As children, we were always taught that ingesting red and/or blue fluids – generally those found in that Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil otherwise known as “the cabinet under the sink” – wasn’t among the better choices we could make, no matter how devilishly tempting it might’ve been.
Only now, however, do we fully comprehend the breadth of our parents’ bounteous wisdom.
For some maniacal reason, Blizzard has decided to pair its uber-successful World of Warcraft franchise with another one of man’s more inexplicably addictive creations: Mountain Dew. The result: a taste bud-burning crusade of what some might even venture to call “flavor.”
The drink comes in two varieties: Alliance Blue (“with a punch of Wild Fruit Flavor”) and Horde Red (“with a blast of Citrus Cherry Flavor”).
Both flavors will attempt to give Bawls – and other gamer-centric energy drinks -- a thorough licking this summer. We'll probably end up downing a bottle or two ourselves in penance for that terrible joke.
We’ve always taken issue with the Internet’s highly malleable list of steps for rocking ultimate. "1) Do a thing, 2) Do another thing, 3) ???, and 4) Profit" are all well and good, but our generation’s best and brightest seem to have omitted the final step: Get sued by a tiny, opportunistic company over some patent that holds about as much water as a shattered snow globe.
Worlds.com, currently in the process of suing NCSoft -- while almost assuredly sliding its fingers down a bountiful mustache and readjusting its monocle -- has voiced its diabolical intentions: First NCSoft, then the World… of Warcraft. Then the world.
Worlds.com CEO Thom Kidrin said as much when he told Silicon Alley Insider that his company “absolutely” intends to send the gavel crashing down on games like WoW and Second Life if its suit against NCSoft succeeds.
Apparently, the conspicuously convenient patent arises from a collection of Starbright patents, which provide “an architecture for enabling thousands of simultaneous users in a 3D virtual space.” Worlds.com now owns said patents and decided they might – like an errant $20 bill in a recently washed pair of jeans – be useful.
So, where does mean old man Jenkins’ money-grubbing plot fall apart? Let our good friend and super sleuth Thomas McDonald explain it for you:
“This must be news to Steve Colley. Back in 1973, he and some other young programmers interning at NASA created MazeWar… Not only did you navigate a maze, but each player was represented by an avatar (an eyeball), people could shoot each other, and the whole thing was networked, complete with online chat!”
“But MazeWar wasn’t Colley’s work alone. Others had inspired him, and subsequent people built on his work, drawing on the potential of new technology to forge the entire gaming industry. No one person or company can claim ownership of these ideas.”
Stanford Professor Byron Reeves is a Planeteer, and you can be one too -- if you’re an MMORPG player. Reeves’ plan hedges its bets on the idea that you’re willing to install a Smart Meter, a device that monitors electricity usage in your house and sends a report of your wasteful excesses to power companies.
However, instead of giving power companies the skinny on your war against the Energizer Bunny, Reeves hopes to send pertinent information to games like World of Warcraft. He outlined his energy-saving plan during radio show Living on Earth’s Green Gaming segment:
"So imagine that you're in your home, you're signed into [the] game… and you make a decision in the game to turn off the lights in an unused bedroom [in real life]. As soon as you do that, the Smart Meter recognizes that, sends the information through the network to your computer and your house [in the game] turns a shade of green that it wasn't before,” he explained.
“And if I'm using less electricity, my team might do well. I get gold pieces and points… whatever the game designers think is fun. You get feedback in an entertainment game about what you're doing in the real world."
Sounds good to us, though implementing it – especially in a game as colossal as World of Warcraft – might be a bit rough. Then again, Blizzard did invent a race of hippie cow-people, so you never know.
Looks like Blizzard’s shadowy new MMO is kicking it into high gear. Today, World of Warcraft lead designer Jeffery Kaplan finally typed /gquit of his own accord (and didn’t end up naked in the middle of Orgrimmar) – leaving behind World of Warcraft in favor of Blizzard’s “unannounced MMO.”
“I wanted to take a moment to let the community know that I’ve switched roles here at Blizzard to work on our upcoming, unannounced MMO. World of Warcraft has been such a central part of my life these past six and a half years, and it’s success would not have been possible without the tremendous community around it, so I wanted to say thank you to all our players who’ve shared this amazing experience with us so far,” Kaplan said.
Does this mean that WoW is taking an exceedingly slow drive over to the retirement home, though? Kaplan said no, but in a far less succinct manner.
“I still plan to be very involved with the future course of World of Warcraft, but will leave the day to day operations of World of Warcraft to my partners in crime, Tom Chilton and J. Allen Brack.”
Unfortunately, if Blizzard’s “one frontline release per year” strategy holds up, we probably won’t actually play this game – or maybe even hear anything about it – until at least 2011, assuming StarCraft II hits in 2009 and Diablo III in 2010.
In other words, don’t cancel your WoW subscriptions just yet, folks.
Activision Blizzard, aka gaming’s Death Star lurking in a system of Alderaans, is about the only game company to avoid placing hundreds of jobs on the chopping block in order to fuel rapidly waning economic fires, and there’s a reason for that: World of Warcraft.
According to Stern Agee analyst Arvind Bhatia, WoW subscriptions likely made up about half of Acti-Blizz’s earnings during its previous fiscal year. This means that World of Warcraft was responsible for earnings per share of around 30 cents out of a total 60 cents. The bottom line for those who don’t follow @thestockmarket on Twitter: Activision Blizzard pulled in $400 million from a four year-old game about orcs, elves, and cow people. Say what you will about Blizzard’s games, but they have some serious staying power.
So then, after all these years, do you still play WoW? You know what? Actually, that’s a dumb question. How about this: why are you still playing WoW, and do you see yourself continuing your genocidal rampage through Azeroth over the next year – even knowing that Blizzard probably won’t release another expansion until 2010?
