Gaming News: Panasonic’s new handheld, DC Online delayed, Chinese gamers bored of MMOs, Layoffs at Paragon, F2P LOTRO doubles revenue

Today is World Mental Health Day, so not a bad time to consider your own work/ life/ gaming balance, whether you’re getting enough sleep and enough time with your friends, and how you plan to level in Cataclysm without driving yourself into the ground.

I really believe that gaming can be a very positive thing for mental health. Sometimes being able to log in and chill out is exactly the right thing to do. Being able to practice  taking on responsibility in a game can also be a great way to increase confidence iRL. But, as with anything, it’s important to keep a handle on it. Anyway, enough preaching … on with the news!

Big news for WoW players this week was the announcement of the Cataclysm release date: 7th December.

Blizzard also announced that subs to WoW were up to 12 million this week, following the release of the game in China. However, the percentage of the subscription gaming market held by WoW in North American and Europe is down from 60% to 54%. Next week will doubtless see more news coming out of Blizzcon, and I’m looking forwards to hearing more about Diablo III.

Daft news of the week is that Tim Langdell, who was trying to sue EA for using the word ‘Edge’ in ‘Mirror’s Edge’ lost his case.  This was based on the fact that he to held a trademark for the word ‘edge’ which turns out to have been gotten on dodgy grounds. In any case, he’s now lost all his trademarks, been told off for ‘trolling’ in court and been royally smacked down.

Blog of the week: Blacksen’s End. If you are at all interested in hardcore raiding in WoW and how a hardcore raid leader is planning for Cataclysm, check it out. He’s a very thoughtful writer who knows his stuff.

Welcome to the Jungle

Panasonic this week unveiled plans to launch a new handheld console. This one apparently is aimed at online gamers who would like to be more mobile and they’re looking to support MMOs.

The Jungle homepage is rather aggressively red and features an icon of a stickman with a gun. And … I’m still wondering if this is for real. Nope, still not really seeing it.

DC Online delayed until 2011

Anyone who read last week’s news and links will share my unsurprise that SOE announced this week that DC Online is now delayed until ‘early 2011’.

If they’re really unlucky they will have dodged the bullet of releasing against Cataclysm and will instead release against SWTOR.

Chinese gamers are bored of MMOs

A report published this week claims that hardcore Chinese gamers are flocking from MMOs to social gaming sites. Notice the use of the word ‘hardcore’ in the quote in that report – they think hardcore gamers are looking for a more diverse player base.

This sounds vaguely implausible to me. They may well be getting jaded of current MMOs (which doesn’t bode all that well for WoW if it just launched there) but trying to imagine hardcore gamers of any nationality deciding that they want to play with the noobs and non-gamers … stretches my powers of belief.

This is the press release from the company which produced the report. One of the interesting aspects that hasn’t been reported on so much is the trend for Chinese gamers to play more on PCs at home rather than in internet cafes.

Layoffs at Paragon

News hit this week that Paragon Studios, who produce City of Heroes, have had a round of layoffs. I don’t have much to say about this other than that it’s a shame we haven’t heard more  from bloggers about Going Rogue, their latest expansion. (My excuse is that my husband promised to jot down a few notes but is still too busy playing it to have actually done so.)

F2P LOTRO doubles revenue

Turbine have announced that the F2P version of LOTRO (US online at the moment) has been going well for them.  Apparently it has doubled the amount of money it is bringing in, and gained 1 million new account registrations since last month.

Would it be churlish to ask how many of those are EU players who weren’t able to access F2P via Codemasters?

EVE Online’s next update will include raids

What do you give to the space/ economic MMO that has everything? A PvE raiding endgame, obviously.

The EVE devs are currently doing some public testing with their next update, Incursion. This will include raid instances/ dungeons which are scaled for up to 40 players at a time.

Aside from the mental dissonance of calling EVE instances dungeons (they’ve always done this), I don’t really see the issue. It is a step away from their traditional direction but I’m big in favour of large public encounters in any MMO and there’s no reason why it wouldn’t be fun in EVE too.

Our game is female friendly, we have wonderwoman!!!

This is an article I spotted on MTV Multiplayer: DC Universe Devs explain why their game is female friendly!

Even before reading this, I’m thinking that this is going to be a hard sell. Superhero comics, whilst having a strong female following, have not been traditionally ‘female friendly’. And the ones which have bucked the trend have tended to be the more soap opera types of setups, like X-Men and its various spinoffs. And books like Sandman which is damn good but not very superhero at all, when you come down to it.

Everyone in superhero comics has unrealistic physiques but the women are typically heavily sexed up, with vast boobs and teeny outfits. We know why they’re there. Don’t treat us like idiots. It’s not that there aren’t strong female characters or stories that appeal to girls, but there’s no point pretending that it’s a primary audience.

Anyway, on to the interview. I’ll sum up the more quotable points here:

We are going out of our way in ‘DC’ because we saw that women were really the largest part of the audience for ‘The Dark Knight

Great film. Were women really the largest part of the audience? Huh. We have good taste, sisters.

A lot of my friends play with their significant other or spouse, and they usually like to play the stuff that’s not so up-front combat-wise; they like to do the healing, the support, the buffing, and that sort of group management. So we made sure that we tried to make that more than just watching people’s health bars on the side of the screen. It wasn’t just playing the interface; it was actually still just playing the game. So our concepts for having the support people involved are very different from what other MMOs have.

Yeah, we all play support characters. Not that it isn’t a good thing to have some ideas to make support more interesting but nice job on the assumptions there.

And also, we don’t have death in the game; we just have knock-outs so when you do “die,” you can get right back up again and into the fight. So there’s less critical failure points for people who are more casual and aren’t necessarily as into a hardcore of an experience.

What is it you’re really trying to say here, Jen? Girls cry when they get killed? We’re all casual players? Again, this isn’t a bad idea in itself but I’m not seeing the girl friendliness.

I have an idea, how about costumes that aren’t made of two bottle caps and some floss? How about gameplay that supports proper character arcs, dependent NPCs with personalities and some soap opera style group story mechanics? How about some moody gothic shit? We love that stuff (while we’re waiting for CCP to get moving on their Vampire MMO).

Or shall we just stick Wonder Woman in?

Wonder Woman is in our game; she’s one of the most recognizable female characters in the world. So the appeal that we have as far as just female presence in the [intellectual property] is very large.

Yes! Wonder Woman has very large …. tracts of fans.