RTS, real time strategy, games were exclusively played on PCs. Recently, more and more RTS developers have been looking at console sales and wanting parts of the action. Slowly developers have discovered that porting a PC RTS to the console will result in disaster. Changing the formula and working from the ground up for consoles is the only way to have a console RTS work. These games have been met by differing degree of sales and critical success. Now another PC genre is about to try its hand in the console game market.
MMOs, massively multiplayer online games, have been a genre thoroughly owned by PC gamers. The current giant of MMOs, World of Warcraft, is played by millions of people worldwide. Following in RTS’s footprints, MMOs are coming to consoles. The Agency, Champions Online, DC Universe, Huxley, FFXIV and APB have been announced and they are hoping to introduce the persistent world to the PS3 and Xbox 360.
MMOs have fewer obstacles to overcome to be successful on a console. The control systems for many PC MMOs are much more easily translated to a controller than the very mouse and keyboard specific controls of an RTS game. MMOs can also learn for the RTS genre’s mistakes. MMO developers will work to make controls feel good on a controller. They will know that simply porting a PC game to consoles will not result in a game anyone wants to play.
MMOs do have unique problems when coming to consoles. Using a subscription service will immediately cripple their sales, especially for people who are already paying yearly for Xbox Live. MMO developers will have to find a way to market a subscription or try to find other ways of making money. PlayStation Home’s system of micro transactions is an option. Paying to customize your character with new clothes or accessories could work to recover revenue lost from not having a pay to play subscription service. Developers must make sure that these micro transactions do not affect actual gameplay. Ask the developers of Battlefield Bad Company how well gamers react to paying for an advantage.
If console MMOs can maneuver around the obstacles in their way and take the lessons from RTS game’s journey to the console, then they can bring the genre to the console market with success. If they fall into the same traps and try to cut corners, then MMOs better get used being played only on the PC.