Massive multiplayer online games never held my interest for long, but perhaps that’s because I’m a console gamer, and MMOs are mostly relegated to the computer. At E3, Sony Online Entertainment showed a slow crawl towards the console with a few upcoming MMORPGs for Playstation 3.
Only one of these games, DC Universe Online, was actually playable on the PS3. It’s a third-person beat-em-up that lets players build their own super powers and interact with famous DC heroes and villains, and it’ll be out November 2. The Agency, a first-person shooter with an open world for players to interact , also arrives this year, but only the PC version was on the show floor. Free Realms, out now as a free-to-play PC game for kids, is scheduled for next year.
Separately, Square Enix is working on Final Fantasy XIV, a subscription-based MMO under the brand of its most popular role-playing game franchise.
If you want to play MMOs on a game console now, the options are limited. Square released Final Fantasy XI to North America in 2004 for Playstation 2 and 2006 for Xbox 360. Everquest Online Adventures for PS2, a watered-down version of its PC counterpart, launched in 2003. Then there was 2006’s Phantasy Star Universe for PS2 and Xbox 360. And I suppose you grant MMO status to MAG, a large-scale shooter with ever-evolving factions that launched for PS3 this year.
But the games Sony Online Entertainment is working on now break the tired fantasy genre mold, and they should all be up and running in 2011. Console MMOs have their naysayers, but the PS3 may find success by seeking a broader audience than the World of Warcraft crowd.
The big question going forward is pricing. SOE spokeswoman Taina Rodriguez wasn’t ready to give specifics, saying that microtransactions, monthly subscriptions and tie-ins to the Playstation Plus online service are all on the table. But if Sony brought the popular free-to-play model of Free Realms to the Playstation 3? I could become an MMO fan in a hurry.