7 days around the MMO world / September 20

The MMO genre has for the greater part of its history been primarily limited to the PC platform with the exception of games like Final Fantasy IX. However the landscape of the MMO is changing to now include the consoles as well as the PC and making a stride to connect the two platforms together in a great interconnected online experience.

Earlier this week MMO veteran developer Turbine announced that the long rumored console MMO they’re working on was in fact real, but not the rumored The Lord of the Rings Online console port. This latest news is the newest addition to the growing list of console MMOs in development. When you add Champions Online, APB, Final Fantasy XIV, Dust 514 and The Agency, the list is getting longer and that list is looking pretty good.

When it comes to MMOs on the console platform, things are still generally unknown. There are a lot of logistical hurdles to conquer but it is reassuring that veteran developers and MMO developers are working on those problems. The biggest hurdle we can foresee is coming up with a comfortable control scheme that will work for the complex nature of MMOs. In the end MMOs will be a new thing for console only players and hopefully they will catch on. It might be hard to get 360 owners to pay a subscription for an MMO when they also already pay for their LIVE subscription so we’ll be interested to see how that is handled. Either way it doesn’t suck that one of the fastest growing genres out there is going to get some high quality love on the consoles.

The front lines of Champions Online has been extremely active in the ways of Cryptic pushing out update after update to make sure players have the best super hero experience possible. A patch released last weekend brought a lot of bug fixes and improved the performance of the game. The UI has been tweaked and Crytpic added the ability to allow players to get one free respec in the event they aren’t happy with their initial power choices.

There are big changes coming to the game’s economy according to Executive Producer Bill Roper as players having been asking for cheaper retcon prices (respec). Roper has addressed the retcon issue explaining why they haven’t reduced costs and other economy issues in a news update on the Champions Online website. “There has been an outcry for a change in retcon pricing, so I wanted to take a few minutes to express why we specifically haven’t reduced the costs. In a nutshell, it all comes down to the economy,” explained Roper.

He went on to explain how they’re increasing the resources that enemies drop (resources is the game’s currency) and how they’re increasing the amount of items that are dropped to. What this will hopefully do is give players more money overall and thus eliminating the need for cheaper retcon costs as players will be richer. “These economy changes will greatly improve the ability for players to retcon their characters, as well as address some longer-term issues we saw on the horizon,” Roper said. He also mentioned that players will be getting a second free retcon when the patch containing the economy changes goes live.

Next week will be a big week for MMOs as two more come to market. Both Aion and the delayed Fallen Earth are looking to go live next week, causing more distractions to the already distracted school-goers of the world. Aion has already started to impress with its pre-orders now breaching the 400k mark, making it one of biggest MMO pre-releases numbers of recent history. Already Aion has surpassed Warhammer Online’s launch numbers and it hasn’t even launched yet. We’re very interested  to see how well those numbers hold up after launch so keep an eye out next week when both Aion and Fallen Earth go live.

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