John Smedley, involved with the creation and development of Everquest, stated in a recent blog post that he thought the future of MMOs is a sandbox genre much like EVE: Online is right now. His opinion is letting players focus on creating and distributing content for each other, is the future that MMO games are heading towards to. Simply because developers today are trying to support an unsustainable model with their MMOs. They update their games with new content every now and then, but players plow through this content much faster than developers are able to create it. Herein lies the problem. Also, when new developers create new MMO games, they have to compete with games like World of Warcraft, who have been on the market for 9 years. That is a lot of content, and simply too much to ask for beginning developers.
Smedleys’ opinion is that building systems into MMOs that let players create their own content for others to enjoy. Think about systems like Neverwinters Forge system, where players design their own quests and let other players play these quests. Also things like the new Everquest Next Landmark, (the game SOE is working on, together with Everquest Next) where players are able to create their own buildings and surroundings, much like Minecraft.
Further, he states that their belief at SOE is that “it’s smarter to head in this direction rather than waiting”. They want to innovate and lets players be a part of everything they do, including helping to create the game itself. They will be putting the sandbox theme as a core gameplay feature in their future game, believing that the more emergent a sandbox style game is, the less predictable the experience will be. And that’s a good thing.