Tag Archives: October 2008

World Of Warcraft’s Numbers Continue To Dominate

WoW: Wrath of the Lich King logo

Blizzard Entertainment has reason to celebrate. Not only is its Wrath of the Lich King expansion almost ready to roll out, but its subscriber numbers continue to blow the mind.

Blizzard announced today that its subscription base now exceeds 11 million players. When this number is brought into perspective, the gravity of the announcement becomes clear.

Many countries around the world have population figures that are less than 11 million. For example, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland and even Portugal have population numbers that are lower than the entire subscription base for WoW.

So, why is this game so popular when other, arguably more challenging and visually pleasing MMORPGs flounder with their subscription bases?

It all comes down to playability. Blizzard, unlike so many other game companies, has managed to create an ever-evolving world that balances challenge and fun. The game, its updates and expansions tend to work as expected or close to it. WoW has managed to pull in serious gamers and casual players alike. It, in short, represents everything a massively multiplayer game should offer – something for everyone.

Now, don’t get me wrong. WoW has had its share of problems, but Blizzard has managed to overcome most of them. This is obvious by the numbers. In fact, the figures from Blizzard speak for themselves.

“Since debuting in North America on November 23, 2004, World of Warcraft has become the most popular MMORPG around the world,” Blizzard’s recent press release read. “It was the bestselling PC game of 2005 and 2006 worldwide, and finished behind only World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade(R), the first expansion pack for the game, in 2007. In addition to being the bestselling PC game of 2007 in both North America and Europe, The Burning Crusade holds the record for fastest-selling PC game of all time, with nearly 2.4 million copies sold in its first 24 hours of availability and approximately 3.5 million in its first month.”

Now available in a total of eight languages, WoW continues to please its client base. The company is even proud to announce in this time of layoffs and cutbacks, it’s even hiring.

Whether you played it and hated it, played it and loved it or never played it at all, there’s no denying the incredible impact WoW has had on the gaming world and continues to have.

The next expansion is due out Nov. 13.

Links:
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
WoW’s new patch one week on
WoW Insider Weekly Podcast

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‘Extra’ Wants Its Viewers To Get Wii Fit

Nintendo Wii controller
Hoping to get your hands on a copy of Wii Fit in time to whip yourself in shape for the holidays? You’re in luck! At least you could be if you’re a fan of “Extra.”
Warner Bros. “Extra” wants to help its viewers get fit while having fun. The entertainment magazine television show is giving away a copy in a promotion to sign up “friends” on its Web site.

Now in its 15th season, “Extra” is the second-longest running entertainment news show on television. Starring Mario Lopez, from “Saved by the Bell” fame, the show covers what’s hot and what’s not in Hollywood.
Gamers or viewers who sign up online to be “Extra” friends will automatically be entered to win a copy of Wii Fit. They can also win one of three Mario Super Sluggers packages.

Interesting promotion, I’ll give them that. Not many news releases catch my eye, but this one did. Wii Fit has become a sensation since it hit store shelves. Shortages in my particular community led a friend of mine to rope an out-of-state relative into sending her a copy. I understand from her it does provide quite a challenging workout along with some fun.

To check out the promotion and have a chance to win your own copy of Wii Fit, click here.

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EverQuest Kicks Off 15th Expansion

Everquest
Sony Online Entertainment officially unveiled its EverQuest Seeds of Destruction expansion today, marking the 15th expansion of the trend-setting game. Initially launched in March 1999, EverQuest raised the bar for MMORPGs and paved the way for other blockbuster games like World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online and Age of Conan.

Seeds of Destruction offers players of this classic title plenty of room to grow and explore. The expansion opens up some 20 new zones, raises the level cap to 85, introduces new spells and raiding content and even builds on the alternative advancement possibilities.

“With EverQuest rapidly approaching its 10th anniversary next March,
the legacy of the franchise continues to grow along with the amount of new
content offered,” Clint Worley, EverQuest senior producer, was quoted as saying. “Seeds of Destruction will take players back in time where they can discover new storylines, adventures and zones.”

The new expansion is available via digital download at Everquest.com and is now in stores. Its suggested retail price commands nearly $40. The price of admission, however, gives new players access to all 14 previous expansions.

