Monday, 26 October 2009

Updating the Blog roll.

Cleared it out a bit and added a couple of Blogs in there that for some reason (and I have no idea why since I check them regularly) never got added. If you're a Warhammer Blogger or have been with a new blog that looks at gaming in general (sorry, not interested in people now posting about another game entirely) then leave a comment here and I'll add you to the blog roll..


There's life yet in Warhammer

Oh my Gork! I'm not allowed to say that am I? I'm not foretelling the death of War or that it's lost millions of subscriptions and there's only five people still playing it.

In fact, I think people are returning to WAR and new people are discovering it...

Aion (for a few folks) wasn't the best thing since sliced bread that some made it out to be and a fair few players are already returning from it. Mortal Online although still in beta seems to have people already walking out of it (which is a shame since it does look prety decent). The rinse and repeat formula is starting to grow thing for those playing WoW (well at least until Icecrown raids and then Cataclysm) and they're starting to become tourists again. Champions Online seems to have stalled but will keep a solid core of players.

So a year on for a lot of people and they're starting to check out WAR again. I've heard a lot of positive comments from people regarding the performance of the game, balance and content. We're now starting to get tasters of the end game loot and gear (for those who don't know Karak Norn has never had a king kill from either side yet). WAR needs to tidy up a few things here and there (for the love of Gork fix some of those graphic bugs that have plagued us since closed beta) but if they can keep pushing at it, keep the flow of content and if WE the players have faith then more shall return. WAR will never be a 500k-1m sub game anymore, it's lost the momentum. I can see it sitting steady around the 200-300k mark for a long time especially if EA sorts out online payment packages for it's four games when it releases The Old Republic. I also think that Mythic needs to start talking about it's first expansion soon as that should start to generate some more hype, though I get the feeling they're holding off until they can avoid an announcement conflict with WoW regarding either Icecrown or more Cataclysm news.

WAR has a bright future, it might be dimmer than it was a year ago but I'm still going by my 5 years at least life span on it.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Freehammer: Age of Microtransactions

With the recent announcements that Dungeons & Dragons Online has gained a 40% increase in subscriptions despite making it free to play and with rumours that Turbine will follow this up by making Lord of the Rings free to play is it going to become more common for MMO's to follow this business model?

Could WAR go free to play?

For those who maybe don't know what a F2P business model means, it's basically to strip down your game, drop maximum levels and gear, lock off some of the content and offer what's left as free for anyone to play. Basically an infinite demo mode. To get the 'full game' you spend real life money to get points/tokens/currency which is used either online in the game or through a web based store to buy goods. These goods range from healing potions and an extra character slot to an increase in level cap and whole new areas to quest and explore.

This is great for the casual player who wants to pop down five (insert currency of choice) and play the game for a while, they can get some stuff (some permanent, some not so permanent) and play it fine. Heck they don't even need to pay anything and still contribute to the community by making the servers busier and helping other players out by grouping with them.

Those players who decide to go for a paid subscription get pretty much all the goodies with in game priorities (server queues, first to play expansions and new classes/races and subscriber only perks and benefits in game) so those who continue don't feel they've missed anything out.

Could this work in WAR? I'm hesitant to say "Yes" or "No" for a few points.

One of the key reasons this has worked well in DDO is that the game is totally based on PvE and subsequently you're not competing with anyone other than yourself and group mates. As soon as you start adding in someones credit card into a PvP game you lose a lot of the skill where everyone before was on an even footing. You can just buy "Deff Choppa of da 'Kax" instead of grinding out medallions from player kills to get it. Would you be happy if the player with the Tyrant armour set waded in and crushed you because half of it was bought and the other half he got after a week or two of doing Vulture Tomb in Land of the Dead (which he just bought as well).

While I'm tempted to say "Yeah it would suck to be bested by someone who had better gear because they bought it" I remind myself that individuals can easily disappear in WAR when the zergs start rolling in and a player with full Sovereign right now still gets crushed as quickly as an Annihilator set player when a group of 6 or more appears around the corner screaming "WAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!". The game isn't based on duels or skirmish combat. I could certainly see premade scenario groups with bought high end gear crushing pugs, but then it's no different from now.

The best way to look at it would be the following... Everyone spends (for the sake of argument) $10/month on WAR. If you can't play for a couple of months would you feel so far behind the power curve that you're unable to compete? What difference would it make to you if Warhammer went free to play and you decided not to pay to keep up with the power curve? Would you be ground into the dirt anytime a paying player rode past you? Probably not. A good player is still a good player no matter what.

IF WAR ever went F2P (and I honestly don't see it happening with a year old game.. just yet) then I could see a limit on the renown rank at 40 and access to only the Empire & Chaos tier and races. You can raise the renown cap by paying for every 10 levels but you still need to earn the renown to use the gear you want to get (or buy). Special scenarios can be offered to paying players, the live events will be cut back for non paying (but paying get full benefits). Free respecs for paying players and cosmetic changes (Goblins on spider mounts, Orcs on Wyverns and Dark Elves on dark steeds for example). There has to be a 'need' to spend the equivalent of $10/month to make the change worthwhile but it must be done in a way as to not break the campaign and to make sure that the player who spend the cash will feel they are getting a good deal for the money.

It's certainly not outwith the realms of possibility and I wouldn't run away screaming (I've seen the change it has made to DDO) but I think right now EA would rather wait and see how things go with the Western F2P market with Turbines MMO's before making any major upheavals to the library they have.

Mind you, I also see the best way for EA in a years time would be to offer an "EA Online Subscription" which grants access to Knights of the Old Republic, WAR, Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot for say $20/month. That way they can mask true subscriber numbers and I'd be tempted to pick a sub up like that (being a former player of UO and DAoC)...

Sunday, 11 October 2009

So the Warhammer expansion news starts leaking...

So is this the first leak of the first Warhammer expansion? What's the deal with the PTS client (I couldn't see anything on my European PTS client) and are we going to see some major changes, races or mechanic changes? Mythic might just be starting to dangle the carrot in front of us now...