Console games need more variable pricing, says Riccitiello

Former EA CEO laments that “$60 is a giant FU to a very large number of people”.


New consoles are launching in under a month, and for the average consumer, buying new hardware in addition to several games at the price of $60 each is a significant outlay of cash. Game pricing has been a sensitive subject for some time now, and former EA boss John Riccitiello believes that the console/PC side of the business could learn a thing or two from the booming mobile space.

“Another thing that console and PC guys could and should learn is variable pricing,” Riccitiello said at the recent Gaming Insiders Summit, as reported by the [a]list daily. “$60 is a giant FU to a very large number of people. There’s not been a console game with even half as many installs as Clash of Clans. Puzzle & Dragons has got more installs than any console game in history. Getting a larger audience through variable pricing is a really useful thing.”

The executive also noted that even with all its efforts of late, the traditional games industry still hasn’t been able to get “games as service” right. The recent GTA Online hiccup serves as the newest example.

“More than anything, what the traditional game industry should learn from mobile is it’s really about service,” Riccitiello said. “It’s an ongoing business. You’d think we would have learned this some time ago, but I find it interesting that WoW and Sim City and GTA and Starcraft and many other games all fell over at launch when they put their service components together. Some of the biggest brands – I’d argue almost all the biggest brands – fell over from lack of the testing and research that mobile people do in the regular course of their day.”

And the traditional industry still makes games too complicated for the masses, he argued. It may be fun for the hardcore crowd, but it’s ultimately limiting when it comes to audience. “The third thing to learn is simplicity,” he said. Riccitiello noted how games used to come with “500 page manuals” and while games have gotten simpler, “It’s incredibly rare for a new game from a traditional game company to be learnable without instruction in ten, fifteen or twenty seconds and get to the fun that quick.”



WoW: Mists of Pandaria ‘Siege of Orgrimmar’ trailer

A four-minute cinematic sets the scene for new Patch 5.4 raid

Blizzard has released a new cinematic trailer for World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria’s Siege of Orgrimmar raid coming in Patch 5.4.

“Siege of Orgrimmar is a 3-wing, 14-boss raid for max-level players, which will call you to take down Warchief Garrosh Hellscream at the head of a host of Azeroth’s finest,” explains Blizzard.

The update also adds new Proving Grounds and Connected Realms features, new zones and a list of other tweaks.

Here’s are the highlights of the update:

New Raid: The Siege of Orgrimmar
– The Siege of Orgrimmar is a 3-wing, 14-boss raid for max-level players, which will call you to take down Warchief Garrosh Hellscream at the head of a host of Azeroth’s finest.

New Raid Mode: Flexible
– Raid with a group of friends and guild mates regardless of server, and with any group size from 10 to 25, and the difficulty will automatically adjust to provide an appropriately challenging experience.

New Feature: Proving Grounds
– Undertake solo trials to practice or learn a new class role (Tank, Healer, or Damage). Each trial is available in multiple difficulties — Bronze through Gold and the challenging ‘Endless’ mode.

New Zone: The Timeless Isle
– Giant outdoor zone promoting open-world adventuring with tons of hidden treasures, giant creatures to defeat, five world bosses, a pet battle tournament, and much more!

Legendary Quest: Judgment of the Black Prince
– The epic conclusion to the Legendary quest line will see players rewarded with unique cloaks imbued with powerful new abilities.

New Feature: Connected Realms
– Lower population realms will be permanently and seamlessly “linked.” Players on the same Connected Realm will be able to trade, send and receive mail, join the same guilds, access a single Auction House, run the same Raids and Dungeons, and join other adventurers to complete quests.

PvP: Redesigned Arena System
– Arenas are no longer tied to specific Battlegroups, and players no longer need to create or join an Arena team to compete. Similar to the Rated Battleground system, players in a party of the appropriate size can queue.

The patch, which is available for testing on the Public Test Realms now, is detailed in full in a huge list of patch notes on the official site.



EverQuest Next is Real, and it’s Amazing!

The next-gen MMORPG offers a destructible world, intelligent monsters, and a whole lot more.


EverQuest Next will feature destructible environments, procedurally-generated quests that stem from independent monster behavior, and a revamped crafting system. If the team at SOE actually pulls off what they want to do with the next-generation MMORPG, then it could truly be the long-awaited next step for what has become a largely stagnant genre.

