7 days around the MMO world / October 18

After a much needed week off we’re back and bursting with news. Our valiant Chad George did his best to update the MMO faithful with all the news and we appreciate his efforts, but this week we’re back with our regular update. The month of October is a big month for MMOs it seems as every one that’s released is planning some sort of October festivities.

Aion has been out a few weeks now and if you’ve been playing you have probably noticed the excessive amounts of gold spam coming through all channels of the chat system. Steps to improve the filtering are being made by NCSoft but so far little has helped the problems. The most recent 1.5.0.10 patch was supposed to update the chat filtering system and eliminate 99% of the gold spam. However it appears that the patch was a short lived band aid that spammers have already found a loop hole around. If you log in right now you’ll find yourself constantly blocking randomly named players who are spamming all the chat channels.

We’re not sure what exact steps NCSoft is taking to attempt to reduce the spam. Right now it appears that it’s mostly reactionary with more 24/7 support to issue out bannings after spammers commit their offenses and trying to use chat filters to clear out spammers. Gold spam has been a part of MMOs for a while now and newly released MMOs always have trouble figuring out how to deal with them. However games like World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online have figured out ways to prevent the spam so Aion might want to look to those games for possible solutions. Perhaps extending the global chat and whispering restrictions would help.

Speaking of Warhammer Online, the latest patch to the game has stirred up some controversy among some of the player base as it made raiding capital cities easier to do. Fortresses were removed and now players only need two pairings in order to open up the capital city to attack. From our point of view this should only make Warhammer better as it will increase the frequency of city attacks and give more of what makes Warhammer good, more war. On top of the easier access to the raiding of cities the incentive to do so is much higher and the rewards scale with the more people present during the fight.

The patch also offers new players some incentive to play as well. The new Apprentice system allows players of a lower rank team up with the friends of a higher rank while not having to deal with reduced experience games you would normally have. The patch also offers new in-game video and voice over tutorials to help newer players adjust to the Warhammer setting.

It looks like good news for Turbine and Dungeons & Dragons Online as the shift to a free-to-play model has increased their subscriber rate by 40%. “All aspects of our business are growing. Hundreds of thousands of new players in the world are playing for free, with a very high percentage using the store;” executive Producer Fernando Paiz explains. Even though the game has been out a few years, the switch has effectively rebooted interest in the game.

Hopefully this experiment will catch the eye of other developers. This could be a road other developers could look to for struggling MMOs and others that are late in their lives. When subscriber rate starts to fizzle out it may be smart to switch from a payed model to a free-to-play and microtransaction-based model. This could prevent beloved games from being shut down and who know, something like this could have saved Tabula Rasa and The Matrix Online.

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