Sunday, December 10, 2006

The Niche-ification of MMOGs

Multiverse and Fox just announced a deal to turn Firefly into an MMOG. Firefly was a show cancelled before it completed one season. The movie version "Serenity", couldn't even make back its budget at the box office. Clearly, a strong contender for a MMOG, especially after the stellar success of Star Wars Galaxies (yes, I'm being sarcastic).

Reading the press release, you'll note that Multiverse actually purchased the rights to Firefly. One wonders how much it costs to acquire the licensing rights to a canceled television show that didn't last a season, with a movie tie-in that flopped? BTW, I'm an enormous Joss Whedon fan (the creator of Firefly), he also created Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I consider one of the best written television shows ever. So no hate mail, please.

Like the insane niche-ification of social networks (a phenomenon which is hopefully near peaking), I predict that we're going to see hundreds of niche MMOGs in the near future. Once Multiverse, or some open-source virtual world software gets its legs, every freak, geek, and marketer is going to want a virtual world of their own. Yay! More WOW rip-offs to wade through.

What's the consequence of this? Well, it's likely that we'll see a Myspace type dominator emerge from the MMOG pack, offering a user-friendly, mass market, non-themed virtual world. A place to hang out with friends and find people to sleep with. Not to slay dragons.

It's not Second Life. Second Life will stick around as long as Jeff Bezos keeps funding them, but their user experience is terrible. Most likely, they'll open-source their entire codebase to stay relevant.

Other MMOGs will do fine focusing on themed worlds, relying on virtual item transactions as the prime revenue stream. Maybe creativity will win. OR maybe EA will.