Neverwinter Nights MMOG descending in 2011?

Source: Hollywood trade magazine Variety.What we heard: Two weeks ago, Atari's turnaround experienced a sizable hiccup when the publisher announced an annual loss of $319 million and the departure of high-profile executive Phil Harrison. Following the earnings announcement, Atari CEO David Gardner...

Source: Hollywood trade magazine Variety.

What we heard: Two weeks ago, Atari's turnaround experienced a sizable hiccup when the publisher announced an annual loss of $319 million and the departure of high-profile executive Phil Harrison. Following the earnings announcement, Atari CEO David Gardner told GameSpot that the publisher had significantly cleaned house, canceling a number of projects and shifting the publisher's focus to taking its franchises online.

One leader in the online department is Cryptic Studios, which Atari acquired in December. With Champions Online for the PC slated for September, an Xbox 360 edition to follow later this year, and Star Trek Online due by April 2010, the City of Heroes creator may now be prepping yet one more massively multiplayer online venture.

Variety is reporting today that Atari plans to leverage its Dungeons & Dragons license with a new MMOG based on the Neverwinter Nights fantasy role-playing universe. Citing unspecified sources, the Hollywood trade reports that Atari hopes to release the online title in 2011, though no other details on the project were revealed. However, Variety did say that a Neverwinter Nights MMOG was a primary reason for Atari's acquisition of Cryptic last year.

BioWare, better known as the studio behind Mass Effect and the upcoming MMOG Star Wars: The Old Republic, crafted the well-regarded original Neverwinter Nights for PCs in 2002. Alpha Protocol studio Obsidian Entertainment developed Neverwinter Nights 2 for Atari, a game that received high marks in 2006.

If reports of a Neverwinter Nights MMOG prove accurate, it would be Atari's second attempt at bringing the Dungeons & Dragons franchise to the online gaming hemisphere. In 2006, the publisher teamed with Turbine Inc. on Dungeons & Dragons Online, a game that received decent reviews but lackluster commercial success. Just today, Turbine said it would begin offering a free-to-play, microtransaction-supported option this summer.

The official story: Atari had not responded to requests for comment as of press time.

Bogus or not bogus?: Looking dubious that if such a game exists it would be ready by 2011. Atari already has a Dungeons & Dragons-themed MMOG that didn't exactly gain a massive following. Plus, Cryptic has not one, but two MMOGs that it expects to release within the next 12 months, both of which will undoubtedly receive expansion packs, updates, and other postlaunch support. Adding a third MMOG on a tight turnaround time (for MMOG standards, anyway) to this equation seems like a recipe for disaster, and a disaster is the last thing that Atari can afford...literally.

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122 comments
hgouveia
hgouveia

Nwn mmo, well, im not sure about that, i played D&D online, and i didnt like it at all, so they have to be careful and dont destroy this master piece of franchise. I love the nwn 1 & 2, with all their expansion, is one of my favorite games , i still play nwn 1 online, i really love the online feature, i even play more online than single player, i was really dissapointed when i played Dragon Age and realized that doesnt has a Online mode, (for me DA is NWN3 xD ) I would love a nwn 3 with their old online style , 60 players, variaty of gameplay (Story, Action, Rol, ...), tons of severs with their own module, cuz nwn is the god of ROL, and on the servers you know the ppl, they dont have 11221444114 users online.. , even some severs have teams like my beloved Amphilia , that is divided on sectors, Axfel , Cleavens, Drows,, etc etc, so if you are part of the Axfel , you are going to know all the ppl on axfel, and be able to rol with then and make plans to attack cleavens, ^^ , i love that style of gamming, so yeah NWN 3! and Online bring in on!! !

Eneru112
Eneru112

oh god this is gonna fail so hard i prefer nwn3 any day over this crap

StarvingPoet
StarvingPoet

Yes, it's old news, but spend the time making a proper toolset, and there are thousands of DMs out there that could make a better PW than any studio.

superfly2000
superfly2000

The thing is, NWN is already an MMO partly. WoW does not define what an MMO is. The term is quite broad really if you think about it. No matter that most of you might scream "Not another MMO!". If they make a new kind of MMO with more intelligence weaved into it than all thoose other together I am all for it. The thing is....this is to little and to late. By the time this comes out another company will have already filled this need. Besides...all you screaming "No MMO!" have been more than catered to the last years. Bioware has been releasing another single player game after the other. That even Dragon Age (which I would call the real predecessor to NWN1) would lack multiplayer is really a shock for me. Besides...this romour is nothing else than a romour.

simply-m
simply-m

An mmo? Oh, my... That is not a good idea. People would definitely prefer a NWN 3. Maybe other games would work, but NWN as an mmo, I don't think it will be a success.

