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MMObility: Order and Chaos online bring potential to the market


As soon as I saw the trailer for Order and Chaos Online, I knew it would at least sell very well initially. Would the World of Warcraft-clone (note the first-time use of the phrase I normally despise) also sell beyond its three months of free time given out with the client purchase? Would players really want to subscribe to a game that is a simple clone of one of the most accessible MMOs in existence?

I think they would, simply because it is a mobile version. The mobile market should have taught us these lessons already. It is a market of different players -- and play sessions -- than we might be familiar with when sitting down in front of our PCs. It doesn't need to be a seperate beast, however, and it can be enjoyed as an extension of the standard PC market. In fact, call me a convert. I paid for and downloaded Order and Chaos Online as soon as I could. Will I sub past the initial three free months? I don't know, but let me tell you why I think the game and the company matter.

The interesting thing about the mobile MMO market is that it resembles the PC MMO market from several years ago. I remember when people wondered why someone would want to pay a set rate per month to access a game that took powerful computers to run and several hours a day to play. Heck, I remember wondering whether it was worth it when that damned EverQuest loading screen would take so long that you could go make a sandwich and come back before it was done.

"Perhaps this is why I have such an optimistic attitude about the mobile market -- I've been through it before, and it came out just fine."

Perhaps this is why I have such an optimistic attitude about the mobile market -- I've been through it before, and it came out just fine. If there is one thing that the past 11 years of PC MMO gaming have taught me, it's that players will go through a lot of hoops to play not only their favorite games but the latest and shiniest games as well, no matter what other games they resemble. MMO gamers are pretty easy to predict. Simply make a new game, give it a lot of press, and BAM! -- built in audience. You might not make it past the first quarter, but then again, you just might. The mobile market is still brand-new. The heaviest hitters have not yet been born. True, a game like Pocket Legends could be seen as the "World of Warcraft of mobile gaming," but we can't be sure yet. It's well-designed and is an actual MMO, but it might be nothing compared to the next big thing.

Could Order and Chaos Online be the next big thing? Possibly. I think it is important to note for a few other reasons, though. Even if the company and the game were to fold up tomorrow, their impact has already been felt.

First, Gameloft shows that if a company just shuts up and works, it can have a decent, even reall good, mobile version of a game. It can be a Halo-style shooter, a Fast and Furious driving game, or even a World of Warcraft-style MMO, but it can still be done. Through Gameloft's games, we are able to see what mobile gaming is capable of and how far our devices can be pushed. Those hours-long sessions that Gameloft, and Spacetime Studios for that matter, has convinced players to partake in have shown that a mobile device can be used that long, and comfortably.

Second, Gameloft has given us a game that we can show to that curious aunt or cousin. Just as The Sims was the game to get some of our uninterested significant others interested in our hobby, Order and Chaos Online can serve as the game to explain what MMO gaming is all about. Heck, you can kill two birds with one stone and use it to illustrate what mobile MMO gaming is all about. Within minutes you can be joining your siblings in a game of "hunt 10 boars" while the rest of the family drones on about past holidays! It won't be long before we hear about the 87-year-old great-grandmother who just hit the level cap!

Third, Gameloft is helping to drive the technology forward. Just as PC gaming has done for the prices of graphics cards, RAM, and other essential gaming components, Gameloft and its cache of cloned titles are showing that the mobile interest is definitely there. Mobile gaming has gone through the roof over the last few years mainly because of the availability of the devices. No trip to the mall would be complete without seeing at least a dozen tweens with their very own smartphones. You can now purchase some of the finest phones on the market for 100 dollars or less. All of these new devices translate to more things being done on them -- and what better thing to kill time but a game? A publisher like Gameloft gives us those games -- original-looking IPs or not -- and that means more money and a broader market for more original, independent, and better games.

"Yes, yes, I know -- why should we reward a company like Gameloft, a company that has shown it is not above practically stealing more popular titles and publishing them as its own?"

Yes, yes, I know -- why should we reward a company like Gameloft, a company that has shown it is not above practically stealing more popular titles and publishing them as its own? First of all, the originality of the title doesn't matter to the player who is enjoying herself -- she is having a good time, so it doesn't matter who came up with the idea. Also, gamers are great at saying stuff like "We shouldn't reward unoriginality." Remember, many of those some gamers bought The Chronicles of Riddick DVDs as soon as they came out.

Gameloft is simply providing a service. You published a great game but don't want to make a mobile version of it? That's fine -- Gameloft will do it for you. As long as what it does is legal, I couldn't care less about its originality or inspiration. If I didn't like the original game, I won't play the mobile version. If I did, I will just stick with -- you guessed it -- the original.

So if you were to ask me whether I will be playing Order and Chaos Online after my three free months are over, I would tell you that I probably will not. I bought it out of curiosity and to see how well it worked across my different devices. (It works wonderfully. Gameloft is good at that.) But I don't subscribe to World of Warcraft -- so why should I to this?

Still, Order and Chaos Online is showing that mobile gaming can be taken much further. Gameloft is helping spread the idea of gaming on your mobile device beyond what any article, concept or highbrow discussion can. The company simply shuts up and publishes games. That is often better for a new market than any string of unknown, original games. Anyway, don't worry. Once Gameloft brings in the money and the attention to the mobile market, the more original titles will come.

Each week in MMObility, Beau Hindman dives into the murky waters of the most accessible and travel-friendly games around, including browser-based and smartphone MMOs. Join him as he investigates the best, worst, and most daring games to hit the smallest devices! Email him suggestions, or follow him on Twitter, Facebook, or Raptr.

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