When I was a kid and only slightly more nerdy than I am today, I used to read movie novelizations like crazy. I don’t know why, exactly, especially since I could have just watched the films themselves. I guess it was part of getting swept up with the transmedia hype of a good movie. I probably wore out my copy of Return of the Jedi because I loved that entry so much.
While movie novelizations have all but died out completely, tie-in novels are still going strong in other sectors — such as with MMORPGs. Believe it or not, several online games have spawned numerous book spin-offs, some from very popular authors.
Today we’re going to look at this interesting byproduct of MMORPGs for those of us who are both gamers and readers. Maybe even those of us who read the quest text!
1. Guild Wars 2
ArenaNet put in some serious effort and promotion with its line of Guild Wars 2 novels, two of which (Ghosts of Ascalon and Edge of Destiny) served as bridges between the first and the second MMO. These were followed up by 2013’s well-received Sea of Sorrows.
Can’t say that I’ve ever seen an EverQuest novel lying around in a bookshop, but truth be told, my geek nature is pleased that someone went to the trouble of writing them. There are a few of these that you can hunt down, such as The Blood Red Harp, The Rogue’s Hour, and The Ocean of Tears. Wait, I didn’t know they wrote a novelization of MMO forum whines!
If your game isn’t coming out for a while and you have rabid fans champing at the bit for any way to partake in your created universe, releasing a novel early seems like a good ploy for easy cash. Landfall: The Tales of Albion serves as a prequel for the upcoming cross-platform MMO and came out this past February, even though we won’t be seeing the completed game for quite a while.
It’s pretty obvious that Richard Garriott prizes lore and immersion for his games, and with Shroud of the Avatar he roped in a big-name fantasy author to write a prequel novel to the events of the game. Tracy Hickman (along with Garriott) just released The Sword of Midras — in hardback, no less — and has plans for two more books in the series.
Of course there are World of Warcraft novels, so many that they’ve started eyeing those Dungeons & Dragons novels in the bookstore as competition for shelf real estate. Wowpedia has the running total at about 21 books, although that number could be higher or lower depending on how you count them.
Once again, it’s so easy to underestimate the popularity and reach of RuneScape by dismissing it as a knock-off or “just” a browser MMO. The fantasy title has its own line of novels, including Betrayal at Falador, Return to Canifis, and Legacy of Blood. BLOOD!
Star Wars has always loved putting its adventures in print, so no surprise here that there is a four-book series set in the MMORPG universe. The set starts with Revan and continues with Deceived, Fatal Alliance, and Annihilation.
The Elite franchise apparently has a tradition of churning out spin-off novels. Elite Dangerous has gone bananas trying to one-up its predecessors by producing a small library of titles including Docking is Difficult, Wanted, Mostly Harmless, Reclamation, And Here the Wheel, and Nemorensis. Holy carp!
9. EVE Online
Continuing with the space theme, EVE Online has taken up its fair share of space on bookshelves, both in the fiction and non-fiction departments. You can dip your toes into the EVE universe with titles like The Empyrean Age, True Stories, Templar One, and The Burning Life. Unfortunately for readers hoping to digest stories, the books only contain actual printed spreadsheets of spaceship stats and mining.
10. City of Heroes
I had absolutely no idea that The Freedom Phalanx was ever a thing, even while I was playing this superhero MMO. It might not be the easiest novel to find, having come out 10 years ago, but it’s definitely easier to track down and read than being able to play the game again!