In the 50’s Americans dreamed of a better future with flying cars and space ships carrying us to distant lands. By the end of the 60’s we were touching the moon. In the 70’s and 80’s we had all manner of science fiction bursting out of creative types, from Star Trek and Star Wars to television cult classics such as the original V series.
However, as new technology developed our culture shifted; to hobbits of all things.
We’ve cancelled space missions IRL and the books and shows that we find popular are filled with elves and vampires in medieval fantasy settings. Sure, we’ve had some great series pop up from time to time, such as Farscape and Firefly, but the majority seems to focus on fantasy such as Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.
So what does this have to do with MMOs?
For those following my writings you’ll notice I’ve played and enjoyed STO, as well as I have given EVE a couple of go rounds and later this year I’ll be diving into SWTOR. While these three games are well made, in addition to Vendetta, are the only main stream space MMO’s currently available. Four space MMO’s may seem like a decent number, but when compared to fantasy based MMO’s you have almost a saturated market of options. To name just a few we have WoW, Rift, LOTRO, DDO, Vindictus to older, but still running EQ2 and UO. That barely scratches the surface of fantasy MMO’s as I’m sure many of you reading this are now thinking, “Hey, you forgot Aion, Final Fantasy, Lineage 2 and <insert some favorite title here>”.
So what is it about space that hasn’t grabbed player bases?
We know that there are successful space games available, from the relatively recent strategy StarCraft2 to role playing game series like Mass Effect and current space MMO’s STO and EVE aren’t closing their doors anytime soon. So what is it that makes developers see space games as merely a small gaming niche? Did SWG ruin it for everyone?
After all, it’s not like there isn’t a fan base for many science fiction based worlds out there that wouldn’t love to see their books or television series turned into an MMO. Especially the previously mentioned Farscape and Firefly, but you could also include the likes of Stargate, which honestly I don’t understand why it hasn’t been made into a popular game franchise yet. Regardless of your thoughts of the movie or shows Stargate SG-1 successfully aired for ten years and lead to Stargate Atlantis running for five seasons and Stargate Universe for two seasons. Now that’s a science fiction setting with a plethora of lore and potential to make a solid MMO in the right hands.
I’d really like to hear thoughts from those in game development studios or “in the know” on this as I’m genuinely stumped as to why space isn’t more popular. Now I can understand that more people may like fantasy than science fiction, my own wife enjoys True Blood and doesn’t appreciate Stargate. But I can’t fathom why there would only be four main stream space MMO’s when we have somewhere in the teens amount of fantasy based MMO’s.