Perfect Ten: Exploring MMORPGs from the far corners of the world
Have you ever noticed that while there’s an entire world out there, most all of the MMORPGs we discuss and play tend to either be ones crafted in the USA or imports from China or Korea? We even have a shorthand for this: “western” and “eastern” MMOs. We’re usually not talking about entire hemispheres with these references, but rather about categorizing three countries that are big into the MMORPG business.
But what about the rest of the world? Are all of these other countries so uncaring about this genre that they’ve never tried their hand at making an MMO? Of course not; as I’m about to show you, there are plenty of online RPGs that have been made in countries other than China, the USA, and South Korea. It’s just that for various reasons, those three countries ended up fostering concentrations of video game developers who knew how to create these types of games.
So let’s take a tour around the world and see if we can’t give some credit to other countries for their contributions to the MMORPG genre past, present, and future. Before you click the link, see how many you can name off the top of your head!
As Russia becomes more and more a site for MMORPG beta tests and the popularity of its Wargaming studio, this might be a country moving to the forefront of online gaming. Allods Team has already pumped out two MMOs to date: Allods Online and Skyforge.
It was only fairly recently that someone brought to my attention the fact that Drakensang Online was (as the title indicates) a German production, developed by Bigpoint Berlin. Guess I had just never given the game much of a thought before. Another upcoming MMO, The Exiled (formerly Das Tal), is also bringing the German spirit to online games courtesy of Munich-based Fairytale Distillery.
Hail Britannia! Her Majesty’s royal video game kingdom definitely has the hots for MMORPGs these days, starting with the incredibly successful Jagex and its flagship RuneScape. But it doesn’t stop there: Worlds Adrift (Bossa Studios), Elite Dangerous (Frontier Studios), and SkySaga (Radiant Worlds) all have their roots firmly planted in UK soil.
Thanks to developer Ankama, France boasts two unique online games (Wakfu and Dofus) that are part of a multimedia empire. French indie studio Nevrax also developed an MMORPG, Ryzom, back in the early 2000s. The game was subsequently sold off to a German publisher in 2006 and then bounced back to France less than a year later.
Iceland currently has just one true MMORPG to its name, but it’s a behemoth of a title. CCP Games out of Reykjavik has handled EVE Online for well over a decade now, and the studio is constantly working on spin-offs and other tech for the EVE universe.
Speaking of frozen Scandanavian countries, Norway’s Funcom used to be well-known for its MMORPG focus, at least until this year when it decided that survival sandboxes were the wave of the future. Anyway, three MMOs came out of that studio (The Secret World, Anarchy Online, Age of Conan) and a fourth from Oslo-based Fifth Season AS (AD2460).
Despite its proximity to China and Korea, and doubly despite its legacy as a video game-producing country, Japan never quite got on board the MMORPG train as much as its neighbors. Still, it has at least a few studios pumping out online RPGs: Square Enix (Final Fantasy XI and XIV), Keoi (Uncharted Waters Online), Sonic Team (Phantasy Star Online 1 and 2), Capcom (Dragon’s Dogma Online), and Gamepot (Wizardry Online and Cabal Online).
Before its downfall into oblivion, Greece’s Aventurine was quite well-known for making and running the cutthroat PvP MMO Darkfall. The original game might be ended, but two reboots from other teams are carrying on the legacy.
America’s frozen neighbor to the north isn’t unfamiliar with video game development, especially in Montreal and Vancouver. A few MMOs and MMO-lites have come out of the country, including Warframe (Ontario’s Digital Extremes) and Eternal Crusade (Montreal’s Behaviour Interactive).
Although it was put out under Ubisoft’s name, The Division was actually developed by Sweden’s Massive Entertainment AB, so let’s give that team a little recognition. Another Swedish project that’s perhaps more well-known among sandbox MMO players is Wurm Online, which comes to us via Motala-based Code Club AB.
This island nation has not just hobbits to its name but also one of the most popular MMOs on the planet: Path of Exile. Thanks to the tireless work of Auckland-based Grinding Gear Games, this title put the country on the worldwide video game map.
Researching this article was interesting to me, at least, because even after years of covering MMOs, I realized that I didn’t always know where all of these games were made. For instance, Perpetuum Online. Who would have guessed this was a product right out of Budapest, Hungary? Not me, I can tell you that.
Hunted Cow Studios — best studio name ever, by the way — hails from Elgin, Scotland, and has produced several mobile and browser-based games, including the MMO Eldevin. Now where’s our Highlander Online already?
As my editor Bree said this morning, “Who would have thought that writing a video game article would force us to pick a side on the topic of Taiwanese independence?” So the validity of this entry depends on whether you consider Taiwan a part of China or not, but I’m going to do a head fake and just mention that Runewaker has put out Runes of Magic and Dragon’s Prophet, then flee for the final entry.
Poland, eh? Wouldn’t be most people’s first guess of a country for MMO development, but in truth there are two project’s going on right now. Black Eye Games is very hard at work on Gloria Victis, while Huckleberry Games has been taking a stab at the post-apocalyptic Edengrad.
See any we missed? Learned something new today? Sound off in the comments!