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What does brand advertising mean for the MMO? Part 1

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, and esoteroic topics that slip through the cracks.

Brand advertising has already been done in the MMO sphere. Anarchy Online's Free Play program has been showing users in-game advertisements for real-world products on in-game billboards since World of Warcraft launched in 2004. MMOs have survived since. Case closed.

Oh, you wanted more discussion. I see. It's been done before! Finally, we have some real precedent to talk about. Oh FunCom, you've finally managed to not disappoint me. Advertising models were one of the first types of campaigns to be applied to free-to-play versions of massively multiplayers that didn't hit perfection under a subscription model. In 2004, there were a tremendous number of MMOs to play, and people usually just stayed loyal to one. The fight for your subscription dollars was on.

Anarchy Online's Free Play program debuted in December 2004, just after the launch of the unknown but best-selling indie hit World of Warcraft, giving players a chance to play the game and its first expansion pack free of charge. Players subscribed to the Free Play game client would see advertisments in cities, towns, and other highly populated places in game for real-life goods, services, and companies. Advertising dollars paid for the game, as well as subscribers' choosing to pay and see fictional ads instead.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

A chat with Check Six, WoW Arena team

The official Microsoft Sync blog (apparently the blog isn't official -- they fooled me) has posted a video interview (which you can see above) with Check Six, one of the high level World of Warcraft Arena teams showing up in tournaments lately. The video is somewhat tame, but that actually works in its favor -- this high-level Arena play can be complicated and hard to follow, and so simplifying it a little bit actually makes it more palatable. You high level Arena players won't get to hear their opinions on the latest builds or balance tweaks, unfortunately (for that, you can check out our Coliseum column), but the rest of us can at least put some faces to one of these team names floating around, and hear a little bit more about how these guys run these tournaments.

They've been playing together for about two or three months, and they practice quite a bit: together, they do about ten or twelve hours a week, but I'd assume they play outside of the team as well. They say that WoW has a pretty "easy skill cap to reach," but after that, it's a matter of getting the right team members together, because they say teamwork is more important in Arenas than even a game like Counter-Strike ("CS"). And they kind of surprised me with how young they are -- it's a big deal to go running around the world and playing in tournaments when you're probably dealing with school and an early career at the same time. It's not the most well produced Arena interview you'll ever see, but I liked the frank look at the guys and what they're like away from their computers.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Interviews, Arena, Rumors

Activision CEO talks about in-game advertising... is WoW next?

When Vivendi acquired Activision -- or was it Activision acquiring Vivendi? these business deals confuse me -- to form what the soon-to-be Activision-Blizzard late last year, many players were concerned about how this would affect our beloved MMO. Blizzard assured its players with an FAQ on the forums about the merger stating, in no uncertain terms, that it would not affect Blizzard's games in any way (except to improve them, presumably). Activision CEO Bobby Kotick recently spoke with Next Generation, however, and talked very much like the businessman, discussing possible revenue models for their stable of games. He mentions how Activision-Blizzard must figure out StarCraft's business model for the future, "with in-game advertising and sponsorship" which he says "presents a tremendous opportunity for the future."

He illustrates how StarCraft can actually be "the model for in-game advertising and tournament play", spooking at least one World of Warcraft player, who asks on the forums if WoW could be next. Fortunately, Karune chimes in the same thread assuring StarCraft fans (and by extension, WoW players) that Blizzard has "no plans to have in-game advertising in StarCraft II." He explains that "Bobby (Kotick) was actually referring to Battle.net, which has always included ads." It's very reassuring, but perhaps such speculation would be avoided if Activision-Blizzard's CEO actually words things a little better.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Interviews

CGS 2v2 Arena information

There were some people out there who thought that since WoW wasn't an FPS or RTS, that it didn't really belong in the world of competitive gaming. Heck, a friend of mine used to like to say that it wouldn't work unless you were "trying to judge one elf dancing on a mailbox compared to another." (This friend, I should add, is anti-WoW) That's why I'm glad to see the Arena competitions becoming more and more prevalent as time goes on.

As Drysc recently announced on the forums, World of Warcraft is set to appear in this year's Championship Gaming Series. Players will have a chance to land a spot in the draft at BlizzCon. And for those who thumb their noses at gaming as a possible job -- the winners stand to make between $30k and $100k when you figure in the base salary, bonuses for winning, and prize money. (I just hope it includes good medical, because I sense some carpal tunnel in the mix too. :D )

Check out Drysc's full announcement from the forums behind the jump...

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, News items, PvP, BlizzCon

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