The Magic 8 Ball predicts the losers and winners of 2011.

I suck at predictions, but everyone else is doing them. Luckily, I have a Magic 8 Ball. I’m just gonna list some games, and ask the Magic 8 Ball what it thinks of them. Question to the 8 Ball for all of these games: Will this game have a good year in 2011?

Age of Conan: “Outlook Not So Good”. AoC released its first expansion, “Ride of the Godslayer”, last summer, and that’s pretty much the last I’ve heard of the game. I don’t think the Magic 8 Ball is correct; I think Funcom is content to support their current player base without feeling the need to go F2P. Their massively hyped launch should have helped them recoup their development costs years ago.

Aion: “Concentrate and Ask Again”. November saw Aion publish a massive revamp which added more loot to the game. December brought with it a rebalancing of the world PvP via rifts. Perhaps the Magic 8 Ball’s confusion stemmed from the game’s more Asian market?

Allods Online: “Better Not Tell You Now”. This Russian import stunned the MMO world with its innovative gameplay and Soviet art. It’s famously expensive cash shop instantly dampened the enthusiasm, and it seemed like only a couple of months before the crowds had vanished entirely. We gamers are a fickle folk. What is it, though, that the Magic 8 Ball doesn’t want to tell me? Perhaps a relaunch of the game in the guise of an expansion or a sequel? Only time will tell.

Black Prophecy: “Concentrate and Ask Again”. This space-based dogfighting MMO dropped its beta NDA the same day Rift dropped theirs. And hardly a word was said. Nonetheless, the MMO genre has been waiting for a space dogfighter ever since “Earth & Beyond” went under these many years ago. I expect the game to launch small but experience steady growth as word catches on.

Champions Online: “Very Doubtful”. The Magic 8 Ball clearly feels that going free to play next month won’t be enough to save the struggling superhero MMO. With DC Universe Online launching almost to the day that CO goes F2P, it’s clear there’s going to be an epic battle above the skies of Metropolis and Millennium City. Who will win? The 8 Ball seems to have its money on the SOE offering.

City of Heroes: “Cannot Predict Now”. With DCUO and CO duking it out in January, I have to go along with the Magic 8 Ball. There’s going to be too much mayhem from the two newer titles to have any way to predict how their battle will affect the elder game.

Darkfall: “Cannot Predict Now”. After a stunning six weeks featured on Massively, and Syncaine’s constant recaps, my gut feeling is that Darkfall has found its home with the fantasy PvP sandbox crowd, a niche it dominates. There are lots of fantasy PvP games out there, but few were built to cater to a Western audience. Still, the Magic 8 Ball seems to have its doubts.

DC Universe Online: “It Is Certain”. The 8 Ball is nothing if not consistent. After dissing Champions Online, it’s giving the clear nod to its latest competitor. Will the PlayStation 3 crowd take to the game? DCUO is a game that will live or die on the console.

Dungeons & Dragons Online: “Ask Again Later”. The Magic 8 Ball doesn’t have a strong opinion, and why should it? Since going F2P, Turbine has supported DDO with a steady stream of new content. A reliable money maker like DDO could last for years. However, there are at least two new online games coming based on the D&D license, Neverwinter and Daggerdale. 2011 should be safe for DDO, but come 2012, the story might end a little differently.

Earth Eternal: “Reply Hazy, Try Again”. A spot-on prediction for a troubled game. Earth Eternal joins APB, Gods & Heroes and Mythos as MMOs that either launched and failed, or never launched at all, that have been given new life with new publishers, new developers or both. Last we heard, EE was in the process of finding new hosting and was expected back online any day.

EVE Online: “Don’t Count On It”. Well, we never really expected the “walk around in stations” expansion, Incarna, to ship in 2010, and it didn’t. Magic 8 Ball thinks it won’t ship in 2011 either. Making predictions AGAINST ambulation is an easy win.

EverQuest: “You May Rely On It”. As far as we know, EQ remains the stalwart in SOE’s stable of MMOs, the reliable performer that just keeps chugging along, year after year. The 8 Ball predicts another year of stability, and I see nothing happening this year to prove it wrong. EQ Next? Not happening in 2011.

EverQuest II: “It Is Decidedly So”. The Magic 8 Ball predicts a smashing year for EQ2, but from my vantage point, it’s hard to see that coming true. Maybe EQ2 has found its home with the F2P crowd who are used to spending money on fluff items. The shattered realm still teams with adventure, after all…

Fallen Earth: “Cannot Predict Now”. It’s been a turbulent year for Icarus Studios, and for awhile it looked like they might have downsized too much to keep the game running. Nonetheless, they seem to have found their level and might be positioned such that steady growth could keep them running for a good long time. The 8 Ball can’t call it one way or the other.

