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Monthly Archive for January, 2009

Cost Reduction at Blizzard?

News Original From: Tobold’s MMORPG Blog

Cost Reduction at Blizzard?

With World of Warcraft having more subscribers now than half a year ago, plus Blizzard making wagonloads of money from selling millions of copies of Wrath of the Lich King, one would assume Blizzard to be in great financial health. Unfortunately Blizzard is not a stand-alone company, but part of Activision Blizzard, whose share price dropped by half in that timeframe, from 18.80 to 9.40 USD. That could very well have to do far more with the general financial crisis than with the company itself, but companies don’t tend to take such drops lightly. While we heard from Mythic and other game companies reducing staff, there have been no news of people fired at Blizzard. Nevertheless we have to ask ourselves whether Blizzard isn’t in the process of reducing cost.

The most visible indication for cost reduction is that obviously World of Warcraft doesn’t have enough server capacity right now. People can’t enter instances because there are no instance servers available, and many raids suffer from lag. Yesterday our raid group had to give up on Heigan, because we had about 3 seconds lag, and it was just impossible to avoid the flames, as where you thought you were and where the server thought you were turned out to be rather different places. Other players report problems with being frequently disconnected when in instances.

And as strange as it sounds to have “Blizzard” and “rushed” in the same sentence, Wrath of the Lich King is still obviously missing some development time. If you look at the expansion critically, you’ll find that Blizzard shipped it without any major new raid dungeon. There are a few one-boss dungeons, and one raid dungeon recycled from 2 years ago, and that is it. How hard raid content is doesn’t matter as much as how much there is of it. The current version of World of Warcraft also has obvious big problems with class balance. And I’m not talking about subjective feelings of underpowered classes, but of facts of classes being boosted in one patch, just to be “nerfed to the ground” in the next. Several classes have seen their power level yoyo all over the place.

If we look closer, the year 2009 doesn’t look all that good for Blizzard financially. There will be less subscribers at the end of this year than there are now. That isn’t a prediction of doom, but just the natural cycle of subscriber numbers, that peaks shortly after a new expansion, and then slowly falls off. And unlike 2008, there will be no new expansion to sell at the end of 2009.

So, is Blizzard foreseeing all this and already started to reduce costs? If they count on there being less players soon, they could well decide to not add all the hardware needed to make World of Warcraft run perfectly smooth during peak times now. They might not have fired people, but how many did they move to other projects, like Diablo III or their next MMO? So, is Blizzard treating WoW as a cash cow to finance other projects, while investing only the strict minimum into it?

Read More Articles: www.Tobold.com


DC Universe Online vs Champions Online

News Original From

DC Universe Online vs Champions Online
January 27th, 2009 by Mike

Back in early 2004 the first superhero MMO, City of Heros created by Cryptic Studios, was released and from what I can remember with decent reviews.  The game has done pretty well peaking around 200,000 users at its height and as of Sept 2008 had around 125,000 subscribers.  Not a huge success by any means but enough for other developers to throw their hat into the superhero MMO rink.

Marvel at one point had a deal with Cryptic Studios to create Marvel Online, but has since been canceled.  Instead Cyptic is now working on Champions Online, the unofficial sequel to City of Heros/Villains.  Then we have Sony (SOE) working on DC Universe Online.  Considering the age of CoH it’s about time we had a new superhero MMO on the market.

DC Universe Online

From what I’ve read and heard about this MMO it’s sounding pretty good, but there’s still not enough information out there for me to get really excited.  Here’s a quick list of some of the key features.

  • Highly customizable characters.  You can even base them off of DC characters with 1 click of a button, then modify them if you want.
  • PvP Combat in a Open World.
  • Quests are called Cases and Capers depending if your a Hero or Villain.
  • Fighting along side or against some famous DC characters.  Superman, Batman, Joker, etc.
  • Environment Manipulation, stuff like throwing cars
  • Fast Movement/Traveling, depending on your powers

From those features nothing really jumps out at me as ground breaking.  I think the most interesting is how the Cases and Capers are going to work.  Basically if you’re a hero you might get a case where you have to protect someone, but a villain might get a caper where they have to kill that same person.  So now you have a quest that turns into a PvP fight, which sounds pretty cool to me although I’m not exactly sure if that’s how these quest will work.  I do know that I’d much rather be fighting a real person then NPCs all day.  For a peek at the actual gameplay, checkout this video out at Allakhazam.com.

