Why is DCUO the only Superhero MMO?

Discussion in 'Joker’s Funhouse (Off Topic)' started by Random Mind, Apr 19, 2023.

  1. Random Mind Dedicated Player

    There have been more than a few times recently were I have considered leaving DCUO but what stops me is that there is no real alternative for me to go to.

    When I first left DCUO in 2013, Marvel Heroes was an option, though I'm more of a console player than PC, so I eventually stopped playing it but I returned to it when it was brought to consoles. When it died, I wondered aimlessly around the gaming world for a couple of years then returned to DCUO. When Marvel's Avengers came out, I thought that would be an option, but although I liked the combat and the campaign, it lacked the customization and community of an MMO, so it got boring pretty fast. Now, when I have thoughts of leaving DCUO, I wonder where do I go and why isn't there more superhero MMOs?

    I get licensing fees can be expensive if you want to work with the big two (Marvel or DC), but why not work with Image and make a MMO based on the Spawn universe, or create a new universe like a City of Heroes and instead of just putting it just on PC, bring it to next-gen consoles as well. It isn't like DCUO is some mega-giant that can't be slayed, so why bother getting into the market, it is an old game with old graphics and frankly I think it needs competition in order to breath some new life into it. While the active community is relatively small compared to the the major MMOs, DCUO has proved that a Superhero style MMO can succeed, so why aren't more companies trying to get in on the action? There plenty of fantasy style MMOs, but with the popularity of the MCU (though that popularity has been waning recently) why is there only one superhero MMO? I guess it just seems bizarre to me.
  2. Talks2MuchSense Well-Known Player

    Avengers was such a monumental disaster, it lost Square Enix over $330 million. The only reason there even IS a Square Enix right now is because FF7 Remake literally saved the company.

    The popularity of an IP does not necessarily mean that a game about it is automatically a good idea.
  3. Zoe· YouTuber

    Honestly I keep hearing that MMO's are a dying breed and not what it used to be. I would love to see more superhero MMO's, but nothing will have DCUO's magic honestly. The game is unique. Combat, Costumization, etc.
    • Like x 3
  4. willflynne 10000 Post Club

    It's not the only superhero MMO. There's a PC only game that's still active, but having played both I personally found DCUO to be the better offering. Plus I think I remember seeing some news about others in various stages of development at one point or another, as well as emulations of a shuttered game.

    But in the realm of MMOs, the space is dominated by fantasy-themed games. Anything else (superheroes, sci-fi, etc.) is pretty much a niche game. Heck, despite it being based on one of the best known and most loved franchises/IPs out there, even Star Wars-based MMOs have struggled to one extent or another.
    • Like x 3
  5. Random Mind Dedicated Player

    I understand the failure of Marvel's Avengers, but it was a live-service game, not an MMORPG and it was created by Crystal Dynamics who is more known for single player games like Tomb Raider than GaaS. I think you see their strengths with how solid the campaign and combat mechanics were versus the failure of the loot grind and endgame content. I put a lot of hours in Marvel's Avengers and I loved playing as the Hulk and Iron Man, but I wish that instead of having Kamala Khan as the focus of the campaign, they would have had a customizable Inhuman that you create instead and then add Kamala as a hero later.

    Also, I am not asking why Marvel isn't making an MMO, I am asking why no one is making a Superhero-based MMO whether it is another comic studio other than the big two or a company creating an entirely new comic universe.
  6. Drathmor Unwavering Player

    they are all live service games now since mobile monetization has started taking over gaming its only a matter of time before anything online based is simply trash unless the player base just stops being whales and feeding the trolls that is cooperate greed. make a great game people will play it they proved that again with god of war and the single player star wars game both doing so well in sales . make cash grab garbage and only the whales will play it.
    • Like x 1
  7. Random Mind Dedicated Player

    Maybe they are, but I think it is the monetization and the loot grind within MMOs and GaaS that is driving people away. Companies are putting more focus on the cash grab element and less on making the game an enjoyable experience. I understand that in order to get future content there has to be a monetization component but the monetization should not detract from a player's enjoyment of the game.

