PS3 MMO to rival WoW?

A console MMO to beat WoW?I was browsing the web (I tend to do this a lot…) reading various articles on the recent Sony debacle and came across this interesting interview on GamesDaily with John Smedley.  My original plan was to avoid any blogging about this topic because it’s been done to death and chiming in at this point would really add nothing.  But one question in this interview has given me reason to break my silence.

On whether we’ll see an MMO on consoles to rival the success of WoW:

“I absolutely do [think we’ll see that], and in fact I think by having a stable platform where every customer has an online capable box is a huge, huge potential advantage in building an MMO because you’ve already got an online userbase. It’s a massive advantage over the PC and we don’t have to worry about graphics cards or things like that. It’s going to be very big. Console online gaming in general I think is going to be one of the next huge phases of growth in the online gaming space.”

Never. Going. To. Happen.  Especially when the console in consideration is likely the PS3.  Taking the least successful console and expecting a 10 million+ subscriber-base is taking things to the Brad McQuaid level of crazy.  The only console that I could ever foresee even coming close would -maybe- be a Nintendo mmo on the Wii with one of their enormously popular IP’s like Animal Crossing, Pokemon, or Zelda.  It would have to be free to play and simple so that the target audience would be that of Maple Story or Club Penguin.  But Nintendo has already come forward and declared that, for now, they have no plans to work on a mmo.

Console gaming is far more popular in raw numbers than PC gaming.  However, the numbers do not support any justifiable argument that a console MMO will rival WoW’s success.  It’s not a simple “if you build it they will come” scenario.  If you make any effort to get in touch with the console gamers you’ll realize the vast majority of them have absolutely zero interest in a mmorpg.

In the words of the Tauren Chieftain, “Hey. Puff-puff give!”, Mr. Smedley.

  • aren’t there like 200k subscribers to Final Fantasy XI (PC + PS2 + XBox360). Maybe 10 million + is a bit high estimate, but I would guess consoled could compete with PC MMOs . Just port WoW to the PS3/XBox360 and you will have your million subscribers if you can’t find anything else. Bluetooth mice and keyboards are of course included in the box with the game 😉

  • I strongly disagree with you.

    I don’t think any MMO on the PC ever will EVER get close to the number of subscribers that WoW has. I think the only chance is a game for the 360, other than POSSIBLY a world of starcraft.

    The 360’s achievement system is laid out PERFECTLY for an amazingly addictive multiplayer online game. Think of the opportunity there for additional badges and achievement points added to the game – people will never stop playing it regardless how bad it is. New achievement points for their gamerscore means they’ll play it. Add the fact that you can make expansions and additional content available via download and for purchase with XBL points – it’s perfect.

    “If you make any effort to get in touch with the console gamers you’ll realize the vast majority of them have absolutely zero interest in a mmorpg.”

    Any why not? Because they don’t want to pay a monthly fee for the most part. And notice that Smed didn’t say MMORPG – he said MMO. It could be a shooter. There are a TON of people who would love a giant massively multiplayer environment consisting of regular additional content, socialization with others, and achievements/badges/points.

  • When you combine PC and multiple consoles sure the numbers might be a few hundred thousand — I’ll even say maybe a million. And I’m not saying there can’t be a successful MMO on a console. But a console game that would rival the success of 10 million subscribers? That’s reaching really far. The gaming industry is already set on the notion that WoW was a fluke and achieving that level of success again would take a BILLION dollars….

    Halo 3 is one of the more popular console games out there and it’s reached like what… 8 million people? (Don’t quote me on that) 10 million on a console MMO is really never going to happen. 10 million on the PS3 is ludicrous.

    The MMO market just isn’t there for consoles – even with the ease of development.

  • The only way I think you’d get a very successful MMO on a console would be to use an IP that a lot of players already love and identify with, just like Blizzard did with WoW. They got all the people already interested in their games and on to go out and try World of Warcraft.

    I could see how something similar could be done on consoles, but I just doubt it would draw in multiple millions of players. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be successful, however.

    Lets say Microsoft took the Halo franchise and somehow turned it into an MMO. Sure they’d garner the interest of tons of people, but quite a number of them would not want to pay for a monthly subscription on top of what they’re already paying for XBOX LIVE. It’s not even that they are ignorant of monthly fees to want to cope with them. Quite a few console players already play WoW or know of it already as it continues to breach our culture.

