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Will Console MMOs Have A Profitable Future On X1 / PS4 ?

By Jon Ireson in Industry Talk

MMO-Dudes

This March Sony Online Entertainment will be turning off the servers for Clone Wars Adventures and Free Realms (which also operates on PS3) in a process that SOE calls ‘sunset’ in which the game’s characters will not be kept by long-time subscribers and the online game-world essentially comes to an ending.

With all of the resources it takes to see an MMO run well, it is still sad to see them go for people who might still play. It’s a shame that Free Realms is joining the high list of MMO attempts that have failed to convert a large number of console users. The fate of other console MMO’s coming forth this generation for PlayStation 4 and Xbox ONE include Elder Scrolls Online by Zenimax Online / Bethesda and the PS4 version of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn from Square Enix.

A lot has changed since the days of the PS3 MMO attempts and the cancelled Xbox 360 ports such as Champions Online and the Marvel Universe MMO. PlayStation NOW has been announced and the PS4′s streaming / downloading capabilities are more advanced than the PlayStation 3′s ever were. Sony has a higher chance than ever at being able to score reduced fees on MMO experiences through the PlayStation Plus discount service that has grown into a formidable opponent for the Xbox LIVE GOLD package and hopefully Microsoft will be much more helpful with MMO developers / publishers both super-massive like Square Enix or Bethesda and to the more indie-based companies like Digital Extremes who are rumored to be releasing an Xbox ONE version of PS4 / PC co-op game Warframe.

Alongside the news of cancellations (Wizardry Online and Vanguard: Saga of Heroes will also be shut down on July 31, 2014) Sony Online Entertainment is also touting new investments in the MMO world for the PlayStation 4 and Windows PC platforms including of course EverQuest Next, Kingdom Under Fire 2, Planetside 2, Deep Down, Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Elder Scrolls Online, and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. A new unannounced MMO game recently was teased by SOE as an upcoming “home” for Star Wars Galaxies fans as well.

Given the history of titles eventually removing online fees (like DC Universe Online did on PS3), when it comes to console MMOs an increased challenge is met by attempting to convince a customer-base used to trade-in offers and game-hopping every year to invest monthly in an MMO separately from what they already pay for a service such as XBL Gold or PS+. This fee system seems to be the main opponent to successful launches on the console platform and Elder Scrolls Online in addition to these other next-gen MMO projects will be an interesting indicator if anything has changed in that regard for PS4 / X1.

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