Saturday, November 27, 2004

MMOGs - exciting stuff is happening in the gaming industry and it isn't all about Halo 2 and GTA!

Joystiq has a link to this very cool site (which seems to be down at the moment...) that lists all the massively multiplayer online games (MMOG - Wikipedia entry) out there and graphs their subscription growth.

I find MMOGs to be fascinating because I believe they are a glimpse at what the future of the internet/cyberspace/metaverse will look like years from now - where users have avatars and manipulate the space and objects around them, a much more immersive and social experience. Maybe I'm just a sci-fi geek, but I believe the internet as we know it is just a stepping stone to something much greater. Let's check out some of the exciting happenings in the MMOG world...

I don't have much time to check out all the MMOGs that are out there, but I pop into Second Life on occasion, it is an amazing world in which the users can program their own objects into the world. Linden Labs, the creators of Second Life took a big step last year when they announced that they would allow the players to own the intellectual property in their objects and avatars. One cool thing about Second Life is that the software is free, so it's cheap to give it a go because all you have to do is pay a $10 fee and you're in, most big MMOGs charge for the software in a box and then another $10-15 per month for an account. Linden Labs recently obtained a large infusion of cash from some VC investors, which should allow them to continue their ground breaking work.

Among some of those big and expensive MMOGs are Everquest, better known as Evercrack to addicts. A few years ago I tried out Everquest, which is among the most popular of MMOGs, but it couldn't hold my interest for more than a week or two. Everquest 2 just came out, so we'll see if it can reproduce the success of the first. Another exciting MMOG recent release is the World of Warcraft, which claims to have sold 250,000 boxes in just its first day out and has signed up over 200,000 accounts already. That's big time for an MMOG, but everyone is wondering - when will an English language MMOG break the 1 million member mark? These huge numbers are common in Asian MMOGs, but the North American/European audience is still more limited. A third big one worth mentioning is Star Wars: Galaxies. When I heard about this I was so excited, what nerd wouldn't want to spend some time in the cantina at Mos Eisley near the spaceport? As it turned out Galaxies wasn't as huge a hit as had been hoped, but they did recently expand the game to include the possibility of flying around in space and battling in ships - very cool.

A smaller MMOG I'm keeping my eye on is Puzzle Pirates. It's a terrific concept - you compete in lots of Tetris-style mini-games to complete tasks. You're avatar is a cute little pirate dude of your making and you can travel all over the Puzzle Pirate world from island to island on pirate ships while engaging other ships in battles, playing drinking games in bars, and getting in swordfights, etc. Who doesn't like mini-games? (By the way, if you just dig pirates, check out Sid Meier's new game titled simply Pirates, it isn't a MMOG, but it should be great.)

I have attended the State of Play and SOP 2 conferences here in NYC, which were all about MMOGs and law. There are some very new legal issues that will be confronted due to the growing MMOG phenomenon and lawyers should take note of the fact that the video game industry has and continues to explode. Terra Nova is the blog to check out for regular MMOG news and SOP info, by the way.

I'm hoping to do work in the gaming industry as an attorney, starting in the very near future (I finish up law school in about 6 months). I'd like to work at a firm that will allow me to reach out to the gaming industry for work, I know there's plenty out there. So if anyone out there has any info on who I should talk to about this please let me know!


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