Bioware co-director and consummate MMO veteran Gordon Walton spoke recently at the Indie MMO Game Developers Conference about what it takes to compete in the increasingly dense massively multiplayer space. Among the most salient points that Walton harps on is the need for smaller teams to really be cognizant of both their capabilities their potential audience. By focusing on what your team is good at and on the needs of classifiable and hungry niche market, indie developers can still succeed amidst the shadows of your WoWs and WARs and Hello Kittys.
It's a philosophy and potentially fruitful area of exploration that we've heard people like Raph Koster bring up in conversation and others like the guys at NetDevil profess be putting into practice. While there will always be the juggernaut games around which the assembled millions can gather, future growth for this genre only really seems possible in a niche realm. The successes and failures may well be determined by who can avoid the temptations of emulating the big boys in favor of a more reasonable, scaled down project.