Further Mutterings about MMO Revenue Models May 15, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Need for Speed World, Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Free-To-Play, MMO Subscriptions, No Real Point
A few years back, at the height of the housing boom, we decided to move. We listed our house at the market price for our neighborhood, and the first day on the market we got an offer for roughly 60% of what we were asking. Somebody sensed, as we all were beginning to at that point, that the bubble was going to burst soon, and wanted to know if we were desperate.
We were not, and actually sold the house for what we were asking a couple weeks later. But there was no possibility that we were going to come to an arrangement with the person who made that first offer. Their offer was so insultingly low that it made it completely unlikely to be able to negotiate any deal at all.
We have a garage sale at least once a year. Often we have two, one in the spring and one in the fall. Just the process of finding stuff to sell helps us keep the house clear of clutter, so that our home, with the exception of my office and my daughter’s room, feels clean, open, and spacious.
We tend to put out all manner of things on the driveway for sale. I often have a pile of books that have made it into the category of “won’t read again” out on a table. At one garage sale I had done a big purge and had 40+ paperbacks lined up, with the asking price was 25 cents each. Cheap enough that anybody with an interest would pick them up, and it wouldn’t kill me if I decided to give a couple away to any kid who looked like they wanted to read one. And, as always, quantity discounts are available.
A woman, who rolled up in an expensive car, offered me a dollar for all of the books, and then started gathering them up like it was a done deal. A dollar turned out to be exactly the right price to start a fight.
In the cold logic of hindsight, it was just an offer I could freely reject.
In the reality and emotion of the moment, it was insulting. I started with “no” and worked my way up to using them for kindling before I would sell her one at full cover price. Her offer stayed at a dollar throughout, leavened with sneers and insults. But we could have stopped after our first pass through offer and rejection, as no deal was possible after that point. I cannot imagine she thought her negotiation technique was going to be effective. It is always interesting to meet people who are worse at interpersonal relationships than I am.
What did those two little stories have to do with anything? We’ll get to that. First, a foundation of words needs to be built.
With the announcement that Rift is moving from the once traditional monthly subscription model to a cash shop driven free to play model, there have been the usual range of reactions, from feelings that no good will come of this to expressions of joy at the demise of yet another monthly subscription barrier to entry. Some people really hate the subscription idea.
My own response is somewhere in between.
Good things will come of this change. I know that.
More people will play Rift. It won’t make it suddenly popular with people who wouldn’t play a fantasy MMORPG in the first place. But people who wouldn’t otherwise commit to $15 a month will want to play.
An annoying amount of words, and some irrelevant pictures, after the cut:
So far this week has not bee full of good news for Blizzard.
There was the 1.08 patch for Diablo III, rolled out on US servers the day before yesterday, which was touted as bringing serious improvements to the game, including changes to the surprisingly popular auction house.
Unfortunately, one side effect was the introduction of a bug that allowed players to basically create gold out of thin air… or virtual thin air… thus putting the whole in-game economy in peril. I don’t think that was the auction house fix they were looking for, and continues along with Diablo III’s somewhat hard luck tale.
Blizzard jumped right on this, once they noticed it, shutting down the auction house. They have since reported that the bug has been fixed. However, there remained the question of what to do. There was talk of a complete roll-back to a pre-patch save. However, they chose to do it the hard way, opting to manually fix each account that used the bug. I have not seen any word about people being banned for using what was obviously an exploit, but I suspect there will be some sanctions.
As of this time, the auction house on US servers remains closed, and will stay so until all current auctions expire.
The updated has been fixed and should roll out without the exploit on EU and Asian servers.
Then there was the Activision Blizzard quarterly report where, after a rise in subscribers with the release of Pandaria and then holding steady the next quarter, a drop of 1.3 million subscribers was announced for the past quarter, the subscriber base moving from 9.6 million to 8.3 million players.
As has become a standard part of these sorts of announcements, it was stated that most of the losses were in China, which have a much smaller impact on revenue, it was allowed that there were subscription losses in the west and that the company expected the subscriber base at the end of the year to be smaller than it is now.
Expect nothing new for WoW this year I guess.
Bobby Kotick was quick to point out that WoW remains one of the most successful video game franchises and, no doubt, continues to be insanely profitable.
The quarterly report is available here.
