6 MMOs That Should Become TV Shows
by Tyler Edwards
MMOs are starting to expand beyond the world of video games. After years spent in development Hell, the World of Warcraft movie is finally getting underway, and Defiance has drawn attention by being both an MMO and a TV series simultaneously. This got our team at WhatMMO wondering: What are other ways MMOs could be more than games? TV seems to be the best medium for them to expand into, given the persistent nature of MMO worlds. A TV series can evolve alongside its game, whereas a movie has to try to encapsulate the whole vastness of an MMO setting in just an hour or two. But what MMOs would make the best TV shows? These are our picks.
Rift's Telara is a world in constant conflict. Its Guardian and Defiant factions maintain a strong rivalry, and rifts to the elemental planes are constantly opening and spewing chaos across the land. This endless state of strife makes it an excellent setting for an ongoing TV series.
There would never be any shortage of exciting plots for a show set in the world of Rift. In a world constantly changing and eternally under siege, there's always a new threat just around the corner. Whether it focuses on the big-time players and major events or on average adventurers struggling to survive in war torn Telara, there's great potential for epic action and powerful human drama.
On top of that, Trion is also the company behind the MMO half of Defiance, so they already have experience tackling the unique challenges inherent in running an MMO side-by-side with a TV series. This could be made a bit difficult by the fact Rift was developed before Defiance came along and wasn't designed with other mediums in mind, but Trion has shown themselves capable of making great changes in their game with a minimum of pain, so surely it could be done.
5: Guild Wars 2:
Guild Wars 2 already progresses its story a lot like a TV show with its biweekly content patches. It's not at all hard to imagine that episodic style of storytelling making the jump to TV.
GW2's rather quirky style of story probably wouldn't translate well to a serious drama. An animated tongue-in-cheek action adventure, though, would work very well. Something along the lines of a Saturday morning cartoon, though perhaps not quite so heavily geared towards children.
Perhaps a GW2 TV series could continue the adventures of the iconic group Destiny's Edge, who played an important role in the game's launch story. They're a diverse group of characters representing each of the game's playable races, so they offer fairly broad appeal.
By tying into the biweekly update schedule, a GW2 TV series could help to foreshadow and provide backstory for future updates. Want a hint of what the next patch is going to be? Better keep tuning in.
Alternatively, the show could pursue separate plots from the game and only cross paths with in game storylines occasionally. This allows for each to forge its own path without concern for continuity errors or other interference.
4: World of Warcraft:
The Warcraft universe is beyond massive. Spanning nearly two decades of games and countless novels, short stories, comics, manga, and other tie-ins, its lore could fill a library. There's massive potential for a TV series there, and that's before you factor in the fact that WoW is the most popular MMO in history and an icon in pop culture.
WoW's world and stories are so diverse that the possibilities for a TV show are nearly endless. It could be a CG animated series resembling the game's graphics, it could be a more traditional cartoon, or it could be live action. It could be a lighthearted romp full of quirky humor, or a deadly serious drama.
Likewise, there are many periods of Warcraft history such a series could take place in. It could serve as a prequel to WoW, retelling the stories of the original games in a new fashion. It could take place concurrently with the game, allowing each to influence the other. It could take place in some far-flung part of Azeroth's past, such as the apocalyptic War of the Ancients.
With thousands of years of (fictional) history and millions of potential fans to draw upon, the potential for a WoW TV show is limitless.
3: EVE Online:
The sci-fi sandbox EVE Online is not known for its storytelling, so unlike the other entries on this list, a TV series based on it probably wouldn't be fictional. All of the drama in EVE comes from the players as they battle, rob, support, and betray each other in the cold void of space. A potential EVE TV show would be wise to capitalize on this.
There are two main angles an EVE show would likely take. One is something of a news show that covers the top recent events within New Eden. This might include news from the developers and previews of upcoming content, but also a roundup of in game events – the top ganks, the biggest battles, the shifting tides of player politics – and interviews with noteworthy players.
The other possibility is to go a bit more small scale and do a reality show following the in game lives of a selection of players. Perhaps it could follow the lead players of rival guilds as they vie against each other. Alternatively, it could take a more holistic approach, covering the lowly solo farmers as well as the mighty commanders.
EVE features more real human drama than any other MMO, and that makes it a uniquely interesting option for a transition to television.
2: The Secret World:
The Secret World is deeply beloved by its fans for its incredibly deep lore and storytelling. Even simple kill and collect missions are often accompanied by excellent voice-acting and rich stories, to say nothing of its incredibly immersive sabotage and investigation missions.
Its commitment to story makes TSW an excellent setting for a potential television series. Furthermore, the fact that the TSW draws from all aspects of history, mythology, and conspiracy theories from around the world gives it virtually infinite plot potential. There's plenty of room for a TV series to expand upon TSW's lore without the risk of it interfering with the game's plot.
While the game focuses on world-changing concerns like the Secret War and the rise of the Filth, a TV series could take a more ground level look at the Secret World, perhaps following a group of unaligned characters as they struggle to survive amid the horrors that lurk in the dark places of the world.
TSW has a tradition of blurring the lines between reality and different forms of media, often creating entire websites devoted to fictitious characters and corporations for use in the game's puzzles, so it's easy to imagine some interesting ways to engage viewers in a Secret World TV series. Perhaps viewers would have to help characters solve mysteries over summer hiatus, or they could take a page from Defiance and have characters from the show appear in game.
In the Secret World, everything is true, and when everything is true, anything is possible.
1: Star Wars: The Old Republic:
This may be a bit of a cheat, because a Star Wars: The Old Republic TV series would probably be more of a straight Star Wars show, which has been talked about for years, with occasional tie-ins to the game.
But for the sake of argument, let's imagine a series that uses SW:TOR as its main source material. Many complaints have been directed at SW:TOR's gameplay, its endgame (or lack thereof), and its infamously ruthless business model. But the one thing nobody ever criticizes is its storyline.
Bioware is renowned for its impeccable character development and intelligent plots. Bringing this high quality of writing to a TV series could only be a good thing. Add that to the mass popularity and epic action of the Star Wars universe, and it's hard to imagine such a series being anything but a smash hit.
The main challenge would lie in introducing the world of SW:TOR to the more casual Star Wars fan who hasn't played the game. Given SW:TOR's rather complex storylines covering both the Empire and the Republic, that could take some doing. A possible way around this would be to have the series be more of an adaption of the game's story than a concurrent story like Defiance.