Champions Online
  • Cross-Platform gaming between X-box360 and PC
  • Highly customizable characters
  • Your own Nemesis! A villain the becomes part of your storyline

After watching the gameplay and interview with Design Director Bill Roper on G4, I was not very impressed by the game.  (Videos: Part 1, Part 2) In fact it game looked pretty boring. Being a big fan of PvP I wasn’t able to find much about how Champions will handle PvP, but from my search I get a sense that this game will concentrate more of PvE sorta like LoTRO.   Another thing that struck me as I watched some of the footage is that it doesn’t really feel like a Superhero game.  I mean “Monster Island”, sorry but is this Godzilla?  I don’t want to fight random monsters on some random island, I want to be in a big sprawling city where most comics take place.   Looking through the sceenshots at Champions-online.com I don’t see one city pic, only forests, mountains and indoor locations.  To be honest, nothing at all about this game made me interested in it.

Even thought both games are pretty far from release, I’m definetly in DC Universe’s corner right now.

Read More Articles: MMOCrunch

Health Potion for the Epic Gamer

Health Potion for the Epic Gamer
January 27th, 2009 by Theo, MMOsite Columnist 

Ever needed to revitalize during a long gaming session? Wished there was a way you could replenish your energy as easily as your in-game character does, with a swig of a Health Potion?

Well now you can!

Harcos, creators of the Mana Energy Potion have released a new Potion that is guaranteed to bring you back to 100% from any loss of Health!  Well, perhaps not, but they are brewed specifically for gamers who not only need to refresh their vitality, but who also enjoy a sarcastic reminder that they are indeed MMORPG nerds.

The Health Energy Potion, “With a mellow apple-cinnamon flavor and helpful herbs and vitamins like elderberry, ginseng, biotin, and folate, …is sure to restore you after a battle or before another day of the cubicle grind. It offers a very similar energy effect to it’s blue kin, but with a more restorative curve.”

So what’s the difference between the two potions? “Health Energy Potion has powerful energy similar to Mana Energy Potion, except that instead of getting you charged up to do battle, it recharges you after the fight. With a slightly different energy profile, it will pick you up for work in the morning or get you ready for a new night of gaming.”

The drink alone not satirical enough for you, well you are in luck; there is a comedic review of the product at IGN by Scott Lowe and Mark Bozon.  Here is an excerpt;

“Being the soft, doughy embodiment of the ‘token hardcore gamer’ that I am - huge gamer score, pockets filled with various handheld systems, and smelly crevices - I tend to down my fair share of energy drinks. There’s something about going a week with only four or five hours of sleep, and then rounding it off during the weekend with a few all-nighters and the occasional catnap that makes me want to high five a mirror ¨C ‘Who rules? You do!’ - but the degree in funology and minor in awesomeism doesn’t come cheap. We’re talking dozens, if not a few more than dozen energy drinks every once in a while, and that means a lot of experimentation with various tonics. I can’t tell you how many bottles I’ve downed that have lightning bolts on them, are shaped like explosives or large flexing men, or have the words “awesome”, or ‘extreme’, or ‘platapus’ on them. It’s like every single one.

…Then came the health potion.

It’s pretty dang good, might I say, and it certainly gives off some pretty cool vibes in a matter of minutes. I drank one on an empty stomach, really just testing the taste against the Mana Potion, and forgot all about drinking it and went back to work. Within 10 minutes though - I kid you not - I could feel it, and got a pretty quick ‘up’ from the drink. No crash later in the day either, no trips to the bathroom to spew out liquid hatred like with many of my previous energy drink binges (that part doesn’t really happen). Just quick energy, and a taste I’m fine with. Apparently each of them are equal to two cans of Red Bull or so, and given the nasty taste of that stuff, I’d gladly down one of these before a late night (or early morning; amirite guys?) of gaming. Seriously, they taste good, and give you energy. What else do you want?”

Remember, all fun and games aside, this is a real energy drink that can carry real side effects, so if you decide to use it, do your research and read the Mana Energy Potion FAQ.

 

    

Mana Energy Potion Facts

    

 

Health Energy Potion Facts

 

 

Halcyon Hints at A Terminator MMO

Halcyon Games, the gaming arm of the Halcyon Company, has hinted that we may yet see a massively multiplayer game set in the Terminator universe.

The Halcyon Company, a privately-financed media development company, recently bought the rights to the Terminator franchise and is producing a game (with Swedish developer GRIN) to coincide with the release of Terminator Salvation.

However, when IncGamers caught up with Halcyon Games production exec. Mic Rogers, we asked him whether there were plans to make a Terminator MMO. 