NachoriTa
NachoriTa

oh noez..not mmo..:( i loved both NwN 1 and 2 and all of their expansions and would want the next NwN not to be mmo...i actually enjoyed playin it alone.. :D

NachoriTa
NachoriTa

[This message was deleted at the request of the original poster]

htorne
htorne

What ever they do they should make it so that NWN 3 provides the same toolset and online options as NWN 1.

Cellpwn
Cellpwn

Whoo, Neverwinter Nights! Not sure if MMO is the way to go though, how about a NWN 3?

september_basic
september_basic

There is a reason why Stormreach (D&D Online) didn't gain a massive following. It does not play like Dungeons and Dragons should. In D&D characters optimally do not follow the same route time and time again. Rather, emergent adventure occurs depending on their situation and what is being done by all player characters. If a high level wizard makes a tower of sorcery to assist themselves, so should it be that a tower of sorcery appears somewhere. There should be discussion on how to simulate such a thing. Of course the designers of Stormreach did NOT spend time discussing this nor on reading D&D reference material, I dare say.

endocrine
endocrine

The other D&D MMO was awful and they want to make another one? I am not shocked that Atari is in the negative.

houtx1836
houtx1836

I like the NWN series but I feel this isn't the right fit for a MMO.

Innos007666
Innos007666

I'm not happy hearing that... we will see; people we will see and then judge.

ericcouch
ericcouch

NWN was originally an MMO. It ran on AOL from 1991-1997 and was based on the gold box game engine and was financially successful.

yb202
yb202

@Humorguy_basic I quite enjoyed The witcher so I am not trying to diss it, but you need to understand sales figures and profits are relative. For a small start up developer a hit like the witcher is a massive thing, but for a publisher the size of Atari, its a different thing entirely, to put things into perspective I googled up a couple of revenue figures (for profits and costs do your own research) and got them for 3rd quarter 2008. Vivendi (Parent company of Blizzard) made just over $1 billion in revenue. When you look at the big picture, one hit wont cut it, one succesfull mmo is another thing, which is why companies are trying so hard. By the way , would love to know where you got your figures from , couple of months ago it was still 1.2 million copies worldwide.

Wordno
Wordno

@Forhekset That's not Obsidian's fault that their games go released unfinished. The blame lies with Atari. They rushed Obsidian with both Kotor2 and NWN2 which would have been so much better if the greedy jerks at Atari let them finish their games.

forhekset
forhekset

@Wordno Yet Obsidian have some blotches on their record, as far as KOTOR2 went out unfinished and stuff like that. But they do great work if they can finish it.

forhekset
forhekset

First KOTOR goes MMO and now NWN. Boo. If the latter is true, thats two of my favorite singleplayer RPG franchises killed dead. Not that I'm not looking forward to TOR as it's looking good, but I still prefer my singleplayer epic stories and companion interactions.

Athonline
Athonline

@ Humorguy_basic Agree. As for the WoW example, I hate it when some kids, WoW players don't know the original Warcraft series or say that it was trash and thus not as popular or that's why WoW has a different gameplay. WoW lunch success was the "Warcraft" on it's title, so was Warhammer, cause of it's IP.

Athonline
Athonline

Cryptic is a good MMO developer, with brilliant ideas, good gameplay design and provide a great aftersale support with updates. However ffs, they are already polishing an mmo, developing a port for a console for it and developing a whole different in all aspects mmo. They need to focus on what they have on their tables now and give us a nice, polished lunch of Champions Online and finish Star Trek(a game I personally anticipate for), instead of developing another whole new different game.

nurse_tsunami
nurse_tsunami

I can't see them making this right now. They are going to need all hands on deck to make their other 2 MMOs successful before they start thinking about other projects. If they want to do something with their D&D license, why not make a NWN3?

Opalance
Opalance

Who would want this game enough to wait two more years for another crappy mmo?

Wordno
Wordno

This game would only work if Obsidian was involved. They made NWN2 so much better and deeper than the lame NWN. Bioware is overrated and it's fans are blind zealots. Everything after BG2 was so lame. Bioware fell from grace when Black Isle disbanded. Now that Black Isle is Obsidian you can truly see who was the power when it came to the storyline of Bioware's past games because NWN2 and it's expansions are much deeper than any of that crap that Bioware has put out lately.

