We love gazing into the gaming crystal ball here at VideoGamer.com. We love thinking about the future, where cars will whiz above our heads, money will be abolished and Lambeth Council will have worked out how to stop people blasting music from their mobile phones on top of the 159 bus.
Who knows what mind-bogglingly brilliant video games the R and D bods at our favourite games makers will come up with? What's happening in the secret corridors of Valve... Epic... Blizzard?
This week a Blizzard community rep confirmed that the World of Warcraft developer is working on a next-gen MMO. "... it is an unannounced next-gen MMO," said the rep. "And that doesn't mean an expansion for World of Warcraft either."
So, let the fun and games begin. What could Blizzard's new MMO be?
World of Starcraft
Let's start with the easy options - Blizzard's existing franchises. So how about World of StarCraft? This has been rumoured for years, with threads upon threads speculating about how it might work. Of course Blizzard is already working on StarCraft 2, the sequel to the hugely popular sci-fi RTS. Does Blizzard have the capacity to work on both games at the same time? We'd like to think so, given the Activision Vivendi merger. And with the sci-fi setting, perhaps it wouldn't be a direct competitor with World of Warcraft either. If it is WoS, then expect the Protoss, Terran, Zerg and who knows what else as playable races. And, I'd wager, not much of a change from the gaming mechanics we have in WoW - so similar questing, grinding, raiding and what not, just in space and on multiple planets. If it 'aint broke...
World of Diablo
World of Diablo. Now that's something to whet the appetite of any Blizzard fanboy. But we here at VideoGamer.com reckon this one is less likely - the fantasy subject matter is probably a little too close to WoW to make it a viable alternative. Why would Blizzard want to go up against itself? But that won't stop Diablo's vocal fanbase from preying to the gaming gods that this is the unannounced next-gen MMO Blizzard is working on. Nothing surprises us here however. Could WoD be Blizzard's Elder Scrolls MMO killer?
World of Warcraft 2
How about World of Warcraft 2? We know the unnanounced next-gen MMO isn't an expansion to WoW, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be a sequel. While it sounds great in principle, there's a few indications that WoW2 probably won't be the unannounced MMO. One, Blizzard has constantly denied it. Indeed, only last month Frank Pearce, executive vice-president of product development at Blizzard, told VideoGamer.com that the team has plenty of stuff they want to do with WoW before thinking about a sequel.
"We haven't even started to think about a sequel," he said. "The team still has a huge wishlist of exciting features to add on top of what's already been implemented since launch. Not to mention, we're all still playing the game pretty heavily ourselves, and there's a lot more content that we want to see as players."
And there's no indication that WoW is getting any less popular. What is it now? 9.3 million subscriptions globally and rising? Why waste time developing a sequel to a game that's still generating huge sums of cash?
But then, that doesn't stop WoW obsessives like me thinking that a sequel would probably be one of the coolest things ever to grace my PC. If Blizzard is only just beginning working on this new MMO, it will probably be at least four years before it comes out - possibly to coincide with WoW's waning popularity.
What would I like to see? Updated graphics of course, but still that unmistakable Warcraft cartoon sheen. A total reworking of the whole quest/grinding system too. And tonnes of other personal ideas on what would make WoW2 great - but I'll save them for another article.
New next-gen console MMO
A non-Blizzard-owned IP, that's not an RPG, and might be on next-gen consoles. Now that's a mouthful. But is it such a bonkers suggestion? Here's some clues. The Blizzard rep said next-gen MMO - next-gen is not a term normally associated with PC gaming, but 360 and PS3 gaming. And with the birth of Activision Blizzard, the developer has a host of game franchises it could twin with. So let's speculate. How about a Crash Bandicoot or Spyro MMO? There's no rule saying Blizzard can't make games for younger gamers is there? And what about Activision-owned brands, like Tony Hawk's, Call of Duty and James Bond? Might we see a Blizzard point their skilled mouse-clicking fingers towards a 007 MMO for 360 and PS3?
We reckon that this is the most unlikeliest outcome of all though. Blizzard CEO and president Mike Morhaime said recently that Blizzard's focus is on the PC side. And there's no suggestion that Blizzard and Activision will be working together on anything. Pie in the sky we say.
This is all speculation remember - who knows what Blizzard has up their sleeve? It could, after all, be working on a completely new, in-house generated IP that's going to make the gaming world get down on its knees and bow in appreciation. We'll all have to wait and see. Until then... all this WoW chatter makes me feel like checking the Auction House...