Growth of GOOD Browser MMOs

We’ve all heard of and probably played browser based real time strategy games like War of Legends, Caesary and Travian, but have you heard of Dark Orbit or Outer Galaxies? Both are PvP heavy sci-fi themed MMORPGs set in space. Both have a large and persistent game world and play significantly different than all of those strategy games that we’re all tired of. Heck, just yesterday I found TWO more obscure browser based strategy MMORPGsThree Kingdoms and Ministry of War. It seems like these games just keep popping up. On the positive side, there are actual MMORPGs being created on the web browser – which are actually… good. Games like Adventure Quest Worlds and The West for example. Aside from these games though there are actually some good social MMORPGs too.

Social MMORPGs like Fantage, Roblox and Puzzle Pirates are enormously popular too. Gaia Online for example has MILLIONS of users world wide and is one of the most popular browser games ever. Habbo used to be super duper popular, but the game’s popularity peaked back in 2007 or so, it’s been in decline ever since. Games like Ourworld and Star Doll are unusually popular too. Honestly though, at this point – I’d rather play a children’s game like Stardoll over games like Tanoth and Kingory – as those strategy games are getting super repetitive, especially since they’re all basically the exact same game. Except for maybe Lord of Ultima from Electronic Arts and Cultures Online from Gamigo. Those are both a bit different, but they’re overall pretty bad games still. So skip on them. In fact, skip on the entire RTS genre for browser games, as they’re all lame. If you’re looking for a good CLIENT based strategy game try Savage 2 or Battleforge – both are top notch games that deserve more attention. They’re both pretty indy games too.

Aside from social MMORPGs and strategy games on the browser, numerous other browser games have launched. DDTank from Aeria Games being one of the few unique ones. I say unique, because DDTank is the only worms style browser based game. The game isn’t entirely original as it plays a lot like GunBound – except on the browser. It’s basically a browser based Gunbound, instead of having many different mobiles, the game has an equipment system where attributes are determined by gear / weapons equipped rather than by which bot you’re using. Other more interesting browser based MMOs include Poisonville from BigPoint and Fragoria from Suba Games. Fragoria, like Neverland Online and Pet Forest, is a fully fledged browser based MMORPG. I say fully fledged, because it plays much like Hero Online, Fiesta Online or any other actual client based game.

One thing browser based games are really missing though are MMOFPS games. Imagine if you could play Battlefield Heroes or Mission Against Terror on the browser? Or an even more awesome game like Alliance of Valiant Arms from ijji. Heck, ijji should have made Genesis A.D and Karma: Operation Barbarossa browser based shooters. How awesome would that be?

The point of this post was to discuss the state of browser based games. Even though there are still a zillion strategy games on the browser, I think more and more actual MMORPGs and MMOs will be released, rather than generic empire building games.

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Gravity Launches Warp Portal – Steam like MMO Platform?

Since Gravity Interactive launched their new site Warp Portal, I figured they would launch their own steam like service too – much like “Reactor” from ijji. One place where you can launch all of Gravity’s games would make sense actually. Gravity did just that when they launched “GateWay” a game launcher very similar to ijji’s Reactor service. Unfortunately, Gravity only has four games to put on their launcher right now – Requiem, Ragnarok Online, Rose Online and Dragon Saga, whereas ijji has like 15-20 games on their reactor service from Atlantica Online to Rohan Online. The think about the ijji reactor is, that you can launch non-ijji games like Neo Steam, Holybeast Online and Warrior Epic through it – which makes it really varied. Compared to Gravity’s “GateWay” program, ijji’s Reactor is much better.

Hopefully sometime in the future Gravity can eventually get more games to launch through their own “GateWay” service, as right now the ijji Reactor is mopping the floor with them. Even so, the whole “GateWay” thing is much better than what they had before – which was nothing. Having one hub where you can launch all of a company’s games makes things really easy for gamers. I can safely say this because I actually like using the ijji reactor to launch games. Plus, it saves a lot of space on my desktop. Instead of having an icon for 20+ games, I can have one icon to the ijji Reactor, and that’s it! I don’t even play half of the games on ijji, but I still like using it. One issue with Gravity’s “GateWay” thing is that games still have to install outside of the program. What I mean to say is when you click on a game to install, it just loads up Internet Explorer and it begins downloading the game from there – whereas on Reactor I can click on Splash Fighters or Genesis A.D and it’ll begin installing from within Reactor – much like how Steam installs games within the Steam service.

