7 days around the MMO world / February 7

This week has been a fairly eventful week for MMO players as both Global Agenda and Star Trek Online officially released. There has also been a good amount of activity and drama regarding World of Warcraft, so without further delay it’s time to share some of that drama.

Unless you completely ignore anything and everything relating to MMOs then you’ll know that Arthas, also known as the Lich King, is the be all end all boss to Blizzard’s MMO World of Warcraft. For the past several weeks the phased rollout of the Lich King’s home, Icecrown Citadel, has been underway and this past week marked the opening of the last wing where Arthas himself was waiting for the heroes of Azeroth to pay him a visit. In true WoW fashion the boss of all bosses was slain in 10-player mode by the US guild Blood Legion in under 24 hours after its release. We’ll admit, we were a little disappointing in the quickness that Arthas was defeated.

Now some purists will argue that the true form of Arthas has not been defeated yet and that simply means that a true kill will come when someone does the encounter on 25-player and in hard-mode. Just to educate the unfamiliar: Wrath of the Lich King introduced 4 difficulty levels for raid instances, 10-player, 10-player heroic, 25-player and 25-player heroic, all of increasing difficulty in the order listed. On top of that you have something called “hard-modes” which is a specific way to do an encounter that makes it significantly harder. All these varying degrees offer increasingly better rewards, so there is significant incentive to do the harder encounters. With that said, some people will consider the 25 player hard-mode kill as the true Lich King kill.

We know we promised drama and we’re planning on delivering. People immersed in the ongoings of the game will recognize the guild name Ensidia who recently got in some trouble with Blizzard. For a while now the guild from the EU realms have been getting a majority world first kills on new bosses — some of them came under a different name, but essentially the same group of players — and they had claimed the first Lich King 25-player kill in the world. However the entire group had their accounts suspended by Blizzard for 72 hours for allegedly exploiting a bug with the encounter that made a portion of it trivial. There was a bug with sarsonite bombs that when used caused the ice platform during one of the phases of the battle to not break, making this portion of the fight significantly more easy. Blizzard believed that this bug was discovered by them, but then exploited multiple times to their advantage.

Fortunately the ban is only temporary and they’ll be back in business by the time this post goes live. For the most part it’s a he said she said as the guild is claiming it was done on purpose. This week also marked the start of season 8 arena for WoW and introduced a whole new set of gear for pvpers to start drooling over.

Being an ex-Blizzard employee doesn’t always garner automatic success in all of you videogame related endeavors. This couldn’t be more true when you talk about the new MMO developer Red 5 Studios as they recently has to lay off several of their employees due to budget problems. However it looks like the studio is going through some roller coaster type of ups and downs.

The former Chinese operator of World of Warcraft, The9, has invested a significant amount of cash in the floundering studio. The9 wrote a check of 100 million dollars to invest into the company which should significantly help the new MMO studio. Initial rumors suggested that the US-based Red 5 would re-target its MMO towards the Chinese markets, however the studio made a statement saying that their MMO would remain targeted for a worldwide audience. We’re not sure what kind of input, if any at all, The9 will have in this project but we’re glad to see the company get funding and stay afloat.

Star Trek Online has only be officially out for a few days now and Cryptic is already offering premium content via their online store. For 240 Cryptic points players can purchase the Klingon race and for 80 points the Ferengi race. Each race offers different character traits, the Klingons with Honorable and Warrior traits and the Ferengi with Immunity and Acute Senses.

The players for STO are sort of split on how the feel about the purchasable content. Some feel that this content should have been part of the core game as both the Klingon and Ferengi race are very significant to the lore of Star Trek. Other don’t see it as much of an issue due to the fact that the people that pre-ordered the game got free Cryptic points anyway. While we think microtransactions can be a great way for an MMO to boost revenue while provided a good service to customers, we’re not convinced this type of content withholding is the way to go.

In other MMO news: