BioWare On MMOs: 'Conan,' Their Own And Maybe A Console One

Unless you're "World of Warcraft," most massively multiplayer online games have proven passing fads. Eventually, most people move back to Blizzard's addictive game.

The term "WoW" killer has been banded about quite a bit. So far, no one has stepped up to the plate. Funcom's "Age of Conan," however, has done far better than most expected. To date, "Age of Conan" already has more than 700,000 registered players.

Considering BioWare has an MMO coming, it makes sense they've been checking out their competition -- "Age of Conan" included.

Yesterday, we spoke with BioWare co-CEOs Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk about their thoughts on "Funcom"'s latest, and whether BioWare could finally be the company that figures out why we still don't have a console MMO.

"Instead of forcing players to do things; allow them options and choices"

Both Muzyka and Zeschuk -- who described themselves as being friends with Funcom -- have played "Age of Conan." They were playing it this past weekend, actually.

"It's very compelling, well-made experience," said Zeschuk. "The overall release's been successful in terms of stability. I think it's exciting fantasy, right? The world of Conan is pretty cool; it's really drawing people in."

The success of "Age of Conan" is encouraging to BioWare. It tells them there's an opportunity to enter the market with something new.

"I think it's also indicative that certainly 'World of Warcraft' has grown the market," he continued. "There's a lot of folks that play MMO games and they're always looking for something to try. I think that's exciting for us. There's an opportunity for others to be in there and do well. It's great to see their success and see what we can potentially do in there when the time comes."

I admitted to both Zeschuk and Muzyka that I haven't really played an MMO before. I've yet to discover an MMO that allows you ditch the multiplayer component at your leisure. Even "World of Warcraft"'s end-game requires group work to succeed. Zeschuk said he understood that apprehension.

"One of the things we've learned studying the MMO market quite a bit over the last few years is understanding the importance of the single-player and multiplayer components of the game," he said. "Some people, like yourself, like the fact that you're not forced to do social grouping. I think that's an important part of a successful MMO, that it allows for a single-player experience as well as a multiplayer experience. They've both gotta be awesome."

It seems that BioWare's teased MMO will take these issues into consideration. "Instead of forcing players to do things; allow them options and choices," said Muzyka. "They can tailor their experience. This is what we're trying to do with our game, as well. This is why we tend to not make linear games. The consumer expects that."

"True Fantasy Live Online," a Microsoft-canceled MMO for the original Xbox

For many console gamers, through, "World of Warcraft" is still a mystery. There are not many MMO experiences on a console. Muzyka believes technical limitations -- a lack of guaranteed storage capacity, player connectivity and voice chat -- have been the primary obstacles for most companies. But Muzyka thinks console MMOs are not only possible; they're coming.

"We're excited about the future; we think there's potential for an MMO on a console," he said.

Does that mean BioWare's MMO will appear on a console? Neither Muzyka or Zeschuk would say, but they don't seem to have ruled out the possibility.