Loading... September 17th, 2010 - Freedom or Death

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style="font-style: italic;">APB
came to a surprising end this week, surpassing the likes of style="font-style: italic;">Tabula Rasa
and Chronicles
of Spellborn
for the title of
shortest lasting large
budget MMORPG. That, while the much smaller, scrappier developer Flying
Lab Software announced free-to-play plans for style="font-style: italic;">Pirates of the Burning
Sea. How some companies
weather on and others, despite vast resources,
fail, is the subject of today's
Freedom or Death.

cellspacing="0" width="100%">


You vote with what you
view at Ten Ton Hammer, and the
is the Ten Ton Pulse ( href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/thepulse/">What
is The Pulse?).

top 5 Pulse results:

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow">World
    of Warcraft
  2. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/99">Lord
    of the Rings Online (UP 1)
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eq2">Everquest 2
    (down 1)
  4. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eve/">EVE Online
    (UP 1)
  5. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/gw2">Guild Wars 2
    (down 1) 

movers today

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/swtor">Star Wars:
    The Old

    - UP 2
  2. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/ddo">Dungeons and

    - UP 1
    style="text-decoration: underline;">
  3. style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/115">Age
    of Conan: Hyborian Adventures

    - down 1
size="-1">Recent Releases

  • size="-1">7/27
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2461"
    for Speed World
  • size="-1">7/27
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/starcraft2" target="_blank">StarCraft
    II: Wings of Liberty
  • size="-1">8/17
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/140">City
    of Heroes: Going Rogue (release)
  • size="-1">8/18
    - href="http://everquest2.com/free_to_play">EverQuest
    II Extended (release)
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">9/7
    - size="-1"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/aion">Aion:
    Assault on Balaurea (free

  • size="-1">September
    30, 2010
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/ffxiv" target="_blank">Final
    Fantasy XIV size="-1">
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">October
    26, 2010
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/170">LEGO
    Universe (release)

  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">November
    2, 2010
    - href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1407">DC
    Universe Online (release)


  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">10/5 -
    10/8 - href="http://www.gdconline.com/">GDC
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">10/8 -
    10/10 - href="http://www.newyorkcomiccon.com/">New
    York Comic Con
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;">10/22 -
    10/23 - href="http://us.blizzard.com/blizzcon/?rhtml=y" target="_blank">BlizzCon
  • size="-1"> style="font-weight: bold;"> 3/24
    3/26 (2011) - href="http://fanfest.eveonline.com/" target="_blank">CCP

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/playerscore/scoreboards"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 525px; height: 220px;"
alt="World of Warcraft PlayerScore"

your PlayerScore?
World of
Warcraft players, find out at href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/playerscore">playerscore.com.

Loading... A game! A game! My
kingdom for a game!

Some ten years ago in a sleepy late afternoon class, I painfully
watched as a finance professor quietly cast aspersions on the
optimistic a handful of the entrepreneurial track folks. This was not a
time of recession, the economy was growing and the dot com boom had not
yet gone bust, confidence was running high, but this particular
professor wanted these folks to know what they're getting into. Taking
aside one student who he knew wanted to start a chain of coffee shops
(even to this day, Fivebucks has yet to invade rural Pennsylvania), he
grimly went over the failure rate of such ventures: around 80%. That's
about 4 of 5 small restaurants, and the number was even higher for
establishments with no liquor license. Even if his shops survived, each
could feasibly expect to lose money for five years before making a
penny, and that was in a "good" economy. I developed a whole new level
of respect for entrepreneurs and small businesses that day, and it's
something I've tried to carry forward in our coverage of smaller MMO
projects on Ten Ton Hammer.

At the foot of the Scottish highlands, in a land known for producing
world-famous economists and business minds like Adam Smith and Andrew
Carnegie, something went horribly wrong with Realtime Worlds. What
killed APB?
Reviews of the game were lukewarm at best, the story was paper thin,
shooter newbies were inordinately punished, the gameplay repetitive to
a fault, but there's almost certainly something more sinister going on
Halliwell has almost made a
hobby of covering the internal
dysfunction in the Realtime Worlds organization. Good ideas typically
survive bad organizations, and I imagine if we all took a peak behind
the Blizzard curtain during style="font-style: italic;">WoW's
development we'd see the same kind of in-fighting on a much larger
scale. You'll find the Blue team scattered across the games development
landscape, happy to add Blizzard and style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft
to their resumes, and some, like Mark Kern, have very promising games
in development The difference, of course, is that Blizzard was already
a mature and prestigious company by the time that style="font-style: italic;">WoW
went into development, and Realtime Worlds had style="font-style: italic;">Crackdown,
David Jones, and the same postal code as Rockstar's original studios.

