Divine Souls Launching Finally

OutSpark announced last week on December 10, 2010 that Divine Souls would will be launching into open beta on December 14. For those curious – Divine Souls is an action MMORPG that is supposed to play a bit like Vindictus from Nexon. The funny though about Divine Souls is that it began its closed beta test phase nearly 5 months ago and is FINALLY getting around to actually launching into open beta. OutSpark is probably best known for Fiesta Online and Fists of Fu, but the company is also known for delaying MMORPGs numerous times. Just look at Erebus: Travia Reborn – the game still hasn’t been released. Hopefully their upcoming MMORPG Luvinia Online isn’t delayed too much – as that game looks pretty neat. I think OutSpark is focusing on their three core games right now – Fiesta Online, Secret of the Solstice, and Fists of Fu. Hopefully they don’t totally ignore Divine Souls, as I think the game still has some potential. I say so because Nexon’s competitor to Divine Souls – Vindictus, has IP blocks for Europe. I hope Divine Souls will launch world-wide without any IP restrictions.

Don’t even get me started about MMORPG IP blocks. I think Genesis A.D from ijji did a swell job in deciding their IP blocks. The sci-fi MMO shooter has ZERO IP Blocks. Zilch, Nada. Anyone from anywhere in the world can log in and play Genesis A.D without issue. Too bad other popular free MMORPGs like Dungeon Fighter Online, Perfect World, and Priston Tale 2 couldn’t make the same decision. Martial Empries from Gamigo is the exact same way. Luckily Gamigo’s newest MMORPGs Loong: The Power of the Dragon and Black Prophecy decided not to have IP blocks in place. War of Angels and CardMon Hero are the exact same way – which is good for players. IP Blocks are horrible for gamers, but great for game developers. I say great for game developers, because Korean developers can sell licenses to their games to different companies – and charge each one for the right to run their games. Personally, I think having one global publisher for a game is the best way to go – as that way EVERYONE in the world has access to the game. 4Story, League of Legends and King of Kings 3 are probably the best examples of games that can be accessed world-wide.

So. Back to Divine Souls. I think the game can be successful, provided it doesn’t screw itself by launching with all these restrictive IP blocks. Don’t do what Vindictus did. It’s not a good idea. Instead – do what Gravity Interactive is doing and make sure the game works world-wide. Zentia, I think, is also available in both EU and USA.

 

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Atlantica Online Updates Ndoors – New Dungeon

Just the other day Ndoors released a patch for their turn based fantasy MMORPG Atlantica Online which added a new dungeon to the game as well as make the battle system more efficient. Now, Atlantica Online isn’t a game I play too often, as I find myself quite occupied with the MMORPGs that I currently play, which nowadays is mostly League of Legends and King of Kings 3. League of Legends I play because I like the entire Land of Chaos Online / DotA feel to it. I’ve always been a fan of Aeon of Strife games since I played the original on Starcraft on Battle Net. King of Kings 3 I play because Gamigo made a great PvP MMORPG with it. It’s hugely competitive, much more so than Archlrod from Webzen or even Aika from gPotato. I think I’ll stick with it until Continent of the Ninth comes out, which should replace that as my PvP MMO of choice. R2: Reign of Revolution looks neat too on the PvP MMO front, but C9 looks way more awesome.

Okay, I got a bit side tracked. And by a bit side tracked I mean a lot side-tracked. I think the reason why Atlantica Online is being updated more frequently than back when it first launched is that Nexon bought Ndoors. Since Nexon bought it, they’ve been churning out content updates more regularly. In case ya don’t know, Nexon is best known for their side scrolling MMORPG MapelStory and their hardcore bloody action game Vindictus. They publish the retro arcade brawler Dungeon Fighter Online too. The reason I mention these games is because they’re all hugely successful. Nexon really knows how to make free to play in North America popular. Some of the most popular Free MMORPGs available in the U.S. Are published by Nexon – and that’s for a reason. They know what’s up when it comes to making and developing good games. I think they’re going to do a great job making sure Atlantica Online remains popular.

One thing that I’m curious about is if Nexon will help Ndoors further develop their own side-scrolling MMORPG WonderKing. The thing is, WonderKing competes with Nexon’s flag ship MMORPG MapleStory. I say FlagShip because MapleStory has some 100 million accounts world-wide. Only a handful of other MMORPGs can make such a claim. Scions of Fate from Netgame is one them and maybe Perfect World from Perfect World Entertainment. I suspect by the time Forsaken World launches in North America, it’ll also have those numbers worldwide. I hope Atlantica Online manages to reach a broader audience, as its a really fun turn based MMORPG. It puts other turn based titles like Wonderland Online and Myth War 2 Online from IGG to shame.

