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Posts with tag MMORPG

Blizzard says Titan unlikely to be subscription-based

No, Blizzard still hasn't made an official announcement about what we can expect from their upcoming Titan project -- which we've heard little about since its development was reset back in May. We still don't know much, but in an investor call today Mike Morhaime did say that Titan was "unlikely to be a subscription-based MMORPG."

Of course, that still leaves plenty of room to speculate about what Titan actually will be. Will it be a free-to-play MMO or has Titan become something new entirely? With no official release date, only time will tell what Blizzard has in mind.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Former WoW developer Mark Kern wonders if WoW is too easy

Former WoW developer Mark Kern wonders if WoW is too easy
Mark Kern, who left Blizzard way back in 2005 to found Red 5 Studios, is working on a new free to play, sci-fi MMO called Firefall -- and has some less than flattering things to say about the game WoW has become. His top complaint: that MMOs are now too easy. "When was the last time you died in a starter zone?" Kern muses. "Sometimes I look at WoW and think 'what have we done?' I think I know. I think we killed a genre."

The easier content, he argues, means both developers and players focus less on the content in the middle of the game and more on racing to get to the end game -- and by rushing through the game from level 1 to level 90, you miss out on a lot of the game itself. Of course Kern notes that his upcoming MMO has the mix just right -- and that by focusing on the journey instead of the destination, Firefall is a lot more fun.

While we are fans of new games -- and love the art style Firefall has going -- we're less convinced about dying in newbie zones as a gameplay necessity. Time will tell if Kern has the right of things -- Firefall's open beta is starting soon.

Filed under: News items

Has Blizzard left an opening for the next generation of WoW killers?

wow killers!
As Blizzard has faltered with its recent loss of WoW subscribers and the reset of its yet to be announced next MMO, other developers, hungry to make inroads in the MMO market, have looked on this as an opportunity. So, after countless games have tried to claim the title, are we really about to see a WoW killer come to market? Stephan Frost, Game Design Producer at NCsoft's Carbine Studios, thinks that it gives his game Wildstar a better chance to succeed. "We're coming out at a time when WoW is losing subscribers and we can fill the void for people who want an MMO that's deep, hardcore but also accessible to people." In the meanwhile, Take-Two Interactive has taken the opposing angle, saying that no one -- not even Blizzard -- can succeed because the North American market is a poor one for MMOs.

Analysts agree that Blizzard's delay can only be an opportunity for others, though with WoW's current patch frenzy, it's clear that Blizzard isn't planning on relinquishing its title as top MMO any time soon. So is scifi MMO Wildstar going to be the next big thing? Or will Take-Two's Asian-market MMOs be a smashing success? Only time will tell.

Filed under: Blizzard

Are MMORPGs addictive? East Carolina University wants to find out

Are MMORPGs addictive East Carolina University wants to find out
Certainly there's a lot of anecdotal evidence that people are addicted to the Internet, and even more specifically, addicted to World of Warcraft. But what leads people to spend 10, 20, or even more hours per week playing WoW? Is the urge to play a very specific addiction, like that of a drug, or is it just an outlet for human beings who harbor an innate tendency towards addiction? The Department of Addiction and Rehabilitation Studies at East Carolina University (the crown jewel of the State of East Carolina's educational system) wants to find out.

Clinical instructor, WoW player, shadow priest, and WoW Insider reader Andrew Byrne is running a study on gaming addiction as part of his Doctoral dissertation. He needs to survey 200 respondents (some kind of Nate Silver nonsense), so if you want to do your good deed for the day, head on over to mmorpgresearchstudy.com and take the questionnaire.

Research participants needed for a study on healthy and unhealthy use of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games like WoW. Your identity will not be collected. If interested, please click on this link: http://www.mmorpgresearchstudy.com/

The survey is a set of 20 questions; completing it takes about five minutes.
Mists of Pandaria is here! The level cap has been raised to 90, many players have returned to Azeroth, and pet battles are taking the world by storm. Keep an eye out for all of the latest news, and check out our comprehensive guide to Mists of Pandaria for everything you'll ever need to know.

Filed under: News items

Which matters more, graphics or gameplay?

Graphics have come a long way in the last 20 years. We've gone from simple white squares on a screen to photorealistic cutscenes and gameplay. We used to have monochrome backgrounds, and now we've got lush, textured environments. Most players come upon a game with an expectation of what level of graphical advancement they would like to see.

Likewise, gameplay has evolved in leaps and bounds. We no longer suffer extreme death penalties, and we can find random people to run dungeons and raids with by only clicking a couple of buttons. New gameplay ideas are being presented seemingly with each patch, and to a lot of success -- a simple gameplay hook can keep people coming back and playing a game for months, even years.

But are the two mutually exclusive, and have they become so?

Obviously, in an MMO, no one wants to run around an ugly world populated by trees that look like pipe cleaners, but is it a deal breaker? Would you rather play a fun, fulfilling game that looks a bit dated or play the most gorgeous, graphically stunning MMO that may lack good mechanics or an involving story?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

PAX East 2011: Will World of Warcraft ever go free-to-play?

