7 days around the MMO world (May 3)

The middle east and MMOs are not something you ever see in the same sentence together, but all that is about to change. Thanks to Sanya Weathers over at Examiner.com we’re now finding out that a company called Game Power 7 is busting down the walls of convention with an Arabic version of the free-to-play MMO, Rappelz. As far as we know, this is the first of its kind.

Rappelz in general is your typical fantasy MMO, nothing ground breaking or genre changing here, at least when we’re talking about game mechanics. It’s a standard experience and level based game, with class types, zones and killable NPCs. Again, nothing earth shattering here.

What makes this story so unique and important is what it means to the MMO industry and what it means to the Middle Eastern region.

If Game Power 7 is successful in getting Middle Eastern people to enjoy and play, and then continuing playing this MMO, then the nut has been cracked for future MMOs to move into the space. The implications of this are huge for the gaming and MMO industry as a whole. We’re looking at a massive untapped demographic and this may open the doors for many more developers to start thinking about Arabic versions of their game.

The challenges come into play with retrofitting the game to fit within the standards of Middle Eastern cultures. From the article, there are before and after screenshots of Rappelz showing a female character less clothed in the original and then showing much less skin in the after shots. When it comes to sex and sex appeal, the Middle East tend to lean more on the conservative side. Game Power 7 is bending over backwards to make this game perfect for the Middle East by trying to make it neutral to all the various cultures existing there. Aside from re-working the character models they also removed any religious like symbols and tweaked content to make it more relevant to a middle eastern market.

For the region itself the game and MMOs in general could break down cultural barriers between the numerous cultures living in the Middle East. Because of the social nature of MMOs, players from all walks of life are brought together, Rappelz will be no different. In-game everyone is on the same plane, your race, country or religious affiliation are no longer important. MMOs bring people together in ways that allow you to get to know people with out pre-judgment.

If successful Game Power 7 will have paved the way for other developers to create not only Arabic versions of existing IPs but also they will have opened the doors for developers to make original Middle Eastern IPs. We’ll be following this closely as it plays out and we’ll bring you the latest as it happens every week.

Jumping back across the pond now and into western culture, Warhammer Online has decided to take an interesting and somewhat controversial approach to their server stability issues associated with open RvR.

Winds of Change is what we like to call a Band-Aid for a wound that requires stitches. What it does is whenever the server hits a point where it’s about to crash it will teleport players to the closet safe spot like a warcamp. When the server goes “Oh Crap!” and players don’t leave voluntarily from the open RvR area, dead players will get teleported first followed by severely wounded players and so on.

This sort of change always worries us for a number of reasons. The first being that although Mythic promises that it is a temporary change we have to worry that it isn’t. Warhammer Online has been out for over six months and so far they have not been able to remedy the server issues when it comes open RvR. What is going to happen in the next six months that’s going to magically fix it? Secondly it more or less kills the open RvR experience when you could be ported in the middle of battle, it more or less defeats the purpose of large scale battles.

Hopefully it is temporary and Mythic finds that button that fixes the stability issues. We want large scale open RvR to work but we don’t want to worry about our fun being interrupted by a server crash or being teleported away from battle against our will.

In other MMO news:

  • Cool developer video from Star Wars Old Republic.
  • Roll a spanking new level 50 in Age of Conan.
  • Runes of Magic barrows from yet another MMO and we don’t mind.
  • Darkfall focuses on smaller group and solo content in new patch.
  • Warhammer Online dangles a bigger carrot-on-a-stick for guilds to retain keeps.
  • Champions Online solves the “name taken” issue, sort of.
  • City of Heroes 5 year celebration under way complete with contest!
  • Star Trek Online shows us just one more ship. We want more please!
  • Kids gone wild, Wizard101 hits 2 million unique players.
  • Lineage II reactivated your subscription for free to celebrate 5 years. Free is good.
  • Kid oriented Free Realms launched on Tuesday.
  • Worlds.com vs NCSoft lawsuit moved to California.