But I can hardly blame the publishers for pushing so hard. They desperately need to get coverage for these things, because that equals exposure, which helps get retailers on board, which puts it in your hands and then on your hard drive, which puts their fingers in your pocket for $13.95 a month above and beyond the $50 you paid for the box. MMOs are already a fiercely competitive arena and it's going to get even bloodier. The conventional wisdom is that there simply aren't enough players to go around. With the disappointing performance of The Sims Online, there's no assurance that new players are looking to get into these games. The pie doesn't seem to be growing substantially, and with more people competing for a slice, the portions are going to get smaller. It's a scary time to be making an MMO.
The problem at E3 was that there's no easy way to demo an MMO before it’s been released. Many of the MMO demos were top heavy with stuff about character generation and how you can give your avatar any face you want and pick what color tunic you're going to wear. Then you got a canned demo that gave you a look at the graphics, with maybe a few scripted interactions as an example of how the game might play. Reading between the lines, I'd have to say Worlds of Warcraft looks promising if not conventional. Microsoft's Mythica seems to have enough of a twist to recommend it. City of Heroes is bright and goofy enough that it just might work. Otherwise I offer every other MMO a great big shrug.
Medals and Valors
As for first person shooters, everyone and his uncle is trying to do a Medal of Honor style game, including the guys who made Medal of Honor. EA brought the franchise in to be continued by its internal developers, so the original creators are now split into two separate companies, each making another Medal of Honor style game.
And again, here's a problem with demos. They're getting more and more impressive, held in mini-theatres with sub-woofers the size of Volvos. But underneath all the sound and big screen fury, it's easy to forget that you're basically seeing a scripted demo that can't convey the intangible touchstone we call gameplay. In fact, in many cases, it simply obscures what it'll be like to actually play the game. Sure, you might have some guy holding a controller and shooting up bad guys, but many of the interactions are totally canned.