Lately, MMORPGs have existed on something of a linear continuum. On the one end, you have your strictly enforced amusement parks like World of Warcraft. On the other, your free-for-all sandboxes like EVE Online. However, Sony Online Entertainment Director of Design David Georgeson doesn’t think EverQuest Next fits on that continuum.

“EverQuest is another point in the triangle,” he says. “We’re creating a triangle; it’s not just a line anymore.”

It’s a sort of massively multiplayer Minecraft with elves, crafting, monsters, and all of the other trappings of a fantasy RPG.

It sounds like a bit of a cop-out. After all, what game wants to be directly compared to the competition, unless it’s the in the most positive light possible? But there’s some truth to that statement as well. EverQuest Next definitely isn’t as linear as World of Warcraft, but it’s not quite like EVE Online either. In essence, it’s a game where players shape the world together, a sort of massively multiplayer Minecraft with elves, crafting, monsters, and all of the other trappings of a fantasy RPG.

As the name suggests, EverQuest Next is meant to represent an evolutionary leap for the venerable series. It’s not a traditional MMO, Georgeson says. The original concept behind EverQuest, which was fresh back in 1998, has been done to death. It’s time for something new.

“What we need to deliver with EverQuest Next is something really original, so what we did was tear it down to the bedrock,” Georgeson says. “We pick what we liked, what we didn’t like, and we came up with a list of holy grails that we as designers had always wanted to do, but never had the time or the intestinal fortitude to try before.”


Georgeson, obviously, is confident. He points to the experience of his team, which averages about 10 years. Most of the leads have four or five MMORPG under their belt. Georgeson himself was the force behind the original Planetside and Tribes 2, both of which are highly-regarded today. That experience has allowed them to iron out most of the technical issues early.

“It’s intimidating, but we’ve been breaking these things down into categories and attacking them one at a time, so that we can polish up what needs polishing before moving on,” he said. “We’ve also prioritized all of our heaviest risks at the earliest stage to prove that we can get them done. Now we’re past all of the R&D hurtles, and we’re at the point where we’re doing what we know how to do, which is build an MMORPG.”


Of all the new features that EverQuest Next brings to the table, the ability to alter the world is the most intriguing, since it fulfills a promise that was seemingly made way back in the early days of the genre. When we hear, “Massively multiplayer player-controlled world,” we tend to think of a world where players can do whatever they want. That hasn’t really been the case though, what with all the careful moderation and linear quests. Sure, we’ve seen player-created cities in Star Wars Galaxies, and EVE Online has long given complete control of the galaxy over to its players. But by and large, online worlds remain static until the development team comes along with the next batch of content.

Every player can work together to build a permanent settlement.

In EverQuest Next, a rallying call with periodically go out across an entire server; and for the next two months, every player can work together to build a permanent settlement. Along the way, there may be subquests or monster attacks, and construction may be delayed. But when it’s all finished, it’s very much permanent.

This degree of control extends to the world itself. Teleport away from an attack, and you’ll leave a little dent in the ground. If you’re an Earth Wizard, it’s possible to raise barriers out of any part of the ground, or create sinkholes to trap monsters. If a large party of enemies happens to be crossing a bridge, then a spell can knock out the bridge and send them plunging to their doom. Of course, the bridge will be gone as well, which opens up a new set of challenges.


This is all accomplished with voxels – the fundamental building block of EverQuest Next – which allow for more convincing destruction. Players will occasionally be prevented from destroying things, Georgeson says, because otherwise “player cities would become player parking lots.” Monsters, however, can and will show up to wreak havoc, and left unchecked, they can do plenty of damage to player settlements. A dragon, for instance, may come in and knock a castle wall down, necessitating repairs.

Jump to another server, and a city may be where a field is supposed to be, or it might not exist at all.

Over time, individual servers in EverQuest Next are meant to become their own worlds. Jump to another server, and a city may be where a field is supposed to be, or it might not exist at all. It will be possible to dig deep into the ground and make all kinds of interesting archaeological discoveries. And to keep things fresh, SOE will occasionally use an earthquake to shake things up and open up new areas.

