Where Are The Cyberpunk MMORPGs?

I’ve just finished my first play through of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, and aside from a couple of frustrations detailed in this post and several lockup bugs, I thoroughly enjoyed the game. It was hard to pull myself away, and a couple of times I found myself looking at the clock telling me it was 2am.

It’s funny, but of all the games I’ve played, it’s the ones with a Cyberpunk flavor that seem to stand out. System Shock 1 was my first FPS game. I played it before Doom, and consequently found Doom to be lacking. SS1 was a far superior game for me at the time. And then there were the first two Deus Ex’s, also good games.

All of these games were popular and well loved franchises, that have a lot of fans.

Cyberpunk is also a sub-genre of science fiction, and also has quite a lot of fans. There’s The Diamond Age by Neal Stephenson, and of course Neuromancer by William Gibson, two books among many. Then there is a wide range of posthuman science fiction on the book market.

So, if Cyberpunk is such a well established genre, where are the Cyberpunk MMORPGs?

Well, there is Anarchy Online of course. While not entirely Cyberpunk, it does have elements of that genre, but it falls a bit more into the concept of far future SciFi.

We can’t forget the now defunct Matrix Online. After all The Matrix was the epitome of Cyberpunk, where most of the action occurred within a virtual world. It did however suffer from execution, and never really got the sales needed to thrive, and keep its licence.

Then there is Neocron which has been around for quite a while, 2002 in fact. Neocron falls quite squarely into the Cyberpunk genre. It doesn’t have much of a following though, and has recieved mixed reviews. I’ve recently tried to run the trial, but couldn’t get it working.

The MMORPG genre is effectively mired in the fantasy genre, not just fantasy either. It seems every fantasy MMO has Elves and Dwarves, and comes with a Tolkein flavor. There are exceptions of course. Age of Conan. Asheron’s Call. But the rule is Tolkein sells.

The good news is that we are seeing more Science Fiction MMORPGs appearing on the market. There’s Eve, AO, Dark Prophecy, and a few others that have been released over the years. And there will be more to come.

Hopefully some will take a full step in to Cyberpunk.

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  1. Scopique

    “pure” cyberpunk kind of came and went. It was a factor of it’s time, during the 80’s, when technology was changing and it seemed like America was losing it’s innovative edge to Japan and other Asian countries, and when corporations stopped being concerned citizens and more like sentient and self serving entities.

    As we entered the 90’s, many things that made cyberpunk so science fictiony were becoming a reality — such as the Internet. I blame reality for encroaching into the fantasy. When it was a metaphore for imagined fear it was fun; when it started to become reality, it wasn’t fun anymore.

    But I wholeheartedly agree. Cyberpunk is my favorite genre, and wish someone would come out with a top tier MMO setting in a “pure” cyberpunk universe.

  2. Stropp (Post author)

    I guess Cyberpunk morphed into the Posthuman genre where AI, augmentations and uploading became a staple of the genre and virtual reality was just a small part of the whole.

    Still a Deus Ex MMORPG? I’d give that a try.

  3. epic.ben

    OMG, yes, yes, and yes. Even though “pure Cyberpunk” is passe, consider that Shadowrun is still alive and kicking with a new rules set. “Post-Cyberpunk” Sci-FI is still alive and kicking, too, with fantastic authors like Vernor Vinge redefining what the “near future” might look like. That’s all Cyberpunk ever really was, anyway.

    Alternative idea – how about a really good, quality Steampunk MMO? I’d play that in a heartbeat.

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