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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

The Lawbringer: This MMO is too addictive! I'm suing!


Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly guide to the intersection between law and the World of Warcraft. I'm Amy Schley, newly graduated law student and your tour guide through the quirky world of copyrights, contracts and crazy lawsuits.

One of the many joys of going to law school is that you know every lawyer joke known to man, and your friends and family feel a need to inform you of the latest crazy lawsuit. While nothing will ever top Mayo v. Satan and His Staff for sheer silliness (by both plaintiff and judge), a new case making the rounds comes close. Someone is suing an MMORPG for being addictive.

That's right. A Mr. Craig Smallwood, former player of Lineage II, is suing NCsoft for negligently creating an addictive game, for failing to warn him that the game was addictive and for blocking him from the game, causing him to suffer severe withdrawal symptoms that prompted hospitalization and thrice-weekly counseling sessions. More facts and analysis after the break; all information comes from the judge's recent opinion.

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Filed under: The Lawbringer

MMO Roundup: Last week on Massively


Sometimes you'd like to know that there are other MMOs out there, right? Our sister site Massively can provide you with everything you need to know about all MMOs, including WoW! Check out this roundup of the latest news from the wider MMO world.
Games Day '09 coverage
This last Saturday was Games Workshop's Games Day celebration, and Massively.com was on site to get you the latest Warhammer Online coverage straight from Mythic Entertainment. Want to know more about Ultima Online's Stygian Abyss expansion? Curious about Land of the Dead? Interested as to the future direction of Warhammer Online? Do your favorite devs play on order or destruction? Find all of these answers and more in our full coverage of the event starting tomorrow, including our hands-on impressions of the new mega-dungeon, Land of the Dead!
An overview of Warhammer Online's Land of the Dead
You've heard us talk about it, you've heard us discuss it, and it's now time for us to tell you exactly what it's all about. Land of the Dead is not your father's MMO dungeon -- it's a dungeon that is something more than just a dungeon. It's an entire zone filled with activities and sub-dungeons, all culminating in an epic instanced dungeon that features a face off with the first leader of the Tomb Kings himself, King Amenemhetum.
Massively Speaking Podcast Episode 52: Answering your Champions Online questions
Massively Speaking Episode 52 returns this week with Shawn and Contributing Editor Kyle Horner to answer your questions about Champions Online's recent NDA lift for press. Kyle gathered questions from a recent The Daily Grind post and answers a handful on the podcast.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Features

MMO Roundup: Last week on Massively


Sometimes you'd like to know that there are other MMOs out there, right? Our sister site Massively can provide you with everything you need to know about all MMOs, including WoW! Check out this roundup of the latest news from the wider MMO world.
Free Realms launches today
According to a post on the Free Realms forums from Jason "Pex" Ryan, Community Manager, the servers will be going down this morning at approximately 8:00 AM Pacific, and will remain offline all day today while they push their final patches and run internal tests. They note that they will also be deleting all beta Free Realms characters as well.
Guild Wars hits the 6 million milestone
Just in time for their fourth anniversary celebrations, ArenaNet have announced that Guild Wars has sold over six million copies. Coincidence? We think not but it's still a remarkable milestone for this popular MMO. Remember that market leader World of Warcraft has 11.5 million players worldwide and is subscription based. Guild Wars meanwhile, is free-to-play (plus box costs) and only a few months younger than WoW.
LotRO two-year anniversary: Book 8 details announced
As our LotRO 2nd anniversary coverage continues, we're pleased to bring you some of the latest news from a recent conference call we had with Turbine. This call involved Jeffrey Steefel, Executive Producer of LotRO, Harry Teasley, Art Director for LotRO and Adam Mersky, Director of Communications for Turbine to provide us with a rundown of the last two years with the game and what the future holds.
Champions Online dated for release on July 14th
During an event in the UK today, Cryptic's Bill Roper revealed that Champions Online will officially launch on July 14th 2009 in both the United State and Europe. The launch date, while a tiny bit further than expected, is probably for the better since Jumgpate Evolution is releasing in the middle of June anyhow. If both of these games hit in the same month, we'd probably lose our minds.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, Features

