The realm of the MMORPG is a market everyone seems to want a piece of ever since BLIZZARD's powerhouse World of Warcraft took over back in 2004. Everyone wants in on a piece of the pie. The internet is a large places, so, you'd think there would be plenty of room for everyone. Looking at the field, it's appears there isn't. The Matrix Online based on the movies that was all about adventures in the internet seems as if it would be a perfect fit, but it's shut down in 2009 was well documented by the gang over on Giant Bombin one of their infamous Endurance Run videos. Just to compete, most of the MMOs out there have to go free to play just to get people to give it a try. Having an MMO is sort of pointless if you don't have massive amount of players. Recently, we were even introduced to the coming anime-inspired MMORPG titled Remnant Knights that is currently in beta. I hope the project well, but I wonder why MMOs are only "anime-inspired". Why not an MMO based directly from an anime?
Final Fantasy has probably comes the closest to date with their online additions of games, but that's based on a series with a historic lineage of RPGs. It's gone on to form a passionate following in Japan and much of the world. It was this time last year that Final Fantasy XIV opened, but has not had the best reactions from users. One site going so far as to call it "The Most Disappointing Game of the Year". DC Comics began their own MMO, but even that is going free to play. It will still be offering "Premium" and "Legendary" pricing packages for anyone who wants a little something extra. DC was pretty bold to think they could charge from the beginning for their game. Star Wars has learned that lesson, and it's coming Clone Wars based MMO will be free to play from the get go.
What may surprise some is that anime has broken into the MMO market once before in a quite unexpected way. In the game of golf. PangYa is a multiplyer golf game that was made in Korea. This is also a free to download game, but certain equipment can only be paid with real money. Two versions were made for the Nintendo Wii, but lacks the online functions. The Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion series merged worlds with this fantasy golf game, but not in a literal way. These are not the actual characters, but users could get costumes that would allow you to dress their preexisting character set to look like Lelouch (Zero/Emperor), C.C., Kallen, Suzaku, and Anya. PangYa even offered a costume for Holo from Spice and Wolf. Personally, I always felt Code Geass was prime for a Real Time Strategy game.
The formula for a truly successful MMO is a combination of things. You need a variety of classes and species, character creation tool sets that allows the player to personalize, interesting skills or magics, a fantastic world to explore, quests to undertake, world events to keep people coming back, and the most important part is a player base. I examined several popular animes and evaluated them to see if any could hold up to all of these criteria.
It seems kind of silly to be examining if Dragon Ball could work as an MMO when one has already been produced and is running. I just wouldn't be performing my duty by leaving out one of anime's most recognized franchise. Another Korean-based production, Dragon Ball Online takes place in the world ofGoku and his friends, but set 612 years after the final chapters of the manga. Users will be able to pick from three classes of humans, two classes of Namekians, and two from the Majin Race. It appears there are no Saiyans. Though, by judging from the Toriyama inspired art, Goku's bloodline has spread through humanity in those six hundred years. Despite no Saiyans listed as playable, the community will be able to gain the ability of Super Saiyan after they gather all the Dragon Balls and make a wish toShenlong. This would allow women to become Super Saiyans, thus breaking some of the canon of the original concept.
Character creations I'm unsure about. Are you going to be guy with spiky hair, or other guy with spiky hair? Most people will probably just try to make versions of Goku, Vegeta, and Piccolo. The world of Dragon Ball has some unique locations, but I can't see them being varied enough to keep users interest for long. Any location of note from the original story usually wound up getting obliterated in the battles, and past collection Dragon Balls and the World's Martial Arts Tournament. What other kinds of quests could it have to be varied enough to keep users' interest?
There is an official trailer for Dragon Ball Online. After watching it, I can't help feel that the world feels far more ancient than the world Goku left behind in the end. More so given the 600+ year time skip.
BLEACH is another popular anime with plenty of action, but I actually think it's one of the least likely that could work as a MMO. The issue of classes I don't think is the problem. BLEACH has those in spades. You have your Shinigami, Arrancar, Espada, Vizards, and the more recently discoveredFullbring Users. Personalization I think is one of BLEACH's largest stumbling blocks. Every character's powers and abilities are just so unique to each person, and nearly everyone would want their ownBankai. They could never render all that to fit each player. The world is another obstacle. There are three general areas to explore. Karakura Town, Soul Society, and Hueco Mundo. I guess you could add Hell to the list after the more recent BLEACH movie.
