We're expectantly awaiting the day when a developer fires off a press release about how it's choosing to not embrace free-to-play and make festive hats from its formidable riches. “We just... we really don't need that much money,” it'll read. “We put a lot of effort into this game and all, but our bank people are kind of mean and we have a headache.” That day, however, is not today. Instead, SOE has decided to dress DC Universe in its finest outside underwear and trot it out to the free-to-play market.
Game makers love stores like GameStop because – duh! – the stores sell their games. There's one thing game makers don't like so much about Gamestop, though; the stores often sell the games used. Second-hand sales are great for cash-deficient everyman gamers who can't afford a $60 diversion, but buying a used game denies the original manufacturer a slice of the profit pie. Sony's new "PSN Pass" program is geared towards milking more moolah out of used and rental games, placing the company alongside EA and THQ at the forefront of the used-games war.
Star Wars Galaxies may have caused its fair share of anger – which led to hate, which led to suffering, which led to the dark side – but the galaxy spanning MMO was far from universally despised. Case in point: a contingent of Galaxies players who absolutely refuse to let their beloved virtual haunting ground meet its natural end. SOE, meanwhile, hasn't given an inch of ground, closing down a number of irate forum posts. That, however, may have given Galaxies devotees just the ammo they needed.
We'll always remember our days as a Twi'lek cantina dancer. Well, OK, “days” in a figurative sense. It was more like “minutes.” But they were, er, different – that's for sure. If nothing else, we'll always remember Star Galaxies for blazing its own trail. And hey, how many games let you try your hand at being a Space Chef? Sadly, that number will soon be a resounding “none.”
“We are Legion.” So said a file – titled “Anonymous,” naturally – that Sony allegedly discovered while combing through the smoldering wreckage of its hacked-to-pieces online infrastructure. Sony revealed that juicy bit of evidence in response to a Congressional hearing over data breaches, which – in itself – was the closest thing to a live evisceration you'll ever see broadcasted on CSPAN.
We would say this is getting ridiculous, but it crashed right through ridiculous a long time ago. Traditional adjectives will no longer suffice. See, as it turns out, not only did hackers manage to worm their way into MMO maker SOE's servers, but they Hulk-smashed right through the service's defenses two freaking weeks ago. Oh, and they may have gotten their grubby mitts on 24.6 million accounts' worth of personal info. And when did Sony finally notice? Today. Just let that sink in for a moment, and then click past the break for the none-too-pretty details.
In the future, old fogeys are gonna get all manner of shrugs and weird looks when they wrap up their “back in my day” speeches with a quick 45-minute bit about subscription fees and MMOs. And if things keep up at their current pace, that “future” could be right around the corner. As in, in a year or two. First it was DnD Online, then Lord of the Rings, then Company of Heroes. Meanwhile, World of Warcraft and a whole spat of other MMOs are considering it, and now Everquest II’s taking the free-to-play plunge as well.
“So, we’re about to launch a bold new service named ‘EverQuest II Extended’ (EQ2X). This is a completely separate service from the standard EQII Live subscription service (EQII),” producer Dave Georgson said on the game’s official site. “‘EverQuest II Extended’ shares all the content and features of Live EQII. It plays the same. It looks the same. It *is* the same, with two obvious exceptions: a) it’s free-to-play, and b) it has a more robust marketplace.”
That marketplace, of course, includes the usual list of not-so-free-to-buy suspects: mid-tier weapons and armor, potions, speed boosts to things like research, etc. So no, you won’t see someone decked out in diamond-encrusted pauldrons, leggings so shiny they make the sun go blind, and obnoxious spinning rims just because their real-life wallet was made from the one hundred dollar bills they deemed “unworthy.”
There are, however, some restrictions on what free players can and can’t do. Sure, you can level your character all the way to 80 and explore the full game world, but your class and race selections have been pared down a bit, and your in-game purse will only be able to hold so much gold before it belches loudly and refuses to eat any more.
Don’t like what you’re reading? Well then, you can also opt to stick with old-school EQII, in which case “your existing subscription, game, and support are unchanged.” If free-to-play sounds right up your alley, though, here’s a handy FAQ for your perusal. Us, we’ll definitely give the game a look, at least. It’ll be a total trip, though. Last time we were in Norrath, Y2K was still considered a legitimate threat, and people actually found Britney Spears to be attractive!
“You heard about them Wookies, right? They say those giant furballs will tear your [socks] off and [tickle] you until you’re [not dead from having your arms ripped off].”
Like that? Well then, you -might- be happy to hear that LucasArts and Sony Online Entertainment -might- be working on a Star Wars MMO for this generation's impressively impressionable younglings. Citing an "inside source," TenTonHammer revved up the rumor mill:
“While we have not yet learned the title of the upcoming game, it sounds like SOE is planning to use the browser-based Free Realms engine to power the game, and the game’s setting will be the Clone Wars,” the site reported.
Obviously, then, this game wouldn’t be attempting to undercut Star Wars: The Old Republic – or even Star Wars Galaxies, for that matter. Rather, it would serve as another portion of Star Wars: The Clone Wars’ multimedia barrage.
That’s not to say that we entirely approve of this potential product, however. Maybe we’re old-fashioned, but we think the original trilogy’s the only way to go when kickstarting a child’s unhealthy obsession with Star Wars. Clone Wars, though? If we see any of that watered-down stuff in our house, you’re grounded like yesterday. And no more homework until you finish watching the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, got it?
SOE does what Blizzardon't. The online-focused branch of Sony's empire is trying its darndest to wed console and PC MMOs with its upcoming title, The Agency. However, the bride and groom to be aren't exactly hitting it off.
First up, PC games are much more susceptible to hacks and 'sploits than their console brethren, and "Being able to manage that is no simple task," said Executive Producer Matt Wilson.
Second, the mouse-keyboard vs. controller feud continues to rage, and neither side seems interested in saluting the ol' white flag.
"We can do things to equalize them, whether that's aim assist on the console or other things on the PC, but when we've actually done focus group testing and so forth, you're always going to have the console players versus the PC players," Wilson noted.
However, the final hurdle is definitely the tallest. Wilson explained:
"MMOs live and die by their updates, and we need to be able to update our product frequently," says Wilson. "The console requires a certification process, while the PC does not. And so it's going to be really difficult for us to maintain that synchronization across both platforms, and make that work really easily with the value of the MMO."
Assuming that SOE satisfactorily solves all of these issues, would you even want to play a PC-PS3 MMO?