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What’s up with DDTank and All these Browser MMOs

Why is it that browser MMOs like DDTank and Caesary are launching all over the place? By all over the place I mean multiple publishers. DDTank has been available on Aeria Games for a while, but the game is ALSO launching on Games321 – the same publisher behind Fairy Story Online. DDTank is ALSO launching on YooGames – another MMO publisher. Caesary is pretty much doing the same exact thing. It originally launched on Aeria Games then spread like wild fire and is now available on half a dozen different MMO publishers.

These two MMOs aren’t the only ones doing this. Lords Online which IGG Launched is now available on numerous different websites. Max Pow – the cooperative bomb lobbing browser based game is doing the exact same thing! I can’t quite wrap my mind around this, because it’s not like each website is launching the game in a different region – sort of like how ijji publishes Lunia in North America while OGPlanet runs it in Europe. DDTank on Games321 and Aeria Games are BOTH marketing towards the same global audience. It makes ZERO sense. It’s also not like Sacred Seasons 2 where multiple sites “embed” the same flash game and share servers. In this case, each publisher runs their own server for the exact same game. Dozens of companies are running the same exact game and competing for the same audience.

Not all browser games are doing this though. BigPoint is the sole publisher of SeaFight, Dark Orbit and Deepolis. Puzzle Pirates is still being self published, War of Legends is still exclusively on Jagex and Might and Magic Heroes Kingdoms is also on its own server. This browser game shouldn’t be confused with Heroes of Might and Magic Online which is a client based 2D MMORPG from TQ Digital. It seems like this is the growing trend amongst browser based games – simply find as many companies out there to publish your game. But if you look at the facts. The cold hard numbers. The most successful MMORPGs aren’t the ones with half a dozen publishers, they’re the ones with a SINGLE publisher. Games like Perfect World, The Lord of the Rings Online and Battle of the Immortals. Games like Grand Fantasia, Kitsu Saga and Grand Chase. These all have ONE publisher in each region and that’s it. There’s no reason for these games to compete amongst themselves. It sucks for the publishers because none of them can attract a sizeable playerbase and it SUCKS more for players because MMOs aren’t enjoyable without a large community. Even Ministry of War and Heroes of Gaia from Snail Games are launching their games on EVERY publisher possible. I think the only downloadable F2P game that does anything like this is Myth Angels Online, as it has two versions of the same game. Angels Online by IGG and Myth Angels Online by UserJoy.

Anyone else feel the same way? Even the more successful browser based games like Grepolis and Travian aren’t trying to have their game on a zillion publishers. So why are these newer games doing it?

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Child’s Play – MMO Edition

Free to play MMOs and MMORPGs have been growing considerably over the last few years. Games geared towards an older audience, such as The Lord of the Rings Online and Runes of Magic, have been growing super fast. But kids MMORPGs have grown considerably too. And by considerably, I mean A LOT. I think free to play games like Free Realms from Sony Online Entertainment have really raised the bar in terms of quality for kids games. Free Realms does an incredible job of combing the social elements of games like Fantage and Woozworld with actual gameplay mechanics. The thing about browser games like Fantge is that they’re big on social, but lacking on actual gameplay content. The cool thing about Free Realms is that even if you’re not 10-16 years old, you can still enjoy Free Realms, as I personally find the game quite fun, and I’m well over 20!

One unusually popular kids game is Club Penguin from Disney. Disney has really been on the ball in terms of embracing free to play MMOs, as aside from Club Penguin (Which has millions of users world-wide), Disney has Pixie Hollow and World of Cars Online. Both of these games are moderately popular too – though Club Penguin is by far their most successful MMO. Another neat browser based kids MMO is Neopets – the first and still best virtual pets website. I remember playing this one when I was a lot younger. The guys behind Neopets made another game recently – PetPet Park. I never played that one too much, so I don’t know much about it.

I honestly do have to say that it’s a good time to be a kid. There are so many awesome MMOs aimed at younger audiences today. Even if you ignore the very “kiddy” titles like Moshi Monsters, there are a lot of client based MMORPGs with bright cartoony graphics. Even games like Legend of Edda and Drift City from GamesCampus are fun titles for kids to try. Ether Saga Online from Perfect World Entertainment is cool too, though those under 11 may not be able to figure the game out on their own. Side scrolling MMORPGs like Wonderking and MapleStory are perhaps the best kinds of games for kids, as they’re the simplest client based games available. I actually introduced my cousin to MapleStory when she was in grade school, and she absolutely loved it. I don’t blame her, as it’s a game I used to play a lot too. Nexon really knows how to make games, as MapleStory has over a hundred million players world-wide. Their other cartoony titles – Mabinogi and Dungeon Fighter Online are also very popular.