It seems that every new MMORPG wants to bill itself as a "WoW killer." From Lord of the Rings Online to Age of Conan to (most recently) RIFT, everyone wants a piece of the most popular subscription-based MMORPG of all time.

To date, World of Warcraft has weathered the competition. Its subscriber numbers have reached an all-time high (now over 12 million), with its latest Cataclysm expansion selling nearly 5 million copies in the first month alone. The game should remain popular and successful for years to come. Still, even Blizzard admits: It can't stay on top forever.

So what happens when the game starts losing a significant amount of its subscriber base? If what happened to Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online is any clue, World of Warcraft might move to a free-to-play model. Since switching to free-to-play, both of Turbine's games added subscribers and increased revenues.

This past weekend, I sat in on the free-to-play MMO panel held at the PAX East 2011 conference in Boston. Afterward, I caught up with Robert Ferrari, VP of Publishing and Business Development for Sanrio Digital (Hello Kitty Online), to discuss WoW. We discussed the free-to-play industry and whether or not World of Warcraft could eventually find a place in it.

"WoW has to be looking at a free-to-play model currently," Ferrari theorized.

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Filed under: News items, Rumors

Breakfast Topic: Is it the world or the gameplay that keeps you hooked?

This Breakfast Topic has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

When I first started playing WoW, I read every quest. I was a newbie who didn't know where anything was and didn't even know of the existence of addons to help me in my questing. So I often searched the quest text for clues about where to find mobs and items. As my game savvy increased, I read the quests less and less, until finally I didn't read them at all but rather clicked on my map to see where I needed to go and what I needed to kill.

Now, I find myself slowing down again. The lore is interesting to me, and more and more, I realize how expansive the world is and how fun it is to participate in that world. I am not an RPer by any account, but I find myself wanting WoW to be a world and not just a game.

Out of a desire to understand and enjoy the lore, some players have read Arthas: Rise of the Lich King, The Shattering, and other WoW / Warcraft-related books. Other players have absolutely no desire to know the lore and view WoW as a game that they enjoy playing -- not a live-action fantasy novel.

Are you the sort of player who loves the lore? Or do you just play for the game action?

What's the biggest draw of WoW and Azeroth for you?
I love the persistent virtual world -- the lore, the community and social interaction, developing my characters ...7839 (68.4%)
I'm in it for the gameplay.2227 (19.4%)
-delete-1391 (12.1%)

Filed under: Breakfast Topics, Guest Posts

Guest Post: Into the future with user-created content

This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW Insider's pages.

One wonders how long World of Warcraft will remain viable. It is quite possible that my warlock will still be going strong decades down the line. Of one thing, however, I am certain: I will be playing some sort of MMORPG for as long as I'm able to tweak my spec. But will that game be WoW?

My friends and I muse about what it would take to switch to another game. That game would have to build upon WoW's legacy and offer something new and amazing to boot. Speaking of boots, I'd wager my Prelate's Snowshoes that the new game will be some incarnation of WoW itself, as Blizzard has proven so willing and able to adapt and grow with its fan base.

What makes WoW so popular and enduring? For starters, the game is so accommodating, with plenty to offer noobs and leets alike. Players can feel a sense of accomplishment from merely questing, while others can savor the challenge of working through multiple levels of high-end raid content. I can feel the delight of one-shotting a low-health rogue sneaking around the lumber mill or experience the soul-destroying chaos of getting quickly roasted in arena. And those of us with creaking, overworked CPUs are able to take part in the fun.

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Filed under: Guest Posts

Guest Post: The death of in-game interaction


This article has been brought to you by Seed, the Aol guest writer program that brings your words to WoW.com.

WoW's evolution has changed the course of both MMO game design and the landscape of the MMO player base in dramatic ways. By exploring the road most traveled, WoW has led the way from the roots of tabletop pen-and-paper RPGs and early MMO tabletop simulations into MMOs as virtual RPG themeparks.

Despite WoW's fantastic success on many fronts, in its evolution toward catering to the most common, casual style of play, it's removed much of the human interaction that made early MMO experiences special. Today's WoW is slick, seamless and streamlined. There is nothing one player can achieve that another player cannot also relatively easily achieve. Yet while players in today's WoW maintain that this thinly clad, egalitarian experience is "best," in reality, what we see is a continuous striving for distinction free from the confines of the game design itself. The ever-present GearScore sniff test has streamlined the need for player interaction to the point that interaction is barely needed at all.

In fact, it might be this very streamlining that has caused this MMO behemoth to slide away from the real magic of the early MMOs, to become a sanitized gaming experience that only barely acknowledges its need for virtual face-to-face gameplay. I miss the real interaction with my fellow players that speaks to the oldest traditions of what spawned MMOs: tabletop RPGs. I want player interactions to drive the game experience, from raiding to crafting to questing. The biggest villains and heroes of an MMO should be players, not pre-scripted heroes and playerless cut scenes. The next big MMO, I hope, can make this happen.

