Richard Garriott gave the keynote speech at the LOGIN 2011 Conference that’s being held this week.
He discussed what he perceives as three eras of gaming, with the third era currently happening, while the second era was kicked off by MMORPGs such as Ultima Online:
Later, online games started to take the market. Massively Multiplayer games are gaming’s second era. Ultima Online–originally called Multima– paved the way for these games, but Garriott notes that it was a project no one initially believed it. “This is the hardest game I’ve ever had tried to get going,” he noted as he described the trouble. He later had to go over-budget on Ultima IX, and used that extra money to start creating the game. This gamble eventually paid off because Ultima Online sold more copies than Ultima 1-9 combined, according to him.
Garriott notes that his is an era because it was pioneered by multiplayer games. In the keynote, he shows examples of how Ultima Online (made in 1999) looked most like Ultima 6 (from 1990). However, press allegedly still praised about the game because of the online component. In the next decade, online games and virtual worlds would become a major force in the industry.