As an original player of EverQuest, I have to admit I’m amazed SOE has managed to keep this title going strong for such a long time. It’s hard to conceive the game is on the cusp of its 10th anniversary.

While I’ve moved on to other games and personally can be found slaying mobs in AoC nowadays, I can’t help but remember the wonder of cracking the very first EverQuest box and starting to play. Never before had I seen a game that was so rich in content, engrossing and full of depth. The title remains one of my all-time favorites.

My hat goes off to the folks behind EverQuest for setting the pace and keeping it going.

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Far Cry 2 Makes UFC History

Far Cry 2 logo

THQ might have paid for premium octagon placement for its Saints Row 2 ad during last night’s UFC 90 match-ups, but it was Ubisoft that made history with its Far Cry 2 ad. Strategically placed on the rear of middleweight champion Anderson Silva’s trunks, the comparatively smaller Far Cry 2 ad was impossible to miss.

The history-making move by Ubisoft was even noted by the Vancouver Sun.

“Here’s another MMA first: Anderson Silva’s shorts have been sponsored by a video game; Far Cry 2. Gone are the Condom Depot tags, Bob’s Security logos and 38-advertisement montage shorts… the sport has gone mainstream.”

The marriage between video games and UFC action is encouraging to fans – myself included. The UFC has flown under the radar for years, doling out its action-packed and artistic style of fighting without gaining much more than a cult following.

Thanks to the launch of Spike TV’s “The Ultimate Fighter” and the support of some mainstream advertisers this is all changing fast.

The UFC with its legendary mixed martial arts fighting is finally gaining some serious attention. Bud Light, Harley Davidson and others are lining up to buy ad placements. Microsoft and Epic Games have even bought in for major sponsorship of next month’s UFC 91, which features a main event between Randy “The Natural” Couture and Brock Lesnar.

As the UFC continues to gain in popularity, it’s extremely cool to see video game makers helping with the climb. Kudos go to supporters who have realized the potential this incredibly demanding sport has to offer.

Far Cry 2, by the way, not only managed to get excellent placement, it did so in a heartbreaking match that made UFC history all on its own. Patrick Cote was the first ever to take Silva to the third round. The fight ended when Cote blew out his knee.

While Silva was declared the victor, you could see he took no pleasure in the win. It’s that kind of class and the honor displayed by (most) UFC fighters that makes this such an incredible sport to watch.

Now, I wonder just how much the company paid to have Far Cry 2 on Silva’s butt?

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GameStop Gearing Up To Greet Guitar Heroes

Xbox 360
It’s hard to imagine that Activision knew before its initial release of Guitar Hero just how popular this title would become. On the heels of the Guitar Hero World Tour release, however, it is clear that would-be rockers love this game. The proof?

GameStop, the world’s biggest video game retailer, is pulling out all the stops to welcome this title to its shelves.

According to Market Watch – the Wall Street Journal’s site – the retailer plans to throw huge parties at all 1,800 of its stores for the midnight release of the game
Oct. 25. The parties will get under way on Saturday at 10 p.m. Fans of the Activision title are invited to take part in Guitar Hero matches, rock star impersonation contests and even air guitar challenges.

“At GameStop, we are witnessing a new generation of gamers who are interested in casual, more social gaming experiences,” Bob McKenzie, Senior Vice President of Merchandising, GameStop, is quoted as saying. “Partnering with Activision for the launch of Guitar Hero World Tour lets us give power to the players of all skill levels and gaming abilities.”

Although each GameStop store will have a party for the launch, three marquee events are planned – in Dallas, Los Angeles and New York City. These events will feature celebrity guests, games and more.

While I have to admit, I’m not necessarily a Guitar Hero fan, I have seen the pull of this particular title. During a recent gaming event I attended, the “Guitar Hero room” was almost as packed as the “Halo Tournament room.” The players were having a ball and the good-natured competition going on made simply watching the game fun.

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Deadly Creatures Creeps Into Stores This December

Deadly Creatures

If players of the upcoming Wii title release Deadly Creatures respond like people in a new off-color promotional video, there won’t be many winners.

