Gaming News: Champions Online goes F2P, LOTRO EU F2P dated, Biggest ever online battle in EVE, Zynga aims to patent virtual currency, is Zynga worth more than EA?

The rise of the F2P MMO has given our gaming culture a new way to celebrate Halloween. As well as the inevitable (and inescapable) “Halloween holiday quests” there’s also now a Halloween sale, probably featuring skimpy costumes for female characters. Welcome to the future, where there’s some kind of sale on in the cash shop for 364 days of the year.

One of the blog posts which caught my eye this week was Larisa’s disappointment with the new worgen female dance – released this week onto the Cataclysm beta servers. It’s a copy of Lady Gaga’s dance from Pokerface (yeah, I wouldn’t have known that either and I quite like Lady Gaga).

The first thing I thought on seeing that video was what an amazing job the animation team did with that dance animation. It’s pretty much perfect.

It’s also a really poor fit for the worgen theme and  — even worse – has none of the charm which so amused people about the original WoW racial dances. Say what you like about silly pop culture references but it’s still comedy gold to see an orc dude do the MC Hammer dance, or the human female dance the Macarena. What happened to the lols, Blizzard? Blood elves dancing like Britney Spears was still vaguely funny because belves have a blonde airhead theme. But worgen dancing like Lady Gaga? Not really getting it.

Ah well, Alliance sucks anyway. Here’s a video of a goblin girl doing Beyonce’s Single Ladies dance.

Champions Online joins the Free to Play party

The big MMO news of the week is that another AAA subscription based MMO is switching to a F2P pricing model. This time it’s Cryptic’s Champions Online which is taking the plunge.

The news has been met with the usual round of commentary on the future of the genre, and guesses as to which game might be next. Truth is, with every AAA game that switches payment models, that future comes just a little bit closer. And no matter how many games do successfully switch over (and we hope that they’re all successful!), this is still not really proving anything yet about the types of communities that a F2P game can engage over time.

Pick of the week for me on the commentary was MMO Gamer Chick’s thoughts on what this means for lifetime subscriptions.

I’m still keeping an eye on Pirates of the Burning Sea which is due to switch to F2P sometime ‘soon’.

LOTRO EU gets a date for F2P

On a similar topic, European LOTRO players can rejoice. The F2P patch, alongside the new zone of Enedwaith and the harvest festival (better late than never), is going live this week.

Hurrah! Well, hurrah for new content and new players at least.

Biggest battle ever in an MMO?

It’s a tribute to whatever CCP have done with the EVE servers that they held out during a massive battle involving several thousand players.

Massively note that lag set in at around the 2400 player mark, and presumably the thing played like a slideshow when all 3100+ were there. But like a singing dog, the amazing thing is not that it sings out of tune but that it sings at all.

Anyone involved in that battle? It sounds like quite a remarkable experience.

Zynga and more Zynga

We haven’t had any stories about Zynga being evil for awhile. They’re currently trying to get a patent on virtual currencies. Surely they can’t have been the first company to use those, but the US patent laws are bizarre to me so who knows?

It is however clear that if spending real money to buy virtual currency is something which can be patented, it would be worth big money. This is because the next step would be for Zynga to threaten legal action against any company (assuming they get the patent) using a similar scheme if they don’t pay some kind of licensing fees.

Partly because of this patent application, Zynga has recently been valued at the colossal sum of approx $5.5bil (yes billion.) To put this in context, the valuing of a non-public startup is something of a black art. During the dot com boom, plenty of companies which later went bust boasted huge valuations on paper (and I worked for at least one of them.)

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9 thoughts on “Gaming News: Champions Online goes F2P, LOTRO EU F2P dated, Biggest ever online battle in EVE, Zynga aims to patent virtual currency, is Zynga worth more than EA?

  1. I get excited every time a AAA MMO to which I don’t sub goes F2P. Too many games out there now, F2P gives me more opportunities to check them all out. Of course, I think it’s just a matter of time when F2P market gets saturated as well.

    Thanks for the link love, I appreciate it!

  2. On WoW’s dances they haven’t all been comic references. I remember seeing the original of the Night Elf female dance and it was just some rather glamorous French star doing a vanilla pop song.

    F2P – the current vogue is to carefully tailor the business model so that if you sub it’s just too horrid to drop down to the basic package but if you don’t sub there’s quite a lot to draw you in. I prefer League of Legends model which basically gives you the game but let’s you expand options and cosmetic elements for cash.

    Regarding Eve – well done, CCP! They’ve been rather under the cosh regarding lag for most of this year from the playerbase.

    Regarding the US Patent Office they get paid for every patent they accept. Accordingly they accept just about every patent and let the courts sort it out if the patent is unwarranted. There is no accountability for letting ridiculous patents through.

  3. The thing is, most of the dances are based on pop culture references from that time (Go on. Name the Female Orc Dance without looking it up) and WoW is about five years old now. I’m not seeing how the Lady Gaga dance is out of place.

    On the Zynga front, they are dubious as all get out so I’m going to think they overstate how much they’re worth by more than a little.

    • Not so much, actually. I mean, Michael Jackson was more than 5 years ago, MC Hammer was more than 5 years ago. It’d be more true to say that they used a couple of pop culture references at the time, and even at the time people didn’t recognise them (how many people thought the nelf dance was just a generic pole dance?)

      One of the big differences I think is that these dances aren’t really iconic. I just think they did a better job on the blood elves (not iconic but amusing and in keeping) and draenei … and goblins, come to think of it.

  4. Agreed on the dances. I find a lot of the current ones just plain funny. Human, Orc and Tauren males in particular.

    The new ones seem sorta uninspired in comparison.

  5. Cryptic camp had some interesting news this week, Champions Online goes F2P, Star Trek Online will try out The Foundry, perhaps there is hope yet.

    I am most concerned about the success of the STO user-generated content project. Cryptic isn’t a developer that I am particular trusting of, and if they botch this, I fear no one will ever try their hands at it again…

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