WoW Private Server Review Video April 28, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Emerald Dream, Private Servers
So I am always surprised when I run into things that indicate that not only are there more such servers out there, but there are enough that somebody would have found and played enough that, when listing out their favorites, it can be made into a top ten list.
Basically, this person has a YouTube channel that looks to be dedicated to looking into a reviewing WoW private servers.
I suppose a game as popular as WoW lends itself to this sort of proliferation.
Tags: Assault on Wall Street, darkfall, MegaWars III, Stellar Emperor, Twitter
Digging into the mail bag, another reminder that I haven’t felt inspired to write about much new of late.
Darkfall: Unholy Wait
Back in September of 2012 they announced that the original Darkfall would shut down on November 15th to make room for Unholy Wars, which was slated to launch on the 20th of the same month. And then… well… the Aventurine reputation needed to be maintain. So here we are, seven months after that announcement, and the game should launch next week.
Now, the press release points out that this time was well spent, that much was learned from the beta. We shall see next week. Maybe.
Blizzard Remains Steadfast
After running out my seven free days of World of Warcraft, I remained on the fence about whether it would be worthwhile to subscribe or not. And then, ten days later, I received an email from Blizz with a subject line asking me to resubscribe to the game.
I was intrigued. I wondered if Blizz might sweeten the deal now that they had me thinking about the game. A special offer might have been enough to tip the balance.
But there was no special offer. It was just a link to the standard subscription page. Blizz isn’t at a point right now where it feels the need to anything special to get people to come back.
Twitter Pushes Advertising
Twitter has decided that I am a small business and, as such, I need to advertise on their service. So I received a whole stream of messages from them offering me a free $50 advance on my advertising.
I have not taken them up on their offer, having no idea what I would even promote.
Mega Wars IV
Crimson Leaf Games, which recreated the classic CompuServe game Mega Wars III that I poked my nose into ages ago, has taken the idea a step further and created Mega Wars IV which includes a full graphical client done in Microsoft Silverlight.
Interestingly, Stellar Emperor, the version of the game that ran on GEnie, which I have also covered, went this route in the early 90s, adding on a graphical client and updating the game, thus diverging it from what stated off as its twin, Mega Wars III.
Populist Wish Fulfillment
I keep getting press releases around a film titled Assault on Wall Street. The synopsis for the picture is:
Jim is an average New Yorker living a peaceful life with a well paying job and a loving family. Suddenly, everything changes when the economy crashes causing Jim to lose his job, home and wife. Filled with anger and rage, Jim snaps and goes to extreme lengths to seek revenge for the life taken from him.
The poster shows the star, Dominic Purcell a pistol in one hand, a combat rifle in the other, with bullet riddled NYPD cars and SWAT teams deploying in the background.
So, yeah, gun violence. I guess that takes Occupy Wall Street up a notch. Let’s go kill the 1%!
Given that the only name I recognize in the cast is Eric Roberts, and that they are sending press releases to random gaming blogs, I am going to guess they couldn’t get any funding from those in the 1%.
World of Tanks Rolls On
Wargaming.net is very good about sending out regular press releases. Two big things they have coming up are the World of Tanks 8.5 update, which includes more German tanks, redone maps, and changes to what non-premium accounts can do. There is a preview over at The Mittani.
And then there is World of Tanks Blitz.
This is Wargaming.net’s attempt to bring World of Tanks to mobile platforms. Featuring 7 vs. 7 battles, I will be interested to see how they translate their Windows shooter to that mobile world.
April Fools at Blizzard – 2013 April 1, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, Diablo III, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: April Fools
April Fools at Blizzard this year is either less ambitious or more subtle than before.
Or I am missing something.
He has some new and amusing dialog and I guess is part of the tradition now. And if you go down the right conversational path, the one where you talk about sports, you can watch him try on various hats.
But I have to wonder, how many people even remember Clippy, of which Crabby is a parody.
But other than that, all I could spot was some disagreement as to when the Noblegarden event was taking place, with it either being March 31 through April 6 or April 24 through May 1. That must be funny in some way I am not getting.
The Diablo III site seems to be completely free of April Foolery, unless that thread asking Is This Game Good Yet? is some sort wry commentary. But if it wry commentary you want, there is better to be had, pointed at juicier targets. And then there is the great Diablo III non-joke from GDC.
And over at the StarCraft II site there is a somewhat predictable April Fools joke.
