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MMO News Wrap-Up

We know it’s easy to miss the odd piece of gaming news, especially if you spend a lot of your spare time in an MMORPG, so what could be better than a nice wrap-up of all things MMO-related from the last week? This time we talk about World of Warcraft, Aion, Star Trek Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Warhammer Online, Global Agenda and Champions Online.

Activision Blizzard’s call to its investors took place recently where it was announced that, among other things, the worldwide number of subscribers for World of Warcraft was still around 11.5m, the same figure that was announced over a year ago, shortly after the launch of Wrath of the Lich King. Some people are now speculating that WoW has peaked and players may finally start turning to newer games. On the other hand, it pays to remember that WoW hasn’t lost any subscribers since its last expansion launched, and Cataclysm is in the works. Cataclysm, if you didn’t know, is set to re-shape WoW, making old zones new and fresh, doing away with areas that players don’t want to explore and quests that are dull in favour of exciting new ones, with the benefit of all that recent tech that Blizzard has developed over the years.

If this doesn’t bring in another million users or so, mostly former players I suspect, I’ll be very surprised.

In other WoW news, China’s authorities are still holding out on NetEase, the game’s operators over there. Wrath of the Lich King is nowhere on the radar yet, they’re still trying to get The Burning Crusade properly approved. When (or if) Wrath does finally get given the green light though, can we expect another surge in subscription figures? It’s likely, but stay tuned on that one.


The latest MMO Weekly focussed on Global Agenda, a game that the author, Jeff, has been dying to get his hands on for so long. Was it worth the wait? He thinks so. In fact, Jeff thinks Hi-Rez Studio’s game may just have what other sci-fi shooter MMOs in the past were lacking. Take a look, see what you think. I must admit that since the beta ended, and therefore my access to the game, I’ve found myself wishing I could play it again. Coming from someone who prefers swords and magic over jet packs and plasma guns, that’s saying something.

Cryptic Studios’ latest MMO, Star Trek Online, is still doing well judging by the number of players online every time I go to grab a couple of hours aboard my light cruiser. The game managed to push Mass Effect 2 off the number one spot in the UK PC gaming charts last week – an impressive feat by anyone’s standards.

To celebrate the game’s launch, and because it’s a good excuse to dress up, Cryptic and Atari are calling all Star Trek fans to the bridge, that’s the Millennium Bridge in London, to try and break the Guinness World Record for the “largest gathering of people dressed as Star Trek characters”. The event takes place at 13:00 GMT on Sunday 14 February. As an added incentive to travel  there and stand around in the cold for an hour or two, the best dressed fans will walk away with a selection of goodies, courtesy of Atari, check out the list of prizes here.

Fans of Cryptic’s other MMO, Champions Online, got a pleasant surprise this week when the company announced that the upcoming expansion, officially titled ‘Revelation’, will now be free to subscribers. The extra content was originally going to cost players extra, but Cryptic has had a change of heart. It’s likely the recent events surrounding the infamous ‘kitchen sink patch’ helped Cryptic come to this decision. Fans were furious when the patch, which was meant to address numerous issue with the game, actually ended up causing several new ones. To be fair, Cryptic’s Chronomancer apologised for the cock-up, explaining that developers were too keen to get the new patch out, meaning it went live without proper testing. As someone once said, Cryptic, “Remember, people will judge you by your actions, not your intentions. You may have a heart of gold — but so does a hard-boiled egg”.

EA’s financial report also came out this week, revealing a number of facts about their upcoming titles including a couple of MMOs. The release of All Points Bulletin, the MMO with in an urban gang warfare setting, has been pushed back to Q2 of the next financial year so we can now expect to see it some time in the summer or autumn. It was originally due to go live next month.

Other news from EA’s report is that the highly anticipated BioWare title, Star Wars: The Old Republic, will not make the 2010/2011 financial year. In plain English, that means it will go on sale sometime after the end of March next year. EA already let slip that the game is booked in for a spring 2011 release, so this latest info narrows down the window a little to April or May. However, we all know release dates can change, especially with MMOs, and I’m sure BioWare won’t be letting this game ship unless it’s finished, so don’t go booking that annual leave just yet.

Warhammer Online is celebrating the Valentine’s weekend in typical WAR style, with an in-game event called the Night of Murder. Special quests are given out, which require players to hunt down and slay members of the opposing faction and marked enemy NPCs. How romantic.

Elsewhere, the passing of Valentine’s Day is being marked by slightly more jovial events; NCsoft is offering Aion players a double XP weekend, which is sure to bring players online in the droves. Not that they aren’t already flocking to the game, according to the latest financial results. Aion has proven so successful here in the west, as well as in Asia, that NCsoft’s profits have  gone through the roof. The charts are showing a 1000% percent increase compared to this time last year, and it’s mainly down to the release of the winged MMO; Aion accounted for 48% of NCsoft’s sales last year, a very promising start for the fledgling game.

That’s all for now, be sure to tune into our podcast to hear us discuss a couple of the stories mentioned here, along with a host of other gaming stories.


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