Academic blog Terra Nova is asking a big and important question -- what does the future of massively multiplayer games hold? Arguing that current games like World of Warcraft are the best the current-gen has to offer, what's around the corner for next-gen MMOs?

A few buzzwords that are floating around the comments thread: middleware; user-created content; no grinding; item-based revenue; user-hosted MMOs; dynamically-changing worlds; non-high-fantasy-themed games; customisation; co-operative control of vehicles; massive-scale MMOs; celebrities; console platforms.

That's a lot of theorising, and a lot of potential for new MMOs. Whether new games get personal with localised, user-hosted mini-worlds, or create their own celebrities with ingame content creation that ties into a large-scale international world, there are some exciting possibilities around the corner.

[Update: reinserted mysterious vanishing end-of-post.]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.

Update hopes dashed