The Warhound was a unit slated to be part of the Terran forces in the Heart of the Swarm expansion for StarCraft II. However, it was found to be too powerful and was removed during beta.
But today’s announcement says it is back, but they have a plan to cure the balance issue.
- The Warhound has been added for Terran because robots are cool and the art is amazing
- The Warhound has been added for Zerg to remain competitive with Terran.
- The Warhound has been added for Protoss to keep Protoss players from whining about them on the forums.
There is also a Dev Q&A page about the Warhound that answers questions like why their isn’t a female Warhound as well as linking to its background story page. But at least they did something. Almost as much fun as a space cockroach.
A check of the European versions of the sites showed similar entries all around.
So did I miss something? Are they holding out for a mid-day US/evening EU reveal? Is this a year of subtle humor? Or did a busy 2012, in which they did not even have time for BlizzCon, keep Blizzard from going as far with April Fools as they have in the past?
The following links will bring you to past coverage of Blizzard April Foolery as a comparison:
Addendum – April Fools in some other online games:
March in Review March 31, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, EVE Online, Guild Wars 2, Month in Review, Neverwinter Nights 2, Rift, World of Tanks, World of Warcraft.
1 comment so far
WordPress.com decided to give us some color in their “visits by country map.”
Actually, we had color, but the choices were limited. Basically, it was red-orange, orange, or beige.
The map has changed a bit and we have a bit broader spectrum of colors.
It has also been a little over a year since WordPress.com started tracking this sort of thing, so I thought I would compare the top 10 countries they list with what my Flag Counter side-bar widget shows.
WordPress / Flag Counter
- United States / United States
- United Kingdom / United Kingdom
- Canada / Canada
- Germany / Australia
- Australia / Germany
- Sweden / Netherlands
- Netherlands / Sweden
- France / France
- Brazil / Poland
- Poland / Brazil
It is the same ten countries with some difference in the ranking after the third position. So I guess that means that one is about as accurate as the other. Or something.
One Year Ago
The family and I went and visited the USS Iowa while it was docked up in Richmond.
April Fools spirit hit Wargaming.net a little early.
It only seemed like Zynga was desperate a year back.
Raptr said I could be the top WoW player they tracked… if I just played another 18,999 hours.
I also rolled a new character on a new server in LOTRO because… why not?
In EVE voting commenced and The Mittani won the chairmanship of the CSM 7 by a large margin. And then he named names during his alliance talk and was removed from CSM 7 and banned from EVE for 30 days.
Meanwhile, the war in the north was heating up again even without The Mittani. The CFC was picking up systems in Tenal as bases of operation for the upcoming offensive. Then there was the bloodbath at C-J6MT.
EverQuest turned 13 and went free to play. That saw more than a few of us run in to give it a try. Fall nostalgia in the Spring. We ran the tutorial, tried out mercenaries, and created a guild. I am not sure what became of our little group. Nostalgia is like that.
Then I was trying to find another blog name that used the TAGN acronym as a setup for an April Fools joke. That totally fell flat.
And, finally, I attempted to bring together as many memories from the early days of Air Warrior as I could.
Five Years Ago
I was again ruminating about the whole “Why So Much Fantasy in MMORPGs?” thing, this time on the shores of chaos.
We started to see the end of the “Brent hand picks the news” era over at VirginWorlds. The reign of myself and CrazyKinux was near to an end.
I got a Nintendo DS Lite and my own copy of Pokemon Diamond for my birthday!
EverQuest celebrated its 9th anniversary. A very nice time line print of the game was posted over at the EQ Dev blog to celebrate, along with a video.
In Lord of the Rings Online some sites were speculating about future expansions. And then Turbine announced The Mines of Moria! Meanwhile, I was trying to give out some founder’s referrals. I think I still have one or two of those left.
In World of Warcraft, patch 2.4 was the latest end-of-the-world panic. I was trying out Alterac Valley trying to get a mount, not reading that I needed to get exalted reputation to buy it. Meanwhile the instance group made it to Shattrath and then hit the Blood Furnace while my wife and her friends were drinking apple-tinis.
Official forums were the talk again for a bit, as Marc Jacobs said he wasn’t going to have them for Warhammer Online. No, the Warhammer Herald (to be created in the image of the Camelot Herald) was going to be enough. Well, we know how that worked out.
And, finally, five years ago Gary Gygax left us. We still miss him because we still feel his influence every day.
