Turbine, the developer behind the Lord of the Rings and the Dungeons & Dragons MMORPGs, is currently working on a MMOG for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles. The game will be the third of its kind on the current consoles, following Final Fantasy XI and Phantasy Star Universe; Cryptic's Champions Online is ready to publication on the Xbox 360 only, however the company is waiting on Microsoft to iron out the legal details.
According to a recent statement made at GDC Austin, project development VP Craig Alexander said that the unnamed MMOG has already cost the company a whopping $20 million, and it's only been in development for a year and a half. He also hinted that the game is expected to hit the market in 2011, and could even use the free-to-play model.
But why develop for the consoles? After success with its two MMORPGs for the PC, it would seem fitting that the developer would continue its successful trend. Alexander said in his presentation that the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 offer a "superior MMO platform," that there's an untapped market worth around $2.3 billion (or beeeellion if you were Dr. Evil). In addition, the PC isn't necessarily the home of MMOGs anymore. After all, the FPS genre migrated just fine over to the consoles.
According to Eurogamer, the upcoming MMOG isn't a port of an existing title: Turbine has built this game from the ground up specifically for the consoles. Alexander said that the core technology is what already cost the company $20 million; Turbine hasn't spent a dime on the actual game itself. He also said that "grinding" is not ideal for console gamers. With that said, does Turbine plan to rewrite the overall structure of MMORPGs?