5 IPs That Would Make Great MMOs

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What could be better than taking a much-beloved video game title and converting it into an MMORPG? You’ve already got a rabid, gaming-savvy fanbase in place, so slap on some MMO trappings, and it’s like printing money, right?

If Star Wars: The Old Republic and Final Fantasy XIV have taught us anything, it ain’t that easy. And feelings are still mixed regarding the upcoming The Elder Scrolls Online.

On the flip side, Final Fantasy XI did all right, and there was that one MMO based on an RTS that’s done pretty well… World of Something-or-Other.

There are still quite a few juicy properties out there that would seem like ideal fits for the MMO convert-o-tron, at least on paper. Let’s take a look at a few of our favorites:

MassEffect3

Mass Effect

With a rich background, a universe of characters and races, and a gaming powerhouse like BioWare behind it – stop snickering, we’ll get back to that – who wouldn’t want to see a Mass Effect MMO?

How about anyone who’s quit Star Wars: The Old Republic? Yes, that hasn’t worked out so well, to put it mildly. But you’d like to think that, given a chance to start fresh, BioWare wouldn’t make the same mistakes twice… right?

OK, let’s assume BioWare has virtually nothing to do with it. Assume that the IP is farmed out to another developer. If BioWare was (mostly) out of the equation, wouldn’t you be stoked for it?

If it’s done right, a Mass Effect MMO could be one of the biggest things to hit the industry. If it’s done wrong, that hit would be more of a giant, wet thud.

Pokemon

Pokémon

Speaking of big, it doesn’t get much bigger than Pokémon, and it’s surprising that Nintendo hasn’t already gone this route. The translation would seem to be pretty direct: a vast, open world where you accumulate your Pokémon, gym leaders as boss fights, multi-player duels… yeah, that could all work.

Nintendo dissed MMOs years ago, preferring to concentrate on, we suppose, less obsessive group games, like your typical Wii offerings. But that hasn’t stopped fans from trying their hand at creating online Pokémon titles.

If I were a betting man, I’d say it’s just a matter of time before Nintendo jumps on board with the idea. It’s too obvious to pass up.

fallout3

Fallout

I was first keyed to the notion that Bethesda/ZeniMax was working on an MMO last year. My hope was not for The Elder Scrolls Online, but for Fallout Online.

Despite TES’s greater audience, I think there would have been considerably less cynicism regarding Fallout, and it would have avoided that whole “just another fantasy MMO” complaint. There’s very little out there in the realm of post-apocalyptic MMOs, and – with all due respect to The War Z and Fallen EarthFallout likely would have sported much better production values.

It also would have likely been smaller, and more niche than an Elder Scrolls MMO, but is that such a bad thing for a company’s first MMO? Let ZeniMax work out the kinks with Fallout Online, and once they’re figured out, then take your flagship franchise and make an MMO out of it. If only BioWare would have taken that approach.

GTA San Andreas

Grand Theft Auto

And while we’re on the topic of shooters, why not an online version of the granddaddy of all vehicular homicide titles, Grand Theft Auto?

Yes, we have All Points Bulletin and CrimeCraft, but suffice to say neither have really captured gamers’ imagination. It might take a big license to put this genre on the map. Imagine a vast, sprawling city with multiple crime factions fighting over territory in vicious gang wars, using any assortment of hand weapons, vehicles, and even heavy weaponry to achieve dominance.

Wait a second… I think I just described PlanetSide 2.

Starcraft2

Starcraft

That fan-made Starcraft Universe mod gave us a taste of what a Starcraft MMO could look like. Imagine what it would be like if Blizzard put all its weight (and dollars) behind such a project.

Three-faction PvP is a given, though maybe instead of fighting over fixed bases, such as in PlanetSide 2 or Guild Wars 2, you’d have the option of building – or at least contributing resources to build – facilities, which could themselves be attacked and destroyed, then rebuilt, then destroyed…

Admittedly, this sounds very much like the base game itself, so you’d probably need a strong PvE element to differentiate it. And there’s some question as to whether fans of the RTS would really flock to an RPG-style experience. Do SC players enjoy the game for the tactical strategy or because they really want to pretend to be Protoss?

But hey, Blizzard made it work once.

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