WoW in Iran, TSW Marketing, Namechecked in WoW and more

Yep, just because a massive MMO launches, doesn’t mean the rest of the MMO world stops in its tracks!

So here’s a roundup of some really interesting posts that didn’t focus on either Guild Wars or WoW 5.04 over the last few days!

  • Ren Reynolds at Terra Nova asks why Blizzard won’t refund Iranian players who are no longer able to play“One thing I don’t get is how “prohibit Blizzard from doing business with residents of certain nations, including Iran” and “this also prevents us from providing any refunds” work together. “
  • Tobold takes issue with the idea that The Secret World deserved more success than it got“I do not think that The Secret World “deserves” a larger following. It isn’t as if by some error of marketing the potential customers failed to notice the game.”
  • The Straw Fellow would like to see more honesty about the MMORPG lifecycle“I titled this post “Turning Lies into Marketing” because I felt that companies always lie about going F2P, due to the stigma it attaches to their game.”
  • Perculia discovered that she now has an in-game item named after her, and blogs about having this suddenly-permanent memorial to her in-game“The thought must pass through everyone’s mind how cool it would be to have a tangible reminder of their time spent in Azeroth, a place where so many things are transient yet wrapped up in memories. And well, that happened.”
  • And Eric Dekker issues a call for gold bloggers to get out of their niche and become more involved in the wider WoW blogging community“Something about gold blogging seems to have an effect of keeping our interactions within the gold making community while most of the other WoW Bloggers out there enjoy the the benefits of cross pollination”

So, who’s been playing an MMO other than Guild Wars or WoW lately, then? Still enjoying it?

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Controversy Monday – SWTOR free time, Ji Firepaw, and (much) more

Wow – and of course WoW – it’s been a busy weekend in the MMOsphere. Last week saw a cornucopia of new discussions and fast-moving news in the blogosphere, and over the weekend, nearly all of those topics have developed further.

So, if you want to know more about SWTOR’s “time for 50s” debacle, Big Bear Butt’s explicit denunciation of a griefer, the Ji Firepaw dialogue outcry, or more, read on!

Bioware and the “free time for level 50s” debacle

So, Bioware had a neat idea – given that their endgame has been roundly criticised so far, they decided to give month of free play time to players with endgame characters in SWTOR. And only those players.

That didn’t go so well.

Subsequently, they’ve rapidly reacted to the situation and extended the offer of free play time to sufficiently dedicated players without level 50s too.

  • Psynister, who was highly critical of the original decision, was overjoyed by Bioware’s changes“No longer are they rewarding players for things that are very open to interpretation and nearly immeasurable. Now they’re giving this reward to people who have achieved a specific thing within the game and taken into account the altoholic play style. “
  • And In An Age, noticing Bioware are looking for a marketing person, decided to offer some suggestions for avoiding repeat problems“Unfortunately, it also matters how you say things. And in this case, the implication is that even if a sub-50 player is included in the most valued category, you nevertheless are not “appreciating” their support and loyalty in the same way. “

Ji Firepaw

Over the last week, a character with some extremely sexist dialogue in the Mists of Pandaria beta, Ji Firepaw, aroused uproar and an almost immediate fix from Blizzard. Said fix, in fact, came so fast that we didn’t have time to report on the controversy before it was outdated.

However, over the weekend, discussions started from the initial Ji Firepaw situation have spawned a number of interesting or amusing follow-up posts:

  • Caer Morrighan writes an impassioned, well-argued piece about why she considered the Ji Firepaw issue significant and important“WoW is not real life. I could never ‘deal with’ Ji Firepaw. A sexist NPC is always a sexist NPC. I can’t do the in game equivalent of chasing him off. I am forced to be a passive recipient of his sexism if I want to play the game.”
  • Aldous the Boozekin feels that Blizzard betrayed the Pandaren free love ideals by not going the whole hog with their dialogue“Everybody loves to sleep with everybody! Men will compliment other men on their prowess because there is no jealousy! That is exactly how things would work in their society. I love the raw honesty Blizzard, it’s wonderful. But here’s what’s really bothering me. It just doesn’t seem… equal. “
  • And The Renassiance Man analyses the storytelling in Ji Firepaw’s character to explain just why Ji’s dialogue grated so badly“Some writers, either thinking they’re being slick and people won’t notice it, or amatuerish writers who are grasping at some flaw to add to a character, might tack on misogyny to a character who’s otherwise lacking a flaw.”

