Gaming News: Starcraft 2 numbers, Torchlight 2, Gameforge buys majority of Frogster, Google Wave ditched

Starcraft 2 sells well, but not as well as WoW

The SC2 numbers are in and they’re good. Blizzard claims best selling PC Game of 2010 with over 1 milion copies sold within the first 24 hours. Kotaku compare this number with WoW expansions, and finds that both TBC and Wrath sold over twice as well in their first 24 hours of release.

I’m dubious as to how much weight to put on the first 24 hour sales with this game, since it’s expected to have a very long tail indeed if it follows after the example of its predecessor.

SC2 fans will probably also enjoy this article by Sirlin about the game’s online ranking mechanism.

In other Blizzard news, the developer has announced intentions to try to police roleplay on one of the US RP servers. Apparently Moonguard US has zones which are notorious for people cybering in public and some hapless GM/s have been assigned the least enviable job in the community management arena by being told to go in and stop people doing it.

So good luck with that then. And in Activision’s Q2 investor call it was confirmed that Blizzard is working on a new MMO with a new IP. (I’m not sure if this is news, I had thought they already said as much but it’s official now.)

Torchlight 2 announced! Not a MMO but will include multiplayer

Runic Games announced this week that they plan to release a sequel to fan favourite Diablo-alike Torchlight, to be released around March 2011. Torchlight 2 will include multiplayer functionality so you can adventure with your friends, and they also intend to offer a free peer-to-peer matchmaking system.

Also overland areas, more classes, more customisation … and so on. We still have no dates for Diablo 3 so this might well beat it to market. I am curious to hear more from Blizzard on how they’re going to differentiate D3 from the increasingly slick looking competition.

Gameforge buys Frogster

Frogster, best known in the MMO community  for distributing Runes of Magic is now majority owned by Gameforge. Massively have some comments on Gameforge’s current portfolio and where this purchase fits in.

Also in commercial news this week, Google picks up social gaming app/ widget maker Slide. There’s no doubt that they intend to be a major player in the social gaming field, I can’t wait to hear more about their plans.

And in the same week, they announced the demise of the much hyped Google Wave.

So farewell, Google Wave

understood by no one.

You failed to make waves.

‘Never seen that before’ MMO news

Advertisements

Are bad factions more popular?

Every time a new game launches which has more than one faction, where one is identified as ‘the good guys’ and the other as ‘the other guys’ we end up wondering whether players in general prefer to play as good or evil.

In WoW, the Horde vastly outnumbered Alliance on PvP servers at the start, and still does. In WAR, Destruction vastly outnumbered Order on all servers at the beginning. A friend who plays Aion noted that Asmodian seemed more popular than Elyos on all the servers he checked recently.

The population balance isn’t always for the same reason. In WoW Horde really did have better PvP racials and classes (shaman) at the start. Destruction always looked much cooler than Order in WAR. When I took a look at the Aion beta, my first reaction was that Asmodeans looked cooler than Elyos too and I thought most people would prefer them.

So I see a few common points:

  1. Designers find it easier to make the evil factions look cool (where cool is some combination of look and styling that appeals to gamers). How a character looks is probably the single strongest reason for a gamer to pick it initially.
  2. Tied to #1, evil factions often have a backstory that primes them as being very tough and badass. Instead of heroes, they are portrayed as anti-heroes to make them more powerful as enemies. The bad guys also often have more interesting stories in general – is it just easier to write lore about evil or savage races?
  3. ‘Evil’ factions follow a morality that supports how gamers play (i.e. go out and commit mass slaughter and looting). They have more ‘fun’.  So many gamers find it easier to relate to them. This is one of the reasons a lot of PvP type players are drawn to the bad boys in game.
  4. Even though many games had a majority of the evil faction at the beginning, this often balances out later. There are lots of reasons for this. Some are natural balancing factors, others are devs rebalancing to lure people to the weaker faction. One of the big balancing factors in a PvP game is that the less played faction gets more fights. Either because there is a battleground mechanic that limits how many of each side can play, or in an open world game, they’re just more likely to encounter enemies when they go roaming.

Frank@Overly Positive reminded me about this with a post about faction balance in Star Wars. Fans on the SW:TOR forums are complaining that Bioware is making the Sith seem too cool. I think the fans have lost it – Star Wars has some of the most badass good guys in cinema. The Sith have to be very cool indeed to lure players who planned to be Han Solo over to their side. And if Bioware’s game is going to rely heavily on balanced PvP then there need to at least be some Sith in game.

Star Trek is going to have similar problems. All the films and TV series are about the Federation. So how to lure people into playing enough of the ‘bad guys’ that there’s going to be some people for the good guys to fight.

Some of this will be resolved by hardcore players deciding that only pansies want to be Han Solo et al and again picking the side that is likely to be less numerous because it’ll give more PvP and a badass demeanor. And even if PvP in these games winds up matching the numbers of the more popular good side against the hardcore badassness of the bad side, at least that’s atmospheric.

No, the problem comes a few months down the line when the hardcore guys are winning enough of the fights that lots of other people join them. At that point, the side that was less numerous at the start ends up being more more hardcore and more numerous. Some of the hardcore switch sides, and the cycle begins again.

Do you feel drawn towards playing the bad boy antiheroes? Like the goth Asmodean styling? Does it make a difference whether it’s a heavily PvP game or not?