Large media firms are starting to experiment with massively multi-player online games (MMOs) in a big way, according to a panel at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

However, brands have also been told to expect setbacks if they try to emulate the success of games such as World of Warcraft (WoW).

Electronics Arts’ Mark Jacobs was quoted by the BBC as saying:

“We are going to have so many failures it is going to be unbelievable.
There is going to be a lot of corpses, rubble all over the place.

“There is so much dumb money. Mass media is coming in and saying we want to be just like WoW.”

Experts at the show said MMOs have piqued the interest of big media firms because they have the potential to earn cash from subscriptions, advertising and through in-world economies.

Viacom has already started experimenting in the space, while Sony this week announced plans to launch a virtual world for owners of its Playstation 3.

Mark Kern, president of Red 5 Studios, also pointed to convergence between MMOs and social networking sites as a reason for growth:

“The definition of MMO will change – the line will blur. It will be really hard to tell what is and what isn’t an MMO. There will be a lot of experiments in convergence between social networking and MMOs.

“Five years from now a social networking site without a 3D universe will look like a dinosaur.”