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.

In links we trust

  1. Can Gaming make a better world? Rick at /random writes about Jane McGonigals well reported speech at TED on this subject. But heck, we know how hard gamers work on problems like organising raids and killing raid bosses – which are social as well as mechanical puzzles. Would they be as interested in complex real world problems too? And here a local government blogger, inspired by the same TED talk, ponders World of Govcraft. Could people get more involved in local government and solving local issues if they pretended it was a virtual world?
  2. Scott Jennings writes at mmorpg.com about the hard numbers behind SW:TOR. How much money does this game need to make? How much has been poured into it so far? Is this model sustainable?
  3. Dusty shares some insights into social games. And particularly the mechanics that allow a player to progress by either inviting more people OR spending money. Paying to avoid socialising?
  4. Oh yeah, apparently some little Finnish guild killed the Lich King on hard mode. Awesome work, Paragon! Even now people are inspecting their lineup and preparing the inevitable whine posts if their favourite class/spec didn’t make the cut.
  5. Ravious finds that the way he sees his online community has changed. He feels more connected to other gamers (ie. bloggers, twitter community etc) than just to his guild in his game of choice.  And I’m going to twin this with a column in The Guardian where a journalist writes about the value of virtual communities – she’s comparing her son’s community in WoW with her favourite political bboard and concludes … that much of the experience is the same.
  6. Gevlon analyses why his undergeared project is floundering. His conclusions are on the button and won’t surprise any experienced guild or raid leader. People are shallow, fickle, and selfish. But that doesn’t mean it was wrong to try.
  7. Melmoth runs into some mobstacles in Moria. This is one of the big reasons why I was so delighted to escape to Lothlorien (it does get a lot better). Player vs Developer also describes why he thinks the LOTRO economy just isn’t working and the problem with emblems and multiple ‘currencies’.
  8. Fulugaris on Killing Em Slowly asks whether Burst DPS is More Fun?
  9. Brigwyn at The Hunter’s Lodge is calling time. It’s an awesome blog and he’ll be dearly missed, but as he says himself, “I’ve done pretty much everything in the game at least once.” Dwism also picked up on Whiny Post Day with a post about when you run out of fun (note: the tone of these whiny posts is of course whiny and does not reflect what the blogger is usually like ;) ).
  10. And the Big Bear Butt blogger gives some good and heartfelt advice to new bloggers. I don’t entirely agree that spelling and grammar aren’t important (some of your readers may not speak English as a first language and good spelling/grammar will help them) but it’s not something to fret about in your first draft.
  11. Finally, the press embargo on The Secret World was dropped this week. Ysharros is here with links to all the reports around the web from journalists who tried it at GDC.