Welcome to another edition of the Game Ranter Banter. Five writers take a few minutes out of their busy schedules to give their opinions on some of the most compelling and controversial recent news stories of the game industry. This week, we discuss the future of MMO gaming, the mystery behind the PS3’s successor, Sony’s offline PlayStation Store, the rumored Super Smash Bros. sequel, and Activision’s interesting situation.

Our readers are as knowledgeable and opinionated as our own writers, so here is the place for all of you to discuss these stories as well as any others that may have piqued your interest throughout the week.

Robert Keyes

Most Advanced Expectations

Activision is in an interesting situation this year. Having bailed on Bizarre Creations, then putting a (temporary) end to the DJ Hero and Guitar Hero franchises. They have less triple-A releases to showcase at E3 next week and unlike last year, they aren’t throwing a major event. They have Beenox working on Spider-Man: Edge of Time which looks awfully similar to Shattered Dimensions, and Silicon Knights is developing X-Men: Destiny which doesn’t look too stellar from its screenshots so far.

The one go-to cash cow is of course their annual Call of Duty franchise with Modern Warfare 3 debuting this fall. Somehow though, Activision has managed to turn a vocal minority of online gamers against them and that may be due in large part to successful marketing by Electronic Arts in promoting Battlefield 3. From a visual perspective, this makes total sense as MW3 looks years behind in the graphics department compared to BF3 but Activision execs claim that Modern Warfare 3 will boast “innovative gameplay” and “the most advanced multiplayer yet.” What that means remains to be seen but it’s something they certainly need because BF3 looks to be cleaning up in the gameplay trailers thus far and the last 3 CoDs have all been mostly the same from a multiplayer perspective.

William Case

MMOs for ALL

Okay, it’s no secret that with the winding down of World of Warcraft, it means that some of the newer and younger games can sneak in and try to steal away some of the sparkle. DC Universe Online gave it a valiant attempt early, but with World of Warcraft: Cataclysm releasing roughly around the same time (and their own few faults) it just wasn’t enough.

Though now a year later, and the floodgates have opened. The long-awaited project from BioWareStar Wars: The Old Republic is set to hopefully make its grand entrance this year, along with the newly-announced Disney Universe, 2K Games’ Future MMO and a slew of others. It’s a question whether gamers really need all of these varieties of upcoming MMO’s or if it’s developers trying to cash in on a dynasty’s final days. Sure, there are some companies like Funcom who are making combinations of free-to-play hybrids, but too much of a good thing is still too much.

Sebastian Gaweda

How Late is Too Late?

There’s been a lot of speculation lately surrounding Sony’s next platform. Even though the existence of the future console was quickly denied, there’s no question Sony has at the very least begun the prep work for the PS4. In the past, Sony President Kaz Hirai said that the PlayStation 3 was in it for the long haul and was expected to have a 10-year console cycle.

Even if Sony only waits till 2014, will it already be too late to be coming out with another console? By then the Wii 2 will have been out for over 2 years and likely stolen its chunk of the market, and Microsoft will be getting another head start in its race against Sony.

With Sony looking to launch as late as possible, could they be shooting themselves in the foot if they don’t get their next console out sooner rather later? It may be too early to tell, but its something for Sony to consider when Nintendo reveals their next beast at E3 this year.

Anthony Taormina

You Have Three More Days

While the PlayStation Network has been up and running for the past two weeks or so, gamers are still without the use of the PlayStation store. Thought to be up and running within a week or so of the PSN being brought back online, the store is the new victim in Sony’s long running battle with their April hack.

Although we don’t know if the recent set of Sony-focused attacks has anything to do with the PlayStation Store’s no-show, having no access to downloadable content is beginning to wear on gamers’ nerves much like the outage did. Sure, some companies have compensated their users by waiving the use of an online pass, but several important titles, namely L.A. Noire, require the store in order to redeem additional pre-order content.

Sony did make the claim that the 31st of this month would see all services brought back online, but you have to wonder if they are once again keeping gamers out of loop.

Riley Little

A Smashing Idea

Only a few more weeks and we’ll know all about the Wii 2, but better yet we’ll have a good idea of what the software lineup will consist of. We currently don’t have any idea what will be debuting alongside the console at launch or what games will be coming shortly after, but there is one game that comes to the forefront of my mind every time Nintendo is debuting a new console — Super Smash Bros.

The Smash Bros. series is a massive one for Nintendo and there’s no way they’ll let the party-brawling legend die with Brawl. The games traditionally debut once every console generation and it’s unlikely that the series is going to miss out on appearing in HD on Project Cafe. All of this Smash Bros. talk spawned from a recent rumor that appeared a few days ago, stating that Nintendo plans on revealing Super Smash Bros. 4 this year’s E3. This franchise is undoubtedly a system seller, and there are quite a few people who would be willing to go out and pick up a new console if it meant they could purchase Smash 4 as a launch title.

There is also talk that the game could make a portable appearance on the Nintendo 3DS, which would be equally as awesome, but why not just launch the game on both systems. We don’t mind waiting a little while for a console version of Smash Bros. if we have a portable one to keep us entertained in the meantime. The bottom line is that we here at Game Rant are optimistic towards the chances of seeing a new Smash Bros. revealed at this year’s E3, and we know that if it isn’t revealed this year it’ll be revealed eventually.

What are your thoughts on the news this week? Share with us in the comments, on Twitter @GameRant and Facebook.com/GameRant.