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Filed under: Guest Posts

How gaming can make a better world

About ten days ago, an interesting video of a speech was aired on TED talk. For those of you who don't know what TED is, it is quite literally a meeting place of some of the world's greatest thinkers: economists, philosophers, doctors, environmentalists and so on. These are people who dedicate their lives to making the world a better place.

So imagine my surprise when I was notified of a talk from someone who said that gaming fit into that ideal?

Enter Jane McGonigal, game designer. She says that the video game-playing youth of today -- that's us, by the way -- have within us the power to save the world. I know, I know, sounds crazy, right? Well, put down that energy drink and listen in. Jane's mission is to "try to make it as easy to save the world in real life, as it is to save the world in online games." The basis of her theory lies in a few things: motivation, an investment of time and the need to be rewarded. Remember that time your guild downed Ragnoros? Or triumphantly came through to the end of ToC? Yogg-saron? How did you feel then?

That's right, you felt satisfied.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Breakfast Topic: Lessons from Single Player RPGs

I'm sure by now it's pretty much no secret whatsoever that half the team, myself included, spent a good part of the waning days of Patch 3.2 enamored with Dragon Age Origins. Maybe it's the innocent charm of the leading man, Alistair, the deep and involved game world, or the fact that Marilyn Manson totally warned us that this was gonna be big, but I'm in deep. Patch 3.3 is finally dragging me back to WoW with its pure awesomeness, but Dragon Age is still pretty fresh in my mind, and there's more DLC to come.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Breakfast Topics, Lore, RP

Mike Morhaime and Paul Sams accept Guinness World Record awards

Apparently there were a few Blizzard blokes at E3 last week, even though we didn't see them wandering the floor at all. Mike Morhaime and Paul Sams were both there to accept their awards for world records from Guinness after making it into the 2009 Gaming edition. World of Warcraft picked up a record for the most popular MMORPG in the world (with, as you probably know, 12 million players), and Starcraft gained recognition for being the best-selling PC strategy game, with 9.5 million copies sold worldwide. Neither of these awards are really that much of a surprise -- both games have already garnered tons of other awards, and both games are already squarely in the pantheon of the best and biggest PC games ever sold. But being recognized is always nice, we're sure.

They honored a number of other extremely popular games and services as well, including two big Activision Blizzard titles: Call of Duty 4 was recognized for being the most-played online video game, and Guitar Hero was recognized for being the best-selling rhythm game series (though Red Octane, the game's original publisher, was honored, and they've only recently been acquired by the Activision overlords).

Congrats to all the award winners, as if they even needed it. Something tells us the millions and millions of dollars in revenue from all of these games was probably a nicer reward than Guinness recognition. Just a guess.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Blizzard moves from #47 to #1 in studio rankings

According to a recent list by Develop magazine, Blizzard has dethroned Nintendo to become the most bankable game studio in the world. I'm surprised they weren't there already, but I guess it's just this side of possible that Nintendo is hard to budge. Develop's top 100 is compiled by their editorial team and accounts for total sales, reputation within the industry, and a variety of other criteria. When all was said and done, the editors wrote, Warcraft "continues to do the sort of numbers previously reserved for crime syndicates and smaller members of the United Nations."

Nicely put, but what I find most bizarre about the list is that Blizzard jumped from #47 to #1 within the space of a year (you'll find Blizzard's 2008 listing on page 82 of a highly annoying-to-navigate Issuu archive). While part of that's due to the merge with Activision, Develop claims that Wrath of the Lich King being the fastest-selling PC game in history was the greatest contributing factor. Hang on. WoW was doing just fine even before Wrath hit, so how did Blizzard manage to get itself ranked behind do-little studios with sales of around $1-2 million per game on the 2008 list?

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items

A guide to shutting out the world (of Warcraft)

WoW is a very social game, and you might think that there is no getting around it. Fortunately for those who relish their alone time, there are several ways to minimize contact with other players and have some quiet time.

While some people will argue that you should stop playing social games like MMORPGs, there are plenty of solo activities, and if that is what you want to do, more power to you.

Today, I will be answering some reader mail from Heidi who desperately wants some peace and quiet.

Read more →

Filed under: Realm News, Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Guides

Will the economic downturn hurt WoW?

GamePolitcs had an interesting news brief about Michael Pachter, a financial analyst with Wedbush-Morgan, who contends that MMOs will not be impacted in the current economic downturn because the majority of people who play them are "addicts."

The full interview with Pachter is available from Reuters.

Besides the negative stereotypes and sweeping generalizations that come with statements like "people who play [MMOs] are addicts," Pachter does make a good point. He notes that "Losing their jobs makes them more likely to play because they have more time to play."

I thought about this for a minute. If I were to lose my job here at WoW Insider, I would no doubt start looking for new employment almost immediately. I would scale back my expenses – probably get rid of cable TV (Hulu is my TV now anyways), I'd eat out less, I'd use the library more and Barnes & Noble less, and I would generally be more frugal with my spending.

But I don't think I would cancel my WoW subscription.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Economy

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