After reading this article
I started to think about whether a console MMO would even be possible... there are numerous challenges, both in hardware and in interface. How are you supposed to get the rich interactive social experiences from an MMO with a controller that doesn't double as a typing device? How do you cram all the interface into just (citing the 360 and counting the d-pad and the clickable thumbsticks) 15 buttons? The PC is a much more flexible and extend-able platform when it comes to things like frequent patches and updates, but we've seen with the current generation of consoles that DLC is here to stay, and the next generation will certainly have the storage space to deal with it.
Then there's the question of communication. The most important thing in an MMO is the feel of a community in the sustained world. There is, above and beyond any other genre of game, a HUGE need for communication. While some of that can be automated (mailboxes, auction houses, etc) I'm not sure there are servers out there that can handle both thousands of players AND their voice chat. So, it's almost a requirement that the game comes with a keyboard, which almost requires that it comes with a mouse. Surely a turn-off for many gamers. We've seen these interface issues with RTS games on consoles time and time again. While Microsoft does have a small keyboard attachment
for their 360 controller, but that keyboard is like $30... so bundling with the game would be $80-90, plus $15-20 a month to subscribe? Sounds prohibitively expensive... better give players 3 months of free play to get em addicted before you start making them pay, or you'll have revolt on your hands.
Secondly, the even more perilous issues of interface. At high levels each player has what, 50-60 abilities, not counting slash commands like emotes, sitting to rest, what have you... How do you map that all to the limited buttons on a console controller? Obviously there are some things that could be considered redundancies: a reactionary ability (an attack usable only after your character evaded, for example) doesn't necessarily need to be on-screen at all times. Follow-up abilities could simply fade in over the original icon. The triggers could act as modifiers to bring up pages of different abilities, so instead of just having "A", you have "LT + A" and "RT + A", a la Dragon Age. So with those as modifiers you'd have 3 pages of 8 (ABXY and d-pad) icons, each of which could have multiple functionalities.
Many interface functions are not "combat-necessary" and therefore could be buried in a pause menu of sorts, but targeting is not one of those functions. Using the bumper buttons could be a good solution... one to target enemies, one would target friendlies, based on where your camera is pointing. I'd say this has just as much functionality as a mouse, and I remember spending many times in DAOC or WAR PVP clicking frantically to get to the right target. Having both a friendly and enemy target would help with multi-tasking like single-target healing while trying to crowd control, or something. Again, having to have each button multi-task a bit, simply clicking the button could target, while holding it could auto-stick the target, or in the case of friendlies, bring up a "wheel" with your group members, so you could target one of them quickly.
I dunno, could this work?