New Linking Sites
The following blogs have linked this site in their blogroll, for which they have my thanks.
Please take a moment to visit them in return.
Most Viewed Posts in March
- Running Civilization II on Windows 7 64-bit
- The Seductive Comfort of Azeroth
- Google Reader Alternatives? Again?
- Age of Kings Gets an Unofficial Expansion
- Considering Star Wars Galaxies Emulation? Better Grab a Disk!
- Five Games I Want to See Revamped
- Completionism in the Wayfarer Foothills
- Wrapping Up My Seven Days of Azeroth
- Backwards in Time to Forgotten Realms
- Shroud of the Avatar – Lord British Discovers Kickstarter
- First Time Out with Tech Fleet
Search Terms of the Month
heir to the empire audiobook
[I have that!]
bond almost dies
[Every Bond movie ever]
spaceship blows up
[Every EVE Online day ever}
churchill i with 100% crue
whats a goon in ancient rome
how mcuh isk poer hour can a hulk make?
[How is Veldsparr formed?]
I got in on an op early on in the month, when I was able to use my freshly finished logistic skills to fly my Oneiros at last. And then there were the homeland defense fleets at the end of March. However, the rest of the month was mostly passing on fleets where I did not have an appropriate ship handy, skill training, and figuring out what I want do to next in EVE.
Guild Wars 2
Well, that lasted a couple of weeks. Didn’t hate it, just stopped feeling the need to play it once I hit the next set of zones. Pretty much the same response I had with the original. There is probably a lesson in that. Anyway, I should probably explore the why of that at some point.
Neverwinter Nights 2
We played a bit of this in the Saturday night group. It went from awkward to fun, and then we stopped playing. We now have this odd fragmentation on Saturday night where what we play depends on who shows up. I should make a Venn diagram.
Hey, we actually played some Rift. Maybe we will carry on here and actually start in on the Storm Legion instances. And speaking of Storm Legion, I am trying to figure out why I have no real enthusiasm for the expansion. It was supposed to be bigger, better, and bolder or some such, right?
World of Tanks
Tanks keep rolling. This is one of the subset of the instance group games. I am chugging along towards my tier IX goal. Russian heavies and German tank destroyers are the thing.
World of Warcraft
I played it for seven days and had about six and a half days of fun. The last half day was less fun, and managed to convince me that I really did not have to subscribe to the game again.
Well, it is April Fools tomorrow, so tradition dictates that I post something about Blizzard’s jokes. I have nothing planned for the site. No, really. The best I could come up with was to change the theme to something silly, and I think I’ve already done that, or change the site name to “Triaminoguanidine Nitrate” or some such.
I expect there will be a couple of posts about games I am not playing. And the whole Kickstarter thing going on now with Shroud of the Avatar and Camelot Unchained. I hope Mark Jacobs holds off until April 2 to launch his. Too much risk of confusion on April 1.
And we are coming up to the 1 year anniversary of the Burn Jita event last year in EVE Online. I wonder if there will be any follow up on that?
Wrapping Up My Seven Days of Azeroth March 25, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Northern Stranglethorn, Stranglethorn Vale, Western Plaguelands
I wrote some about my return to the comforts of Azeroth last week, but I still had a couple more days in which to play. So I spent a bit of time wrapping up the zone now known as Northern Stranglethorn Vale.
I finished up all the quests from the rebel camp and the Nesignwary compound, the latter earning me the Green Hills of Stranglethorn achievement. However, with achievements shared across characters, I technically had it already.
I am not sure about how I feel on the achievement sharing change. On the one hand I am happy enough not feeling like I should repeat some of them or being able to divide up the burden between among characters. On the other hand, each characters story is mixed in with the others.
After those two quest hubs, there is a third down at the south end of the zone where I got in the remaining few quests for the zone achievement.
That is one I did not have before.
I actually stuck around for one final quest, Be Raptor.
That was kind of a cute one. You take control of a small raptor who has to escape from Zul’Gurub. I am not generally fond of quests that make you be somebody other than your character, but this one was simple enough. You have to get through a couple stages of evading to escape. But if you fail, you only go back to the start of a given stage rather than the whole thing again. I eventually escaped and collected a bit of upgraded equipment. You get some nice blue equipment as choices.
At that point I was done with Northern Stranglethorn and needed a new place to go. The quest givers handed me a quest to head south into the cape, which is the southern half of what was once Stranglethorn Vale. However, given how far ahead of the zone I managed to get in levels, I thought I had better seek something closer to my level.