So who’s going to win in the end – ijji Reactor vs “GateWay”? I Think ijji will be the more popular choice, but I think Gravity made the right call to make all of their games available through one program. Plus it sort of encompasses all of their games – the same way their new site “Warp Portal” does. I just wish that someone would release a version of “Steam” which included EVERY single MMO and MMORPG from popular games like Runes of Magic and The Lord of the Rings Online to more obscure titles such as Zu Online and World of Kung Fu. Imagine a Steam like system where you log into 200+ free to play MMOs with a single account. That would be awesome.

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Upcoming MMO Shooters

Fans of MMO shooters should be excited – ijji announced that their sci-fi themed shooter Genesis A.D is launching into open beta sometime in early November. When exactly in early November still remains a mystery. I’ve played countless MMO shooters from Alliance of Valiant Arms to Operation 7, but I’m still excited about Genesis A.D. Why? Because it’s only of the only sci-fi themed MMO shooters aside from S4 League. All the other MMOFPS games are set during modern times – so seeing a game that breaks away from the norm is exciting. Luckily, Genesis A.D isn’t the only MMOFPS game launching soon.

Karma: Operation Barbarossa – the World War 2 themed MMOFPS should be launching into open beta in the next few months. I say next few months because no official release schedule has been published for the game yet. The upcoming MMO game has already been in development for over a year now and it has already gone through a few rounds of closed beta testing, which makes me believe that the next round of testing will be open beta. The only really fascinating thing about Karma: Operation Barbarossa is that its a World War 2 themed MMOFPS. I know what you’re thinking, a World War 2 themed FPS shouldn’t surprive anyone – but the thing is there aren’t ANY other WW2 themed “MMO” shooters. Sure, there are countless console shooters set during World War 2, but not that many MMOs. Heck there aren’t that many WW2 themes MMOs. Aside from World of Tanks, Tank Ace and Company of Heroes Online I’m drawing blanks. There aren’t that many World War 2 themed MMOs out there. So Karma should be something different. Most MMOFPS games today are modern “tactical” games like Combat Arms. In fact, If you’ve played Combat Arms, you might as well have played Sudden Attack from GameHi and Mission Against Terror from Suba Games and these games are remarkably similar.

MKZ Online from GamersFirst is another MMOFPS game that was announced several months ago that’s due to release in the next few months – at least into closed beta. MKZ is yet another tactical modern FPS, but I’m hoping the gameplay is enjoyable, as it’s not exactly doing anything to push the genre forward. I’m also hoping the game doesn’t stall – the same way Parabellum did. I’m actually still waiting for Parabellum to release, but the game has been labeled as “coming soon” for over a year now. Unfortunately a game that’s been “coming soon” for over a year is dead in my book – as Huxley: The Dystopia has been “coming soon” for nearly 2 years now on the ijji and Webzen portals.

Did I miss any other big releases? Genesis A.D, Karma Operation Barbarossa and MKZ Online I think are the most interesting FPS games coming out in the near future. If I missed an MMO game let me know!

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Fighting MMOs Are All the Same

I know I’ve complained about MMOFPS games being all the same before – after all they are. I mean look at Combat Arms, WolfTeam, Sudden Attack and Soldier Front. They’re all the exact same game with slightly different graphics! But anyway, I digress. The point is all fighting MMOs seem to be the same exact thing too. Obviously they aren’t identical, but they’re all largely the same thing. I mean if you’ve played Rumble Fighter, you might as well have played both GetAmped 2 and Splash Fighters too, as the games are very similar. Zone4: Fight District from OGPlanet is a tad bit different, as the art style and camera angles are a bit original, but aside from that it’s the same kind of arena style brawler game as Rumle Fighter and GetAmped 2. Both Splash Fighters and GetAmped 2 are from the same company – CyberStep, in case you didn’t know.

