Gaming News: First PS3 MMO?, Cataclysm Alpha, Lucasarts Execs resign, and Games Workshop sue Fan Site

The local news of course is that our election on Thursday produced a hung parliament. I was practically in the news myself when our demo for electoral reform made the front pages. I still think, “What do we want? Electoral reform. When do we want it? Now!” is not very catchy.

Free Realms for the PS3

Free Realms, Sony’s kid friendly MMO, will be demoed on the PS3 at next month’s E3 convention. It’s a fun, colourful game with plenty to do and see and also does not rely heavily on in game communication, so that might just be a very good fit indeed.

SOE have said a lot in the past about their goals to get MMOs onto consoles but this is the first game in their stable to actually make the leap.

I’m intrigued to see how this might work and how they’ll handle the pricing, but it’s a fun little game for all that and I’ll certainly be trying out the PS3 port. For research purposes only, you understand and not at all because I want a calico pet cat in every game which allows it. (You can train your cat to do tricks in FR.)

Cataclysm Alpha Test Begins

Friends and family alpha test began this week of Blizzard’s new WoW expansion. The client was leaked and fully data-mined and posted all over the web approximately 2s later.

The wow.com editors attempt to justify this by explaining that it’s all Blizzard’s fault for not paying attention to employee’s concerns (but we don’t know what these mysterious concerns might be). Or Blizzard could just sack anyone who leaks information that is clearly marked company confidential, like any other business would do. Assuming that it came from an employee, of course.

I’ll come back to this topic later. But it’s clear that either Blizzard fansites make too much money from printing leaked info to stop doing it, or else Blizzard just doesn’t have the goodwill from the playerbase which is what mostly keeps other NDAs under wraps.

Someone has managed to run WoW on an iPad

Gaikai have shown off their vaunted streaming gaming technology by demonstrating that it can be used to run WoW on an iPad.

But they don’t answer the most important question that this raises: is finger-turning worse than keypad turning?

Lucasarts President Resigns

This week several executives resigned from Lucasarts along with the company’s president. There is always a story behind mass senior resignations but in this case we don’t have much information on what is going on behind the scenes. It isn’t necessarily bad news for the developer, per se.

Lucasarts say that no current game development (such as Star Wars) will be affected, but they would say that, wouldn’t they? The fact that the company announced that they are searching for a replacement implies that he actually did resign rather than being pushed (when someone is fired, there is usually already a replacement lined up.)

Games Workshop sue Warhammer Online fansite

This was one of the more unexpected news stories of the week, and really should have all fansites on their toes.

The main fan-run bboard and community for Warhammer Online is called Warhammer Alliance. It has been up for months (maybe even years) before Mythic’s Warhammer MMO went live, and was bought out by Curse to be part of their fansite stable. Yes, that’s the same curse.com who host a lot of WoW addons.

And now, Games Workshop are suing Curse for trademark infringement among a host of other issues. The issue is the name of the fansite. They claim that Warhammer Alliance implies that the site is formally associated with Games Workshop.

Or in other words, Curse is in profit and GW wants a cut. It will be interesting to see how this lawsuit goes, if Curse even attempt to fight it rather than just settling out of court. I suspect that Curse et al have a good case, but that the costs of legal action against GW could be prohibitive.

However, if I was involved with a fansite that had gleefully picked a game specific name without asking permission first from the trademark holders, I would be watching this one with interest. Anyone else think Blizzard might have a case to claim that wow.com infringed their trademarks if they get pissed off by  … for example … consistent leaks about new expansions?

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12 thoughts on “Gaming News: First PS3 MMO?, Cataclysm Alpha, Lucasarts Execs resign, and Games Workshop sue Fan Site

  1. The actual forum post on the GW thing suggests that GW did this BECAUSE the site was sold to Curse by the original owner and now Curse is profiting from the Wahammer trademark w/o license. If Curse talks it out with GW and acquires the necessary legal crap to run the site, I’m sure GW will leave them alone.

