If you squint and look at the MMO market sideways, you see where the territory lines are:
- Europe: Hardcore PvP games (Darkfall, Mortal Online), “mature” games (Age of Conan), creepily adapted Asian F2P’s (Runes of Magic), niche nerd magnets nobody else is risking (EVE Online, Anarchy Online).
- North America: Theme park games (World of Warcraft, EverQuest II), sandbox games (Fallen Earth, Ultima Online), group tactics and realm vs. realm games (Guild Wars, Warhammer Online, Dark Age of Camelot).
- Russia: Endgame naval battles in space while trying to innovate, but careful, not too much (Allods Online).
- Asia: Grindfests (Aion, Lineage II, Final Fantasy XI), F2P’s with item shop (Dragonica, Perfect World, 12Sky 2, etc.)
Yes, the genres could be split any way you like, so this list is a little arbitrary. But with MMO(RP)Gs now having roughly ten years of history in the market, I think we slowly see differences between the MMO subgenres each area likes and thus produces. There are bastard children, designed in one area and developed in another, like Runes of Magic. But all in all I think the observation works.
One oddity is that all the sci-fi games came from Europe (EVE Online, Anarchy Online) until Fallen Earth and now Star Trek Online were released. Odd. On the other hand, you could say that all the theme park games came from the US for quite some time.
I wonder if this is all just random and future diversity in the genre all over the world will remove any regional trends, or whether it continues like this.