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Blizzard announced the Warcraft movie in 2006, after a long and arduous search for a proper production outfit that shared their vision. This search ended with Legendary pictures getting the deal - and while the studio doesn't have spotless track record (Lady in the Water, I'm looking at you...), I think they've hit more home runs than strike outs, particularly with properties that resonate strongly with us geeks and fanboys. Whether or not you agree with their vision, it's safe to say the guys behind Legendary respect their source material a great deal - from the visually stunning 300, the somber and severe The Dark Knight, and the un-movie-able Watchmen. I even really liked Bryan Singer's reverent and messianic take on big blue in Superman Returns.
Oh boy, what have I gotten myself into? Comparing one of the largest and most popular MMOs with the current fastest-growing MMO? Do I have a deathwish? Well, it turns out World of Warcraft and Free Realms actually do have a few things in common, but a straight comparison isn't the point of this article. We at Massively have decided to compile a guide for World of Warcraft players who may be interested in checking out what Free Realms has to offer. Even better, for those WoW players out there with children, this guide could be valuable for some alternatives to your usual family gaming choices.
From movies and books to computer games, the concept of the sequel is firmly embedded in the entertainment industry. It's usually a much safer bet to make a new part to an existing successful intellectual property than it is to back an untested product. In the games industry, sequels are a great way to make more money from the same game concept but as usual MMOs have proven to be something of a different animal. Subscription MMOs don't conform to the same rules as non-subscription games, favouring recurring orders and longer-term customer commitment over single purchases. While development studios often take sequels for granted, I'm forced to ask whether MMOs should have sequels at all or if a different paradigm is more appropriate.
While online economies can seem to be (and often are) fundamentally different from AFK economies, there's a key component that makes any online economy function in ways that are all-too-familiar.
That's us. You and me. People.
Whether bags of treasure fall out of dead rats, or the economy is reliant on texture artists, modelers and scripters, it's people that make online economies with fundamentally alien premises work in some very surprisingly quotidian ways.
We all sort of knew that virtual worlds usage would continue to grow over the years, but a new report put out by Strategy Anayltics has given us some numbers to think about -- and they're pretty darn big. They've predicted that by 2015, the overall population of virtual worlds will go from what it is now at 186 million people all the way up to 640 million, or more than triple today's userbase.
I realize that the goal of an MMO is not necessarily to create what I have in mind; what I'm going to call a unique shared experience, to court an oxymoron. Essentially, the issue is this: how do you build a world where each player contributes something of equal value, where that value isn't measured in number of enemies slain, or number of quests completed? Furthermore, how do you make that fun?
Australian Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has promised to extend Australia's proposed network-level content filtering regime to block games, online games, downloadable games, and websites that sell or allow download of games that are deemed not to be suitable for a 15-year-old audience. This, despite research by the IEAA (the Interactive Entertainment Association of Australia) that the average age of Australian Gamers is 30.
Out of the hojillions of World of Warcraft players in the world, there are undoubtedly some that love the game just a little too much. Perhaps some of these addicted players would find it easier to ween themselves off WoW with a bit of professional help from a therapist of some sort. But then again, how the heck is anyone going to convince them to stop playing long enough to go and seek help? According to Dr. Richard Graham, a consultant psychiatrist at the Tavistock Centre in London who was recently interviewed by Telegraph, we shouldn't have to. Why not just treat them right there in-game?
Gold farmers. We know you hate them... We know. And we've mentioned the associated gold spam as being the bane of many MMO players' existence a number of times in the past. But is the situation ever going to change?
Let's face facts -- people don't like admitting that they don't know something or need help. They'd rather hammer at the problem until they solve it themselves, or they'd rather ask a trusted friend for help. Kids are super guilty of this, as they'd rather not tell an adult when they can't do something themselves.