Three years ago at a GDC panel, I said that big media companies were coming into the MMO space hard and fast, and would be the authors of the most significant releases. At the time, I was pointing at kids’ and youth worlds as the big area to pay attention to.
Daniel James replied on that same panel saying “I don’t think big media companies will be able to execute their way out of a paper bag” and Rob Pardo of Blizzard and WoW fame said “I don’t think the most important MMOs will come from big media.”
Well, here’s the Toy Fair (!) charts on MMOs that VentureBeat has published. The article breaks it down in tables — 7 from toy companies, 8 more from entertainment and media companies, and 20 more from independents. Oh, and two from established game companies. Kids’ worlds are by far the dominant form of MMO today, and many of them are rather not Diku-like.
Compare the below chart to the number of AAA MMOs released, and how large they have managed to get from 2007 to today. Note that below does indeed say that Poptropica is at 4.5m monthly users.
Was I right? Well… depends how you slice it. But I think that in terms of impact to the genre… yeah, these kids worlds and media-driven worlds are probably more important than most all the AAA MMOs released 2007 to today. Whether that’s a good thing… exercise for the reader.