Tag Archives: Pirates of the Burning Sea

Blogger Fantasy Movie League – Week Two

Week two of our Blogger Fantasy Movie League seemed to present us with two possible paths forward.

The lineup for the week looked to pit the first week’s champion, Wonder Woman, against a new contender for the box office crown, The Mummy.  The choices and prices presented to us were as follows: (Last week’s post mostly explains how this all works)

Wonder Woman              $613
The Mummy                 $526
Captain Underpants        $198
Pirates                   $143
It Comes At Night         $150
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 $70
Baywatch                  $60
Megan Leavey              $59
Everything, Everything    $28
Alien Covenant            $26
My Cousin Rachel          $15
Snatched                  $9
Best of the Rest          $9
Diary of a Wimpy Kid      $8
King Arthur               $7

And then the first reviews and the Thursday night numbers hit and it became pretty clear that The Mummy was going to do well, but not well enough to defeat Wonder Woman.  Only one person bet on The Mummy, and Braxwolf’s decision to back Tom Cruise explains his low ranking in this week’s tally.

So the real question of the week was what should the other seven screens show once you had booked Wonder Woman.

It looked like Liore, the founder of the event and the practiced ringer who will no doubt be the overall winner at the end of the 13th week, opted to put Guardians of the Galaxy 2 on five screens, with My Cousin Rachel on the remaining two, a selection that on the Saturday estimates looked to push her way out in front of the rest of us.  At that point GotG2 looked to have the best cost/performance ratio, which gets you some bonus income for each screen showing it.

My own picks were Wonder Woman, Pirates of the Caribbean on two screens, Everything Everything on two screens, and My Cousin Rachel on three screens, a lineup that spent my entire $1,000 weekly budget. (I setup a spreadsheet to figure out how to spend my whole budget under the theory that the cost reflects the estimated performance.)

My picks and their yields

The Sunday estimates came out and reeled Liore a ways back towards the pack as Wonder Woman was beating projections and took over the cost/performance crown, spreading the wealth to the rest of us who went with that pick.

Then the final results came in and the optimum result was clear.  Liore missed it by failing to pick the right two addon films after GotG.

Week Two’s Perfect Pick

But the win for the week went to Liore all the same, with the rankings for the week as follows:

  1. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes – $94,019,519
  2. Wilhelm’s Clockwork Lemon Multiplex – $88,088,986
  3. Pasduil’s Popcorn Picturehouse – $86,983,478
  4. Ocho’s Octoplex – $86,379,050
  5. Void’s Awesomeplex – $85,978,667
  6. Moderate Peril’s Sleazy Porno Theatre – $85,672,860
  7. Murf’s Matinee Mania – $84,507,305
  8. Clockwork’s Cinesplosion – $82,465,146
  9. Braxwolf’s Waffleplex – $64,527,776
  10. Bel’s House of Horrors – $63,772,205
  11. Syl’s Fantasy Galore Panopticum – $43,155,933

Liore was out in front by a fair margin, followed again by a fairly tight pack of people who picked Wonder Woman and filled out their full lineup.

Trailing behind was Braxwolf, who dared pick The Mummy for his anchor, Belghast, who left three screens empty (which costs $2 million per screen), and Syl, who did not have time to fill our her picks so her picks from the previous week rolled forward.

That leaves the overall rankings after two weeks as:

  1. Dr Liore’s Evil House of Pancakes – $239,380,552
  2. Wilhelm’s Clockwork Lemon Multiplex – $207,556,000
  3. Pasduil’s Popcorn Picturehouse – $205,508,040
  4. Moderate Peril’s Sleazy Porno Theatre – $207,478,373
  5. Ocho’s Octoplex – $203,601,637
  6. Clockwork’s Cinesplosion – $202,374,647
  7. Void’s Awesomeplex – $191,703,673
  8. Braxwolf’s Waffleplex – $186,105,300
  9. Bel’s House of Horrors – $185,218,055
  10. Murf’s Matinee Mania – $163,222,265
  11. Syl’s Fantasy Galore Panopticum – $129,272,381

Liore remains solidly out in front, nearly $22 million ahead of the nearest member of the main pack.  There are still 11 weeks left to go, so it is possible somebody might catch her, but she would have to really miss a major pick some week.

Now we are looking towards week three, the lineup for which is:

Cars 3                    $719
Wonder Woman              $478
All Eyez On Me            $327
Rough Night               $243
The Mummy                 $167
47 Meters Down            $105
Captain Underpants        $78
Pirates                   $71
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 $60
It Comes At Night         $34
The Book of Henry         $31
Baywatch                  $29
Megan Leavey              $25
Alien Covenant            $11
Everything, Everything    $10

Cars 3 looks to be the most likely anchor for a winning line up this week.  The trick remains what other titles best supplement that pick.  Or maybe Wonder Woman with some other picks will remain the better choice.  We shall see.

SOE – What Other Titles Will Go Free to Play?