Griefing and name-and-shame

Big Bear Butt wrote a stormer of a post last week describing his encounter with an intentional griefer, which has attracted several follow-up posts:

  • BBB explains why, despite contact from the griefer’s former guild, he won’t be removing the name of that guild from his post, and asks for opinions on the topic – “I have always acted based on my own expectations. I expect that a guild leader should be held accountable for the behavior of their members, regardless of how long they were a member of the guild.”
  • Nashamere at Grin And Bear Tank It writes in support of BBB’s stance in an usual way – telling the story of when he himself griefed a raid“By the very definition, if someone that doesn’t hold the same standards of behavior or bear the same interest in the pursuits of his guild, the point of the guild is missed.”

What do you think? Was Ji Firepaw just bad writing? Did Bioware finally get it right? And should bloggers be free to name and shame guilds of griefers?

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Not gotten into SWTOR yet? Here are a couple of perspectives…

The SWTOR Early Access juggernaut rolls along, and as it does so, the blog posts about the entire thing roll right along with it.

And, in fact, that’s the subject of a post from Chris at Game By Night, who feels that the noise over the Early Access stagger might be the desired result of the entire scheme

“Hype. What’s happening this week? The launch of TOR. What’s a good way to keep it a #1 Google search? Keep a lot of people in anticipation. Everyone NOT in the game, rapidly writing blog posts (like this one), tweets, and forum rants ensures the game stay on the forefront of MMO player’s minds. It keeps us chomping at the bit until we can join our friends in the fun. You can be sure that EA wants this to be as big a deal as possible. This type of marketing is nothing short of viral… except insidious is probably a better word.”

Chris’s central thesis is that the entire deal’s being orchestrated primarily as a marketing tool, rather than, as claimed, as a way to keep the launch stable. That’s very likely, and he’s got an interesting take on it – that, essentially, EA have somewhat devalued the expense of buying Early Access in order to keep the hype machine rolling.

It’s an interesting point, because it’s the cost of Early Access that has really made people mad. Spotify used a similar staggered launch, and it worked like a charm, but they hadn’t made people pay for access first…

Meanwhile, Melmoth of Killed in a Smiling Accident has been taking his traditional sideways look at things, and presents us with some better ways EA could have staggered their release codes

Chocolate Bars In a completely unprecedented move, invite codes could be printed on tickets and distributed in chocolate bars. As a bonus, a limited number of special tickets (perhaps silver, or another precious metal?) could grant five lucky players the chance to tour the Bioware studios where karma would ensure an encounter in accordance with their failings (an inveterate ganker in PvP would end up being teabagged by a much more powerful developer; an erotic roleplayer who insisted on behaving inappropriately in public areas would end up… being teabagged…)

The Postal Service Just pop all the invites in the post, and thanks to the vagaries of the postal service they’re bound to arrive at random times (or be delivered to random addresses that might look a bit like the right address, if you squint. A lot.) Deluxe or Collector’s edition codes could be posted in envelopes, the rest in larger package that have to be collected from the post office, a bonus if release is timed to coincide with pension day in the UK.”

I particularly liked Melmoth’s “Safari Park Treasure Hunt Adventure” idea, it must be said…

Off-topic: don’t forget to nominate your favourites for the Piggie Awards !

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General MMO Roundup – Epic EVE battles, Indie Developer Marketing woes, and more

There have been some great non-WoW or SWTOR posts in the last week, too, although you might have missed them in the Jedi onslaught. We’ve got two game design-focussed pieces, one interesting rant on the difficulty of getting the word out about indie MMOs and games, and something truly epic from EVE Online:

  • Leading on from TAGN’s issues with blasters in SWTOR, Tobold thinks about the wierdness of MMO combat systems“Most other sword-fighting games also use combat based on several hits to achieve a kill, although I’m pretty certain that in real life you wouldn’t survive being hit once with a sword or an axe. “
  • In An Age asks whether developers have a responsibility to avoid players breaking their games“It is the responsibility of the designers to ensure that incredibly obvious things (at least in retrospect) like “-25% mana usage” does not stack with itself, that temporary decreases in HP scale the same as damage abilities when their effects are indistinguishable, and so on, are balanced. “
  • Muckbeast struggles with the question of how indie game developers spread the word of their work“I have tried mailing blog authors and asking them to write about one of our games, and in a number of cases some awesome bloggers have done this. But these blog posts seem to get mostly ignored by the readers. I think blog readers are generally looking for commentary, analysis, or controversy. So when they see an article that is a nice, calm “hey check this cool thing out”, I think blog readers tune it out or say “oh yeah I will check that out later” but never get around to it.”
  • And Rooks and Kings have created a spectacular, complete record of a massive PvP event in EVE Online – this is, seriously, unique and fascinating stuff , although it’s a bit slow in places and you may need an EVE glossary to get through it!

Any ideas for indie developers? Thoughts on headshots? And do you feel “Rooks and Kings” have captured the fascination of EVE?

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