    If it hadn’t switched ownership I don’t think this would have happened.

    • Maybe I’m cynical but I don’t think it’s so much because the site was sold as because the owner is a profit making venture (no point suing someone unless there’s money in it.)

  2. Given the huge amount of positive hype and the rather late date when these “leaked” Blizzard clients and “lost” Apple prototypes appear, they will probably do nothing and reap the rewards of free promotion.

    Whether intentionally fabricated or not, at this stage they could have released info about Cataclysm officially, but it would not have been nearly as cool and hype-worth.

  3. I think it comes down to the fact that the leaked information is worth more in advertising dollars than any good will with Blizzard is worth.

    Because, really? Anything good will from Blizzard will get you will be gotten earlier by people leaking it to you.

    That said, anyone who defends the paractice should probably be smacked upside the head.

  4. WoW.com has a curiously short memory; they repeatedly call this latest series of leaks “unprecedented”, but there was actually far more leaked info out of the Wrath alpha.

    It boggles my mind that Blizzard hasn’t come up with some way of restricting access to the NDA-protected client yet. At this point, I don’t see how they can claim that they’re taking reasonable steps to keep the information private if they’re posting it on the web for anyone to download and datamine. Frankly, I’d rather have the leaks on reputable sites that aren’t keylogging people.

    • “Frankly, I’d rather have the leaks on reputable sites that aren’t keylogging people.”

      I dunno. This sounds like saying that it’d be better if developers gave their games away for free because it’d stop people from downloading pirated versions from warez sites that might be keylogging.

      I do agree that there’s really no point them putting an NDA on this information if they’re going to have the client publically available for downloading though.

      • The question is “who benefits?”

        As Keane observes it really is great news for Blizzard that this info is leaked and people who would otherwise be canceling because they’re bored of 3.3 are staying subbed.

        I think the games industry has discovered the “an anonymous source” technique beloved of Ministers in government.

  5. Well done at Smith Square. I heard about it on the radio and thought about coming along to support you but I assumed it would probably be over by the time I got there.

    I think your demonstration must have had a real effect on the mood of the people inside. Nick Clegg looked genuinely delighted and of course came out to talk to you in turn after LibDem officials had said he wouldn’t be coming out.

    I found it utterly hilarious the rumour that Brown tried to bully Clegg into coalition. If it’s not true it ought to be, it seems so apt.

    I was very sorry about GW and Warhammer Alliance. WAR, as you know launched without official forums and relied on the work of fan sites to support its community. It’s a real stab in the back for fans no matter who is making money off the IP. (As if orcs and goblins are GW’s property anyway – but that’s another rant).

    Good luck to Free Realms and as for LucasArts – seems that sort of thing is business as usual in the large game corporates.

    • If it’s something you are interested in, the fair vote rallies are being organised via take back parliament — so you can sign up for info.

      Since this isn’t a political blog, I wasn’t planning on getting too deeply into the nuts and bolts of it, but they’re planning a flash mob tomorrow and another rally in parliament square next saturday (I might try to make that one again).

      And I think Clegg was genuinely happy to see people demonstrating about something he cares about too. They presented him with a petition with about 20k signatures that had been signed since friday — that’s the power of the internet.

  6. “Anyone else think Blizzard might have a case to claim that wow.com infringed their trademarks if they get pissed off by … for example … consistent leaks about new expansions?”

    I think MMO-Champions would be more the ones that would have to more worry about that.

  7. wow.com is a curious case. AOL purchased that domain name many years ago, long before World of Warcraft was a glimmer in a developer’s eye. It wasn’t until several months ago that someone at AOL made the connection between the fact that they owned wow.com and they owned a website called WoW Insider and, hey, maybe they’d make a good match for each other.

    On the one hand, AOL clearly had no intention of profiting from World of Warcraft when they bought wow.com. On the other hand, that’s clearly what they’re doing with it now. It’ll be interesting to see how that shakes out in the long run.

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