Wilhelm over at The Ancient Gaming Noob has revealed that Turbine has secured $40 million in venture capital funding and intends to announce a new project. This is very interesting news, and forces one to wonder (as it did Wilhelm,) exactly what that project is going to be.
Now, one does not, in general, go out and solicit $40 million in venture capital only to sit on the money. LotRO seems to have been pretty successful even given some fuzzy subscription numbers, and DDO seems to be at least breaking even (and is a much better game than most people realize as well, so it’s got nowhere to go but up,) so I have to think that this news (if true,) means that Turbine will be working on another project.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an MMO, but if we assume that… well, I can think of a couple of things I’d like them to do. An open-world Forgotten Realms Online which avoids the biggest mistake of DDO and gets LotRO-like support would be something I’d be all over, but it would essentially kill DDO, and in any case I think it’s unlikely to happen due to the details of their arrangement with WotC; Turbine does not currently have the rights to create Forgotten Realms games, and those are tied up elsewhere. Doing so is not an impossibility, but it makes it extremely unlikely.
My guess is it’ll be an original IP, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they start to explore an alternative pricing model even if that’s not what they go with in the end. Personally I’d like to see something that strays from the EQ/WoW/LotRO mold, even if it’s still fantasy – yet another title in that vein would have to be incredibly compelling to interest me even if it’s excellent, and I suspect that the market for games of that sort is currently near saturation.
Of course, that the market is saturated now doesn’t necessarily mean it will be in 2-4 years when such a game is likely to release. WoW continues to drive the expansion of the MMO market, and to my way of thinking, the large number of people who’ve gotten bored with WoW are a plausible audience for such a game. But there’s already substantial competition in that niche and several very strong properties, and we’ve seen signs that WoW’s numbers in North America have started to crest. We’ll find out the truth about that when Wrath of the Lich-King.comes out – whatever they get in the wake of that release should be a pretty good indicator of the total size of the North American MMO market, assuming we can dissect the numbers to the point of isolating NA and/or European subscriptions from the rest of the world.
So back on target (and to ask the same question that Wilhelm did,) what do we think Turbine’s next MMO will be? Asheron’s Call 3? (Seems really, really unlikely to me.) Battlefield Earth Online? (Heh.) Transformers Online? (Hah! As if that would… ever… hey, that’s not a bad idea.) Something original? I’ve got an awesome idea for a Time Travel MMO…