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Online games battle for top spot

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http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7156078.stm

_44316405_games-codemasters400.jpgLord of the Rings Online made its debut early in 2007

Challenges to the dominance of World of Warcraft over online games and gamers look set to emerge in 2008.

So say industry watchers looking back on a year in which the field as a whole matured and signs emerged which show how the industry sector is developing.

During the year Blizzard's flagship title consolidated its hold on gamers as its subscriber base kept growing.

But debuts by Age of Conan, Warhammer Online and many others may mean that hold begins to weaken.

Numbers game

"We expected, like all the analysts, to see a dip in subscriptions in 2007," said Paul Younger, an editor at the Inc Gamers network. "As it turns out we've seen the rise and rise of WoW."

At the start of 2007, the number of active subscribers playing World of Warcraft was eight million but by the end of summer the number had passed 9.3 million.

_44316409_games-blizzard203.jjpg.jpgWorld of Warcraft dominates the online gaming world

According to statistics gathered by Nielsen the average WoW player racks up 17 hours of play per week - 12 hours more than its nearest competitor The Sims. As such it was the most played PC game between April and November 2007.

In online games such as World of Warcraft players create an avatar or character, give them a profession and venture out into the game world to battle monsters, find treasure and turn their novice into a powerful hero or heroine.

Mr Younger said online games such as Lord of the Rings Online, Tabula Rasa and Hellgate: London were widely tipped to poach significant numbers of players from Blizzard but, he said, it was not clear that had happened.

"There seems to be an inability by other massively multi-player game makers to capture what Blizzard managed to capture," said Mr Younger.

Rob Fahey, industry veteran and columnist for Gameindustry.biz, said the new launches and continued success of WoW showed how strong the industry had become.

"There's plenty of choice out there for players now," he said "You can even play massively multiplayer dancing games, if killing monsters isn't your thing."

Another sign of the growing maturity of online gaming was the notable failure of titles such as Vanguard.

Although released in February it was error prone and has taken months to become reliable enough.

"It's clear that it's no longer acceptable to release buggy games, and players aren't prepared to pay a monthly fee to test an unfinished product," he said.

Fantasy figures

The importance of the final polish is also thought to be behind the delayed arrival of Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures and Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning. Both were originally due in 2007 but now are expected before next summer.

Many see these as serious contenders to WoW because like that game they trade on a long history of earlier works.

_44316430_games-funcom203.jpgLarge-scale battles will be key in Age of Conan

Conan is familiar to many from Robert E Howard's original stories, the films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and the many contemporary novels that explored the world of the iconic barbarian.

Warhammer is the creation of UK firm Games Workshop and has many fans who played the tabletop game, the role-playing system, the earlier games and has read the books set in its world.

Perhaps more importantly the titles are attempting to move online gaming on from the mechanics established by Blizzard.

In Warhammer many areas of the game are contested and factions will battle to regain control of these areas. Solo players as well as those who prefer pitched battles will contribute to this back and forth that will see a lot of the game world's territory change hands many times.

By contrast Age of Conan is explicitly aiming at a mature audience - in particular combat will be bloody and realistic. The game will also allow player teams, or guilds, to set up and run their own cities or lay siege to each other's strongholds.

But, said Philip Wride, boss of consultancy firm Elysium Gaming, it could be something entirely outside the field that has a big impact on online gamine in 2008.

In the UK the Byron Review is scrutinising video games with a view to drawing up new regulations and guidelines governing them.

"It's about educating parents more than anything and perhaps making changes in terms of rating systems," he said.

This was likely to mean best practice guidelines for parents but may eventually involve new legislation.

"That would alter how online games are both portrayed and played," said Mr Wride.

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Eh, I don't really see AoC or WAR taking the limelight off of WoW. True, I know plenty of people who are switching out of WoW to play the two new ones but I highly doubt either is going to be a rival for WoW (this is both from my mindset as a gamer and my mindset as a designer, WoW has something thats going to be hard to replicate in other games).

I'll say this though, I await there release just to see how big of a hit WoW will take (though I play the game (taking a break) Blizzard needs something to keep them on their toes. They're seriously starting to slip as of late).


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i used to play a lot of Maple Story but now I'm hooked on Sword of the New World, which I think is nominated for in the Free MMORPG category


But can you save me? From the ranks of the freaks who could never love anyone...

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AoC kicks ass. My friend has access to the private beta. The battle system is amazing. You can actually dodge attacks, peace together different sword swings to make combos that may or may not hit the enemy. The game is realistic and involves more then just mashing keys together. unfortunately this wont win over everyone from WoW since the vast majority that play are also girls and they like it simply becuse of its cartoon and "cute" looking characters. Theres also the players that have grown up with "hot keys" and the lack of thinking involved when playing mmos. AoC is definitely not for them. There is no "one hot key" that you press to attack and there is no auto block with shield. AoC makes you do the work and make rational decisions as if you where really there with a sword fighting. Oh course theirs still spells that you bind to hot keys and horses to ride but theirs also changes to those preexisting mmo trends. For example your mount(horse) can be killed wile your riding it or in battle. If it dies you can buy a new one or steal them. It ads to the realistic point of the game.

