Microcosms: Three to Play – The New What’s Next

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style="font-weight: bold; color: rgb(255, 204, 51);">Top
Free-to-Play Games

of Aug  15- Aug 21, 2010

1. Dungeons
and Dragons
Online: Eberron Unlimited

2. style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://us.runesofmagic.com/us/index.html">Runes
of Magic target="_blank">

href="http://everquest2.station.sony.com/"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">3.  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/1303"
target="_blank">Atlantica Online

4.  href="http://atlantica.ndoorsgames.com/center/default.asp"
target="_blank"> href="http://www.freerealms.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"
target="_top"> href="http://www.freerealms.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.freerealms.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">FreeRealms

5.  target="_blank">  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"
Chronicles of Spellborn

Perfect World International

 7.  href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/581"
target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"
target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/581"
target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/181"
target="_blank">Sword of the New World

8. target="_blank">Aika href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/856"

9. target="_blank">Allods Online

10.  target="_top">Requiem: Bloodmayne href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/581"
target="_top"> href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/2433"
target="_blank"> href="http://heroesofgaia.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.gamersfirst.com/swordofthenewworld/"

style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://www.freerealms.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://atlantica.ndoorsgames.com/center/default.asp"
target="_blank"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://us.runesofmagic.com/us/index.html"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> style="text-decoration: underline;"> href="http://allods.gpotato.com/" target="_blank"> style="text-decoration: underline;">

The bulk of the summer convention season is finally in our rear view
mirrors as our intrepid team begins their trip home from Deutschland.
It seems every convention this year had some sort of exciting
announcement in regard to free-to-play MMOGs, which marks a definite
change in attitudes from the developer’s side of the equation. While
Western players don’t seem to have fully bought into playing games for
free, it’s only a matter of time. PAX and BlizzCon are still on the
horizon and I am hoping both will feature some exciting free-to-play
reveals, but I will keep that mostly under my hat for now.

I don’t think most gamers really appreciate the opportunities this form
of entertainment provides. Could you imagine if other sectors
incorporated the free-to model? I was recently walking out of a very
hyped, but very disappointing, movie and I lamented not only the loss
of precious hours of my life that would never be returned, but also the
20 bucks I had dropped on a couple of tickets. What if I could walk in
for free, then pay for my popcorn and beverage if I felt inclined to do
so? Then, what if, at the end of the flick, I could simply pay a fee if
I really enjoyed it and get treated to outtakes, deleted scenes or any
of the other “extra” features that are typically bundled with a DVD, or
just walk away if the movie blew chunks?

I think most movie studios would scoff at that idea, since they get to
have their cake and eat it too. While patrons of feature films would
probably kill for that privilege of attending a movie free and paying
only for the extras they wanted, gamers have that option every day and
most simply ignore it or openly ridicule it. There are three games
coming out, or removing their subscription barriers, that will
hopefully change our collective misconceptions once and for all. Read
on to see what this trifecta of gaming goodness is in this week’ s
Microcosms: Three-to-Play.

There have been several major paradigm shifts when it comes
to MMOGs in the past decade and we stand on the precipice of the next
one as 2010 nears the fall season. The first shift occurred when the
longstanding belief that gamers would never pay a monthly fee to pay a
game was challenged by Meridian
and Ultima
. The second major
change in our collective point of view came when EverQuest shattered
the notion that one of these pay-to-play games could attract and
sustain a large audience. The last major shift, of course, happened
when Blizzard unleashed its powerhouse and removed the final barrier
for the genre by proving that MMOGs weren’t just reserved for hardcore
gamers and long time RPG players by delivering its game to the masses.

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/74650"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 225px; height: 141px;"
alt="EQ" src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/74650">

EverQuest changed our way of thinking - we would
never pay to play a game before it.

This new shift is one that has already occurred in several other
markets, but has been slow to take hold here in North America – that
players will embrace free-to-play MMOGs and accept microtransactions as
a major source of monetization. Had SOE launched EQ1 as a free-to-play,
and had other devs followed suit, our current line of thinking would
probably be, “Who in their right mind would pay a monthly subscription
fee?” While we can’t rewrite history, we can embrace the inevitable
change and stand up and demand quality games that warrant our time and
money. Luckily for us those demands are being met as more and more
titles are released that offer amazing gameplay and real value. This
week we look at three of them-- two existing franchises that are being
converted and one brand new title with high production value.