    As for DCUO, I do enjoy it for the most part, but I have been feeling that the game is becoming kind of stagnant and some healthy competition might do it some good. One thing I will commend DCUO on is having this forum and while I wish there was more Dev interaction sometimes, at least they aren't leaving it up to Twitter and Reddit to be their forums.
    • Like x 1
  8. Random Mind Dedicated Player

    Which superhero MMO are talking about? Champions Online? Regardless, the Superhero genre is still a genre that could be farmed more. Also, having the MMO available on consoles, I think would help will the longevity of the game.

    Star Wars is also another MMO I would be interested in trying, if the Knights of the Old Republic remake does make it to the PS5 one day.
  9. willflynne 10000 Post Club

    Yeah, that's the one (you never quite know how namedropping other games can go in the forums so I played it safe LOL). And I don't deny that the hero genre is ripe for use in MMOs. But with fantasy ruling the landscape and the cost of getting MMOs off the ground and into the hands of players, it's a uphill climb. Fantasy is going to be the go-to because it's got a VERY proven track record.

    As for Star Wars, I played the living daylights out of Star Wars Galaxies when it was running, right up to shutdown. The current one? Well, despite the pedigree behind the studio making the game and their success with KOTOR, it never quite hooked me. Part of it was a lack of features that were in SWG, part of it was the way the closing of SWG was handled (no proof, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if EA had mandated SWG being shut down before they launched their game to prevent competition) and part of it was the setting. The Old Republic era just always seemed stiff and stuffy to me.
  10. Random Mind Dedicated Player

    Being a console player, I haven't participated in a Star Wars MMO before, the closest I got was Battlefront 2, but I bailed pretty early on that, so I guess that's why I'm interested in the KotR remake. The last Star Wars games I really enjoyed was the Force Unleashed games, the first more than the second. I tried Fallen Order but it felt more like Traversal: The Game, so I didn't play it for too long.

    There are many times I have thought about trying out an Elder Scrolls, FFXIV or PoE but I'm not a real fantasy realm person, so I'm a little outta luck at the moment and left hoping for a more diverse MMO landscape.
  11. Talks2MuchSense Well-Known Player

    Both of the main details you just mentioned were highly criticised parts of the game. Don't get me wrong, if you enjoyed it then cool, this is not me trying to convince you not to. But your post doesn't seem to be trying to defend a personal opinion, instead it portrays a defence of a broad view of the game, which is both unfortunately incorrect and also a defense of the indefensible. Respawn managed to make one of the best Star Wars games in the last decade based on Souls/Metro games despite never making anything as big or ambitious. Naughty Dog certainly didn't start with the Uncharted games. I'm not sure why Crystal Dynamics should get a pass.

    As for a general game with no IP, that also means no backing. No extra revenue coming in from an interested party. I think people would be genuinely shocked to find out how much it cost to make DCUO from scratch. The fact that there is a market there for something is not always the key reason to make it / do it. It's that crossover between when something is a dream to making something a reality where 80% of projects go to die. And it's simply down to how feasibly realistic it is to make it a reality. If you want to Direct the making of a Superhero videogame, and someone turns around and says "well yeah but we have this list of 10,000 restrictions on what we cannot do", it leaves little room for creativity.
  12. Random Mind Dedicated Player

    I am no defender of Marvel's Avengers, I was merely stating that I enjoyed playing it for awhile, particularly playing as Hulk and Iron Man, then it got boring. As for Crystal Dynamics, I was not giving them a free pass, I was saying they are one of the reasons the game failed, because their strength was in single player games. Could they have made Avengers a great game? Absolutely, but you don't buy a barbeque to cook soup. They would probably would have had better success making a Captain America single-player game. Even Square Equix has said that Crystal Dynamics was probably the wrong choice.

    As for producing an independent Superhero MMO, sure it would have hurdles, but so does any game that is not based of a pre-existing IP. What was WoW before WoW? What was Super Mario before Super Mario? Forget video games, what was Superman before Superman? I have no doubt it is expensive to produce any type of video game, but while an IP helps in terms of financial backing and marketing, it also comes with licensing fees and restrictions, as you see with us not being able to get Superman Emblem. Having a recognizable IP may help sell the game but you have to have a quality game first. If you were to make an independent Superhero MMO, you would focus on giving the player base the best Superhero experience possible, a great story, memorable supporting characters and fun sandbox to play in. Marketing would be key and how you grow the brand.

