Normally, the philosophy that many developers take when building a massively multiplayer online game is to build it first and then hope that gamers will come. It's the second part where many MMOs get into trouble, as they simply can't draw enough users to be viable. But what if you're a social site that already has millions of gamers?
That's the situation that Gaia Online is in. Gaia is a social portal that is aimed at the 13 to 24 age demographic and has more than 2.5 million unique visitors per month and twice as many registered users, with most of those from North America. While Gaia in many ways is already a virtual community, the company is preparing to launch an MMO that's unconventional in many ways. For instance, the MMO will be free-to-play and entirely Flash-based, which means that all you need is a Web browser to play it. It's also an intriguing venture, because by making a game that's free and directed toward more casual gamers, Gaia might be pointing toward the future of MMOs.