2 Extended

EverQuest 2
had the unfortunate circumstance of being launched directly
against the snowball turned avalanche that was style="font-style: italic;">World of Warcraft.
someone who beta tested both games I was sure that, while WoW was
immensely fun and a solid game, audiences would quickly grow tired of
it and look to a game with more depth and content. History shows that I
was wrong and EQ2 was overshadowed by Blizzard’ s powerhouse. The game
wasn’t forgotten however--it has maintained a solid player base and
many of its innovations have been incorporated in other popular MMOGs.

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/80388"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 225px; height: 141px;"
alt="EQ2" src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/80388">

Come see why the people that make the game you play

playing EQ2

While EQ2 won’t be converting its existing live game to free-to-play it
will offer players a dedicated server for both new character creation
and existing character transfers. SOE has already proven capable in the
microtransaction business with their Exchange servers and Station Shop
both being run well. EQ2E players can expect fair pricing and a
commitment to keeping the game balanced for paying and non-paying
players alike.

Featuring amazing graphics, a huge world, 19 races, 24 classes and
depth in every aspect of the game, EQ2 is as complete an MMOG as you
will find anywhere. New players will benefit from 5 years of
development and expansion as they explore the impressive world of

of the Rings Online

Basing an MMOG on an existing intellectual property has proven a risky
venture as games like Warhammer,
Age of Conan
and Star
Trek Online
struggled to find their footing in an oversaturated market. Lord of the
Rings Online has always had a rabid and fiercely loyal group of
subscribers, but it has never quite achieved the level of success that
a game with so much critical acclaim should have. Turbine hopes to
change that with this free-to-play conversion, the company is no
stranger to the process after the smashing success of style="font-style: italic;">Dungeons
& Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited. style="font-style: italic;">Lord of the Rings Online
should easily replicate that success and will most likely eclipse it as
it opens it doors to an even larger pool of players.

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/87133"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 225px; height: 152px;"
alt="Black Prophecy"

Immerse yourself in Middle-Earth with LotRO.

Set in the Middle-Earth of J.R.R. Tolkien, LotRO is an episodic style
game that allows players to relive the classic stories while inventing
and contributing their own. Mirroring EQ2 in many ways, it is one of
the deepest titles on the market, with extensive character
customization, robust crafting, a huge world filled with content and
customizable player housing. Another strong suit of LotRO is it’s
variety of playable classes that offer unique experiences and dynamic
group composition. Taking high fantasy to its rightful place of epic
battles, breathtaking scenery and rich lore, LotRO is a must play for
any fan of the genre.


Black Prophecy
is the lone new title on the list, and its space themed,
ship-based combat is generating a lot of buzz. This German import has
been on our collective radar here at Ten Ton Hammer for a long time
now, and we get more excited the closer it gets to launch. Originally
envisioned as a pay-to-play  title, the game’ s developer,
Reakktor Media, was forced to delay launch when their original
publisher, and parent company, 10tacle studios, went bankrupt. New
publisher Gamigo Games has put it back on track and changed it to a
subscription-free model.

Graphically stunning, Black
is a faction-based game that puts
the emphasis on fast-paced combat and infinite customization. With both
PvE and PvP aspects, Black
puts you in control of a modularly
upgradable spaceship in a battle for survival and domination over both
your rival faction and the hostile alien forces of The Restorers.
Crafting is well represented as player made enhancements for both ships
and clan owned space ports will be highly desired. Combining
twitch-based combat with full-featured MMOG functionality should make
for a deadly combo. But make sure your machine is up to speed before
you blast off;, Black
will test your system’ s limits for

href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/node/88435"> style="border: 0px solid ; width: 225px; height: 127px;"
alt="BP" src="http://www.tentonhammer.com/image/view/88435">

Stellar graphics are but one of Black Prophecy's
strong points.

The vision of Black
26th century is an exciting one that
should have no trouble capturing the imaginations of space combat fans
and will probably succeed in converting many fantasy fans who are
looking for something new. 

Fall and winter have always been kind to gamers as developers and
publishers release some of their top titles in conjunction with the
Christmas shopping season. Free-to-play players will finally get to
join in that time honored tradition as several top notch titles go
live, but unlike our AAA counterparts, we won’t have to pay a thing to
start playing.

style="border: 0px solid ; width: 640px; height: 360px;"

style="font-style: italic; color: rgb(255, 204, 51);">
 Modular space stations replace the traditional guild hall in
Black Prophecy.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our EverQuest II Game Page.

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