With last week’s announcement that EverQuest II is going free to play on all servers, and DC Universe Online having just made the transition to free to play, Sony Online Entertainment feels like it has turned a corner.

The company has gone from being a subscription MMO company with a few free offerings to a free to play focused company with a few legacy subscription games hanging around.  The weight of games… and the absolute weight of most of their popular titles… has tilted towards free to play.

The SOE Options for New Players

Technically, the title line up will shortly be five free and five subscription, if you consider EverQuest II to be a single merged game now, and you count Star Wars Galaxies.  But new players cannot join SWG, and it will be going away on December 15th in any case.

And the lineup definitely looks biased towards newer, more popular games going free to play.

Okay, Pirates of the Burning Sea isn’t popular by any stretch.  But EverQuest II is arguably the flagship game for the company.

While the subscription only lineup looks pretty long in the tooth.

Those are some old titles in terms of video games, and the only one that still draws a crowd is EverQuest, the one time champion of the subscription MMO world.

So what happens to subscription titles at a company that appears to see free to play as the future?  Will any of the remainders join the free to play bunch?

EQOA, peaking at ~30K subscribers, has never been a big title.  It is only for PlayStation 2 and hasn’t seen any new content for almost five years.  It is being sustained as long as it remains profitable to run, but its days are numbered.  I think the era of benign neglect will continue until the subscription base dwindles to the point that SOE turns out the lights. (You can read more about EQOA over at Massively or, as Harbinger Zero suggested, check out Stoney’s EQOA Blog.)

PlanetSide, also something of a dormant title, down a single sparsely populated server.  PlanetSide will remain until PlanetSide 2 launches and that will be that.  PlanetSide 2 will, of course, have a free to play subscription model.

Vanguard is probably more popular than Pirates of the Burning Sea, which made the move to free to play, so it seems like it might have a chance for a move as well.  But PotBS is not actually an SOE title.  SOE only hosts and publishes the game.  Flying Lab Software is responsible for development and apparently are able to sustain themselves on its meager population.

Vanguard though, appears to be in a maintenance only mode, with no devs assigned to it.  A transition to free to play requires an investment of resources.  Previously SOE opted to add in LiveGamer, a system that allows players to buy and sell from each other with realm money; sanctioned RMT.  However, LiveGamer is going away, so perhaps the door is open to some change on free to play front. (Though LiveGamer seems to be doing okay without SOE.)

But somehow I doubt it.

There are only two groups of players that are going to be more prickly about adding in a cash shot with enough viable items to make money, and one of them is Vanguard players.  And for a game that is not generating enough revenue to get more than bug fixes slowly over time, the possibility of annoying the player base has to be viewed as a serious risk.  My guess is that SOE will just leave Vanguard on the subscription model and keep it around as long as enough people are willing to pay.

And then there is EverQuest.

Here is the one game on the list that has the population and the name recognition to making going free to play a viable option.

But EQ players are the second group of prickly players when it comes to cash shop items.

On the other hand, SOE has actually been working on the UI in EQ.  One of the features of the latest expansion, Veil of Alaris (which goes live today), is improved hot bars which, from the description, sound like they are going to try to make them work the way they do in most current MMOs.

That makes me wonder if SOE is planning some sort of free to play option for EQ in the next year or so.

What do you think?  Will EverQuest get a free to play option?  Will Vanguard?

And will it matter?

While the free to play option is out there, the subscriptions still exist if you want to play without some of the more onerous restrictions on a free account.  And with the new and attractively priced SOE All Access available if you play more than one SOE game, is free to play anything more than an unlimited trial at SOE?

Do you still have to subscribe to “really” be playing any of these games?

Boardwalking with Van Hemlock

Van Hemlock, a long time member of the Ancient Order of MMO Bloggers and once certifiably ‘leet, has lately contracted console madness. This has lead to drastic changes, such as the renaming of his blog to Consoling Gamers, where MMOs definitely come in third place, and of course yammering on about console gaming all the time, with his partner in crime Jon, on their podcast.

Once a symbol of quality MMO something or other

But Van Hemlock has not forsaken MMOs completely it seems.

He has recently started up a new series of MMO related posts called Boardwalking where he visits the forums of various MMOs and reports back on the key issues that seem to be driving discussions.

So far he has tackled the forums for:

This series of posts has been both interesting and amusing as he has stuck to his guns and reported on the top non-stickied issues in each of these forums.

Hopefully the intrepid Van Hemlock will keep up his Board Walkabout and continue to visit where most sane people fear to tread.

Scoring My 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations

Back on January 1st, 2008 I posted ten MMORPG predictions.  These were meant to be outrageous, humorous and not very subtle jabs at some of the tepid, obvious, and vague predictions being made elsewhere about the state of the industry and its future.

But now the year has nearly passed and it has come time to do the accounting for my predictions.  I am not going to copy and paste the whole set of predictions into this post, but I will maintain the same titles and order, so you can compare the results to the original 2008 MMORPG Progdictionations list.

