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MMO 2.0 and the next generation of online gaming

James Egan

Geoff at MMOCrunch wrote an interesting piece on the 'next gen' in online gaming. Specifically, why there is no next gen. He comments on some of the recent successes in the MMO space, namely the subscription numbers of the Big Five MMO's and the smooth release of Age of Conan. He also hails EVE Online's break from typical MMO archetypes as a kind of successful deviance, but one that hasn't truly changed how we play.

The forward momentum in the online gaming industry has brought a great deal of fanfare but little true innovation, Geoff asserts. Sure, some MMO's are successful, but it seems they're all a re-hash of what's been done before. A little more polish, a few more features... he laments the fact that "there seems to be very little that is truly pushing the genre towards the next step." He looks to how the web has changed, improved exponentially, while online gaming hasn't kept pace.

In a very short expanse of time, we've gone from webpages that could -- at best -- stream tiny, stuttering videos to having multiple social networks that pipe (comparatively) high-res videos to millions of viewers on demand. We touch base with each other over Twitter and IM in realtime, and embed instant updates on our webpages and blogs, announced to the world via feeds. We expose our lives to potentially millions of strangers through social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, and they to us. All of our ideas, images, bookmarks and everything inbetween that we find in this interconnected mélange can be relayed to each other wherever we are, even pulled out of the air onto our laptops and phones.

The Web went 2.0, but the 3D MMORPG world didn't go with it. The MMO, played entirely online -- ostensibly as social as gaming can get -- remains as isolated from the rest of our lives as it would on a console or as if it were a single-player PC game. Geoff doesn't state exactly what he'd like to see change in the industry to create this MMO 2.0, but what do you think? Are MMO's fine as they are, virtual spaces where people interact with one another within its confines, or would you like to see games opened up to a wider array of connectivity and communication?

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