It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. We’ve spent a good deal of the last 12 months hunkered down at our PCs playing every game that’s come our way. The very best of them have pulled us into their imaginary, action-packed worlds and stolen hours of our valuable time—and we love ’em for it! Others, not so much. Here forth is our frank assessment of 2008’s most noteworthy games.
According to Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, the International Revenue Service should start taxing the economies of Second Life, World of Warcraft and other virtual worlds. In an annual report posted on the IRS website, Olsen has stated that there are a number of issues that the IRS should address before they get out of control.
"Economic activities associated with virtual worlds may present an emerging area of noncompliance, in part, because the IRS has not issued guidance about whether and how taxpayers should report such activities," Olson writes in her report. Alongside that, she identifies that almost all income is subject to taxation, even prizes and winnings.
This isn’t the first time this issue has been mentioned, though. Since 2003 people both on and offline have looked ad the taxation of virtual economies and Dan Miller, a senior economist for the congressional Joint Economic Committee, has started playing with the idea of taxing MMORPGs after he’d taken a step into online gaming.
With any luck, this won’t come full circle. It would be a huge burden on taxpayers, having to report their every move in World of Warcraft to Uncle Sam, but who would really want to get caught up in paperwork just to play a video game?
Research group The Nielsen Company recently released a list of 2008’s 10 most played PC games, but seeing as how you’re probably still scraping bolded numbers off your monitor after you last careened into our listsanctum, we nearly skipped it. However, as it turns out, Nielsen’s runway strut contained a pretty interesting anomaly, so we want you to look at it.
Top 10 PC Game Titles in the U.S.
World of Warcraft (2004) / Blizzard Entertainment 671 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.723% AU*
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare (2007) / Infinity Ward 403 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.163% AU*
Halo: Combat Evolved (2003) / Gearbox, Bungie 295 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.092% AU*
The Sims (2000) / EA Maxis 213 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.09% AU*
The Sims 2 (2004) / EA Maxis 291 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.086% AU*
RuneScape (2001) / Jagex Ltd. 451 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.084% AU*
Diablo II (2000) / Blizzard Entertainment 313 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.065% AU*
Team Fortress 2 (2007) / Valve 371 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.063% AU*
Counter-Strike (2000) / Valve 282 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.062% AU*
Counter-Strike: Source (2004) / Valve 426 Avg Minutes Played Per Week / 0.061% AU*
*AU is the percent of PC Gamers playing title in the average minute. Data from Jan - Oct 2008.
Notice anything? Yep. Not a single game on the list was released in 2008 – except for maybe WoW: WotLK, but even then, this is telling sign of where PC gaming now needs to park its tuckus. Bottom line: Subscriptions and microtransactions. You’re welcome, industry. Our bill’s in the mail.
Tired of getting a “Don’t call us; we’ll call our lawyers” from potential employers? Well, maybe listing your spec and number of epics under “Previous Experience” wasn’t such a great idea.* Apparently, job recruiters are looking for cogs who can give the money machine their all – and sleepless nights spent over at Arthas’ place just won’t cut it anymore.
“[A job recruiter in the “online media industry”] replied that employers specifically instruct him not to send them World of Warcraft players. He said there is a belief that WoW players cannot give 100% because their focus is elsewhere, their sleeping patterns are often not great, etc,” noted a member of the f13.net forums (via Shacknews).
“I mentioned that some people have written about MMOG leadership experience as a career positive or a way to learn project management skills, and he shook his head. He has been specifically asked to avoid WoW players.”
Think such an isolated example is meaningless? Read the rest of the forum thread.
Is this anti-MMO stance hypocritical? Definitely. But unfortunately, “For the Horde” Fridays probably won’t be an office standard until a more youthful, game-reared generation rules the workplace, so we might as well get used to it.
So yeah. If you could go ahead and not renew your WoW subscription before going on another job hunt, that’d be great.
*Those go under “Special Talents,” duh. What are you? An idiot?
Call of Duty: World at War, Spore, and Fallout 3 definitely got in a few chomps before getting turned to paste under the weight of WoW's millions, though. Left 4 Dead also made the "November Top Ten" page of 2008's gaming yearbook, though in a somewhat unspectacular fashion -- probably because NPD figures only cover retail sales.
Check out the full list below:
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King / Blizzard / $36 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King Collector's Ed. / Blizzard / $50 (Average)
Call Of Duty: World At War / Treyarch / $50 (Average)
Spore / EA Maxis / $48 (Average)
Fallout 3 / Bethesda / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Battle Chest / Blizzard / $34 (Average)
The Sims 2 Deluxe / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Left 4 Dead / Valve / $48 (Average)
The Sims 2 Apartment Life Exp. Pack / EA Maxis / $21(Average)
Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3 / EA LA / $49 (Average)
World Of Warcraft / Blizzard / $18 (Average)
The Sims 2 Mansion & Garden Stuff Exp. / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
Nancy Drew: The Haunting of Castle Malloy / Her Interactive / $20 (Avearge)
EverQuest II: The Shadow Odyssey / Sony Online Ent. / $40 (Average)(Average)
Far Cry 2 / Ubisoft Montreal / $50 (Average)
World Of Warcraft: Burning Crusade Expansion Pack / Blizzard / $29 (Average)
BioShock / 2K Boston, Australia / $14 (Average)
Spore Creepty & Cute Parts Pack / EA Maxis / $19 (Average)
IGT Slots: Little Green Men / Masque / $20 (Average)
Assassin's Creed / Ubisoft Montreal / $11 (Average)
So, did you pre-pay your respects to a game retailer's barely breathing form last month? And if so, what'd you buy?