    And I seriously think you underestimate the intelligence of the average console player. Sure people love achievements and all, but not at the expense of the game itself. People would not continuously play a bad game just to earn points. Not to mention that most games already have poor implementation of the achievement system. The only MMO available probably being the worst among them.

    Still though, I do believe console MMOs can do well. I’ve played a few and enjoyed them, but I have serious doubts that we will see one anywhere near the success of WoW.

  • Graev and I are sitting here having a fairly deep discussion about this topic (I feel a podcast coming on) and he brought up a very, very good point about the Asian market that I want to talk about for a sec.

    The majority of WoW’s subscribers come from Korea and other Asian markets. Consoles sell notoriously low in Korea because the market is strongly dominated by PC gaming. Japanese seem to want nothing to do with the Xbox as a fairly loyal Nintendo market (Nintendo says they won’t make a mmo) and the PS3 sales worldwide are dismal in comparison.

    I also do not believe a PC MMO will see “Warcraft” success again until Blizzard releases their next “World of [Insert IP here]”. With that said, I think it just compounds the odds against a rivaling console MMO.

  • John Smedley and SOE in general haven’t been anywhere close to reality in about 8 years. I wouldn’t be in the least bit surprised if Smedley and the SOE machine wasn’t scrambling to puff themselves up or find themselves without a job.

    For one thing the PS3 installed base is going to be huge. Sony, in winning the blu-ray war has responded by large markups on their standalone blu-ray dvd players while at the same time making price cuts on their ps3’s. However, many people will be buying the ps3 (like my parents) only for watching movies.

    As time goes on I am sure we will eventually see mmo’s larger than WoW. There are a number of asian based mmo’s that make wow’s numbers look like SWG’s in comparison. Will these play on the console? Doubtful. Especially doubtful coming from, if we are talking frankly here, SOE.

  • Let me ask a dumb question that may lead to some insight into the size of the addressable market through a console.

    Does anyone know what console penetration per household looks like versus pc penetration?

    I know in our house with 2 active MMO users, we have 4 pcs in various roles and 2 MMO players who often play different MMOs on the different machines. No consoles atm, though considering one primarily for blu-ray.

    I’m guessing that most consoles are hooked up to a common entertainment system which would preclude other uses for that system (e.g., tv, dvds, etc.) while gaming.

    Most people can justify multiple pcs in a house because of their varied uses, but would multiple user households buy multiple consoles?

    If not, would the user multiple user experience on a single console be as compelling as a 2 independent pc experience?

  • That’s a good point potshot. Many people buy multiple accounts and can justify multiple PC’s. There’s not going to be any two-boxing or multiple accounts per household on a console mmo. Graev and I both play MMOs and like to play together. That’s not going to happen on a console mmo because we don’t have two big TV’s nor do we have duplicate consoles (nor would we ever).

    Also, gold sales on a console MMO – a lot harder. And farmer accounts make up for a lot of of the subscription numbers.

  • Will we ever see a console MMO do WoW numbers worldwide? No likely never. Will we see one do WoW numbers in Japan, NA, and Europe? Quite likely eventually, I would say.

    FFXI has what I consider to be a horrifically bad design for the console market. You pretty much have to group to make any real progress after a certain level, and you level mainly by flat out grinding. The gameplay is closer to launch EQ than it is to WoW. And on both the PS2 and the 360 it requires a peripheral that many users don’t own. And somehow it managed to get 500K subs (at least according to the two popular MMO sub sites). Though to be fair there is no way of knowing how many are console vs. PC (I would guess less than half are console).

    Now imagine if something actually designed for those with short attention spans and associated with a recognizable IP came out. I think you could easilly see the 4 million or so subs that WoW has in North America and Europe if you released something on both the 360 and the PS3.

    There are also already products coming down the pipe that verge on MMOs and are virtually certain to do well.

    Home: every man woman and child that owns a PS3 and has a BB connection is getting Home for free in the middle of the summer (or so rumor has it, there is still no firm release date). It’s really more like X-box live meets second life meets those web games your grandmother likes than what I would call a MMO. But still, it will be a shared virtual space that is available to everyone that owns a PS3.

    Animal Crossing: animal crossing was one of the highest sellers on the gamecube. The Wii version will allow you to visit the neighborhoods of other players online. Again not a true MMO, but a shared virtual space in some sense. I’ll be surprised if the game doesn’t at least do several million based on the success it had on the gamecube.

