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Can MMO games be the future of 4x space strategy?

By on October 12th, 2009 1:06 am

Normally when we think of a typical space strategy game we imagine it to be PC turn-based single player, especially if we’re talking about 4x games. Reference examples of these games are Master of Orion, Galactic Civilizations, Alpha Centauri and the Space Empires series. In spite multiplayer features are sometimes offered, although somehow limited, there is an emblematic recent case, namely GalCiv2, where multiplayer possibility is not provided at all. I invite you to read the article Galactic Civilizations: The case for no multiplayer where one of GalCiv2 lead developers explains the reasons why they did not included multiplayer in the game.

From a single player to a massively multiplayer online experience

I’m an hardcore fan of PC strategy single player games, as I grew up with them (you can check the about page of my blog to see games I’ve been playing for 20 years now). My experience using multiplayer features in this games is very limited, and my online multiplayer experience nonexistent to a few months ago. Seeing my sister, also an old school strategy gamer herself, playing World of Warcraft (a.k.a. WoW) for about 4 years straight now (and the single only game she plays these days) made me think twice about the online massively multiplayer phenomenon and so I decided to give online games a try at my own risk. I recommend you to read the article World of Warcrack and the future of MMOGs to get the feeling of how addicting WoW is and how this is impacting the gaming society in a way that will only be fully understood in some years from now.

So some months ago a friend of mine, knowing my interest in strategy games, recommended me to try out Travian: an ancient world strategy web-based MMO game. I enjoyed playing Travian immediately. First of all it is free, very simple to play (you only need an Internet connection and a web-browser) and surprisingly enough to me the game was very addicting. I did not knew by then (and frankly I’m still figuring it out now) from where was this addicting factor coming from, since the game is pretty basic. Is it the simple gameplay experience itself? Is it the social aspect of the game? Or is it both? At my own pace I started to play Travian regularly. Naturally after having a positive experience with Travian I could not stop to ask myself if there could be also some MMO space strategy games, and possibly even 4x out there. The answer is yes and a lot of them. Many are already available, many others are in the making.

Web-based space strategy MMO Boom

So if in the recent past 4x space strategy games favored so much the single player experience (as it seems to be its main characteristic)  is it feasible to think that this genre can be successful in the MMO world? And a more important question: can the new space strategy paradigm be MMO? After making a quick search I found OGame, one of the most influential space strategy web-based MMO games out there. I played OGame for a while, and I still play occasionally. It is a satisfactory enough game. You can read my review of OGame in Ogame Review, Tips and Strategy Guide. But there are many others. And the most difficult part these days is to figure out which ones are really worth it to give it a try. You can get a comprehensive list of space MMO games at Galaxy News.

As you glimpse Galaxy News list of space MMO games you can’t help to be surprised, not to say ultimately shocked, to see how many of these games are already available, or under development. They account 145 space MMO games in their database. Some of them show great potential. I tried so far: Astro Empires (which I already made a review), Cosmic Supremacy (a very complex and promising game), Dark Orbit, Ferion and Pirate Galaxy just to name a few.

What’s your MMO experience?

I decided to write this post to share with you my experiences playing space and non-space MMO games, since the process of discovering this new type of games to the amazement of how simple but how addicting these games can be. It would be very interesting to get feedback from you guys, the space (and also the non-space) gaming community. Do you play MMO games? If so which ones do you currently play (or played), and which of these do you recommend to other gamers and why? Ultimately it would be very interesting to discuss here your opinion on if MMO games could be the new paradigm for 4x space strategy.

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  1. jack says:

    After playing ogame, sinsof and looking over others. I’d recommend cosmic supremacy as it gives the core elements. Its got 3D map, empire flexible approaches, room for expansion.

    I can’t see myself buying a game without MMO.

  2. Dark Orbit says:

    i ve never tried cosmic supremecy @ jack. is it better then dark orbit? i somehow got used to it by now and like it. the only thing that i dont like is: i have hard times telling who are friends and who are enemys when looking at the mini-map.

  3. jack says:

    @DO, grey means neutral, red is at war, green is ally…

  4. Pirate Galaxy says:

    I think yes. The last 4x game i played was sins of a solar empire.. totally doable as a browsergame if u ask me!

  5. Jay Lazalde says:

    I was searching on yahoo for online games and found your site. I’m looking for free games, I can never find enough

  6. Allen says:

    Hi just read this, trying to look for more 4X space strategy MMO games.

    Currently, I have been playing Cosmic Supremacy at

    I think they have the best 4X MMO game available.

    Full 3D graphical galaxy interface. No warps between systems/planets like most games. Here you go straight line from any system to any other one you want to go, and can change your orders mid flight to somewhere else if you’d like. Most market games don’t have that freedom.

    Don’t have to be online all the time, you can script internally for things to do stuff while you are not online as well.

    So it is my favourite, unfortunately it will be closing soon :( so better play it in the next few months before it goes bye bye.

  7. SirEmi says:

    A new game was just released in this genre, on 10 September 2012.

    It’s called Astro Galaxy,

    It’s a realistic space exploration browser based game, you start from Earth orbit and basically explore the stars. It’s got modular ship design, space stations, planetary and it’s multiplayer, pretty interesting.

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Post category: Ideas & Concepts