So far E3 is a bust. New Zelda, new Call of Duty, blah blah fucking blah.
Thus, it's a new trailer for Sony Online Entertainment's upcoming DC Comics-based massively multiplayer online roleplaying game DC Universe Online that catches my eye.
And why exactly is this video the proverbial splinter in the paw of my mind? I think it's a melancholy vibe that the whole thing radiates. A melancholy vibe that may only be visible to me (and probably The Spectre — that dude sees all kinds of depressing shit).
Don't get the wrong idea here; It looks pretty and has exactly as much fan service as one could reasonably hope for in a project like this, but anyone with a passing familiarity with the "comic book universe as MMO" subgenre should be able to guess how well this project will turn out.
Not only will it fail to register as having once existed next to World of Warcraft's gargantuan fanbase, I doubt it will pull in half the subscribers seen by the original superhero MMO City of Heroes.
I hate to be the voice of unfeeling, capitalist reason, but someone has to stomp on Superman's neck (and Frank Miller is too busy being Hollywood crazy these days).
I think that's why this clip is sticking to me. I really like everything they've done here. You should too. Especially if you're a fan of DC's universe. I've spoken to members of the development team and even had a drink with comics industry legend Jim Lee where we discussed the game. I know that the people working on the game are real fans of the material and that their hearts are in the right place.
But it just won't work.
No matter how much they want it, the market pressures inherent in MMO development combined with the pressures of appeasing notoriously crotchety comic book fans — remember, this game has to compete with World of Warcraft and any similar project from Marvel Comics — is more than any game developer is capable of.
In short, this trailer is a depressing reminder that DC Universe Online is all kinds of fucked.