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Turbine Time Machine – Asheron’s Call 2 Returns December 14, 2012

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Misc MMOs.
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15 comments

Be careful what you ask for, because people will take note of what you do if you get it.

Turbine has announced in their forums that they are going to bring Asheron’s Call 2 back from the dead.

It has been seven years since it was shut down.  I never played it, nor its predecessor, but I have seen more than a few posts over the years bemoaning its demise.

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Now, I can hardly criticize people for being nostalgic for a game like this.  I run back to EverQuest just about every autumn, which is when the nostalgia bug seems to bite.  But the whole act of reviving a game seven years gone does raise some questions.

I would assume that Turbine has done some work on the game in the interim.  But I suspect it will still represent the state of the art at Turbine circa 2004.  And while AC2 may have done some things right,  is that going to be enough of a draw for any but the nostalgic and those with an archaeological bent?  Has what made people leave AC2 been addresses, or is this just hope against hope?

What will be the business model this time around?   For the beta you need an Asheron’s Call subscription.  I am sure that the nostalgia bug will make for a spike in subscribers just to get in on it.  But this was a game that was shut down seven years back because of a paucity of subscribers.  And Asheron’s Call itself was always a distant third in the UO/EQ/AC triumvirate when it came to subscribers.  Is Turbine planning to make this another free to play title?  And are there enough interested parties out there to make this a viable venture either way?

And finally, what does this say about Turbine itself?  It has been more than five years since they last launched a new game, which was Lord of the Rings Online in the first half of 2007.  In all the time since then, the best they could come up with was to pull a game they shut down out of cold storage?  That is a big bet on the nostalgia card with a game that purportedly peaked at 50K subscribers and had dwindled to less than a third of that by the end.  Is this a love letter to long time fans or a desperation move?

Like I said, I can hardly criticize anybody for nostalgia, since it drives much of my own gaming patterns.  I can never fully answer the question about reliving the past.  But there is a lot to this that makes me raise a quizzical eyebrow.

Anyway, Turbine has set the WABAC Machine to 2005.  Are you going to go for a ride?

Turbine and Warner Brothers April 21, 2010

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in Dungeons & Dragons Online, entertainment, lego, Lord of the Rings Online, Wii.
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4 comments

And while eyeballing the Massively post about the new EQII subscription plan offering, I also saw the headline about Turbine being purchased by Warner Brothers Home Entertainment.

Thus the “largest privately-held online gaming studio in North America” joins a conglomerate.

As noted elsewhere, the number of independent MMO studios just went down by one.

And while I have no idea what impact this will have on their games, Asheron’s Call, Dungeons & Dragons Online, and Lord of the Rings Online, it did put one thing in mind.

Warner also happens to own TT Games, the parent company of Traveler’s Tales, the studio which makes all of the LEGO games, like LEGO Star Wars and LEGO Indiana Jones.

So now we have a parent company that owns rights to make a Lord of the Rings game and the very popular LEGO game franchise.

Over two years ago I thought up five LEGO games I would like to see.  One of them was LEGO Harry Potter, and we’re getting that one pretty soon.

Another was LEGO Lord of the Rings.

Now, I know that we’re talking about two different studios and that the licensing as it stands won’t allow such a game.

But I’m just thinking that this moved the ball ever so slightly in the right direction.

I can dream, right?

What to do with $40 Million? May 6, 2008

Posted by Wilhelm Arcturus in entertainment, Lord of the Rings Online.
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15 comments

Ars Technica reported over the weekend (via Private Equity Hub, which unfortunately charges for their content, so I couldn’t follow up on details) that Turbine has secured $40 million in additional venture capital (bringing their total up to $88 million) and will be announcing a new project soon.

That brings up two immediate question.

First, what will Turbine’s new project be? Another MMO surely, but an original IP or will they be licensing again?

So far they have two original IP MMOs:

Asheron’s Call – success
Asheron’s Call 2 – failure

And two licensed IP MMOs:

Lord of the Rings Online – success
Dungeons and Dragons Online – still open, but hardly a smash

Which route to go?

Second, what is the cash out plan? Those venture capitalist dollars are not angel investments, they will want their money back somehow.

For the second question, there are two obvious routes, go public and sell the company to somebody bigger.

Going public for the sake of going public (to pay off the VCs) is almost always a mistake and ends up damaging the company in the end.

But selling to another company can also shake things up more than people like. Plus, my thoughts immediately stray to one big company that wants to get into the MMO market, but that has failed to so far: Microsoft.

The cash out plan is almost inevitable because of the venture capital involved. It is just a question of how and when.

On the new project though, speculation can go wild. What will Turbine do?

Is their commitment to Dungeons and Dragons and their relationship with Wizards of the Coast strong enough that there might be another IP in that domain they want to try? Say, a nice outdoors IP like Forgotten Realms?

Or will Turbine lay down the sword this time and pick up the gun or the laser?

What will be the next project?

What do you think Turbine should do?

[addendum: Turbine’s Press Release]