“You know what, it’s something we’ve looked at,” said Rogers “and it’s an interesting space for sure.”

He went onto say that as yet there are no concrete plans for such a title but confirmed it had definitely been considered.

Resource: Halcyon Hints at Terminator MMO

Hellgate: London Lives Again As Free-to-Play

According to the comments from Korean publisher and developer HanbitSoft, multiplayer online title Hellgate: London will continue in unspecified territories as a free-to-play game, despite it has been announced to stop operating in the West at the end of the month.

As we know, Hellgate: London got a body blow on its sales in the last year,and forced the closing of developer Flagship Studios. Namco-Bandai, which co-published the game through an agreement with Electronic Arts’ EA Partners had to make the decision to terminate the game’s western servers and support.

The re-born Hellgate: London will be clearly aimed at the English-speaking market according to HanbitSoft’s official weblog statement. However, it is unclear whether the company is formally allowed to operate the game in the U.S. or Europe.

Good for HabinSoft! Good luck to Hellgate: London!

Source: Gamasutra

AIKA Online – Raising Little Women

AIKA Online – Raising Little Women
January 23th, 2009 by Theo, MMOsite Columnist 

AIKA Online which recently entered open beta in Korea, has released six short trailers which showcase their Pran characters.  The six Pran characters which haven’t been fully explained as of yet show various stances, appearances and animations.  It has been said that the elf / fairy type creature will grow from a fairy, to a baby, to a girl and finally to a grown up woman, although this isn’t specifically shown in any of the videos.  The Prans are supposed to change their way of talking and enable different active and passive skills dependant on the dialogue exchanged with the user and in reaction to the relationship with the user.  They are in some way nurtured by their owners, similar to a pet system in many other games and will help it seems, by buffing the player.

The Prans in alphabetical order are:

Trailer #1 – Actively Pran

Click here to download HD version.

 

Trailer #2 – Attractive Pran

Click here to download HD version.

Trailer #3 – Toughly Pran

Click here to download HD version.

 

 Trailer #4 – Intellectual Pran

Click here to download HD version.

More details on next page.

Trailer #5 – Lovely Pran

Click here to download HD version.

 

Trailer #6 – Depraved Pran

Click here to download HD version.

Hangame Invitational 2009 Comprehensive Report

 

On January 22nd, South Korea Publisher Hangame demonstrated four titles of new 3D MMORPGs at their announcement event ‘Hangame Invitational 2009′. These four epic MMORPGs must sweep across South Korean and Asia online games industry, even the global MMOG market in 2009. Now please follow us and MMOsite will provide you a comprehensive report.

>> Continent of the Ninth (C9)

>> TERA: The Exiled Realm of Arborea (Project S1) 

>> Kingdom Under Fire II

>> WARHAMMER ONLIEN (KOREA)

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

HANGAME Invitational 2009 – Main Full Movie

Click here to download HD version.

More details are on next page.

Continent of the Ninth (C9)

Genre: Fantasy Developer: NHN GAMES
Publisher: Hangame
Status: Development
Official Site: http://c9.hangame.com/

  

Click here to download HD version.

As an awesome game on a par with the great Blade and Soul, Action MMORPG C9 which was developed under original engine has been anticipated by many fans for 3 years. Now Hangame has released an excellent promo video so that you can have a quick look to this game.

In this video you can see many new contents were added into the latest version of C9. Currently the development progress has hit the 85% of the first CBT goal which is expected to start in the first quarter of 2009.

More Feature, Photo, Video about Continent of the Ninth

 

>> TERA: The Exiled Realm of Arborea (Project S1) 

>> Kingdom Under Fire II

>> WARHAMMER ONLIEN (KOREA)

 

TERA: The Exiled Realm of Arborea (Project S1) 

Genre: Fantasy  
Developer: Bluehole Studio  
Publisher: NHN  
Status: Development
Official Site:  http://tera.hangame.com/

 

Click here to download HD version.

After 3 years development this awesome title Project S1 was officially renamed to ‘Tera: The Exiled Realm of Arborea’ at ‘Hangame Invitational 2009′. A gameplay video was unveiled as well, which showed to the audience breathtaking battle scenes, gorgeous metropolis and excellent monsters killing.

According to Hangame, Tera will enter Korea CBT in the summer of 2009 and the global expend is also under considered.

