On the On-line Console RPG Debate...

by Hayden Dawson

In regards to the on-line console RPG debate, I would place myself among those who are at best wary, and more likely negative on the viability of them. At the core of my concerns is the nature of console RPGs themselves.

A primary difference between (most) console RPGs and computer RPGs is the character and story element. There are few console RPGs (good ones anyway) I can name that are not a story of one character's or one group's adventures. Computer RPGs, going back to SSI's old Gold Box setting and the Wizardry series involve more generic adventuring in a world setting. The only differentiating between characters was done on a stats/level/class basis. Heck, most of these didn't even give you a personal PC that was supposed to be YOU in the game.

I have yet to play an on-line computer RPG, but from what I've read, the described has not changed. While you may have the ability to personalize a PC, you still are adventuring in a setting rather than participating in a story. .

Other elements of the on-line world also trouble me. Let's give the best of all worlds, an on-line console RPG that has strong story and interactive elements. Console RPGers are infamous for exploring everything and discovering all secrets. What happens if some PKer decides it's time for your character to die (GAME OVER) or if a PC gets to an area before you and is somehow able to block others from exploring it? Before tackling an on-line RPG, wish to know what steps the servers will take to avoid such problems.

A seperate concern is the $$$ nature involved. If a company is able to sell a game and then sell access on-line, the stream of revenue will far exceed that of a regular console RPG where you only have to pay for it once. It has taken this long for console RPGs to be established to a point that games we never thought would ever come over (the Thousand Arms, Rhapsody and Valkirye Profile) are. If some big-budget, big-name console RPG is out there making money hand over fist, will the desire to bring the more niche titles over dry up?

Role-playing of all types has always been a small market. While I don't mind attempts to broaden the people who play, previous attempts have been unsuccessful. Trading Card Games were supposed to be the gateway for a new generation of paper and pencil RPGers, they have not completely done so. i am not convinced that on-line gaming will bring in new console gamers.

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