Call me a cranky old person if you wish, but a game goes from “nice idea and/or tech demo” to “actual MMO” when it’s letting people play for extended periods on a regular basis and not before. There are so many MMOs we’ve seen over the years that post promising development blogs, early previews, and so forth… and then get cancelled. Or they run out of money, or they just never materialize beyond an ambitious feature list that was never realistic. (Remember Embers of Caerus? I do.)
Even then, there’s some amount of wiggle room; it remains an act of individual discrimination if TUG ever counts as a “real” game instead of just the earliest demonstrations of one. There’s so much space to get apprehensive about the future of a title’s development and so many ways that things can go wrong that banking on “not real until proven otherwise” feels like a solid survival strategy. This was even the case with titles like WildStar, which looked gorgeous from the start and didn’t really get my anticipation past a certain point until it was, well, playable. So what about you, dear readers? When does an in-development MMO become real to you instead of a collection of promises and ideas?