Last week’s Wall Street Journal article, “Gaming’s New Frontier After Zynga”, talks about how the future of games is new, high-quality massively multiplayer online role-playing games (commonly known as MMORPGs). The author alleges that innovative new MMORPGs created by companies like Trion and Tiny Speck will lead to a revolution akin to social games’ emergence over the last 5 years. While this article captures part of the trend, it misses the bigger picture.
The future of gaming is not immersive massively multiplayer games. People have been saying that MMORPGs were the “future of gaming” since back in the days of the original Everquest. To quote David Radd from his IndustryGamers post last week, “things didn’t quite pan out as planned”.
Today, the resurgence of MMOs is just one piece of the larger trend:
The intersection between virtual worlds and the real world is the future of gaming. [Click to Tweet]
For MMO games, as virtual worlds become ever more immersive and realistically detailed, they become increasingly indistinguishable from real life. As World of Warcraft showed, millions of people will pay sizable subscription fees for access to their favorite alternate reality.
For social games, this means making games truly social rather than just being games that are played together on a social network. Big bets are already being placed on games that heavily incorporate cooperation and competition between you and your friends.
For mobile games, dozens of location-based gaming startups have popped up in just the last few months. From zombie invasions to mob wars to Pokemon-inspired, these games will connect virtual worlds to real life by taking advantage of location-aware technology for mobile devices.
For all game types mentioned above, the natural transition to more integration between virtual worlds and the real world begs for the use of real-money currency in games. Blizzard’s decision to incorporate real-money purchases into the in-game economy of their next massive title, “Diablo 3”, signals that this change is imminent. From giving players actual cash for their treasure, to letting players up the ante by wagering on their matches, there are countless ways that real money could be applied to enhance game-play.