Yesterday’s reminiscing about Ultima Online and the uncertain future of the MMORPG industry had me reflecting on this question: “What made Ultima Online, the oft-referred grandfather of MMORPGs, successful?”
UO had roughly 100,000 paying subscribers around 6 months after it released in September of 1997. Most people would agree it was an amazing game — it was “the next best thing” of its time.
Have you seen the list of games that released in 1997? Go ahead and Google it. On that list are some of the widely acknowledged best games of all times. Many of them outsold UO. Many of them are far better remembered — probably most of them. And a great many of them sure looked and played a heck of a lot more advanced than UO.
So it wasn’t the prettiest or most complicated game and it didn’t have the widest appeal. What then?