One Piece is easily my favorite out of the big Shonen Jump Trilogy, It just can't work as an MMO. There are plenty of opportunities for designing your character to be unique, but not your abilities. Devil Fruitsare the main source of powers in this world, but the problem there is that eat devil fruit is unique. There is only one of each kind. The world is huge in One Piece, and there are tons of iconic locations. That's part of the problem. It's too huge. Each island is so unique and vast, there are so many of them, and you'd have to break the very rules of the Grand Line to allow travel around it. Sure, you could say there are a lot of Eternal Poses, but there are over twenty islands in the first half of the Grand Line alone. That's not even counting the New World, the Calm Belt, the Red Line, or the four other seas.
Another issue comes with the player base. Being one of the highest selling manga in Japan. You wouldn't have a problem getting players, but the series is very crew based. I just don't see how you keep the feel of the show if people don't pair up into pirate crews. While that would breed team work. It would also mean you'd have to be sure you were online with everyone else in your crew.
The series that I believe stands the best chance of working as a MMO is Naruto. We mostly see it in the realm of fighters for games. Still, so much of it has already been structured to everything you'd need in a MMORPG. Character customization is easy enough with outfits. If you go on deviantArt. You'll find a lot of young artists designing their own shinobi. There are tons of clans, and regions with unique skills. Whatever hidden village you select could dictate your skill set, and players can select their elemental affinity, If you wanted water based ninjustu, you'd be from the Hidden Mist Village; and sand justu would come from the Sand Village. The Shinobi World world could be a lot of fun to explore. There are a lot of iconic locations to visit, and each of the different lands would vary enough to make them unique. Easy travel between the realms could be easily explained since all the nations are currently allied in the manga.
Quests you take can be hand out by your ninja grade. Genin can only take jobs of a certain difficulty,Chunin can opt to take harder jobs, and Jonin get the most dangerous. These ninja qualifications could also work as your level caps. You could do missions solo, or form a squad. You could even add in an extra wrinkle of having a quest jump in difficulty. Much like what happened to Naruto in the Land of Waves Arc. A few times a year you could have events such as the Chunin Exams to try and go from a Genin to a Chunin and have access to higher ranked missions. The same could be said for Jonin.
Mounts are a big deal in WoW for exploring. A Naruto MMO could have those as well with summoned beasts. Naruto and Jiraiya use frogs, Sasuke has snakes or hawks, and Tsunade has slugs. Those aren't the only options. The series has had a variety of animals to choose from
Soul Eater is an anime series that has a lot of possibilities for personalization when it comes to appearance, but it has some of the same problems that comes with BLEACH. If you aren't a witch, you need both a Meister and a Demon Weapon together. The weapons are people that transform. I can't imagine it would be much fun to select playing as a weapon and not really get to do any of the fighting yourself. Most humans without their weapons are powerless. It does have an organization for quests, but there is a problem in the world. Death City has a really wild design. I always said that Soul Eater is what you could get if Tim Burton ever made an anime. The problem comes when Soul Eater has often used real world locations in the story. It's not a unique world to itself. Just a stylized version of Earth.
Highschool of the Dead
I'm a fan of Highschool of the Dead (HOTD). I just couldn't leave this franchise out seeing as the creators used RPG comparisons for their main cast. This series could make for a great game. Just not a MMORPG. The whole appeal of a zombie series is about the isolation and surviving as a few humans against a horde of the undead. That would be broken by the whole "massive" and "multiplayer" terms. I would love it if they made a Left 4 Dead style HOTD FPS.
Fullmetal Alchemist has a simple selection for a character base since 95% of all characters are human. As a basic RPG, I think the series could work. A MMO is another matter. Alchemy is the basic magic of the story, but it's all based around science. I can't just imagine the horror of trying to get the entire world to be interactive to manipulate with alchemy. On the plus side, FMA does have it's own world with a fair variety of realms. You have industrial cities of Central, a vast desert, and the freezing mountains of Briggs.
No matter what anime becomes a MMO of any kind. If it's not Warcraft. It'll eventually go free to play. These are my thoughts. Are there any anime or manga that you think could work as a MMO?