There is one fighting MMORPG out there though that’s both unique and fun – and it’s called Lost Saga. I can safely say it’s the best fighting MMORPG i’ve ever played. It knocks the socks off of Rumble Fighter and Zone4. Why? Because the visuals are so much smoother, the gameplay is fluid and the game has a 15+ characters in it. This means that if you ever get bored of the game, simply switch characters. Each character offers a unique style of play and has their own set of skills, abilities and growth. I think if you’re looking for a fighting MMO to play, Lost Saga should be #1 on your list. Come to think of it though, there really aren’t very many fighting MMOs. There are a ton of Brawler MMORPGs like Fists of Fu and Soul Master, but there really aren’t that many actual fighting games.

I almost forgot about Mini Fighter Online! It’s from NetMarble – the Korean MMORPG publisher who also publishes Uncharted Waters Online. The thing about Mini Fighter is that it’s both a fighting MMO and a brawler MMORPG in one. The game has a lobby based fighting aspect like Rumble Fighter, but it also has a persistent world brawler element where players can run through dungeons and kill enemies. So the game mixes Dungeon Fighter Online style PvE with Zone4 style PvP. The game’s visuals are also sort of neat, as they closesly resemble Street Fighter – except with more chibi graphics. I say chibi is the abstract sense, as the game is by no means a cute MMORPG. It looks nothing like Luna Online or Legend of Edda. It looks more like a miniature version of Street Fighter than anything else.

Both Lost Saga and Mini Fighter Online are the only fighting MMOs worth checking out in my opinion. If you’re bored one day give them both a try. You won’t regret it! =]

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We need More Sandbox MMORPGs!

There are literally dozens of games like Talisman Online, Runes of Magic and Allods Online. I think it’s safe to say that MMO gamers are tired of WoW clones. Oh, and we’re also tired of generic 3D fantasy MMORPGs that are all the exact same thing. Make sure to put cute MMORPGs and anime MMORPGs on that list too – as I’m super tired of playing cutey anime inspired games like Seal Online, Luna Online and Grand Fantasia. It’s not that these games are bad, it’s just that I’m getting a bit tired of them, because there are so many of them out there. By so many, I mean easily 40+. The sad thing is that there’s no end to it either. Outspark already announced Luvinia Online, gPotato announced Iris Online, GamesCampus announced Legend of Edda and Aeria Games is launching Kitsu Saga into closed beta by the end September. There are way too many anime inspired MMORPGs out! We need something else!

Know what the free to play MMO market needs more of? Open-ended sandbox MMORPGs like Second Life and Planet Calypso. Unfortunately, these two titles are really the only ones of their kind at the moment. Too many games try to be linear and “standard’. Heck look at Soul Master and Lunia – both games are incredibly linear. I mean linear in the literal sense too – in order to progress to the next stage or area in the game, you NEED to finish the previous one. There’s no exploration or anything, the game holds your hand and tells you where to go and what to do from start to finish. At least it has PvP, as without it there would be no point to even playing. The cooperative aspects though are pretty fun. I actually really liked Lunia Online only because it felt like an old arcade brawler MMORPG – much like Dungeon Fighter Online actually, except with better graphics.

Second Life is fun because everything in the MMO is player made. Player made content drives the game forward, as every day new buildings are created, NPCs scripted and more. The game’s developers gave players the tools they need to design the game world. One problem with Second Life though is that since everything is player made, it must all be streamed through the internet, which makes loading times in the game ridiculously long at times. Planet Calypso on the other hand, doesn’t have this problem. It’s a reall open ended sci-fi MMORPG with a real world economy. Like Eternal Lands and War of Angels, the game uses a skill system rather than a generic leveling system. I actually like skill based systems, as they let players develop their own characters they way they want. Too many mainstream MMOs force archetypes and skill trees onto players with little actual variety. Heck, even Dungeons and Dragons Online from Turbine and Metin 2 from GameForge does it! At least in EverQuest 2, the game has so many classes and talents that there’s at least some variety.

Anyway – What do you guys think about sandbox MMOs like Second Life or Planet Calypso?

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Disney Loves MMOs

It looks like Disney is beginning to embrace free to play MMOs and MMORPGs. With games like Club Penguin, Pixie Hallow, World of Cars Online and Pirates of the Caribbean Online. But I wouldn’t be surprised if they began embracing the genre even more. Heck, with the purchase of Playdom – Disney is getting their hands on the lucrative social games market too. Disney now controls games like Social City, Market Street, and countless other popular facebook games. So what’s next for Disney? Hopefully more client based MMORPGs.

