Microcosms: Three to Play The New Whats Next
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 developerÂs side of the equation. While Western players donÂt seem to have fully bought into playing games for free, itÂs 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 donÂt 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 ÂextraÂ 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 weekÂ 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 59 and Ultima Online. 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 werenÂt just reserved for hardcore gamers and long time RPG players by delivering its game to the masses.
had the unfortunate circumstance of being launched directly
against the snowball turned avalanche that was 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 BlizzardÂ s powerhouse. The game
wasnÂt forgotten however--it has maintained a solid player base and
many of its innovations have been incorporated in other popular MMOGs.
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 Norrath.
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 have
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 Dungeons
& Dragons Online: Eberron Unlimited. 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.
Black ProphecyBlack 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 gameÂ 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 Prophecy is a faction-based game that puts the emphasis on fast-paced combat and infinite customization. With both PvE and PvP aspects, Black Prophecy 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 Prophecy will test your systemÂ s limits for sure.
Black ProphecyÂs 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 wonÂt have to pay a thing to start playing.
Modular space stations replace the traditional guild hall in Black Prophecy.