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Making things massive: worlds we crave

Mark Sarrazin

As the holiday season approaches and our favorite videogame genre bulges with new titles, it seems like many of them are intellectual properties (IP) that have been made massive: that is, an IP that somebody, somewhere thought would be cool (or profitable) to turn into an online experience. Past MMOGs based on well-known IPs have had mixed success. Star Wars Galaxies, for instance, converted arguably the world's best known IP into an MMOG but fizzled. The Matrix Online tried to take advantage of a pop-culture phenomenon but that didn't work out either. City of Heroes/Villains cashed in on our love of comic books – not an IP exactly, but close. Lord of the Rings Online has had some success, as well, but not overwhelmingly so. In the near future, Games Workshop's Warhammer IP will be making its MMO debut as Warhammer Online (developed by EA-Mythic), along with Age of Conan (Funcom's ambitious interpretation of Robert E. Howard's barbarous world). Even MMOGs based on other videogames could fit into this 'make-massive' trend: Blizzard Entertainment turned its own real-time strategy Warcraft franchise into an online world, as did Square-Enix with Final Fantasy.

That got me thinking: if I had the power to make an MMOG, what would it be? A series of books, or a movie? Personally, I think that Perpetual Entertainment's Star Trek Online has great potential, but that could be due to the fact that I always thought I would look really good in a red and black uniform commanding a starship. Maybe Harry Potter? Though who knows how that one would work. As Matt points out, fans don't always make the best game developers, and it's certainly true that converting a big, complex IP into an MMOG can have its pitfalls. But ideally, in your most secret heart of hearts, which world would you love to see be made massive? Where would your dream MMOG be set?

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