Disney has one awesome asset that could be used to churn out many new MMORPGs. Which asset? Marvel. They bought the comic book / film company a few years ago and have been making big bucks with superhero movies. I’m surprised they haven’t released any Superhero MMORPGs yet, as with the success of the movies, you’d imagine Disney would capitalize on the moment and at least develop a few games, but they haven’t yet. Club Penguin currently makes A LOT of money for Disney, which is why I wouldn’t be surprised to see them make more MMOs.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Disney buy BigPoint – the maker of numerous browser based MMORPGs like SeaFight, Deepolis, Dark Orbit and Farmerama. They actually publish a few more in depth games like Maestia and Poisonville too. Actually – on second thought Disney probably wouldn’t buy BigPoint for one reason – they don’t want to associate their brand with games like Poisonville – which is a bloody GTA style MMO. I think Disney will buy other kids games like Neopets, Moshi Monsters or Gaia Online. Star Doll may be a good buy for them too. Maybe they’ll buy up a few other social game companies – as they seem to be all the rage lately. Zynga is making a ton of money with Farmville and Fishville. But do you know what the PERFECT fit for Disney would be? Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures from Sony Online Entertainment. Both games are aimed towards kids and stuff Disney would be interested in.

Disney could develop MMOs on their other franchises too. Right now they have a game called Toon Town, which is pay to play MMORPG with a free trial. It’s a cartoony themed game, but it doesn’t have any of the popular Disney characters like Mickey Mouse or anything in it. An MMORPG with actual Disney MMORPGs could be ridiculously popular.

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More Chinese MMORPGs Launching in the West

We all know that Koreans are big on free to play MMORPGs, but so are the Chinese. In fact, there are more MMORPG players in China than in South Korea. I know that’s not exactly a fair comparison, as there are A LOT more people in China than in Korea. My point though is that MMORPGs are big in China and Chinese developed MMORPGs are coming to the West. In fact, OutSpark – the company behind Fiesta Online, Secret of the Solstice, Divine Souls, Erebus Travia Reborn and Fists of Fu announced that they are in late-stage talks to be bought out by another company. Rumors are that the company buying Outspark is Shanda Games – a large Chinese MMORPG developer and publisher. Perfect World Entertainment is one of the biggest MMO Companies in the world, as it’s valued at over $1 billion. The company is best known for Perfect World, Forsaken World, Jade Dynasty and Battle of the Immortals. Perfect World Entertainment is actually publicily traded on the stock market, so you can easily look up their market capitalization. ChangYou is also a huge Chinese MMO company worth over $1 billion. They’re the company behind Zentia, Dragon Oath and Blade Wars. Did you know Business Tycoon Online is also Chinese developed?

ChangYou actually only recently started expanding into the West. They launched TLBB in Europe, which is the same game as Dragon Oath, except with a name. They’re busy launching more titles with Zentia being their newest. Aside from ChangYou and Perfect World Entertainment, another big Chinese MMORPG company is IGG – the guys behind Galaxy Online, Angels Online, Myth War 2 Online, Tales of Pirates 2, Voyage Century and Godswar Online. They publish a bunch of browser games like Lords Online and FreeSky Online too. They’re a huge MMO publisher here in the U.S. Fairy Story Online recently launched in the U.S. Earlier in August and it’s yet another new Chinese MMORPG. Korean MMORPGs are big in the West, but it looks like Chinese MMORPGs are catching up. In fact UserJoy – the company who developed Kingdom Heroes announced that they will be self-published Myth Angels Online in the U.S. Starting sometime in October.

Other Chinese MMORPG companies include Snail Games – who publishes Ministry of War, Heroes of Gaia, Age of Armor and several other free to play MMOs here in the West. Obviosuly new Korean MMOs like Mission Against Terror, Monster Forest and Uncharted Waters Online are also launching here in the West, but Chinese MMORPGs are also growing very fast.

What do you guys think think of Chinese MMORPGs? I used to think they were all really low quality until I play Jade Dynasty and Perfect World. Perfect World Entertainment is solid game developer imho.

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