait and see. Overall, SOE is poised to make some big announcements in 2010.