Humorguy_basic
Humorguy_basic

@ yb202, if only people did a little research..... The Witcher has sold over FOUR MILLION units! It has sold more than PC versions of Crysis, Far Cry 2, Mirror's Edge, Left 4 Dead and (although still selling) Empire Total War and Fallout 3!!!! It was a massive massive hit! Sometime you have to be aware there is a WORLD market, not just your UK or US market,where most of us posters come from! The thing about MMO's is by their very nature, they need to be generic and and real time - gamers are showing more and more that they are fed up with generic gaming! They are also fed up with repetitive gaming, and all MMO's are repetitive by their very nature! Without a strong PC SP gaming base, MMO's will fail. Let's not forget the interest in Worlds of Warcraft, initially, was the huge fan base for the SINGLE PLAYER Warcraft 1,2 and 3 realtime strategy games (14 million sales between them!), and by extension the Blizzard fan base based around SP PC Starcraft,etc. WoW has become what it is because when it started there was a much stronger PC SP gaming base. This market has changed, and I think MMO's released recently have shown that SP player base is just not there in the same numbers. WoW will always be successful, because it has gone beyond being a regular MMO. Just like the Sims is not you regular PC game any more. They have both become one-off's, and it's is doubtful that any game or MMO in the future will ever emulate their sales.

Rascaseal
Rascaseal

I believe this would be a spectacularly bad idea for Atari to pursue. Partially because of the reasons listed in this article but also for the following additional points: 1. NWN & NWN2 were already MMORPGs in their own way. The toolset allowed dedicated player communities to create persistent worlds that were free to play. Both games still enjoy a very active player base because of this. 2. There are enough fantasy-themed MMOs out there. Launching another one into a saturated marked will not give good returns no matter how decent the game itself turns out to be. 3. In the 4th Edition Forgotten Realms campaign setting (the most recent version released by Wizards of the Coast and, therefore, the rule set most likely to be used for any future games); the city of Neverwinter has been wiped off the map. Having a game focused there would make no sense.

saraphin
saraphin

Great comments. I just want to say, again, that NWN has had the best user/player made content of any game I have ever seen. I am privileged to have been a (non-contributing) part of that community for years. To mock-up an MMRPG, given the PW's that have been run, well, I can understand Atari's position: a great toolset, built in fanbase, most of the work, mechanics-wise, is already done. And lets not forget, Fogotten Relms is a massive franchise. But I preach to the choir. I would LOVE an MMORPG based on Planescape. Can you imagine?

GrimGravy
GrimGravy

are u kidding me forgotten realms is a very popular setting

dbpvivi
dbpvivi

D&D is popular with the older gamers. Subscriptions and Micro-Transactions are more popular with the young. Doesn't take a genius to work out where this is going. D&D is one thing, but Bioware where the ones that made it happen for games. I couldn't beat the 20 hour mark on NWN2. I managed to clock over 200+ hours in BG2. 100+ hours in NWN and KOTOR Personally i can't see D&D working in real time. I struggled online with NWN. I'm one of these gamers that likes to pause and take my time. With games like the Witcher Enhanced pushing the NWN2 engine 2tm it will be interesting to see what they do with it though.

yb202
yb202

Personally I think all these publishers trying to cash in on mmos is a good thing. Its evolution, the weak and stupid (publishers) get weeded out forcing game developers to seek new revenue streams and focus on their customer's needs rather than unrealistic fantasies of making the next Wow or the "game" with such widespread appeal that everyone will just have to buy it (yawn). Take Projekt RED STUDIO, they made the witcher, which is a pretty niche game these days as rpgs just aren't that hot anymore. Atari published it, and I bet they are thanking their lucky stars they did, it didnt make them a Wow scale fortune but it made a profit and it was clearly a product put together with hard work and skill as opposed to greed and stupidity. Its not a crime to cater to your customers!!!! just my two cents.

N0tYrBeezin
N0tYrBeezin

There is no way this can be true. I don't think NWN is that popular and definitely not enough to power an MMORPG version of it. I know NWN isn't a bad game but there is no way it could have enough subscribers to sustain it. Even title as popular as Warhammer Online is only doing ok. NWN? Yeah right!

Keasar
Keasar

Atari(Infograms)=Fail This looks like a cheap marketing ploy to cash in on NWN name done by much better companies then Atari could ever be.

krelmmaster
krelmmaster

D+D Ruleset + MMO = Fail. Besides, just like the last paragraph of this article, can Atari really afford to have 3 mmo's under their belt? Do they actually think Champions Online is going to be majorly succesful because i have no doubt in my mind it will follow the same route as CoH and that is a dying gamefor a long time now. Star Trek will be hit or miss, it'll either be extremely succesful or a mega failure and as much as i'd love for it to be a success i just don't see it happening, Star Trek games are cursed. For the love of god just focus on *real* games we do not need another MMO, not at all.

Shaolinstylez
Shaolinstylez

What's with these rumor control articles that don't offer any definitive answers?

TheSergeant
TheSergeant

I believe this would be a spectacularly bad idea for Atari to pursue. Partially because of the reasons listed in this article but also for the following additional points: 1. NWN & NWN2 were already MMORPGs in their own way. The toolset allowed dedicated player communities to create persistent worlds that were free to play. Both games still enjoy a very active player base because of this. 2. There are enough fantasy-themed MMOs out there. Launching another one into a saturated marked will not give good returns no matter how decent the game itself turns out to be. 3. In the 4th Edition Forgotten Realms campaign setting (the most recent version released by Wizards of the Coast and, therefore, the rule set most likely to be used for any future games); the city of Neverwinter has been wiped off the map. Having a game focused there would make no sense.

