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A Next-Generation (next-gen) Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game is typically one that is developed to include features and gameplay that are dynamic and revolutionary. When used properly, a title referred to as a "next-gen MMO" should include elements that are a fairly radical departure from the current generation. The term is often used in marketing, however, to indicate a new game and to try to separate it from previous work by other developers. Any title that is a next-gen MMO is likely to include gameplay elements that differ from the current generation and this type of innovation can be seen as a strength or a weakness.
The term "next-gen MMO" can be difficult to fully define because it is often used in a few different contexts. When a game company refers to their product as "next-gen," it is possible that the term is simply being used synonymously with "new." In this context, it can be difficult to determine what is really meant, since the use of the term may simply be a form of marketing.
A next-gen MMO, beyond anything else, should include features and aspects of gameplay that set it apart from previous titles, which are the current generation. Simply because a game is new, does not mean it is inherently "next-gen," as it may be designed to play mostly like those MMOs in the current market. One way in which they may be seen as "next-gen" is through alterations and developments in questing. Most MMOs include quests that players can take part in to advance the game forward and develop their characters. If a new method is used for creating and distributing these quests to players, then this may be an indicator of a next-gen MMO.
The graphics used in a game can also point to the generation it is meant for. MMOs are often developed to run on a wide range of different computers, since the developers of them often want as many customers as possible. A new game with advanced graphics is likely to be intended as a next-gen MMO since it is designed for the hardware most people will have over the next few years. This can be a risky choice, however, since some of the MMO market may be left out of the initial release due to hardware limitations.
Quite a few games have been released as a next-gen MMO, only to fail upon release. Alterations in controls can be seen as a refreshing change, but many players ultimately prefer the type of character control they are already familiar with from previous titles. Innovation is complicated in the MMO market, since players often want something new that they are still able to recognize. Many developers choose to focus on a particular aspect of the gameplay, such as storytelling or combat within the game, to create new systems that set their work apart from other current-generation titles.