Free MMORPG & Free MMOs

Archive for November 2010

When an MMORPG or an MMO game has IP blocks in place to prevent people from certain regions from accessing the game, it’s the game developers fault, not the publishers. For example – when Gamigo announced that only those in Europe could play Martial Empires and War of Angels, Gamigo didn’t willfully prevent those outside of Europe from accessing the game. The fact is, CR-Space, the Korean game developer behind Martial Heroes, only sold the European license for Martial Empires to Gamigo. They apparently did not sell the North American license to anyone. When gPotato made Aika North America only, the same thing happened. Gpotato only made the game North America only because they didn’t have “permission” from Aika’s developer (HanbitSoft). So gPotato was forced to ban all non-U.S ip addresses. A global version of Aika on the T3Fun service, who also has Cardmon Hero and WYD Global, eventually launched. The global version was open to every country except the U.S, as the U.S version of Aika was being serviced by gPotato.

I honestly think gPotato is the one who got screwed with the Aika licensing shenanigans. The T3Fun version is much more inclusive, as it’s basically global (minus the U.S.) The T3Fun version, thus has many more players than the U.S version, which means the game itself has a larger community, which usually means it’s more fun to play. I kind of wish games like Fiesta Online and Allods Online were also global, instead of being available in multiple regions through different publishers. Fiesta Online is available in the U.S. Through OutSpark, who also has Fists of Fu. The game is available in Europe through Gamigo. As a fan of Fiesta Online, I find it ridiculous that Europeans have their own server and Americans have their own server. Why can’t there just be one big MMO server for both areas? Lag can easily be solved by having multiple channels – the same was Knight Online from GamersFirst or Guild Wars from NCSoft handles it.

The worst MMORPG IP block problems arise when a game launches in one region but not another. Priston Tale 2 is available in Europe through GamerKraft, but because of stupid licensing agreements, they can’t launch Priston Tale 2 in the U.S. Suba Games, the company behind Mission Against Terror, has the U.S. License for Priston Tale 2, but they have labeled the game as “launching soon” for over 2 years now, which basically means it’s never going to release. Suba Games clearly gave up on the game, so why can’t GamerKraft just open their service to everyone? The actual game developer behind the game will certainly make more profit, because as is, no one in the U.S. Can play Priston Tale 2, some people will spend money in the cash shop, and thus the developer would make more money by allowing those in North America to play on the GamerKraft version. GameKraft also publishes FreeJack, but FreeJack is available to both those in Europe and North America. There’s no reason Priston Tale 2 can’t be the same way.

I think too many people are complaining to the wrong people. MMO Game publishers like GamerKraft, Aeria Games, OG Planet and such, aren’t the ones responsible for IP blocks, thus they shouldn’t be blamed. Players should direct their anger towards game developers, as they’re the ones who have the ultimate say in the matter.

Advertisements

There are a ton of interesting browser based games out there. Strategy games like Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms, Caesary and King and Conqueror for example have a lot to offer, but they have really low end graphics. Travian and Tribal Wars are two other strategy MMOs that are both now incredibly old. All of these games remain popular, but these games could benefit from a major graphical overhaul – especially if they were remade using the powerful Unity engine, which allows game developers to make awesome 3D MMOs on the browser. Currently there are only a handful of games that run on the Unity Engine – some of which include FusionFall, Tiger Woods Online and Nanovor. All 3 of these games look gorgeous too!

Aside from strategy games, other 2D and 3D browser based games like Star Pirates and Pirate Galaxy would benefit from being redeveloped on the Unity engine. These games already look pretty solid, but the Unity engine is much more powerful than any of the proprietary systems that these games used when developing their games. I think BigPoint failed pretty hard launching their 3D browser MMO PoisonVille. They spent millions developing the game and its unique Java based 3D engine, but the visuals in the game look much, much worse than what Unity could have done. The entire game could have been done on Unity and it would have been much better for everyone – as the game would have cost less to develop and it would look a lot better. I think Poisonville is going to flop, because it’s trying to do what APB is trying to do, except it has less features. Once GamersFirst, the company best known for Knight Online and Warrock, launches APB as a free to play game in early 2011, Poisonville might as well shut down as it’s going to fail.

I think the entire browser based game market needs a good shake up. Too many games are built on old technologies which are quickly getting out dated. Games like Shakes & Fidget and Adventure Quest Worlds for example would be infinitely more “fun” if they were built on the Unity engine. Transforming these games into Unity powered titles would require a lot of effort though. For 2D MMORPGs, it would be near impossible, but for 3D games, there’s no reason not embrace Unity, as Unity is the future for browser games. I think the biggest problem right now is that very few companies are actually embracing the technology. Luckily, the ones that have so far are having a lot of success with it. Aeria Games recently announced that they will be launching a Unity powered MMOFPS game in the near future. They didn’t reveal too much info about it, but Aeria Games has had a lot of success with Dynasty Warriors Online and Legendary Champions, so seeing them throw their weight behind Unity is definitely a good sign. I’d like to see maybe OGPlanet or Nexon start launching some browser based Unity games in the future too.

