Where are the free superhero MMORPGs?
It’s a well-known fact that if you show a picture of a spandex clad, clean-cut man in a red cape with strangely overt underwear to every single person in the world they will know it’s Superman. Even a hermit who has lived in a hollowed out rock all his life intrinsically knows who the Man of Steel is. Superheroes have worked their way neatly into the pop culture lexicon over the years and their popularity has recently reached critical mass due to the success of the cinematic outings of Spiderman, Batman, and Iron Man along with a slew of other much loved-characters (some of those characters famously butchered by bad film-making and hammy acting. I‘m looking at you, Elektra).
There are dozens of generic fantasy MMORPGs like Last Chaos (above)
Code it and they will come
So it’s strange to look at the current MMORPG landscape and find only a scant few games in the superhero genre, namely Champions Online, City of Heroes / Villains and the upcoming and much anticipated DC Universe Online. There’s no doubt that Champions and City of Heroes are successful games with a cross-cultural reach and thriving player communities, but both require subscriptions which not every comic book-loving nerd, like myself, is prepared to splash out on. So then why are there no free-to-play superhero games to keep us more frugal gamers happy?
Think about it, how many people buy comic books? Millions. How many people go to see comic book movies? I’d wager more people than actually buy comic books. The audience is there for the taking. What’s more is that even those people who don’t frequent comic book stores every week, those who think that Jessica Alba is a member of the Fantastic Four and the Hulk’s real name is David Banner would still be interested if they knew they had nothing to lose.
Champions Online Screenshot. Looks Awesome, eh?
If I could be a superhero…
Furthermore, most people will have thought about what it would be like to be a superhero. Not everyone will have dreamt of being an elf running around the forest sticking arrows in people or a wolf-riding orc with uber-sweet plate armor, but many have daydreamed about flying through the air in tights, saving supermodels from burning buildings. Well, I never though about the tights part… very often. Supers are the myths of the modern world who people can relate to and aspire to be. With superhero MMORPGs they are free to act out these dreams whenever they log onto the computer. A free game that requires no monetary obligation and satisfies these fantasies would no doubt be a winner.
Alas, while we wait for some bright spark to make this dream a reality there is one free MMO that may scratch that itch, if only temporarily. Marvel Super Hero Squad Online is coming out soon as a free graphical browser game where you can take on the role of your favorite Marvel characters and join with others to complete missions. It may not allow you to create your own hero and explore a completely open environment but it’s a baby step towards a free-to-play superhero MMORPG. But until that day comes, I’ll be discussing All-Star Superman volume one with a stone-dwelling hermit.
By, Scott Malthouse