The new game is a third-person action title that puts players in a desert-scape where deadly lizards, black widow spiders, Gila monsters and other venomous and terrifying creatures rule. To survive, players must command an armored scorpion or tarantula with precision skills.

The THQ title has been given an ESRB rating of T due to violence, mild language, blood and some references to alcohol. It’s expected to hit the streets Dec. 15 with a suggested retail price of $49.99.

Now, about that promotional video. The “Spider Prank” answers the question of just what would happen if a tarantula fell off a building onto unsuspecting passersby. It’s a rather amusing exercise in the obvious and worth the watch if you like seeing people practically jump out of their skins. There’s some profanity (which is expected under the circumstance).

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Impressions of WoW’s new patch one week on

World of Warcraft map showing Northrend

Echoes of Doom went live on WoW europe servers last week and I’ve had some time to check out all the new features. Basically the patch is a preview of the upcoming expansion pack Wrath of the Lich King, and includes major new gameplay features though no new content. That will all come on Nov 13th when Lich gets released. Echoes of Doom offers tons for players to do in the meantime however.

There are countless other changes that are all documented in the patch notes (for example Northrend is now viewable on the world map, and there are zeppelin towers being built for transport there when the expansion is released), but the major changes players met upon logging into Echoes of Doom were the revamped talent trees, the achievements system and the inscription profession.

When I logged in the first thing I noticed was all of my talent points had been reimbursed and I had access to the new 51 point talents.

After a week of play it’s quite obvious that these talents have made level 70 characters far more powerful than they had been before, and a lot of the end game content is now laughably easy compared to how it had been.

A few days ago I joined a random group and cleared Zul’aman in 75 minutes, including the ‘timed event’ where the raid needs to complete 4 bosses against the clock, whereas my (casual) guild had been struggling to clear Zul’aman for weeks before the patch hit. Other guilds on my server reported 3-hour clears of Black Temple that would have taken a few days beforehand.

The new talents shook up the pvp aspect of the game as well, with previously all-powerful classes like rogues and restoration druids finding themselves at the mercy of hugely buffed paladins and mages. My first encounter into a battleground felt like the first time I’d ever played the game, because I didn’t know the capabilities of my opponents anymore. My character is a restoration druid (a class many thought to be overpowered) but I soon learned the hard way that the new king at the moment is the retribution paladin, and I foresee the top combos on the arena ladders will change radically as time goes on.

World of Warcraft Glyph windowAs I previously mentioned, the inscription profession is also now live in the game, allowing players to upgrade the individual spells of their characters. At the moment players can attach two major “glyphs” and three minor ones to their characters spells, but will have the option of adding more when Lich comes out.

Last but not least, Blizzard introduced the fantastic achievements system in the patch, which rewards players for great feats like completing all quests on each continent in the game, as well as fun ones like re-enacting Leeroy Jenkins infamous raid wipe(this achievement will earn you the title ‘Jenkins‘ to display proudly over your characters head).

World of Warcraft Achievements windowThe achievements system is a clever scheme by Blizzard, as it gets all players regardless of how long they have played back exploring the old content in order to complete their achievements. Dusty old raids like Molten Core, Upper Blackrock Spire and Onyxias Lair are being revisited on a daily basis by players increasing their achievement points, which is impressive considering the content is over four years old at this stage.

There are over 900 listed achievements of all varieties to keep players busy building up points. It’s unspecified what the points will be used for at the moment, though I suspect we will be able to trade them in for weapons and armour in Lich King.

Some other notable features are a new in-game calendar that lets guilds plan and sign up for raids, a threat meter (of sorts), new storage for mounts, pets and currency (battleground marks, heroic badges and such), and a ‘barber shop‘ in each city which lets you customise your character for a fee.

Despite the re-learning curve in pvp and some bugs that need to be ironed out (a particularly annoying one is the eating/drinking bug), I’m enjoying the new features very much as well as the Hallows End event which began at the same time as the patch.

Here’s some more links I’ve collected about the patch:
Official patch notes
Essential addons for Patch 3.0.2
Complete list of achievements
What are Glyphs?
Raiding has never been easier than in 3.0.2
Ret Paladins to be nerfed “to the ground”

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