Even though new games like Forsaken World, Iris Online and Zentia are all around the corner – it’s worth pointing out that older MMORPGs like Fly For Fun from gPotato and Fiesta Online from Outspark still remain extremely popular. Perhaps saying remain popular is a bit of an understatement, as I would argue that both Fly For Fun and Fiesta Online have rapidly growing playerbases. In fact, these games are growing much faster than some of the newer games out there like Fists of Fu and Legend of Edda. I don’t want to write off either of those games yet, as they’re still too new to judge, but with all the shiny new games coming out, I feel that those newly entering the free to play MMOs from pay to play games should choose their first game carefully.

Lets analyze Silkroad Online from Joymax for a minute. The game originally released back in 2006 and today has well over 4 million registered users. In fact, it’s one of the most popular free MMORPGs today, even though it’s 4+ years old. I remember when I first logged into the game years ago, it had like 25+ servers, and every single one was “full”. You literally had to try logging in for 20 minutes to even get into the game. The funny thing is, every time the game tells you “The server is too full, try again later” the game shuts itself down, so you need to relaunch it every time. I think the only other MMORPG with servers this full was Knight Online from GamersFirst – another REALLY old MMORPG, which is extremely popular. MapleStory from Nexon and Hero Online from Netgame are popular too – but these games have enough servers to accommodate the playerbase. I don’t know why Silkroad Online never had enough servers or channels. Vindictus from Nexon has only a handful of servers, but each has 200 channels, so it’s enough. It’s also worth mentioning that Fantasy Earth Zero which GamePot USA launched in North America earlier in 2010, is quite popular. It’s worth mentioning because the game is a Japanese MMORPG which has been available in Asia for 5+ years.

Obviously not every new game is a flop. Games like The Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online and Heroes of Three Kingdoms have all proven to be successful titles. In fact, nearly every game from Perfect World Entertainment from Jade Dynasty to Battle of the Immortals has been wildly successful. My point though is that older MMORPGs still remain quite popular, and well worth checking out. Most of the MOST popular games are MMOs released before 2008. As odd as it is, it’s a fact. One of the main benefits of these older games is that since they’ve been out longer, they have enjoyed more expansion packs and updates, so they feel like more well rounded games.

So which older MMORPGs do you still play? Me? I still play MapleStory and Runescape every once in a while. As for newer games, I’m looking forward to Forsaken World when it gets out into open beta. The new Battlefield game from EA seems neat too, but it has no official release date. How about you? What are you looking forward to?

Ever since Iris Online released into closed beta earlier in October, I’ve been waiting eagerly for gPotato to release the game into open beta. Unfortunately, like many other closed beta games, Iris Online will be having a character wipe. I remember leveling my character quite a bit in Legend of Edda and Asda Story from GamesCampus back when those games were in closed beta. I learned my lesson – there’s no point of committing to a game when its still in closed beta. That’s actually the reason I haven’t been playing Forsaken World from Perfect World Entertainment. The game is definitely one of the most interesting and high quality games of 2010, but why should I sink hours and hours of time into it, when it’s going to get wiped? I’d much rather wait till open beta begins. On a side note, i’m actually looking forward to playing Forsaken World, but only when it hits open beta. Until then I’ll stick with Perfect World and Heroes of Three Kingdoms – two other games from the same company.

iris-online-fight The reason I’m looking forward to Iris Online is because it’s a really polished anime MMORPG, and I’m a sucker for anime inspired games. Plus the game has a really sleek interface too. Very functional and easy to use. When gPotato first announced the game, I stopped playing Fly For Fun and Luna Online – two other games by the same company. The reason being of course, I’d be moving onto to Iris Online – so why bother playing these two other games when I’m going to start playing Iris anyway? I should mention that Fly For Fun is the most popular free MMORPG that gPotato publishes. I find this little tidbit quite amazing, especially since the game is quite old now. It’s not like Darkeden or Digimon Battle old, but it’s a good 5+ years old now. I think It’s their oldest game after Rappelz. I played the Iris Online closed beta for a good day or so before telling myself that I’ll play it more upon release. I didn’t want to play it for too long, as I mentioned earlier, that there’s going to be a character wipe. I really liked the game’s tarot card system. Like Ragnarok Online and Dragon Saga, players can upgrade their equipment by inserting cards into them. Tarot cards can also be used to transform into monsters, which adds some interesting bits of depth to the game. Players can even turn into boss monsters, but boss tarot cards are much rarer.

legend-of-edda-broken-house Another neat little game that peaked my interested in October is Legend of Edda from GamesCampus. It’s a PvP MMORPG, but with cute MMORPG style graphics. I know this sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, and in a way it is. But it’ actually has hardcore PvP elements, even with its cutesy graphics. The open beta for Legend of Edda began in the middle of October. I guess this game can keep me busy until Iris Online hits open beta later in November hopefully. I just hope the game doesn’t pull a War of Angels or Fists of Fu and take forever to launch. OutSpark is terrible with release schedules – Divine Souls for example STILL isn’t released, how ridiculous is that?