Traditionally, all content for an MMO is designed by the game's development studio and players have no direct influence on its creation. The idea of handing the reigns of an MMO to its players is considered heresy and we shudder to think of what horrible quests and areas players would construct if given a chance. But is our aversion justified or is it something developers should strive to overcome? Certainly Second Life has successfully capitalised on letting players develop almost every aspect of its virtual world but could successful mainstream MMOs make use of it too? City of Heroes, EVE Online and even World of Warcraft are prime examples which suggest they can. All three of these games have handed at least some part of the game's development over to players, with incredibly promising results.
In this article, I look at these three successful examples of players being allowed to develop aspects of an MMO. I then go on to explain why this works and how the next generation of MMOs could learn from these pioneering feats.