Ever since World Of Warcraft debuted in 2004, gamers have been wondering when the MMOG would make it to consoles and apparently Blizzard has too.
Millions of people play games only on consoles while there are also millions of people who play MMOGs on their computers. So far, those two groups have been mutually exclusive, with Final Fantasy XI being the only notable exception. There are many reasons why that is true, and J. Allen Brack, lead producer of World of Warcraft, says that memory, patching and imput devices are among them. He doesn't completely rule out that bringing MMOG to consoles is a possibility, just that it's unlikely to happen with WoW.
Why does Brack think it has taken so long to have a breakout MMOG on a console? "I think there's a lot of reasons," said Brack. "There's not one thing. One is, it takes a long time to develop an MMOG. The lifecycle of consoles being what they are, you have to really time when your console's going to come out, what its projected lifecycle is going to be with when your game is going to be, which is challenging."
"In the case of WoW, we talk about it all the time," he said. "How would we bring WoW to the console?"
The biggest problem may be that even with a game disc, WoW would need a substantial amount of space on a console's HD in order to function. Some current-gen consoles don't even have a hard disk.
Then there's the myriad of other technical issues which Brack outlines:
There's patching challenges, there's the quality controls that we have vs. the quality controls that say, a Microsoft or Sony or Nintendo has. All those things sort of raise the bar in terms of the challenges and then specifically in the case of WoW, WoW was designed to be a keyboard game and its control scheme and its camera controls and the number of abilities that you have and the spells and how things work are very keyboard-centric. The idea of translating that to a gamepad is a very, very challenging proposition.
Finally, Brack comes right out and states the obvious. "I think it's unlikely that WoWcomes to the consoles," he said. "It is something that we talk about on a pretty regular basis, but someone is going to figure out how to make an MMOG on a console and they're going to be wildly successful. I have no doubt about that."
Brack is being modest. If I had to bet, I'd say that "someone" is Blizzard and we might soon find out that the "next generation" MMOG that's currently in development at the Irvine studio will indeed straddle the line between PC and consoles.