AFK Is Coming: Making Game of Thrones an MMORPG

JoeLW

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In the world of fantasy fiction, no other property is as popular as George R.R. Martin's epic series A Song of Ice and Fire. Known to wider audiences as Game of Thrones, the book franchise has not only spawned one of the most commercially and critically successful TV shows of all time, which has just earned 38 Emmy awards across all six seasons, but has also begotten multiple comics, collectibles, toys, and more recently, video games. While the latter category has seen the likes of Telltale Games, as well as other diverse developers, take a crack at the Game of Thrones formula, so far, there have been no attempts to integrate the series into the MMORPG genre; a potential title that could learn a great deal from current GoT products. This current lack of a dedicated online fantasy title is no doubt perplexing to the genre's many fans, as their sword-and-shield combat, rich and winding quest lines, and strategic faction-building go hand in hand with the bloody, human tale that is Game of Thrones.

The eponymous Telltale series, that was released episodically between winter 2014 and summer 2015, told the story of the Forrester family, an offshoot Northern House that had become caught up in the War of the Five Kings. You played as multiple characters, separated both geographically and ideologically, and made decisions through the presentation of dialogue choices; some of which were decidedly difficult, as the series' signature "shades of grey" mentality shone through with each and every button prompt. While Telltale focused on story and character development in favor of exploration and refined combat, the episodic collection was in no way unsuccessful, as a sequel to the game is currently in development.

Source: Flores via Twitter

Telltale's Game of Thrones may cater for those with more hardcore gaming interests, but it is the genre of slot-based casual games that have also seen success with the ever-increasing popularity of the show. Players can take part in online slots from 32Red UK, all while immersing themselves within the world and wars of Westeros through Game of Thrones: 243 Ways. Playing as your house of choice is the primary draw here, as each retains a signature trait from the series: for example, choosing the Lannisters rewards you for loyalty, while the Targaryens have the highest number of Free Spins due to their dragon-soaring heritage. At 32Red players can earn £32 free for every £10 deposited. You can also play this game alongside 300 other titles at Slingo, or get 50 free spins at Lucky 247.  This means that the spirit of the TV show's cat-and-mouse nature gets more enticing, and provides a jumping-off point for those who wouldn't usually partake in online gaming experiences.

These features from titles utilizing the Game of Thrones license could then be used to help others in crafting a premier MMORPG, by presenting both a deep and relatable story, while also allowing players to dominate, and to reach the Iron Throne in satisfying, yet potentially cutthroat, style. One of most recent successful fantasy MMORPGs, The Elder Scrolls Online, has been able to retain both of these traits through its abundance of quests and playable factions; something that Game of Thrones would have no shortage of, considering its plethora of Houses great and small, and the thick, detailed minutia of Martin's prose.


Not only is it worth looking at the success of The Elder Scrolls Online, which amassed a following of 235,000 players during its first week on consoles, but also the prevalence of The Witcher series as a heavy hitter when it comes to open-world fantasy games. The latest entry is sitting at a 92 on Metacritc, while the entire franchise has sold over 25 million copies. Both Game of Thrones and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, especially, share many similarities, including their gigantic, immersive settings, intensely human stories, and a penchant for adult themes and violence. Couple this with an online setting, where players may duke it out in calculated battles, or share touching moments through either poignant death or thrilling victory, and you have a winning combination; a balance of skill and emotion that only Game of Thrones could provide.

A Song of Ice and Fire is a supremely valuable property in and of itself, but through the careful incorporation of elements from various other titles, including GoT: 234 Ways, Telltale's adventure game, or The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Game of Thrones could see a new lease of life as a successful MMORPG.
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