At a GDC panel on the future of the MMOs yesterday, Jack Emmert, chief creative officer of Cryptic Studios, claimed that "the industry is sick".
Emmert blamed the questionable health of the MMO business on the runaway success of World of Warcraft, pointing out that Lord of the Rings Online is the only MMO released after WOW to break the 100,000 subscriber mark. In a friendly dig at Blizzard's senior vice president of game design Rob Pardo, sitting on the same panel, he said that other MMO developers had essentially "worked QA for you, Rob".
Cryptic recently suffered the cancellation of its Marvel Universe Online joint project with Microsoft, with Microsoft's Shane Kim noting that only one subscription-based MMO - i.e. WOW - was succeeding at present. Cryptic has since decided to go it alone with another superhero MMO, Champions Online.
At the same panel, Nexon's Min Kim agreed that developers trying to steal WOW's users would lose. But he contended that his company had found great success and a growing market by producing simple free-to-play games supported by micro-transactions, such as Maple Story and Kart Rider. However, Emmert doesn't like micro-transactions one bit, saying "they make me want to die".
Ray Muzyka, CEO of BioWare - whose secret, in-development MMO is the subject of much speculation at the moment - was also present at the discussion, but he managed not to let any details of his game slip, despite some needling from Emmert. Well done, Ray.
Read a transcript of the panel discussion over at Massively.