Dusty Monk has a thought experiment up where he describes an MMO of the future. Core bullet points:
- a single-player or co-op multiplayer campaign you can play through that is heavily narrative
- a matchmaking lobby where you can select between types of games to play with other players
- games include group PvP matches or co-op matches against the AI
- A UI screen where you purchase upgraded gear and character attributes for real money
As he describes the game, it of course sounds like an FPS game with matchmaking, and that is exactly his point.
He’s not really advocating the evolution of the MMO in this direction; he’s merely saying it is inevitable.
But I think that it is also important to note that this isn’t a virtual world at all.
After all, there’s no world there. There is no simulation of a singular shared virtual space in which multiple users interact, which remains regardless of whether a given user is present.
I prefer to take the opposite lesson from it: that rather than MMOs absorbing the lessons of console games, as Dusty Monk puts it, that console games (and indeed, console’s online infrastructure) have absorbed many of the lessons of MMOs: persistent identity, currency, character development, badges and user history, guilds…and yes, the revenue models too.
What hasn’t been conquered, still, is making alternate worlds accessible enough to broad audiences.
So what Dusty Monk describes isn’t a future where MMOs evolve to be like console games. He’s describing a future where the market has retreated away from MMOs themselves, from their intrinsic nature, because the market couldn’t crack the problem.