    Will Huxley, Age of Conan, the DC MMO, SOEs spy MMO, or SOEs free microtransaction fantasy MMO do WoW numbers in console space? We’ll see. I have my doubts. But at the very least they will start to build the MMO market on consoles. And I personally can’t wait to play an MMO (that doesn’t suck for a casual player) from my couch.

  • I think some future generation of consoles will be capable of over 10 million subscribers, because the market is growing and consoles will continue to be made and integrated with the internet. This generation is capable of 1 million subscribers, but almost certainly not 10 million.

    First, Halo 3 had roughly 2.7 million gamers playing it online at some point. If a similarly familiar and popular IP (Fallout, Diablo, Elder Scrolls, Starcraft, etc) was made into a console MMO, it could certainly attract the same sort of numbers… without a subscription.

    I add that phrase to the end, but don’t think console owners wouldn’t be willing to pay subscription fees on top of Xbox Live fees and such. Afterall, who could believe that so many people would be willing to pay money for picture packs (player icons) and themes (backgrounds) on top of the XBL subscription, when PC users had been getting that stuff free for many years? I’m sure a big part of the answer is that most gamers (including PC gamers) aren’t like us… they don’t frequent forums, blogs, and such.

    Anyway, a double subscription would deter some potential buyers, which is why I doubt a subscription-based console MMO would match Halo 3’s success. But I wouldn’t be surprised if over a million gamers were willing to pay the extra fee. And we’ll soon see console MMOs that use other profit models.

    WoW-size profits for a PS3 or 360 game? I doubt it. But we’ll be seeing strong console MMO sales in the very near future.

  • @Aaron
    Actually the only existing true MMO (FF XI) on the 360 doesn’t require a gold account, it only require a free silver account (and a monthly sub of course). Presumably future MMOs would follow the same precendent. And there is never a fee to go online with a PS3 or Wii. So your “fee on top of a fee” point is kind of moot (at the very least in 2/3 of modern console space).

    However I do think you are likely correct that console gamers may be less willing to pay a monthly sub. So far as I know EQOA, PSO, PSU, and FFXI are the only previous console games to require subs, console gamers just aren’t well primed for it. Even some “MMOish” games have allowed you to play online for free (for example Monster Hunter and the original DC PSO). And obviously Home is also going to be free.

    Micro-transactions, on the other hand, might do pretty well. Console gamers are increasingly getting used to the idea of paying small fees for little add ons. The upcoming free SOE fantasy MMO (which they have released very close to no concrete info about) is supposedly going to be free to play both on PCs and the PS3, and is going to use micro-transactions. If I had to pick a console MMO to get over a million users this generation, I’d go with SOEs mystery game.

  • I love your animal crossing MMO pic. I have read a lot of conflicting news about Nintendo doing an Animal Crossing MMO actually so I am confused if they will actually do one or not, not that I am that excited for ti even if they do cuz its a kids game but anyways my little cousins like it, so I can see it having a decent audience with kids.

  • I really do not get the “It’s a massive advantage over the PC and we don’t have to worry about graphics cards or things like that.” crap. Why do I say this ? the answer is simple for the price of a ps3 + extra controller. You come up just short of putting together a computer that will run 3 of the most popular mmorpg out there(EVE, Lineage 2, World of warcraft). sure you may not be able to turn the settings on high but I’m willing to bet it looks just as good as what you will see on a HDTV.
    Makes me sick when people talk about computers and go omg you need a 500$+ video card to play games on one or you need a 3000$ computer to play . A cheap gaming computer in the 1000$ range will play crysis on the highest settings with average fps of 35. That is much more than what you need to play any popular mmo on PC now

  • I think the PS3 is quickly becoming a quite successful console, especially with the demise of HD-DVD. It’s outselling Xbox 360 now, so be careful about what you call the “least successful” until success has enough time to play out.

  • I’m sorry but this idea people wont dual or qaud box on a console is ridiculous and ludicris,I played EQOA on the ps2 and my girlfriend and I dual boxed and new many people who qaud and dual boxed,the people who only had one ps2 and played alone where the minority by far so to say that is a falsehood,and second of all how many console mmo’s in the past or now have advertised for thier titles like WoW?…none, and if they did you would most likely see higher sub numbers but until consoles mmo’s are taken more seriously us console players will continue to suffer.and for good measure, SoE has pretty well let EQOA fade and die even tho I just recently quit and lots of my old friends from EQOA still play an outdated game and pay 15$ a month for it which I refuse to,Why pay 15 a month for A outdated mmo when people playing WoW pay the same for a updated mmo?