Updated Mon, Apr 01, 2013 by Martuk
Love it or hate it, April Fools' Day has arrived and several developers are up to their old shenanigans once again. Each year devs get a free pass to prank their community of fans, some make creative endeavors to deceive their players while others make it a little too obvious but often in a way that can at least provide a decent laugh. Join us as we take a look at a few of the pranks perpetrated by online game developers this year, and how ArenaNet raised the bar on pranking your community with actual content.
Blizzard often posts some elaborate stories and images on April Fools’ Day. This year, however, they sort of just phoned it in. Aside from our annual visit from Crabby on the World of Warcraft website, a character fashioned after Microsoft’s extremely annoying Clippy assistant, there wasn't much out of Blizzard this year. Luckily, WoW’s Crabby character is a bit more playful than Clippy, despite having the same problem of not knowing when to shut up. Crabby allows visitors to make some changes to his attire by clicking on him.
Players can also indulge in the Noblegarden event through April 8th, which is more Easter-themed, complete with chocolate candy currency.
EVE Online developer CCP put their charismatic community man, CCP Guard, on their new gag, which is an almost eerily legit looking video to some degree about new ships and changes to DUST 514 and EVE. The 5th race near the end is a classic, but the shape of the frigate at 1:40, words fail me.
I’m a sucker for zombie games. Despite the market being flooded on both ends, I just keep playing them. So when I checked my inbox today to see a press release stating “Zombies to Swarm World of Tanks and World of Warplanes”, I knew it was an April Fools’ gag but I had to look none the less. And I will say, from the video end of the gag reel, it’s probably my favorite.
The developer diary video offers a few comical scenes involving zombie pilots and a few of our shambling friends trying in vain to beat their way into a heavily-armored rolling death machine in World of Tanks. Even more amusing, there seem to be some zombies in World of Warplanes waiting stealthily at the top of trees to ambush low-flying aircraft. Would that technically make them zombie ninjas?
BioWare isn’t without its own sense of humor this year. The team posted their April Fools’ gag to the Star Wars: The Old Republic website today as well with the laughable Game Update 2.1: Dance of the Hutts. While BioWare didn’t provide a video (unfortunately), they did offer some screenshots and details about the faux update such as Torborro’s Shakedown PvP area, where players would gather for a dance off showdown to earn the Huttese Transport mount. Though I have to admit, riding across Tatooine on the back of a Hutt does sound appealing...and funny.
In any case, what this gag could have been is left to the imagination, but if you need something more to terrorize you to your core and plague your dreams with visions of your childhood being brutalized, just take a look at this video and rest in the knowledge that it was luckily all just a joke...this time.
Probably the most elaborate April Fools’ Day prank of 2013 goes to Guild Wars 2 developer ArenaNet. Not only did ArenaNet post their prank, but they also added it to the game as well, allowing players to actually play some of Guild Wars 2 fashioned after 1980s gaming with the Super Adventure Box update. They even made this neat new commercial in the same spirit of some of those over-the-top 80s Nintendo gaming commercials.
If there was such a thing, this would certainly earn ArenaNet the MMOG Prank of 2013 Award. Other devs should take note of ArenaNet. They just raised the bar on April 1st pranking, so I think we should dare all the other devs to top it or at least try to keep up. As players, we can't lose in a battle like that.
Have you come across a good April Fools' gag that we missed? Share it in the comments below.