Final Fantasy XIV: “It Is Certain”. Um, what are you THINKING, Magic 8 Ball? FFXIV had one of the most disastrous launches of any MMO EVER and heads are STILL rolling! My prediction is that the game is relaunched in Japan only for at least a year before being reintroduced to the West.

Lucent Heart: “It Is Decidedly So”. I dunno why people are always covering games like Tera and consistently ignoring the sleeper import to beat them all, Lucent Heart. The dating sim/MMO is going to definitely be the leader in its niche. Here’s a Chinese spokesmodel in a French maid uniform to explain how Lucent Heart will stop her from being lonely in love:

Pirates of the Burning Sea: “Definitely No”. Flying Lab’s recently made free to play sailing ship MMO hit all the right notes with bloggers when it relaunched earlier this month. Will this be a new start to success? The game definitely has gotten the content and polish it needs to succeed; the problem now is getting the word out. The 8 Ball is pessimistic, but I’m hoping it’s wrong on this one.

Rift: “Outlook Good”. Every year sees a new WoW-like or two; this year we had Allods Online and Alganon. Most make a decent splash and then fall back into the crowd. Rift takes inspiration from WoW, Warhammer, EQ and even Aion, and plans to be a subscription game when the genre is clearly taking a decided turn toward F2P. With history seemingly against it, the Magic 8 Ball nonetheless sees a bright future for the game.

Runes of Magic: “Concentrate and Try Again”. This is my fault. Though I’ve played RoM a bit, I have to admit I haven’t really given it much thought over the past year. With so many new games to try, returning to old ones, even ones I really enjoyed, just hardly ever seems to happen.

Second Life: “Ask Again Later”. Once the darling of the tech set and the subject of endless articles and papers, the world’s premier virtual world has fallen on hard times. Linden Labs is going through a lot of turmoil, and it’s unclear what form the future of SL will take — an uncertainty shared by the Magic 8 Ball.

Star Trek Online: “It Is Decidedly So”. Lauded by some and dismissed as a failure by others, Cryptic’s take on the Star Trek universe started slow but has been steadily building content and polish into its flagship (heh) game. Speculation about a possible transition to F2P sometime in 2011 is likely responsible for the Magic 8 Ball’s sunny prediction.

Warhammer: “Very Doubtful”. Warhammer: Age of Reckoning was going to change the very face of MMO gaming. Instead, it became just more debris beneath the WoW juggernaut. It was the last game that seriously expected to get players in the millions; now it’s content to keep what players remain while EA prepares Star Wars: The Old Republic to take WAR’s place as its primary MMO.

Wizard101: “Outlook Not So Good”. The Magic 8 Ball has dark words for the kid-focused card dueling MMO (and minigame portal). Perhaps it is seeing something I’m not. In the past few months, KingsIsle has released a new expansion (Celestia), pet training and races, gardening, new crafting enhancements and more. It seems to be going strong and there really is no other game like it. We’ll see if the 8 Ball needed another shake or not next year.

World of Warcraft: “It’s Decidedly So”. Of course it is. It’s WoW. Nothing can touch it.

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9 thoughts on “The Magic 8 Ball predicts the losers and winners of 2011.”

  1. I think Allods Online has maintained a steady population. There is just as many people playing it now as there was at launch. I think there wasn’t as big of hype as everyone makes it out to be.

    If we go off metrics like Raptr, playtime has actually risen over the year: Xfire for comparison: (Xfire shows more of a drop for played time, but then again Xfire had a fairly large exodus of users this year that throw the numbers).

  2. There’s no way there can be just as many people playing Allods now as at launch — EVERY game experiences a drop-off after the initial rush. But I’m glad it’s doing well, though when I did research on the game, it looked like they were still more focused on their cash shop than anything. Same could be said of games like EQ2, of course.

  3. Every game does not experience a drop-off after launch. WoW, Eve, Runescape, Wizard 101, etc have all grew steadily post-launch.

    And Earth Eternal is coming back, under the rubric of the company that bought Sparkplay/Earth Eternal.

  4. Wizard101 and RuneScape are counting free players. I don’t know how many people really play. EVE goes through cycles, as does WoW, but I guess it’s hard to argue that they have lost any ground.

  5. We’ll see… We’ve been waiting for ambulation for years, and CCP seems to be in no particular hurry. Yes, I know about the new character creator, but that’s only one small part of it. Giving people stuff to do in the station once they are walking around?

  6. Most subscription-based games drop in numbers a bit after launch or after any major update/expansion, which would typically raise numbers somewhat.

    If different payment models are used I am not so sure that holds true to the same extent. It would perhaps be better to plot revenue over time, and/or average revenue per player over time instead.

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