Many MMORPGs have been released over the past few years, with a number of them being touted as being the next great game in the genre that will topple the current MMORPG king, World of Warcraft. All of them have failed (some more spectacularly than others), but the reality is that any new MMORPG has little chance of overtaking World of Warcraft any time soon. The good news for developers and players alike is that a MMORPG doesn’t have to beat World of Warcraft, it just has to do well enough to make a good profit so that the developers can continue to run the game and add new content to it. The following MMORPGs that are due to be released in 2011 all have a chance of doing very well, either because of the popularity of the game’s license, or because of the developer’s prior track record in creating great games.
DC Universe Online – PC, PlayStation 3
The first big licensed comic book Superhero MMORPG, DC Universe Online will feature many heroes, villains, and locations from the DC Comics Universe. You will not be able to play as the well-known heroes or villains, but you will be able to choose one as your mentor. The Superhero MMORPG has been done twice before with City of Heroes and Champions Online, so the developers of DC Universe Online will have to make sure that their game is better than those two competitors. Having the DC Comics license is a great way to get people to try your game, but it is the quality and fun factor that will keep people playing it.
Star Wars: The Old Republic – PC
Bioware, a wildly successful and highly praised developer known for many great games including the Mass Effect series and Dragon Age: Origins, is making its first entry into the MMORPG genre with Star Wars: The Old Republic. Bioware is known for having deep stories and compelling characters in their games, and they intend on continuing this tradition in the development of this game. A few of the features that will be in Star Wars: The Old Republic include branching storylines that are affected by your character’s morality choices, the use of cover mechanics in combat, and fan favorite classes from Star Wars lore like the Bounty Hunter, Smuggler, and Jedi Knight.
Guild Wars 2 – PC
ArenaNet looks to improve on the success of the first Guild Wars by improving many things, including improving the graphics and game engine, overhauling the Professions, and streamlining the skills system by going for a quality over quantity approach. One great thing about Guild Wars 2 that will be the same as the first game, is that there will not be a monthly subscription fee. This will definitely be a big selling point for the people that are unwilling or unable to pay a monthly fee to play a game.
I don’t foresee any of these MMORPGs eclipsing the juggernaut that is World of Warcraft, but I think all of them have a great chance of doing well in the very crowded MMORPG market.