As if our lives aren't dominated enough by raids, guild-runs, and the newest beta tests, it would appear that the next trend in MMO development is finding ways for games to reach you when you're away from the computer. At the recent Virtual Worlds Forum, business leaders have been salivating at the opportunities posed by expanding their IPs to mobile platforms. Moshi Monsters, an MMO from Mind Candy aimed at kids, banks heavily on their MoPod technology. MoPods are small, cheap, virtual pet-esque devices that kids can bring with them to school to keep plugging away at the game's puzzles on the bus or in the cafeteria.
Then when you consider that Katsuya Eguchi, lead developer in the rumored Animal Crossing MMO, has talked openly about integrating mobile phone and PC applications into their new game, it could very well be the beginning of a new wave of mobile integration. Publishers are always looking for new ways to boost their numbers, and this would certainly be a very marketable away to go about it. It doesn't take a genius to imagine the possibilities of the technology: they could give players the ability to monitor the auction house from their phone or allow you to raise a pet on a portable gaming platform and then use it in-game. In addition to being marketable to current MMO fans, this sort of pan-technological approach to games also has a strong appeal to casual gamers, a coveted demographic if ever there was one.
It's an idea that's probably still a long way from coming to light, at least for a mainstream MMO, but it's fun to speculate about, and it's a trend we'll definitely be keeping our eye on.