Console MMORPGs
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 14 June 2013, 12:30 am
Syp is pondering the age of console MMOs, but says: "As a non-console player, I’m only excited about this in a detached, historical sense.". I don't share that detachment. For me the question is not one of platform, but whether future MMORPGs are going to be "lean-forward" or "lean-backward" games. Due to the obvious interest of cross-platform games, we might end up having our PC MMORPGs turned into lean-backward console-like games.

While people successfully tried to play World of Warcraft with a gamepad, it is obvious that you can't get the full experience of WoW like that. A typical character has more hotkeys than a gamepad offers, and even if you manage that somehow, you still won't be able to chat. But consider this year's Neverwinter, and the controls are already simplified to be quite viable on a gamepad. Play solo without chatting, or use voice chat for group content, and you get a lean-backward game which you can play perfectly well on your TV, lying on a sofa.

So for me the real question is not whether future MMORPGs will run on a console. The question for me is how making those games compatible with the control scheme of consoles will affect game design. I'm not looking forward to a generation of action-MMORPGs with simple control schemes and little social interaction. Voice chat isn't suitable for talking to strangers you meet, and being designed as games that don't need a keyboard could further push the move towards "massively single-player online" games where people play in parallel, but not together, unless it is for organized group content.
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