The next big phase of growth for the MMO genre could well come from next-generation consoles, with a potential market of up to three times the size of the current estimate of 12 million core PC gamers.
That's according to the CEO of Curse, Hubert Thieblot, who told GamesIndustry.biz that he was excited by the possibilities, and that the console "spot is available right now" for the right product to capture the market's imagination.
"I'm personally really looking forward to console MMOs, because when you think about it, if 50 per cent of Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 owners are online, that means that there are nearly 35 million next-gen consoles able to run an MMO now," he said. "That's already three times bigger than the PC MMO market - the hardcore PC market.
"I'm really looking forward to seeing who is going to take the MMO market on console, because that spot is available right now."
Thieblot grew Curse from a World of Warcraft guild site into a user interface add-on hub and title-specific community base, has raised $11 million in investor funding since starting out in 2006, and the business now includes a subscription model as well as a focus on additional MMO titles and player support site types.
The PC MMO market in the West has grown massively since 2005 from a base of around 750,000 to something in the region of 12 million, mostly thanks to the success of Blizzard's World of Warcraft - but while challengers to that game have found it tough competition, Thieblot believes there's a lot more to come.
"I think the MMO industry is facing a real challenge right now," he explained. "A lot of people are playing catch-up with Blizzard and the quality of the content in World of Warcraft. I think that we're going to see some really high-quality MMOs starting in Q4, 2010 and into 2011-2012."
The full interview with Thieblot, which details how his business grew out of a passion for games, is available now.