So in short, I think, from seeing my friend play both WoW and AoC and also letting me play his accounts on both I can safely say that not everyone will make the switch to AoC. I think once more people start seeing the realistic points of the game and graphics, it may attract more people but it probably wont be as big as wow. As for the other game, I have no idea. haven't seen anything on it.


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I've seen lady play WoW and it looks pretty good, but I've been playing Guild Wars and the graphics are great compared to WoW. I can't really compare the two games because they are both too different tho. and I haven't seen much of AoC. But I look forward to seeing any kind of impact on WoW's membership. Maybe at some point they'll have to lower their monthly fees to keep a competitive edge. Honestly I'd love to play some of these different MMOs, but I can't afford the cost of two memberships for all these different games.


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damn fees >.<


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can i really leave kite after 4 years ????????????????


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the fee will never drop in price :P thats unheard of period int eh mmo world since teh beginning


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"That fairy needs to stop shouting in my ear, or I'm going to throw her friend I have trapped in the bottle into a lava pit or something. HEY, LISTEN! No, YOU listen. If something's important, just say so without yelling at me. Or fly over to it and change color like you usually do. Just because I'm busy mowing the lawn and hoping I'll find some spare change, doesn't mean I can't hear you." - Link

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the fee will never drop in price :P thats unheard of period int eh mmo world since teh beginning

Thats assuming the MMO is still popular. I've seen a few paid games go to free after several years.

PS. isn't guild wars free? You just pay for the cd right?


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All hail piggy, king of bacon ^)^

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Thats assuming the MMO is still popular. I've seen a few paid games go to free after several years.

PS. isn't guild wars free? You just pay for the cd right?

yes, but then again you can play solo through every mission.

it is basicly a 1 player game with multi player option, so in theory you need minimal game masters to call.


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Bruce Campbell: '' This place has more security then the Batcave ''

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the fee will never drop in price :P thats unheard of period int eh mmo world since teh beginning

Thats the point, maybe with increased competitive competition we might finally see the MMO price bubble pop. :P

Thats assuming the MMO is still popular. I've seen a few paid games go to free after several years.

PS. isn't guild wars free? You just pay for the cd right?

yep, buy the game and no monthly fees. like kite said, its more like a regular rpg game except that you have to connect to their servers to play and you can get other people or npcs to join you. you can see everyone else playing the game in all the major cities, talk to everyone, trade stuff, etc. and team up with them to go kill stuff or do some quests/missions. Once you leave the major cities tho to go adventuring its just you and/or your team interacting with the environment and NPCs. It feels more like an RPG than a MMO because of that and the overall plot. From what I've read it takes a couple months to go thru the main plot and more or less beat it, and then to continue the story you have to buy the expansions. I think theres four or five now, each giving you more classes and character types to choose from. So far its keeping my interest.

I'm a Warrior/Monk and Lady is a Ranger/Elementalist. :P


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Thats the point, maybe with increased competitive competition we might finally see the MMO price bubble pop. :P

yep, buy the game and no monthly fees. like kite said, its more like a regular rpg game except that you have to connect to their servers to play and you can get other people or npcs to join you. you can see everyone else playing the game in all the major cities, talk to everyone, trade stuff, etc. and team up with them to go kill stuff or do some quests/missions. Once you leave the major cities tho to go adventuring its just you and/or your team interacting with the environment and NPCs. It feels more like an RPG than a MMO because of that and the overall plot. From what I've read it takes a couple months to go thru the main plot and more or less beat it, and then to continue the story you have to buy the expansions. I think theres four or five now, each giving you more classes and character types to choose from. So far its keeping my interest.

I'm a Warrior/Monk and Lady is a Ranger/Elementalist. :P

ahhh ok it sounds like Dungeon Runners (another free game).


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All hail piggy, king of bacon ^)^

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For something to surpass WoW, it will have to be amazing. I thought that a completely playable Star Wars world, mixed with space combat similar to the game Ti-fighter sounded like a good enough idea. Unfortunately Star Wars Galaxies failed miserably at accomplishing that goal. (I still think it could be done, but SWG was not the solution)

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My personal opinion was that Jedi should have been one of several elite trees. Making one class dominant over all others pretty much ruins a game every time. (and the way to unlock jedi in SWG ruined it too)

And if you think about it, Boba Fett was basically a gunfighter and he was a challenge for a jedi, so why not make a jedi on par with other elite classes in order to balance?

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