For the predictions, I am going to score each one out of a possible 10 points, so a prediction that is right on the money gets 10 points, while something completely wrong gets 0.  With a total of 10 predictions, that gives me a possible 100 points.

How close did I get?  Time to score the list!

1. Age of Conan

Funcom managed to avoid becoming major campaign issue in the 2008 US presidential elections.  Still, the boys from Oslo managed to screw up quite a bit without excess negative publicity, angry mobs, or government intervention.  I am going to give myself 4 points out of 10 just for predicting bad things happening with the game, even if they only led to layoffs as opposed to the complete dissolution of the company.

2. The Agency

The Agency did disappoint, if not in exactly the way I predicted.  It did so by simply not shipping.  Didn’t this game have a December 2007 ship date at one point?  Anyway, disappointment is disappointment, so I am going to be greedy and give myself 3 out of 10 points here.

3. BioWare

BioWare, EA, and LucasArts actually admitted that BioWare is making an MMO, and they even gave us a name.  Star Wars: The Old Replublic will be coming some time in the next decade or so it seems.  I was sure they were going to mess with our minds on this for at least another year on this, so 0 out of 10 points for me.

4. Gods & Heroes: Rome Rising

Nobody appears have picked up Rome Rising.  Not Mythic.  Not SOE.  Nobody.  0 out of 10 points.

5. Pirates of the Burning Sea

The first three words of my prediction, “While launching slowly…” were right on the money.

I think that gets me 3 points, one for each word.

The rest of prediction was garbage.  There was no surge of subscriptions in the UK, Spain, or France, certainly none large enough to influence gaming PC sales, nationalism in the three countries was not set afire by the game, and the summer of 2008 saw not one of these countries at war with another.

3 out of 10 points total.

6. Star Trek Online

The ghost of Gene Roddenberry may very well have possessed Daron Stinnett and taught him the true meaning of Star Trek, but a fat lot of good it will do anybody unless Daron passed that information along to somebody at Cryptic Studios, the team now working on Star Trek Online.  There was no return from the brink for Perpetual.  And so it goes.

Still, Star Trek Online is still alive and may still be able to prove (or disprove) that life in the 25th century is as dull as dishwater.  That fact alone has got to be worth 3 out of 10 points.

7. Tabula Rasa

My prediction that General British would be ganked in Tabula Rasa was completely turned on its head when Richard Garriott, in a surprise twist ganked NCSoft and fled the scene… hell, he fled the planet, at least for a while.  If only he had ganked them in a theater and had then fled to a warehouse so I could tie in the whole Lincoln/Kennedy thing.  Okay, maybe “ganked” is too strong a word, but nobody is coming away from Tabula Rasa smelling like a rose.  So there was some drama remotely related to something tangentially connected with something I predicted.  1 out of 10.

8. Vanguard

Brad McQuaid remained completely silent in 2008.  I have to give myself 0 out of 10 points on this one.  Honestly though, not having to read any more forum posts from Brad makes it worth being wrong.

9. Warhammer Online

I said I was not going to quote the original post, but I think I have to for this one.

Scared straight by the Conan debacle, Warhammer Online will slip further into 2008, and will only ship after the US presidential elections and the short war in Western Europe. While getting decent but not extravagant reviews, it will get a significant subscriber boost from players leaving other MMOs. This timing will allow Marc Jacobs to declare success immediately.

I am giving myself 8 points for that part alone.  My ship date prediction was a lot closer than Mythic’s first few guesses (not to mention being just six weeks off from the election), WAR certainly got a boost from people leaving other MMOs, and Mark Jacobs has not been shy about declaring success.

Mythic did not, however, adopt the “Mythic Ticket” subscription plan I predicted.  But given the end of the WAR launch euphoria, I have to imagine it might start looking like an attractive idea.  Plus, you cannot beat the name “Mythic Ticket.”  It makes “Station Access” sound like a low end cable TV package.

8 out of 10 points.

10. World of Warcraft

Blizzard shipped Wrath of the Lich King before the end of 2008, it was a huge success, it dwarfed past game sales records (also set by Blizzard), piled up huge revenues, and perhaps even saved PC gaming for another year or two.  I heard that a display of Wrath at a Best Buy in Ohio tipped over and the boxes fell into the shape of the Virgin Mary, which in turn healed everybody in the store.   I fear Tobold is going to have to keep his current job, as Michael Morhaime, Frank Pearce, and Rob Pardo are secure in their positions for the time being.  0 out of 10 points.

Total Score: 22 points out of 100

And a very generous 22 points at that.

But that is what you get when you go for outrageous and specific, which is why so many yearly predictions are tepid, obvious, or vague.  Some people prefer to be mostly right than patently wrong.  And since I set out to be patently wrong, I take those 22 points and as a condemnation that I was not outrageous enough in my predictions.

I will have to remedy that with my next round of MMORPG Progdictionations, coming January 1, 2009.