    As for the creativity aspect of your comment, I disagree. Sure there be hoops to you have to jump through regarding making a Superhero MMO, but there are hoops you have to jump through for everything. If you want to buy a new fridge, you have to take into account if it matches the current decor of the kitchen, the space it has to fit in , the cost of a new fridge and so on. However, not having a pre-existing IP I think would allow you to be more creative, since there would be less rules you would have to abide by it terms of world and lore building. There are plenty of people who cosplay as DC and Marvel characters as well as other comic characters like Spawn, but there are plenty of original creations out there in DCUO, I myself have a mix of both. While the DC brand may have drawn me into the game, it is the customization in the game that has kept me playing for as long as I have.

    While, I have been talking about mostly about independent Superhero MMOs, my main question is about why no company is making Superhero MMOs whether they are independent or based on pre-existing IP. Just because Marvel's Avengers failed, doesn't mean any MMO based on the Marvel IP will fail. IP only gets you so far, you have to have a great game as well. Spider-man was in Marvel's Avengers and in Marvel's Spider-man, both were PS exclusive (though the Spider-man game has gone to PC now), one failed miserably and one is lauded as one of best superhero games ever. The Avengers probably should have had the advantage since it had more characters to draw people in, but in the end it was the quality of the game that made Marvel's Spider-man great and Insomniac Games the name it is today. Crystal Dynamics dreamed big and fell hard because in my opinion they stepped up to the plate with a tennis racket instead of a baseball bat and Square Equix paid the price.
  13. Talks2MuchSense Well-Known Player

    To be honest, the problem you seem to be having is bringing everything down to its simplest form and then just leaving it there. Don't misunderstand, that's not meant as an insult nor even an attempt at a sneaky insult, it's just present throughout the post. Someone looking to make the game you're describing doesn't have the luxury of being able to do that.

    As an example, and I'll use just one here despite there being many: the whole IP / no IP situation. The idea that a No IP Superhero game would have less restrictions/costs is ludicrous. If anything it has more restrictions. To put it simply, every item, power, name, costume, city, consumable, named object etc etc has to be cross checked with every DC/Marvel/Image/Milestone/everything Superhero Comic Book line to make sure that a copywrite is not being infringed. Every single one. Not only does that mean that from Day 1 you need to excessively expand your Legal Team to perform those checks, bring up their bill exponentially, but it also means that if just one item somehow slips through the system, the entire game is at risk.

    This is not me saying there shouldn't be another Superhero MMO, there should be actually. Competition helps games to evolve. Pushes games to evolve. With no competition DCUO has made improvements to graphics and other things yes, but hasn't looked at, frankly, outdated systems and ways to remove or improve them. Why does this game still actually have a controller role when MMOs ditched that role almost 10yrs ago now? But I digress, this is me answering your question. There aren't any other Superhero MMOs for 3 good reasons, it would cost far too much, it would come with great risk if not backed by an IP Holding Company, and there's barely any evidence out there to say it'd be a good investment / worth the risk because there's literally only 1 or 2 Superhero MMOs left after the rest have died.

    It may not be the answer you want or were hoping for, but I see no reason to lie to you.
  14. Random Mind Dedicated Player

    I appreciate your response and since I have never developed a video game before I wouldn't have the first hand clue about the hurdles that would have to be jumped through. Watching Youtube videos and seeing creators bob and weave around words and music so as not to get demonetized, I can only imagine it would be 100x worse for an independent Superhero MMO.

    As I said before, my question wasn't about why aren't there more independent Superhero MMOs, it was about the Superhero genre not having more MMOs, whether it was using Marvel, DC, Image, Milestone or an independent comic creator as a partner. I'm sure it would be expensive to develop any MMO regardless of it's IP or genre, but I know that licensing fees are a big ticket item, which is why a lot of the biggest MMOs are not based on pre-existing IPs. I wonder if the cost of the legal team would be greater than the licensing fees that Marvel or DC would charge and would maybe Image be a good middle ground?

