It's now official. The MTV Multiplayer blog has posted the details of a conversation that Stephen Totilo had with Microsoft's Shane Kim at the recent Dice Gaming Summit. Aside from discussion of game publishing philosophies and the various games in Microsoft's stable, there was one notable talk-point. That was the confirmation that Marvel Universe Online has joined the MMO Deadpool.
The health of Marvel Universe Online has been a topic of conversation for some time now. The silence from the developers, Cryptic, has been taken by many as a sign that the game wasn't doing so well.
When Shane Kim was asked the question about the status of Marvel Universe Online.
He said: “I’ll confirm. Marvel and we have agreed to end development on the MMO .It was an amicable decision…. It’s just something that we felt that, for us and for them, it would be better if we ended development. Which is disappointing, because that had a lot of promise. But sometimes you have to make these decisions.”
It is a disappointing decision. Cryptic have already claimed the Superhero MMORPG space with City of Heroes/City of Villains which are very successful games. It's not like they don't know what they are doing, and have a lot of experience with CoH/CoV. Simply put, they could learn from their mistakes in the first game(s) to create a superb MMO with Marvel Universe.
But what is more disappointing is that it seems that Microsoft Game Studios simply doesn't have the balls to develop a MMO.
A bit further down in the interview, after being asked what went wrong, Shane Kim made the following statement.
...When we first entered into the development and agreement of the development of ‘Marvel Universe Online,’ we thought we would create another subscription-based MMO. And if you really look at the data there’s basically one that’s successful and everything else wouldn’t meet our level or definition of commercial success...
In other words, if we can't compete with World of Warcraft we aren't even going to try.
Damn, I'm glad other game development companies don't have the sort of chicken hearted mentality that Microsoft Game Studios appear to possess. If they did, we wouldn't be seeing games like Warhammer Online, Age of Conan, Stargate Worlds, or even Mythos being developed because they're not likely to get ten million subscribers or earn a billion dollars a year.
We probably wouldn't even have World of Warcraft with that sort of attitude in play. After all, before WoW, Everquest held the record. Nobody was more surprised than Blizzard at the extent of their success. What if Blizzard had decided to can WoW because they didn't expect to dethrone Everquest?
Don't get me wrong. I'm not against MGS, not at all, one of my favorite games of last year was Mass Effect which they published. I'm truly looking forward to the sequels. I've also enjoyed Fable, Gears of War, and the Halos (not three yet though.) I expect that Microsoft Game Studios will continue publishing games that I will enjoy.
However, this announcement leaves me with the opinion that Microsoft is not serious about the MMO game space.