But instead of looking at Sigil or Destination Games, look instead at
NetDevil. Auto
was perhaps the first
financial failure to really shock the MMO world, but sound business
decision-making ensured that NetDevil didn't put all their eggs in one
basket, but retained their talent to make another game. Now, I
don't think we're alone in feeling like they're on the verge of a
blockbuster with style="font-style: italic;">LEGO Universe.

Or look at Flying Lab Software. This week FLS announced plans for style="font-style: italic;">Pirates of the Burning Sea
to go free-to-play. Whatever you might feel about the free-to-play
porting trend that seems to be gaining momentum (I personally like the
all-in Turbine model than SOE's first attempt with style="font-style: italic;">EQ2X),
it's a good choice for style="font-style: italic;">PotBS.
Why? Because the game is essentially a lobby and instance game, the map
being the lobby, much like style="font-style: italic;">DDO,
with some overland areas thrown in as episodic style content - an
excuse to pimp the game every few months. Fence off the premium areas
with something as simple as "Thar be dragons!" style barriers. Or maybe
put free-to-play players at such an obvious disadvantage in PvP that
they'll be forced to either fall-in with existing players or upgrade at
higher levels to participate in port battles and the like, make sure
the upgrade paths are visible and accessible to new players. All in
all, I think style="font-style: italic;">PotBS
is uniquely positioned to take advantage of a F2P conversion. But none
of that would have been possible had not the talented Rusty Williams
and his crew not closely controlled costs throughout the game's

You might wonder why we put a lot of effort into covering glum business
news about MMO games. Put simply, it's because we care about the
wellbeing of the MMO category. We want to see more Flying Lab
Softwares, more NetDevils, more Runic Games, and less Sigils, less
Destination Games, and less Realtime Worlds. There's so much these
games and companies can learn from each other if they'll just pay
attention. That's especially true since the business model experiment
phase is just about over, we've largely established what works and what
doesn't in the Western market. Complicated, convoluted payment schemes
involving multiple virtual currencies - very bad. Unoriginal clones -
very bad. Giving a game away free to the Western market and expecting
them to pay to advance - bad. RMT stat items in a subscription game -
bad.  Sparkly RMT "cosmetic" items in a subscription game -
meh, a fast infusion of cash that you pay for in decreased loyalty, use
with care. Premium subscription all-you-can-play options in a core
free-to-play game - good. Developing items and content based on what
sells best in the free-to-play world - good. Box pricing without a
subscription or RMT - very good.

The lesson for is to treat your business as a going concern (the prime
directive of accounting, by the way), something with a vision, not just
a scrum-obsessed single game-centric company. In case you're curious
about that particular student, he went on to purchase a dilipated
little house, fixed it up by hand, and turned it into a thriving little
coffee shop a short distance from where we took that class. He and his
wife take on second jobs in the summertime when student populations are
low and work hard in the fall and spring. More than seven years later,
the vision remains, but they're working hard and seem to be doing all
right in the meantime.

Does PotBS
have a better chance as free-to-play? Could any of these failed games,
from APB
on down, have succeeded with a blank check? Share your thoughts in the

Shayalyn's Epic Thread of the

From our href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/forumdisplay.php?f=6">Articles,
News & Events Discussion forum

Luke Halliwell Discusses What Went Wrong with Realtime Worlds

Realtime Worlds has href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/89524">pulled
the plug on APB
and shut off the lights. Former APB staffer Luke Halliwell has been
vocal about what he feels went wrong with the game's development and
particularly its management. Ten Ton Hammer's resident news
Martuk, has taken the time to summarize Halliwell's series of
posts on the subject. If you're a glutton for the drama that surrounds
the demise of a game (and whether APB is truly dead or not is the
subject of some debate, but that's a topic for another day), this
thread is for you. href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showthread.php?t=53574">Go!


