Cryptic "ready to go" on Champions 360

MS reluctance on MMOs is "baffling".

Cryptic studios boss Jack Emmert has said that the developer is "ready to go" with a 360 version of its superhero MMO Champions Online, but is having to wait for approval from Microsoft - whose attitude to MMOs on the console he calls "baffling".

Champions Online is released for PC this week, and Cryptic owner Atari told investors to expect a 360 release this year, but Emmert's not so sure.

"I don't know," he told VG247. "Right now we're just talking with Microsoft. Right now the ball is firmly in their court. We're ready to go, but until we get the go ahead from Microsoft, right now we're sort of waiting."

Microsoft has a history of cold feet when it comes to releasing MMOs on its console platforms. It cancelled two projects it was due to publish itself - Level 5's True Fantasy Live Online on Xbox, and Marvel Universe Online, which was to be developed for 360 and PC by Cryptic. Meanwhile, planned 360 versions of third-party games such as Champions, Age of Conan and Realtime Worlds' forthcoming APB have all but disappeared from the radar.

Square Enix - the only company to release an MMO on 360 so far, in the form of Final Fantasy XI - recently admitted that it was in talks to bring follow-up FFXIV to 360 as well as PS3 and PC, but had hit a Microsoft policy roadblock. It's "because 360 has its own policy with Xbox Live that is different from [the] internet", according to producer Hiromichi Tanaka.

"Microsoft's a big company, and they have to work out all the various issues related to MMOs," Emmert said to VG247. "It just takes time for the big beast known as Microsoft to get moving. I really have no explanation other than that, because it's as baffling to developers as it is to everyone else."

Although preferring 360 for its proximity to PC as a development platform, MMO developers may find themselves following Square Enix into Sony's arms instead. With a more open online platform in the form of the subscription-free PlayStation Network, and several PS3 MMOs of its own in the works at Sony Online Entertainment, the Japanese giant seems a more welcoming home for massively multiplayer gaming right now. Cryptic, which also plans a console release for its next game Star Trek Online, advertised for a PS3 programmer last year.

In the meantime, Champions Online is released for PC today in the US, and on Friday in Europe. Look out for more soon, and on the Champions gamepage.

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