The Ten Biggest MMOG News Stories of 2010

Posted Fri, Dec 31, 2010 by Martuk

Ten Ton Hammer News Editor Stacy “Martuk” Jones reviews the highs and lows, the launches and cancellations, the lawsuits, bankruptcies, and corporate hijinx that made up this year in MMOGs in our very last article of the year: The Ten Biggest MMOG News Stories of 2010

10. Five New (and Non-Traditional) MMORPGs Launch
For all the bad news of 2010, it’s easy to overlook the surprising number of genuinely new and different MMOGs released. For starters, the future was a crowded place last February, when Star Trek Online and Global Agenda launched back-to-back, Both rode a wave of pre-launch hype (especially Trekkie- STO, of course) followed by decent sales, subscription-month disillusionment, a period of settling into their respective niches. Both also seem to be on the upswing: user-created content via the Foundry seems to be well received by STO players, and Global Agenda (having gone free-to-play this summer) has just launched its first PvE-driven expansion, Sandstorm.

LEGO Universe, Vindictus, and World of Warcraft: Cataclysm were the fall contenders in the MMO sector, along with a sputtering offering from Square Enix that we’ll discuss below. LEGO U offset a relatively small content offering with incredible player-created content options (over 50,000 player-created models and environments had been created at last count), while Vindictus’s stunningly visceral level of action gameplay revealed to us how much we’ve been missing with auto-attack. Finally, WoW went farther than any MMORPG has ever gone to reinvent itself with Cataclysm, a top-down revitalization of the celebrated original.

star trek online
STO seems to be on the upswing via The Foundry

9. SyFy and Trion World Network Team Up for New "One Earth" TV Show, MMOG
Trion Worlds is gaining recognition for their upcoming MMORPGs Rift and End of Nations, but what you may not be aware of is that they also have another project in the works in cooperation with the SyFy channel. The project, currently under the working title of One Earth, will work to merge the MMO world with a television show that will run simultaneously.  Events in one will influence the world in the other. It’s certainly an ambitious project that has only one of two possible outcomes: Epic Win or Epic Fail. I see no middle ground for this one.

8. Mythic’s Botched Billing
Playing your favorite MMORPGs can be costly at times, but it proved to be extremely costly for some. Warhammer Online and Dark Age of Camelot players earlier this year when they found out that Mythic’s billing vendor made a slight boo boo that resulted in several accounts being charged multiple times . In many cases these charges ran in the $300-$400 range, but some rare instances reportedly broke $1,000. While Mythic wasn’t directly responsible, this sort of screw up doesn’t do your reputation any favors in a market where people are already reserved about giving out their credit/debit card details.

Mythic took steps to make things right by players, but the damage was already done. Many players had to spend hours on the phone with their bank and Mythic to try and sort out any excess overdraft charges.  This was the second major customer service snafu of the year – Atari’s removal of 60 days’ gametime for Star Trek Online Collector’s Edition purchasers created a storm of controversy in March. Atari later honored the deal.

7.  Square Enix Replaces FFXIV Leadership, PS3 Version Delayed
When it comes to worst launch candidate of the year, I’m not sure if that dubious honor goes to APB for its short-lived existence or to Final Fantasy XIV. One of the year’s most anticipated titles, FFXIV was released in such a poor state at launch that developer / publisher Square Enix has yet to charge a month of subscription, delayed the PS3 launch, and swapped out the original project leadership team almost entirely. Following the FFXIV launch issues and leadership changes, Square Enix went on to cut its yearly net forecast by 90%. So the question is – Can the new leadership team turn things around for 2011?

richard garriott counting his money
Richard Garriott counting his millions

6. Richard Garriott Wins $28 Million Suit Against NCSoft
Richard Garriott’s legacy isn’t in dispute, we’re thankful for all he did for the Ultima series and Ultima Online. Every UO veteran has great stories to tell and, that being the case, we tried not to take sides on this particular issue. We’d even be happy he’d made a cool $28 million, if it hadn’t come from the pockets of one of the world’s largest active MMO publishers.

Granted, it’s more than a little shady that NCSoft fired their Tabula Rasa figurehead in absentia. But, frankly, we think it’s at least as odd that Lord British took a couple months off to fly to space as the game bearing literally his name, Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa, crashed and burned. The judgment has us bummed – we’d much rather have seen that $28M go towards games like Guild Wars 2 than Garriott’s next near-earthescapade or his other new hobby (/shudder): Facebook game development.

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