Rather than a static playground, EverQuest Next is meant to be a living breathing world. Many of the quests will be dynamic, and monsters will have likes, dislikes, and general motivations for their behavior. Orcs, for example, love gold, and will go anywhere they can get it, which can result in a battle for territory as players fight to establish a city. Exterminating one group of monsters can rile up another group, prompting them to attack; or it may result in them picking up and moving on to another location.


On a micro level, Georgeson hopes that all of these actions, reactions, and dynamic quests will allow players to build up individual histories; to allow them to say, in effect, “Oh yeah, I was there when the southern regions were hit by the Great Goblin Invasion of 2014.”

“We want people to develop a long, detailed history of their character,” Georgeson says, “so that when they tell others that story, they actually care, as opposed to, ‘Yeah, yeah, I did that quest.'”

For EverQuest lifers, of course, many of the elements that have defined the series over the years will still be in place. Crafting will be a huge part of the EverQuest Next experience (“Crafting is us. We love crafting,” Georgeson says), especially with the battle system being revamped so that hotbar actions are innate to weapons. Many of the familiar locations from the past games will also be present, albeit with much better graphics. SOE is also encouraging players to help build up the world of EverQuest Next by releasing their internal toolset to the public. Fans can build landmarks; and if the developers like them enough, they will be put in the game.

A human wizard and a Kerran warrior break through a cavern floor into a magma chamber.

Having been in development for more than four years now, EverQuest Next has been something of a mystery to fans, to the point that it’s been regarded by some as vaporware. Now that SOE has taken off the wraps, it’s clear that they have some very interesting ideas for the MMORPG space. With World of Warcraft on the decline and no clear successor ready to take its place as the dominant MMO of the generation, the time is ripe for a new MMORPG to rise up. It’s still early, but EverQuest Next has at least established itself as a strong contender for that position; a worthy comeback for one of the genre’s founders.

[Note: Sony told IGN, “We’re not releasing that information right now” when asked if EverQuest Next would, like several other SOE MMOs, also be released on PlayStation 4.]



World of Warcraft drops to 7.7 million subscribers

Activision Blizzard’s MMORPG giant continues decline, loses another 600,000 in last quarter.

Booty Bay

The World of Warcraft is continuing its contraction. In announcing the plan to buy its independence back from Vivendi in the form of $5.83 billion worth of shares, Activision Blizzard also revealed that as of the end of its second quarter (three months ended June 30), World of Warcraft was down to roughly 7.7 million subscribers.

That total is still enough to make the game easily the biggest subscription-based MMORPG in the world, but it represents a loss of 600,000 players over the quarter. After the launch of World of Warcraft: Mists of Pandaria last September provided a short-lived boost to the user base, Blizzard has seen the game lose more than 2.3 million subscribers. When it peaked in 2010, World of Warcraft commanded a subscriber base of more than 12 million players.

As World of Warcraft numbers ebb, the need for Activision Blizzard to produce a successor to its 2004 MMORPG megahit becomes more pressing. In May, reports emerged that the intended follow-up, code-named Titan, had hit development difficulties. As a result, Blizzard was hitting the reset button on the game’s development, pushing a launch out to 2016 at the earliest. The company confirmed it had reallocated resources away from Titan, but noted that it had never announced any sort of release window for the game.



“World Of Warcraft” movie trailer shown to fans at San Diego Comic-Con

James Seda


If you are in San Diego and were lucky enough to get tickets to Comic-Con then you might have been even luckier to have gotten a chance to see Legendary Pictures show a small trailer for Blizzard’s famous MMO “World of Warcraft” The trailer will supposedly not be released to fans online, although with the way leaks have been going on with this country’s vital top secrets, I would expect (and hope) something will get out by the end of the week.

The trailer shows a human warrior in armor and what appears to be a giant green skinned Orc with a hammer. The two appear to charge at each other as an explosion reveals the text…WARCRAFT.

Originally, director Sam Raimi was connected to the project but left to film “OZ the Great and Powerful” due to rumors suggesting he and Blizzard were not seeing eye to eye and Raimi saying Blizzard “mismanaged” the film.

The movie will start filming in early 2014 and is expected to have a budget of over $100 milion dollars, hopefully seeing a release date for 2016.

Tree of Life

Is this relevant anymore to you? Are you excited? How many of you still play WOW?

Let us know below.