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MMO News Wrap Up

Another busy week for MMOs means lots more news, and no one would blame you if you hadn’t managed to keep up to date on all of it, so I’ve rounded up the biggest stories from the week and put them all in one place, just for your convenience. Yeah, I’m good like that. So if you’re a fan of any of the following games, you might want to check out this week’s MMO News Wrap Up; I’ll be talking about WoW, Runes of Magic, Star Wars Galaxies, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Champions Online and Aion.I’ll kick off with the news that may impact all MMOs; word that Paltalk Holdings says several big players in the MMO development field, such as Turbine (LOTRO), SOE (FFXI), Activision Blizzard (WoW) and NCSoft (Aion), are to be sued over patent infringement in their games. The company says it is trying to protect two patents that cover interactive applications. The claim shouldn’t be taken lightly; back in 2006, Microsoft settled out of court with Paltalk over the same patents in relation to Halo 2 and 3, which doesn’t bode well for the developers being sued this time.A similar case arose back in March when also claimed that NCsoft was using ideas set out in a patent owned by them, one that deals with the architecture of online worlds. A representative stated that, should it be successful in its claim, the company would be pursuing other MMO developers, such as Linden Labs (Second Life) and Activision Blizzard.The effect all this will have on the MMO industry is yet to be seen, but both cases are likely to go on for months.On a lighter note, this week’s MMO Weekly takes a look at the cost of gaming, in particular, the cost of being an avid fan of WoW. If you were to sit down and work out how much cash you’d handed over to the company that makes your long-time favourite MMO, how much do you think it would come to? When you consider WoW’s been out for almost five years now, if you’d been playing from the start, bought all the expansion packs, maybe some merchandise, and even been lucky enough to get a ticket to a BlizzCon event or two, you’d be right in thinking that it’s probably built up to quite an impressive sum by now, especially if you’re a couple. Read Jeff’s amusing summary, as he recalls and tots up all the money he’s put into his gaming habit.While we’re still on the subject of WoW and money, you’ll recall that last week I mentioned EU WoW players and their displeasure over being denied the faction change service that NA players have had access to for over a week. Thankfully, the paid service went live for EU players last night too, much to the delight of fans. Blizzard also stated that the the Race Change Service is on its way too; hopefully they’ll manage to push that one live globally!In contrast, an MMO that doesn’t require subscriptions or fees of any sort, Runes of Magic, launched its first expansion this week. Chapter II – The Elven Prophecy gives players Elves as a playable race and opens up two new classes, Druids and Wardens. As with most free to play games, if players want to spend cash to improve or aid their characters, they can. The first boxed version of the game also went on sale this week, containing an in-game item, a poster map and other goodies.{PAGE TITLE=MMO News Wrap Up – Page 2}Strangely enough, news emerged this week that players apparently spend more on free to play games than any other game. A survey revealed that over half of the people taking part had spent money on a F2P title, whereas only a third had spent money on a regular MMO. The majority of people bought in-game currency, something that’s prohibited (though it still goes on) in most subscription-based games.Depending on which way you see it, some possibly sad news came out this week that Star Wars Galaxies is cutting its number of servers in half. Sony Online Entertainment announced that 12 of its 25 servers will shut down on 15 October, following a prolonged free character transfer program. The FCT has been in place for some time, and many of the source servers had been left virtual ghost towns. On the up side, the destination servers are now likely to be bustling with activity, maybe drawing some old players back.While one Star Wars MMO shrinks a little, another one grows in popularity; Developers for the much-hyped Star Wars: The Old Republic revealed screenshots, concept art and a video of Coruscant, the capital of the Republic. Still recovering from the battering it got from the Sith recently, the Republic are slowly rebuilding their sprawling city.Cryptic Studios has been busy patching the recently-released MMO, Champions Online, to address issues highlighted by the community. The first patch last week dealt with the adjustment of powersets, and granted a free talent retcon for any character that was made before 08:30 UTC on 10 September. The ability to change weapons at character creation was also added. A couple of days later, an online manual for the game was released, which Cryptic promised would contain useful info for new and veteran players. Not satisfied with that, Cryptic went on to add yet more changes to the game in response to player feedback, nerfing Gadroon critters, making changes to supergroups and the game’s performance. Open missions also had their timer increased to 10 minutes to prevent exploits.Finally, what would an MMO news wrap-up be without mention of the Colossus that is Aion. We exclusively posted the third podcast from the NCsoft developers last week, which revealed a couple of very interested snippets of information about the upcoming game. What may be the game’s first expansion, a sort of “fourth dimension” in the Abyss, is discussed, and talk of the game expanding further away from the Tower of Eternity. The podcast also revealed that when the game launches in the west next week, it will contain brand new features that haven’t even been seen on Korean live servers yet.Aion continues to hit the headlines, and only yesterday it was announced that the record-breaking figure of almost 400,000 people had pre-ordered the game. The server pre-selection period begins today for anyone who has pre-ordered Aion, and they also get early access to game servers from Sunday. Aion Launches in NA next Tuesday and in Europe on Friday. We will be keeping a close eye on this title and its progress in the MMO market. Unlike other developers in the past, NCsoft hasn’t claimed that this will be the MMO to end all MMOs, but judging by the game’s reception so far, we’re guessing it’s going to be quite a hit.That’s about all for this week, I’ll let you get back to levelling, grinding, raiding or whatever you spend your spare time doing. Check back next week for another MMO News Wrap Up.


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