So I headed back to Stormwind to see what the big board had to say.
More after the cut.
Is Your WoW Knowledge Hardcore Enough? March 24, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Trivial Pursuit
The fact that they are going to make a World of Warcraft version of Trivial Pursuit pulls me in several directions.
The first is, how mainstream is WoW now?
Ages ago I did a post about signs that would indicate that it was becoming so… and some have come to pass. There was a WoW related question on Jeopardy. (Who was Leroy Jenkins?) There was already a WoW version of Monopoly.
There hasn’t been a cartoon made about it yet, but that will likely come if the movie turns out to be a success.
On the other hand, I was getting the vibe… completely unsubstantiated… that perhaps WoW’s cultural influence might be waning. I credit this to the failure to create a loveable Pikachu-like spokes-thing for the franchise.
But with a movie still under way and pandas still running rampant, maybe its influence could still expand.
The second is, what kind of questions will they have?
Fortunately, they have the categories laid out already. They are Geography, Player Characters, Lore, Loot, Villains, and Encounters.
There seems, to me, to be a lot of potential overlap in Player Characters, Lore, Villains, and Encounters. I would probably be okay with Geography, but the rest…
And, finally, who would you play with?
This is some seriously arcane trivia we’re talking about here. 600 question worth. I can see my daughter and I sitting around and missing question after question on this, even after years of exposure to the game. (Unlike, say, a Star Wars version of Trivial Pursuit, which I think we would rock, because the one thing the LEGO Star Wars game teach you is trivia.)
Anyway, it is “Quick Play” version of Trivial Pursuit… whatever that means… it is coming out in September, and it suitable for 2 to 36 players ages 12 and up according to the press blurb. And it comes with baby murloc player tokens. That might be the best bit right there.
The Seductive Comfort of Azeroth March 22, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Blizzard, entertainment, World of Warcraft.
Tags: Hemet Nesingwary, Northern Stranglethorn, Stranglethorn Vale
Blizzard sent me a note at some point early last week inviting me to come back to World of Warcraft for seven days, free of charge. As is my wont, I set WoW to patch, just in case I decided to take them up on this offer. After all, what else is my computer going to do all night alone?
The offer is apparently good for anybody with an account that has been inactive since last month at some point and lasts through April 2nd of this year.
That patched, I went on with my normal routine until Sunday afternoon, when I hit what Douglas Adams referred to as “the long dark tea time of the soul.”
I had cleaned up a bit around the house. I had successfully gotten my daughter outside for a bit of sunlight and exercise. I had completed stage one of the spring cleaning plan for my office, which determined that there was, in fact, a solid surface beneath all of those papers on my desk. I had taken all the baths and shot all the tanks that one usefully could. Now I was pottering around, looking for something to do.
Or, more specifically, a game to play. I had an hour or two of calm and quiet. I just wanted to get absorbed and carried off for a bit. Some immersion was called for. Generally swinging a sword does that for me.
The problem was that, as far as fantasy MMORPGs went, I was facing road blocks of one sort or another all over.
The level 15+ zones in Guild Wars 2 haven’t been cutting it. My enthusiasm there is waning quickly.
In Rift I have found no real passion for the Storm Legion zones. I couldn’t tell you why. I enjoyed 1-50, but 51-60 just isn’t capturing me. Even after the previous nights adventures, I had no interest in getting to level 52. It feels like a grind.
In the various versions of Norrath my characters are all looking for new routes forward, which means work not play.
And… well… you know where this is heading. But what happened when I went there?
More after the cut.
A Testament to my Malaise February 23, 2013Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Guild Wars 2, World of Warcraft.
My excitement for fantasy based MMORPGs is clearly at low ebb.
I have two offers in my email. The first is for Mists of Pandaria for half off, or $20.
And the second is for Guild Wars 2 for over 30% off, which works out to $39.99 for the standard edition or $54.99 for the deluxe edition.
And I cannot bring myself to pull the trigger on either deal.
I said I would buy Guild Wars 2 once it dropped below $40. But there is sales tax, so it isn’t quite there yet I suppose.
I am interested to know if any of the digital deluxe goodies ended up being meaningful, useful, or otherwise worth the extra $15 toll that they represent in this offer.
Back to tanks I suppose.