More Feature, Photo, Video about TERA: The Exiled Realm of Arborea

 

>> Continent of the Ninth (C9)

>> Kingdom Under Fire II

>> WARHAMMER ONLIEN (KOREA)

 

Kingdom Under Fire II

Genre: MMOARTS
Developer: Phantagram & Blueside  
Publisher: Hangame  
Status: Development  
Official Site: http://kuf2.hangame.com/

It was clarified at ‘Hangame Invitational 2009′ that CBT for MMOARTS Kingdom Under Fire II will be start in the second half of 2009 in South Korea. They added a new character Isabella in to the game and released a batch of screenshots about her.

More Feature, Photo, Video about Kingdom Under Fire II

 

>> Continent of the Ninth (C9)

>> TERA: The Exiled Realm of Arborea (Project S1) 

>> WARHAMMER ONLIEN (KOREA)

 

WARHAMMER ONLIEN (KOREA)

Genre: Fantasy
Developer: Mythic Entertainment
Localization: NHN GAMES
Publisher: Hangame
Status: Localization (25%)
Official Site: http://war.hangame.com/

 

Click here to download HD version.

The Korean style WAR is under localization and completed 25% of the progress. Developers from EA do a innovated introduction at ‘Hangame Invitational 2009′ and you can see whole event in the Main Full Movie of ‘Hangame Invitational 2009′.

 

>> Continent of the Ninth (C9)

>> TERA: The Exiled Realm of Arborea (Project S1) 

>> Kingdom Under Fire II

 

2009 ChinaJoy Cover Coser Competition Pre-Explosion!

As the repertoire of Chinajoy event, Chinajoy Cosplay Carnival has been held for 6 years and attracts more than 10,000 players to participate each year.  As a pre explosion, 2009 ChinaJoy Cover Coser Contest was launched a few days before and welcomes cosers from all over the world to take part in.

It has already been held three times in the past, providing a perfect stage to show cosplay photos for cosers from all over the world as well as a moment of enjoyment for millions of cosplay and animation funs.

In 2008, there were 2819 photos from more than 2,000 cosers in all were collected, and the dedicated IP surpassed 4£¬957£¬074. More than 100 ACG media including print, website, and video reported the event in China-mainland, making it the most appealing online cosplay event in 2008.
Now the numbers of photo submission are growing at the speed of 100 pieces per day and the uploading peak is expected to come right after the Spring Festival—-the traditional Chinese lunar year.  

Event deadlines:
l Work submission:15th Jan —15th Mar, 2009
l Candidates recommendation: 16th Mar—20th Mar 2009
l Judge selection & Public ballot :23rd Mar¡ª10th Apr, 2009
l Results out: 15th Apr 2009

In order to bring more chances of communication between domestic cosers and overseas ones, and to improve the competition to be a more international event, ChinaJoy Organization Committee welcome all the overseas cosers to participate in. Currently, they have received a number of cosers’ photos from U.S., Germany, Italy, Mexico, France etc, and requirements from other countries as well.

If you like to participate or require for media cooperation, you can contact them by these ways.

Contact person: Simon/Benjamin
E£­mail:simon@howellexpo.com/zero@howellexpo.com
msn:ckept00@hotmail.com/stormdolly@hotmail.com
Website: comic.qq.com/z/2009covercosplay
English: comic.qq.com/z/2009covercosplaye
www.c3online.com.cn

Here are some excellent cosers’ works.

Nickname: NadiaSK
Location: Italy

 

DEATH NOTE – Amane Misa

Chevalier:Le Chevalier D’Eon – Lia de Beaumont

More details are on next page.

Nickname: Kenny
Location: Australia

 

Knights of the Zodiac - Hypnos

 

Final Fantasy XII – Balflear

Nickname: Stephanie
Location: Germany

 Card Captor Sakura – Tarot earth

Nickname: Rouleux Hugues

Location: French

Batman

Nickname: NadiaSK

Location: Milan¡ªItaly

Esther blanchett – Trinity Blood

Game Addict Swallows Saw Blades

Game Addict Swallows Saw Blades
January 22th, 2009 by Theo, MMOsite Columnist 

According to a translation by the Chinese media site danwei.org, an internet and game addict from Beijing attempted suicide by swallowing steel saw blade fragments. 

The 23-year-old, Xiao Cai, “whose four year addiction to online gaming caused him to attempt suicide various times…was so addicted to the Internet that his mental well-being was affected.”

