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The Lawbringer: Positive value creation from the negatives in the games industry

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

The no-win situation is, at its core, a sad state of affairs. Seriously, no one is winning in a no-win situation. In fact, everyone could be said to be losing.

Piracy has been long held to be the dire no-win situation in the video game industry because it represents a perfect culmination of utter loss -- an infinitely copyable product that took millions of dollars to produce being distributed for free. No profit means the studio gets its windows shuttered and no one goes home employed.

Last week, I read an article on PC Gamer that talks about Runic Games's Torchlight. The game is a fantastic spiritual successor to the Diablo series that the company's CEO, Max Schaefer, served as lead designer for. Runic Games was essentially bought by Perfect World, a Chinese MMO company that seeks to release an MMO version of the popular game.

Schaefer has some different views and conclusions about how piracy effects his game. In a nutshell, Schaefer sees no problem with the millions of illegally downloaded copies of Torchlight in Asian markets. When the MMO is released, the brand recognition and audience building that piracy affords will bring in new customers for the eventual MMO, where it is harder to pirate a service. With so many games going online these days with multiplayer components requiring authentication or even a license purchase (as with used versions of PS3 and XBox 360 games), is this the right attitude to have in world where a game's success is made or destroyed based on sales? Is this line of thought able to coexist with the fickle dev studio and publisher system in place now in the industry?

Ultimately, we can learn something from Schaefer's comments, especially about audience building. And, potentially, we can see the future of World of Warcraft's distribution as the game gets a bit heavy in terms of barrier to entry.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

WoW and the PC gaming market

The XPS. Oooooh.With over 10 million subscribers, World of Warcraft commands a pretty hefty chunk of the PC gaming market. Stopping by my local Best Buy, I asked their Geek Squad members to simply: "Show me the machines for WoW." One guy smiled, nodded, and took me to what he called "the WoW rack."

"These are the machines," he promised me, "that'll get you through the game." According to my Geek Squad advisor, there's been more than a few memos in the store about which machines to recommend for World of Warcraft. "Corporate wants to be sure," Brian told me, "that you people can get Warcraft machines right out of the box."

Best Buy isn't alone in this preparedness. AMD Game! is a branding label that, in theory, recommends the best-of-the-best, all according AMD. They prescribe a set of base, minimum requirements for a computer, and then run that box through a series of games to be sure the game plays the way it's supposed to play. If the system passes muster, then the system is allowed to stamp itself with the coveted AMD Game! label. And, yup: World of Warcraft is certainly on that list.

And since the World of Warcraft XPS sports an nVidia card -- you can be pretty tootin' sure that gets tested as well. While the XPS still costs a little more than most might pay, it's branded, toyed-out the wazoo, and all about WoW.

WoW: Im in ur PC market, designin' ur boxes.

[Via Gamers Hell]

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

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