Daily Archives: June 21, 2011

LEGO Universe Solves ONE of My Complaints…

Just last week I was complaining about LEGO Universe and how, given that its direct kid-focused competition almost all have a free to play aspect to their games, it was pretty much in a losing position in our house.  Why pay for 30 days and patch when Animal Jam or Club Penguin are always just there waiting for you?

A monthly subscription MMO that requires a box purchase just doesn’t cut it in the kid focused market these days.

So LEGO is fixing that.  As noted over at Massively, LEGO Universe is going to align itself with its market segment and introduce free to play content.  Press release here.

They are not going the cash shop route, ala FreeRealms.  Instead, it appears that the model will be more akin to Toontown Online, where subscribing members will get access to content which non-paying member will not. (At least that is how Toontown was working last I checked.)  The model, from the press release.

LEGO Universe will continue to generate revenue through paid memberships, and there are no plans for micro-transactions at this time. Players can try out the free-to-play zone for an unlimited period of time, and can pay $10 (USD) per month to become a LEGO Universe member and receive full game access. Those who sign up for extended memberships will continue to receive discount pricing.

The LEGO Universe free-to-play experience will offer a limited selection of game content, including two adventure zones and one player property area for building their own virtual LEGO models. Paying members will have access to all areas in the full game, along with membership benefits such as competitions and community events.

I wonder if the free portion will be enough to entice people, since it sounds somewhat limited.

We shall see if they can hold to that model.  I think that a LEGO game that sold virtual kits through a cash shop might be an unstoppable force if done right.  But that might be a bad, or at least a costly, thing for me.

And they are also doing away with the need to buy the box.  Given the amount of patching that needs to get done once you run the installer from the CD, that is probably a good thing.  I’m glad I didn’t pay full retail for my box.

Unless, of course, they just make the current installer from the CD available.  That would be a bad thing.  The whole patching from ground zero is one of the reasons I will likely never go back to Runes of Magic.  Well, that and their patch process is/was complete crap.

So we’ll see what LEGO has really learned.  A giant download and long patch process before being able to play can be a killer.  So can an annoying sign-up process.

The allure of LEGO will drive some people, but just because you’re now giving some of your game away for free doesn’t mean instant success.  Will LEGO adapt or will they just continue to bleed in new and different ways?

You Can Totally Get Pikachu at the Drive-Thru

Pikachu flexes his corporate muscles and demonstrates the ever-growing power of Pokemon.

Yes, for a limited time only you can get Pokemon Black and White figures with your Happy Meal(tm) at McDonald’s.

The figures include the two legendary Pokemon from the games, Reshiram and Zekrom, the two special event Pokemon, Zorua and Zoroark, along with the three starter Pokemon, Snivy, Tepig, and Oshawott.

And, of course, Pikachu.  You cannot have a Pokemon event without giving the chairman of the Pokemon board his due.  You might think Ash Ketchum is Pikachu’s trainer, but really he is Pikachu’s man servant.  He goes where Pikachu tells him because if you piss Pikachu off, you are totally off the show.

You also get a foil pack of Pokemon TCG cards.  I hear that is popular in some quarters.

There is even a TV commercial, which Nintendo has helpfully uploaded to YouTube but which I could not bring myself to embed in the post.  It just isn’t that good.

And as these things go, available at participating McDonald’s in cities that haven’t banned Happy Meals through July 7th or while supplies last or until somebody sues again.

Incarna Sentry Drones… Not So Boring Any More?

EVE Online has the Incarna expansion coming out this week.  I am sure that will mean a few post patch patches.  These things happen, so plan your training schedule accordingly. (i.e. pick a nice long skill to train)

While the coming of Incarna heralds some exciting new features (people tend to like them and find them exciting or dislike them and get excited themselves on the subject) such as the Captain’s Quarters or a new currency with a cash store to go with it, I often find greater pleasure/amusement deep in the guts of the patch notes, and the Incarna 1.0 patch notes are no exception.

Deep within them you will find the following:

Sentry drones such as Garde, Curator and Warden were missing their firing animations. Thanks to the new turret system we can now witness their destructive power.

Hey, something I complained about nearly two years ago… and which no doubt existed for much longer… has finally been addressed.  No longer will sentry drones just sit there, doling out invisible destruction.

They might be shooting... maybe...

It makes you think that maybe, some day, we’ll actually be walking on stations with our new avatars.

But with new animations, the captain’s quarters, and… if I heard right… new nebulae graphics for space, I might have come back and take a look.

If nothing else, I am down to the last few pictures from my EVE screen shot contest.  I’ll soon run out of things to post at EVE Online Pictures, so I will have to go out and take some new ones.

Or maybe I can just hold another contest.

Would anybody be interested in a “Show Off Incarna” screen shot contest if I put up a PLEX or two as prizes?

Anyway, Incarna is about here as EVE continues to evolve.