    I agree with you about DCUO needing some competition in order to get better. Right now they just seem like some fat guy sitting on couch fumbling for the remote while the exercise bike they bought for Christmas (because this year was gonna be the year) sits around and gathers dust.

    I guess when I look out at the MMO landscape all I mainly see is a bunch of elves and wizards, I get frustrated. It seems like there is so much potential in that market and since I am a Superhero/Sci-Fi fan I notice it even more. I brought up Superhero MMOs because I'm starting to get bored swimming in the DCUO pond and I just wish there was another Superhero MMO I could dive into.
  15. Random Mind Dedicated Player

    Sorry just wanted to expand on this a bit.

    Copyright infringement would definitely be a concern when developing an independent Superhero MMO, but it would be more about trademarks, image and likeness issues and what is fair use versus infringement. You can a have a character who flies, has super strength and shoots lasers from his eyes, just don't put him in red and blue tights or name him Superman, because then you will have problems. Do you think DC would willingly let Marvel create Hyperion and the Squadron Supreme if they had the ability to make them stop? Superman the character is copyright protected not his powers or the clothes he wears. Copyright exists to protect the expression of an idea not the idea itself.

    DC and Marvel would probably kill most independent Superhero Games before they start with swarms of lawyers, I mean look at the people who tried to just use the word Superhero in their product or business. You can use the word Hero, but Superhero is a DC/Marvel No-No. You chances of success would definitely be better playing with DC or Marvel than going solo, but those licensing fees sure would suck.
  16. Captain C Active Player

    DC has been around longer I guess
  17. Talks2MuchSense Well-Known Player

    You were 100% correct right up until you said Supermans Powers weren't protected. A lot of them actually are. It's honestly weird how some of them are but you can literally go online to see them. Again though, you're correct about the more generic powers such as Flight, nobody can hold a copywrite to that, if it were possible there'd be a war between DC and Peter Pan. But DC absolutely holds Copywrites for a lot of Supermans powers. Other Comics never call laser eyes "Heat Vision" because they literally can't, that name is owned by DC. I think a Comic Publisher made that mistake years ago and paid the price for it actually.

    As for supermans clothes, I think even you knew that was a mistake to include. His Emblem is part of his clothes, and is 100% protected. I will admit however that the clothes underneath it aren't. Like flight, they can't be. Similarly DC can dress someone up in a near-identical Deadpool suit and nobody can do anything about it. Then you can get into the realm of Modified Protected Items. Long story short, it's why we have a 95% accurate Magneto helmet in the game.

    This is one of those situations where there's definitely a grey area, I'd never suggest otherwise. But that doesn't make it easier either. The same amount of work and time and checks still have to be done. Possibly even more so because now you're not just searching for if Item X is protected, but now if it is you need to find out in what way, fully or can it be modified. It's not even a silly estimate to guess it would take multiple years of these checks to finish them off.
  18. myandria Item Storage

    Well, Champions Online is still around and City of Heroes became a phoenix (it was shut down in 2012) and is now City of Heroes-Homecoming. In fact, City of Heroes just released a new character power. I still play these games and both are on the PC.

    As others have pointed out before me, the superhero genre is stiff. DC and Marvel have the superhero genre on IP lockdown; this makes it hard for any game company/developer to get their toes wet, in my opinion.

    City of Heroes 2004-2012, Phoenix risen in 2019


    Champions Online 13 years old

    Both games were not able to be launched on the consoles.

    Fantasy games can create characters and even use aspects of other fantasy/sci-fi characters more easily than a superhero game can. How many versions of a Hobbit can you find in fantasy games, but none of them are labeled "Hobbit" outright apart from a Lord of the Rings game? For games like Champions Online and City of Heroes, you can make Marvel/DC inspired characters, but you will not have access to the "exact" color palette, costumes or will be able to use the exact name of those heroes/villians.

    I think what keeps these games alive is the ability to fully be a "villain", the character creation process and the power/loadout process. The graphics for both games are older than DCUO's graphics, but new/next gen graphics are not enough to keep players engaged and interested in a game. Many people have asked for and waited for "years" for COH to make a return.

