7 days around the MMO world / November 8

While triple A title after triple A title drops all around us it seems that the MMO industry is going into sleep mode. With no real major releases coming anytime soon, things have become a little quiet around the halls of our MMO department. That’s not to say there hasn’t been any news surrounding our beloved massively multiplayer genre, but the news has just not been as exciting as it was in September and October. However, we do have some very interesting thing to share with you nonetheless, so let’s get at it.

I think we can officially start considering Aion a success as we found at that the game is approaching 1 million copies sold. Now, we know as well as anyone that games sold doesn’t always translate into long term subscribers but it is our opinion that even if a good chunk of current players drop, Aion will still have a very strong subscriber rate. Even if they lose some people in the long term they’ll be better off than other recent mainstream fantasy MMO releases like Age of Conan or Warhammer Online.

If NCSoft keeps paying attention to player concerns over the next few months they could very well hook players for a really long time. So far we think they’re doing a pretty good job. One of the biggest complaints seems to have been all but taken care of, the annoying gold seller spam. As of right now maybe one gold spammer gets through and a quick flick of your mouse has the annoyance blocked. The bolstered GM and chat restrictions seems to have done the trick. The other complaint about the game feeling a bit too grind like is being addressed in the upcoming patch where experience gains are being increased in many facets of the game. So as of right now Aion is poised to be a excellent alternative to the MMO juggernaut that is World of Warcraft. But they ought beware as Cataclysm is looming on the horizon.

Now we’re going to switch gears and talk about the technical side of MMO gaming. If you’ve ever raided in WoW or any other MMO for that matter than you might be familiar with the program Ventrilo which is a VOIP service which you use to shout orders at your raid group. Most of the time the guild master or some leader is paying for a server to host all the players in the raid costing anywhere from $15-50 a month depending on the capacity of your server. On top of that you have to get over the hurdle of instructing no so tech savvy people on how to install and set up, and pull out your hair if they happen to be on a Mac.

Fortunately a fancy web 2.0 application is to our rescue called Blabbleon. The short version, it’s a web-based VOIP service that’s 100% free. So it’s a free version of the Ventrilo we all love, and it’s web-based so there’s no confusion on set-up and installation. Coming from a former guild leader and raid leader this would have been a godsend for us. The ability to avoid all the confusion and the hand-holding when it came to setting up Ventrilo would have saved our guild so much time and would have given us more time in the dungeon learning encounters and taking down titans.

It appears that China isn’t too fond of the way World of Warcraft is being ran and as such has told NetEase, the WoW operator in China, to shut the game down. It should be noted that NetEase has not shut WoW down in China quite yet, but it is facing pressure from China’s General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP). Right now NetEase is in heated debate over the operation of WoW and its expansion into theĀ  Wrath of the Lich King game expansion.

China has still yet to see Wrath of the Lich King and is still currently running on the previous expansion The Burning Crusade. According to GAPP the game is in “gross violation” of Chinese regulation and is the source of the shut down order. Whatever the violation is we can be certain that the operation of WoW in China has been a total mess. We hope that it will get sorted out eventually and Wrath of the Lich King can get released there sometime before Cataclysm releases over here on the West.

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