At a recent panel discussion at the prestigious Harvard Business School, six influential members of the MMO developer community came together to debate the future of the burgeoning business of massively multiplayer online games. The panel included such dignitaries as former Blizzard team lead Mark Kern, Second Life creator Philip Rosedale, Red Sox ace and 38 Studios funder Curt Schilling.

And what, I hear you ask, did this illustrious group have to say about the the MMO industry? The focus, as you might assume given the venue, was on the financial viability and growth potential within the MMO sphere. The panel seemed to agree that with only 15 percent of self-identified "gamers" currently playing MMOs (saying nothing of the casual market) the industry has a lot of growth potential if they can manage to deliver products that are attractive to people beyond first and second generation adopters. They also talked at some length about how MMOs could be more ably integrated into a browser experience, as the visual experience of a game like Second Life grows organically into a sort of graphical Web 3.0.

It's an interesting discussion to listen to, especially with the credentials that the panelists brought to the table. I'm still not completely sold on the concept of MMOs transcending the "game" label and becoming the focus of the next generation of web development, but I've been wrong about this sort of thing before. I guess we'll just have to see then, won't we?

This article was originally published on Massively.
Yesterday in Warcraft: November 20, 2007