Even SpatialOS seems grim about the outlook for western MMOs. MMO players will recall that Improbable’s SpatialOS is a “distributed computing platform for building large virtual worlds for gaming,” especially for online games and MMORPGs, and that the company’s CEO has specifically said he’s hoping to bring MMOs out of their “nuclear winter” with the tech.
Wagner James Au at New World Notes spoke with Improbable’s VP Product Paul Thomas at this year’s GDC, however, and it sounds as if that winter isn’t quite over yet. Not only does Thomas argue that western gamers aren’t showing much market interest in single-shard MMOs (“in the Eastern regions, massive interest there, but in the Western regions, yeah, it tends to be more session-based type games”), but there appears to be only one announced MMO that’s making full use of SpatialOS single-shard capabilities: Seed.
That’s not to say SpatialOS isn’t bolstering games; the interview mentions several others, including 1000-man battle royale Mavericks. But the company did tell New World Notes that one unnamed game was able to use the tech to support “20,000 players in a relatively low-fidelity but seamless world.”
“To provide some context, while a ‘Realm’ in a traditional MMO might have thousands of players (who would be the players allocated to that shard), the seamless area you could see and interact with on a single server architecture would likely be limited to a few hundred connected users maximum. The comparable unit for New World Notes’ purposes would be a ‘sim’ – the area in Second Life which you can interact with directly.”