ThatBlack1
ThatBlack1

People already play Free MMOs using both NWN1 and NWN2. People have taken the time to actually create full worlds that are only available online anyway and they are fun and interesting as well.

blackace
blackace

I don't know if a MMORPG will be right for Neverwinter Nights.Definitely not come from Atari. It would have to be spectacular. It would take a lot of work to get it done by 2011. Early 2012 is more likely. Atari is probably doing this because they know MMORPG's can make a serious mint if they can get 500K - 1 Million subscribers to play the game consistently for a couple of years. Unfortunately, most of these new games end up sucking (cough.. Matrix Online.. cough.. Star Wars Galaxies... cough Planetside) badly and then being terminated. If they are going to do this, they need to get the best developers and the only 2 who could do this game right is Blizzard and Bioware. If neither of these developers are working on it, I don't think it'll succeed.

saraphin
saraphin

BTW, get NWN now. Platinum is like 20 bucks, and the modding community is amazing. NWN vault and that. It is the one and only game that keeps on giving.

saraphin
saraphin

My 2 cents. Well, as a long time player of NWN mods, and an infrequent player of its PW, I don't know that this is the answer for the franchise. For the years of its conception, NWN was a vast and diverse playground - great writers were making great games aka stories using the toolkit. Gaming has hit another level now. And there is only so much eye candy without content that we will take. In my experience, the PW in NWN suffered from what all MMORPGS suffer from - the grind. I remember back in the day, asking a designer if it was possible to have a game experience where you wouldn't be punished all the time but actually shape the world by your choices. One NWN mod was recommended to me. Tales of Celts. I appreciate how damn hard it is to please everyone. And NWN has given me so much, in terms of a ruleset that so many damn people cared about to give me weeks/years of great gameplay for nothing.

Samox
Samox

Please, no more mmorpgs... TOR and WoW are enough for awhile.

TrentOster
TrentOster

I think there is some potential in the NWN concept a an MMO. If one were to take a new direction in the space, I think you could do something amazing. The tight timeline doesn't suggest that though. -Trent

sammoth
sammoth

I thought NWN was about the creativity of the fanbase. That is what makes NWW the game it is today. I don't know why Atari would even think of going this route with the NWN series. No more DM Ran games, Custom Mods, User created content. Even there own small MMO like Fan made worlds. Terrible news for all NWN fans.

thief_ac
thief_ac

And i dont know from where got the ideea that atari are incompetents... Did you even play a single game from them???

thief_ac
thief_ac

Hmmmm.... NWN always was like the baldur's gate series(who is the best RPG ever made) with the pause option for better strategies, so the mmorpg verion is kind of strange. Will see what's going to be and then make the decision if play it or not.

DangerousWhelp
DangerousWhelp

I hope this stunt will break Atari's neck for good. Those incompetent fools have been around for far too long.

nocoolnamejim
nocoolnamejim moderator

Alternatively...we could see a Neverwinter Nights 3 game that is NOT an MMO. Sheesh I'm sick of this string of great RPG franchises going MMO.

Khasym
Khasym

Punkpunker, the problem with SP RPG's is that if the game flops(and so far, games that just break even, are about a 40% success rate.) no one will buy the expansion packs that might improve it. Even though SP games do cost less, the techinical assets that belong to one MMO, can be rolled into another or sold. It's harder to redistribute the components of a failed single player game. That's why Cryptic could indeed try and run out three MMO's at once. They're playing the spread. They don't expect all three games to be successful, but even one game that's a success gives them to ability to focus in on that one game, kill the other two, and use those dead assets to pump up the success. It sucks for the people who'd buy the other two games, but financially, it's not a dumb move for the company.

2bitSmOkEy
2bitSmOkEy

rofl 3 mmos in development at once. Taking into consideration that mmos are far and away the hardest type of game to code, and also the fact that they are dumbing these games down to fit them onto the console, I think these will all be flops. You can't simultaneously develop 3 insanely complex type of games, let alone put them onto a platform that simply isn't made for that type of game, and expect any of them to be any good. I know people will be upset that I'm ripping on the consoles but I'm almost 100% sure these will all be mediocre games, which in the mmo world means an absolute failure. Its a shame too because I have fond memories of Neverwinter Nights lans back in the day.

punkpunker
punkpunker

too many MMOs i'm sick of it. ever month you pay at a fixed amount of cash and wait a minute.. aint you suppose own the game and not to pay it anymore? mmo is just bad for RPG genre. can't you make another SP game that cost less to produce?

fazedjb
fazedjb

i don't mind a good mmo- as long as its not a total rip-off. its all down to gameplay.