Quotes from the Epic Thread

know, why do we care? It seems people are just letting a whole bunch of
attention whores sound off now. It's done, let it rest in peace.

- href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showpost.php?p=442015&postcount=3">Vaebn

do get some perverse pleasure out of it. They did it to themselves and
they were hardly the only ones. Tabula Rasa, Vanguard, etc... Of course
the trick, for us, remains figuring out who is doomed before
style="font-style: italic;"> we spend way too much
money on them."

- href="http://forums.tentonhammer.com/showpost.php?p=442038&postcount=4">


and Exclusive Content
Today at Ten Ton Hammer

4 new Ten Ton Hammer
features today! 57 Ten Ton
Hammer features in September! 1012 in 2010!


Capitalizing On Your Girl Gamer Fetish


creators of GameCrush.com have developed an amazing set of social
networking tools, then placed them into a website built solely for the
purpose of getting lonely gamers to pay for online play time with
attractive fellow gamers. Borticus had a chance to sit down with two
GameCrush "PlayDates," as well as co-founder Eric Strasser, to discuss
some of the existing stigmas already attached to the site that will
re-launch later this year.


Mysterious Island of Gipat – A Look at Allods Update 1.1


first major content update to Allods Online added more than just new
areas, quests and monsters; it also brought some very specific changes
made only for the North American Market. Jason
“Medawky” Bolton sat
down with Darren Allarde and Krystin DeHaven from Gala-Net to tour the
new content, and to get the skinny on the effect of these new changes.
Join us this week to find out the community’s reaction
and get the
lowdown on what to expect as you make your way to the Mysterious Island
of Gipat.


Final Fantasy XIV Screenshots Showcase the Forest Nation of Gridania


Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) is rapidly approaching its launch later this month
and the PR machine is in full swing. Earlier this week we posted a new
batch of href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/ffxiv/screenshots/ul%27dah">screenshots
from the desert nation of Ul'dah,
but today Square Enix released another round of screenshots with a
change of scenery. The latest batch of images offers a look at the
forest nation of Gridania. Gridania can be found in the eastern reaches
of Aldenard and all the colorful new screenshots can be found here.


-  Rated BGs vs. Arenas


since The Burning Crusade, Battlegrounds have taken a back seat to
Rated Arenas both in respect and rewards. That's about to change. Rated
Battlegrounds will have the exact same rewards available as Rated
Arenas with the possible exception of the Gladiator title and
associated mount. How do the two compare and what can you expect? Read
on to find out.

Top 10

  1. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/tera/interviews/scott-hartsman-9.14.10">Deeper
    into the Rift – A Q&A with style="font-weight: bold;">Rift:
    Planes of
    Telara’s Scott
  2. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/gw2/features/interviews/story-and-progression">The
    Heart of Tyria - An Exclusive Interview on Personal Story and
    Progression in style="font-weight: bold;">Guild Wars 2
  3. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow/cataclysm/zones/deepholm-preview"> style="font-weight: bold;">WoW
    Cataclysm – Deepholm Zone Preview
  4. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/editorials/gamecrush-editorial">GameCrush:
    Capitalizing On
    Your Girl Gamer Fetish
  5. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/rift/videos/pax10"> style="font-weight: bold;">Rift:
    Planes of Telara Class
    & Invasions Video Feature with
    Russ Brown
  6. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/gw2/features/faq"> style="font-weight: bold;">Guild Wars 2
  7. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/aion/editorials/assault-on-balaurea-impressions"> style="font-weight: bold;">Aion:
    Assault on Balaurea First Impressions
  8. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow/guides/rated_bgs_vs_arenas"> style="font-weight: bold;">WoW
    -  Rated BGs vs. Arenas
  9. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/eon/features/previews/pax-hands-on">At
    Worlds' End - A Hands-On Look at style="font-weight: bold;">End
    of Nations
  10. href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/wow/guides/prepare_for_cataclysm"> style="font-weight: bold;">WoW
    - Preparing Your Guild for Cataclysm style="font-weight: bold;">

for visiting the Ten Ton Hammer network!

- Jeff "Ethec" Woleslagle and the Ten Ton Hammer team

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Pirates of the Burning Sea Game Page.

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