    I agree that it will be difficult for a game company/developer to get into the MMO Superhero genre; perhaps that is why it is avoided by most of them. Imagine if Rockstar, for example were able to purchase either one of these games; how interesting would that be?
    • Like x 1
  19. Random Mind Dedicated Player

    Before I start, could you please tell me where you saw that Superman's powers are copyrighted or trademarked because I agree that if you call an ability where you shoot lasers from your eyes heat vision, DC would be all over you, but there are other characters that shoot beams from there eyes. Cyclops has his optic blasts and Gladiator and Hyperion have heat beams and atomic vision, but both are essentially heat vision but called something else. You can have characters that have powerful extrasensory senses like super hearing and the power to see through solid matter, characters like Sentry and Hyperion have these powers the difference is that they are not called x-ray vision and super hearing. Many characters have enhanced senses how strong they are is based on the power of the character, there is Wolverine and then there is Galactus. Gladiator and Hyperion have super breath similar to Superman which can freeze opponents the difference is that is call super breath rather freeze breath. Yes, there are limitations to their powers, what they are named and how they are described but the idea behind those powers like shooting beams from a characters eyes, seeing through solid matter, having enhanced senses, exhaling wind from your mouth are fair use. You can even have them all together in the same character, again I will bring up Hyperion and Gladiator who the creators themselves said were an homage to Superman, the main factor in being able to publish this character is will it be confused with Superman because issues arise due to image and likeness violations rather than the powers themselves. I hope these examples have proved my point and while I have only mentioned Marvel characters who have powers similar to Superman, there are characters created by other comic publishers and in other mediums like video games and anime who also have powers similar to Superman.

    When it comes to Superman's appearance, I realize that the Superman emblem is trademarked but that is trademarked as a logo the same as Nike's Swoosh, and I didn't include it because I thought it would be obvious, I was talking about his clothes specifically the cape and the underpants over legs look. You should not mistake a logo for clothes, I can sell a plain T-shirt to anyone, but if I add the Bat Symbol to it, I'm in trouble if I don't have DC's permission. When it comes to Superman's uniform, issues arise with likeness when characters start looking too similar to another like Superman, then DC lawyers will come in and say this character could be confused with Superman. The original Captain Marvel had a blue and red uniform, his briefs were over his tights, it had some yellow in it, with his emblem and Nega-bands but he didn't have a cape or belt, he wore a mask and had blond hair. I will once again bring up Hyperion, he has red and yellow in his uniform with the briefs over tights, boots and a cape, but there is no blue, the chest style is short sleeve, the cape is yellow and worn differently and the boots are cuffed. Again, issues arise due to likeness and will this characters look be confused with another, not the styles themselves. Just because Captain America wears a helmet doesn't mean no other character can wear a helmet, but don't have wings and the letter A on it.

    Finally, if I implied it would be easier to create an independent Superhero MMO than work with a major publisher, I apologize, that was my fault. When I said less restrictions I said this with regards to a developer not having to be confined to working in a pre-established universe with pre-existing characters. This would allow the developers to be more creative because they would have to be in order to avoid those trademark and copyright violations. They would have create their own universe with their own iconic characters. Now the company who does publish the game may impose their own limitations or want certain things to be added to the game and there would be an approval process before the game could get published, but that is true for every game in any genre. If there are issues regarding infringement, the developers will alter or delete the violation, or if they don't believe a violation is a copyright/trademark infringement, they might fight that accusation, it is all part of the development process.
  20. Talks2MuchSense Well-Known Player

    I'm gonna be completely honest with you, I got to the question asked at the very beginning, went and got the required link, and haven't read the rest. I'm sure it's great, and will probably read it when it's not 2am here. In the meantime here's the link you could have found within 2 mins of a Google Search: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_lawsuits_by_Superman's_creators

    You're welcome to read the whole lot ofc, but if you're looking for what i mentioned go down to the "Future" section and read it. The Superman you know right now is not the one that Seigel/Shuster created. He couldn't fly, Kryptonite was only introduced because the voice actor on the Radio Show was on Holiday for a week, and DC owns a lot of the Powers that they added to Superman after acquiring the rights to him. Honestly Supermans real life history is very weird, and rather murky with all the nonstop lawsuits.