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MMO in Tights: Will DC Universe change console gaming?

SOE boss John Smedley speaks out.

Sony Online Entertainment has been working on DC Universe Online for a long time, and this week it's finally ready for public consumption. So why should you care? Well, it's a superhero MMO based on the official DC licence, for a start.

More intriguingly, DC Universe is the first proper MMO for consoles. It has been built from scratch by a Sony-affiliated company for PS3 and PC. There's no porting, no adapting, no converting. It's native. Could this be a watershed moment for the MMO genre?

Eurogamer had a chat with John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, to find out what he reckons.

Eurogamer It's been five years now since development started on DC Universe. What's taken so long?
John Smedley

We've built something pretty amazing - an action MMO that hasn't been done before, letting thousands of players play together in the same world and really fulfil their hero fantasy. A person could be in London throwing a bus and a person could be in Frankfurt getting hit by it. It took us a long time to get right.

Eurogamer How robust will your game be at launch?
John Smedley

I'm feeling pretty good. We had a huge beta-ending event that gave us our final stress test. We used that data to fix some last minute things. The public will be the ultimate judge.

Eurogamer What numbers are you expecting - what number would make you happy?
John Smedley

We try to stay away from big numbers until we get some data. We have high hopes is what I'll say, but I'm not going to put that into any numbers or predictions because we don't share numbers in general.

Eurogamer DC Universe is the first proper console MMO. How significant is that?
John Smedley

It's a really big deal. For us it opens up an entirely new market to the PlayStation 3 users who are already used to some awesome action games. This game is built from the ground up to be playable on both the PlayStation 3 and PC, so it really makes a big difference as opposed to just porting it.

Eurogamer What are the biggest challenges the PS3 crowd presents?
John Smedley

In this case I don't know that they're used to playing with this many people at one time. That's a good thing. They're going to be exposed to this huge social aspect of gaming that they don't ordinarily see. Most of what these people see is Black Ops. This exposes them to that social bond that makes these games great.

Eurogamer Are you installing servers in each region for DC Universe?
John Smedley

Absolutely. We're going territory by territory. We felt like that was important, to have European servers. We're going to add servers in places where we see even larger population. We're prepared to do this. We're not going to make everybody go to the US servers. That would be less fun.

Eurogamer When I start the game on my PS3 will I get a choice of servers to join?
John Smedley

The console is going to automatically put you into the European servers because it's by territory on the PlayStation 3. SCEA will have their own servers, SCEE will have their own servers. On the PC, by the way, you could actually choose to go over to the US servers.

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DC Universe Online

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Robert Purchese

Associate Editor

Bertie is a synonym for Eurogamer. Writes, podcasts, looks after the Supporter Programme. Talks a lot.