Worlds.com aims to sue over the virtual world of Warcraft


Business Insider (no relation) is reporting that Worlds.com CEO Thom Kidrin is intending to sue anyone who will not license their virtual worlds product through him, and since Kidrin claims they hold the patent to virtual worlds, everyone has to get a license. Since this is a legal issue I'll lay this out in a few easy to read steps:
    1. Thom calls up Blizzard, Linden Lab, etc...
    2. Thom says "Hey, I invented virtual worlds! Pay me money since you're making money off the concept."
    3. Blizzard and Linden Lab laugh and hang up, assuming it's a prank call.
    4. Thom goes to court.
That's the gist of it. Kidrin plans on going after a few other companies before knocking on Blizzard's door: notably, Worlds.com has already filed suit against NCsoft, which publishes City of Heroes and Guild Wars.

How did Worlds.com wind up with the patent to the idea of a scalable virtual world with thousands of users? Kidrin has said that they invented the virtual worlds with a product for sick kids called Starbright World back in 1997. (Though apparently the concept was thought up back in 1995.)

However, let's take a look at the definition of Cyberspace. It was first used in William Gibson's 1982 story "Burning Chrome" and again used in a few of his books, with "Neuromancer" being the most popular. Gibson's definition for Cyberspace reads:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, News items

Lord British still likes WoW


Rich Garriott, aka Lord British, aka one of the grandfathers of MMO gaming and even gaming in general through the Ultima series, has fallen on some tough times lately. His latest attempt to re-enter the MMO market, Tabula Rasa, was recently cancelled, and with that, so was his job at NCSoft. Still, according to computerandvideogames.com, he says he's ready to bounce back and get right into the gaming market.

But on a more topical note, he says something in the article about World of Warcraft, praising them for their phenomonal growth and saying that they have "shown us all what good game development is about." Certainly, most of us here, I would think, would strongly agree with that statement. But it is fun to compare and contrast this statement to somewhere around a year ago. Back then, he said that he didn't believe WoW would hurt Tabula Rasa's sales, because MMORPGers generally play a game or two at a time and move on after a year or so.

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

WoW at PAX (or lack thereof...)

Hey everybody! I'm back after a long weekend away (did anybody miss me?) in Bellevue, WA, visiting the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX, for those of us in the know). Joystiq did a great job of covering the whole event (and I wrote up my own PAXperience), but they left one question unanswered: where was WoW?

Not at PAX, apparently. MMO makers Mythic and NCSoft made a nice showing (more on that in a second), but Blizzard didn't have any official presence at all at what is quickly becoming one of the bigger public gaming events. I did see a few neat t-shirts (and one awesome guy who pinned his name and server on his back, but walked away before I could snap a picture), and hear a shoutout during a Q&A panel to the PA guild on Dark Iron (last item), but Blue and the Burning Crusade were nowhere to be seen. Maybe that means that six million players is enough for Blizzard, or maybe it means they really do want to get the expansion out before the year ends.

But while WoW was missing, there were plenty of WoW competitors there. I got to play Guild Wars, Lineage II, and Auto Assault at the NCSoft booth (and got free copies of each, thanks!), D&D Online from Turbine, and I was able to check out and play an early alpha of the WoW clone (or killer, depending on who you talk to), Warhammer Online. I asked a guy from Mythic exactly what the difference between WHO and WoW will be, and he said they'd like to make a game that lets a player completely focus on PVP, rather than having PVP as just one element. Unfortunately, playing it seemed to me to be a little too much like Dark Age of Camelot (which Mythic is also responsible for), and it just didn't have that polished and shiny Blizzard magic, early alpha or not. So, is it possible to surpass World of Warcraft? From what I saw at PAX, not yet.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Odds and ends, Blizzard, PvP, Expansions

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