E308: MMOs for your PS3


Touring SOE's swanky E3 press room, we noticed a trend while chatting up various developers: the PlayStation 3. Though up to this point, console MMOs haven't been the norm, Sony seems to be pushing hard in that direction. The three major titles SOE is showing off this week -- DC Universe Online, Free Realms, and The Agency -- are all planned for release on the PlayStation 3 as well as the PC. DCUO and The Agency are both currently planned for a simultaneous PC/PS3 release (though that may change) while the Free Realms team is planning to make sure they have a smooth PC release before making the jump to PS3. Everyone we talked to seemed to recognize there are some hurdles to overcome to bring an MMO to a console market -- but they were also confident about overcoming them.

Control schemes
A keyboard offers many more control options (read: more buttons!) than a controller, which can make porting existing MMO properties to consoles problematic. However, DCUO, Free Realms, and The Agency have been designed with consoles in mind, and the control scheme reflects that. The DCUO team claims that in their testing, players offered the choice of keyboard and mouse or gamepad simply picked up whichever they were most comfortable using.

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Playing together

At present, the DCUO and Agency builds allow both PC and PS3 players to play together on the same servers. Though there are concerns over one side having an advantage over the other due to the control schemes, both the DCUO and Agency developers we spoke to said their internal teams are currently playing together on PC and PS3 and having fun. However, there were no promises made as to whether the final release of either game would allow everyone to play together or not.

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Patching
MMOs are well-known known for their evolving gameplay, which may change radically from patch to patch. Though patching to the PC is easy enough (files can be easily posted to and downloaded from the internet), pushing files to the PlayStation isn't so simple. (In the beta of EverQuest Online Adventures, Sony would send out new CDs for large game builds.) Though no one talked at length about the details involved, everyone was confident about being able to keep up with a real MMO experience on a console.

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Payment
PC gamers who are interested in MMOs are used to that monthly subscription fee, but console gamers may not be willing to pay that kind of monthly fee. Everyone we spoke to at E3 suggested SOE was still considering their options on payment models for these games.

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Hungry for more DCUO news? Massively got the scoop at E3 from Creative Director Chris Cao, SOE-Austin VP of development John Blakely, and Executive Creative Director for the project, Jim Lee. Check out the roundup of all the DCUO coverage from E3 including interviews, screenshots, a full breakdown of the trailer and analysis of DCUO's role on the console. Plus, don't miss the rest of our E3 coverage!

This article was originally published on Massively.