The article, which was originally published by the Beijing Morning Post said, “Feeling ill afterwards he called the emergency room asking for help. On January 4, this reporter went to his ward to check on Xiao Cai. After the operation most of the bits of blade inside his body had been taken out. Currently his condition is stable. ¡­His mother was by his side feeding him spinach and egg soup. Xiao Cai was eating with relish, but coughing now and again. ¡­After his mother finished feeding him, Xiao Cai became a little restless and started to fidget with the needle feeding him the drip. He was mouthing phrases from online games, and would occasionally laugh whilst glancing towards this reporter.”

Moreover, when the reporter spoke to Xiao Cai’s uncle, his uncle said, “If it wasn’t because of his introverted personality, perhaps he wouldn’t be so addicted to the Internet.”  He further stated that, “Xiao Cai began playing online games in junior high school. A while after this a female netizen betrayed him, and he was so hurt that he put the majority of his time into playing online games. Xiao Cai became more and more addicted to the Internet, even to the point of being affected mentally: he has been taken to hospital by his family for treatment in the past. Before he ingested saw blades, he had also ingested sleeping pills and pesticides. But he was saved each time.”

China, which in 2009 will be the first country to recognize Internet addiction as an official medical condition is even going as far as creating rehab centers, set up for Internet addicts, “where sufferers are made to go cold turkey from wildly addictive pursuits such as online gaming.”  As reported by csmonitor.com, they are attempting to help people like Xiao Cai, by instituting military-style discipline, where “some 60-odd patients at his center undergo a three-month regimen of counseling, confidence-building activities, sex education, and in about 60 percent of the cases, medication. The treatment is designed to address underlying family and psychological problems, and boost their self-confidence.”

Whether these are the proper measures for people like Xiao Cai is uncertain but it seems that more countries are becoming progressively concerned about Internet gaming addictions with some taking aggressive action against it.



A game addict is being treated

Global Top Elites Set Up CGDC Advisory Board

Beijing, China, Jan 19, 2009, The 2nd China Game Developer Conference (CGDC) will be held in Shanghai International Convention Center from Jul 24 to 26, 2009. More than 30 professionals from all over the world have joined the Advisory Board.

Followed by the success of the 1st CGDC in Aug, 2007, the increasingly booming game market in China has been attracting the attentions from global game companies and technology suppliers. Therefore, the flourishing Chinese game industry will offers great business opportunities and draws global attentions of those famous game companies and technology experts’ to participate. Up to now, we have had many great names, includes: Mr. Mike Morhaime, CEO of Blizzard; Mr. Peter Moore, President of EA Sports; Mr. John De Matgheriti CEO of BigWorld; Mr. Mark Jacobs, VP & GM of the Mythic Entertainment Studio; Mr. Barry Cottie, Senior VP & GM of EA Mobile; Mr. Robert Bridenbecker, Online Technologies Vice President of Blizzard Entertainment; Mr. Gilles Langourieux, CEO of Virtuous Games; Mr. James Robert Hayes, Executive Director of Asian-Pacific of Glu Mobile; Mr. Lu Zhigang, President of Epic Games China; Mr. Andrew Flavell, GM of Microsoft Asian Game Studio; Mr. Yu Fei, GM of Gameloft China; , besides, there are also many domestic top professionals had confirmed their participation of the advisory board including: Ms. Li Yu, CEO of Shanda SDG; Mr. Zhu Jisheng, CTO of Shanda SDG; Mr. He Di, CTO of Perfect World; Mr. Song Shiliang, CTO of Giant; Mr. Zhan Zhonghui, Co-COO of NetEase; Mr. Jeff Xiong, CTO of Tencent; Mr. Hong Xiaojian, CTO of Gamease Age Digital Technology, etc.

List of the CGDC Advisory Board:

http://www.chinagdc.com.cn/en/hy_gwt.asp?PID=1

As said by the CGDC Organizing Committee: Based on the successful experience of 1st CGDC, we will make some adjustment due to the specific situation and the industrial structure in China compared to Europe, North America & Japan to meet the demands of different audience from both domestic and aboard. And we will stick to the purpose of establishing the best platform for promotion and communication, one successful professional technology conference which is not only fitting to Chinese game industry but also offer valuable reference to the world game industry. Moreover, the participations of global technology experts will surely be a guarantee for this.

Introduction of CGDC

CGDC conference is officially proved by the government administration of P.R. China, aimed to enforce global game technology communications. The 1st CGDC was held in Shanghai International Convention Center in Aug, 2007, attracted more than 60 global famous experts to speak at the conference, besides, over 1000 professionals had participated and shared the game developing technologies.

For more detail and up date information please visit Official Website:http://www.chinagdc.com.cn/en