I think the most popular kids friendly games today are Moshi Monsters and MapleStory. Moshi Monsters is for those younger than 11 while MapleStory is much more inclusive.

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Uncharted Waters Online – Cool MMORPG

Know what’s a pretty cool MMORPG? Uncharted Waters Online, called Great Voyage Online in Japan, from Netmarble. Yeah, I know – this is a weird way to start a piece, but I had a chance to really delve into the game last week and have been playing it quite a bit. The game is published by Netmarble who, oddly enough, only has one other free to play game in English – Mini Fighter Online. Netmarble is apparently really big in South Korea as they have Prius Online and Koongya Adventure over there, but they only have these two games in English. It doesn’t really matter though, as Netmarble didn’t actually develop Uncharted Waters Online anyway. The Japanese game developer Koei did back in 2005. So Yeah, Let’s get this bit out of the way right now. Even though Uncharted Waters Online launched globally in English in 2010, the game originally launched in 2005. At least the game isn’t as old as Darkeden from JoyMax of Digimon Battle from WeMade Entertainment. I think the biggest criticisms I’ve seen online about Uncharted Waters Online is its age.

Anyway, I’ve already talked quite a bit about Uncharted Waters Online, but I haven’t even explained what it is! The game is set during the Age of Exploration where players act as adventurers, soldiers or traders. The game world is quite large and trading is a a great way to make profit. The game has 6 nationalities which span from England to the Republic of Venice. There’s also PvP in the game, but I don’t want to get into too many details. One important detail though is that the game has both a land and sea component to it – much like two other Naval MMORPGs – Pirates of the Burning Sea from Sony Online Entertainment and Voyage Century from IGG. Aside from these three games, and perhaps Navyfield, there really aren’t that many sea based MMORPGs out there. I guess this sort of makes the whole theme surrounding Uncharted Waters Online original. Like Silkroad Online, the game is actually set during a real historical time period.

I think Uncharted Waters Online is a neat game and a unique MMORPG. If the older graphics are a turn off, I recommend you checkout Dynasty Warriors Online – It’s an action MMORPG based on the Dynasty Warriors franchise developed by the same company, Koei. Dynasty Warriors Online is a three kingdoms based MMORPG published by Aeria Games. It’s also free to play, but its visuals are quite a bit better than those in Uncharted Waters. The two games are completely different, and I think if you want to play a more original game, Uncharted Waters is the one to play. If you want something more hands on and actiony, go with Dynasty Warriors Online. Come to think of it, there are only a handful of Japanese MMORPGs out there anyway – so you might as well play both! Aside from the two games I mentioned in this post already, there’s Florensia and CosmicBreak. That’s really about it. But anyway, give these games a try, if you’re looking for a new game to try.

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Vindictus New Mage Class Released

The new Evie class in Vindictus launched on October 28 when the game launched from open beta to full release. Unfortunately for my brethren in Europe, Vindictus is still North America only on the Nexon website. Luckily, the EU version is scheduled to release soon – but the end of 2010 actually. Anyone who hasn’t played Vindictus yet, definitely should. It’s easily the best action MMORPG out. I say easily, because it puts other action MMORPGs like GhostX from GameKiss, Fists of Fu from OutSpark and Dragon Saga from Gravity Interactive. After playing Vindictus, I can no longer even consider playing another action MMORPG. Not to gush, but Vindictus easily raises the bar for free to play MMORPGs. I mean, there’s no reason to even play Divine Souls, Iris Online or any other upcoming MMORPG. Vindicuts puts em all to shame.

vindictus-barbarian Enough gushing though. Even though Nexon just added the new Mage class to the game, I’m very disappointed with the class variety in the game, as it launched into early access beta a month or so ago with a mere 2 playable classes. Even though it has 3 classes now, that’s still awful. Even older MMORPGs like Rappelz, Fly For Fun and Fiesta Online all have more than four classes. In fact, the best MMORPGs have much more than four classes. Runes of Magic has a unique dual-classing system that creates 25+ class combinations. Grand Chase has some 12+ character classes while League of Legends has 30+ playable heroes. I think it’s pretty clear that most gamers want variety in there games. Learning that Vindictus only has three classes is probably disappointing to others too, especially since Nexon has done a great job with MapleStory. I mean MapleStory has some 10+ starting classes, and each of those classes have 3 different job advancements. I think Ragnarok Online and The Lord of the Rings Online have been so successful because of their huge variety of playable classes. I remember playing MapleStory for as long as I did, because anytime I got bored of my characters, I would make a new one and try out another class. Having lots of classes gives players things to do. Of course having a lot of classes means balance usually goes out the window, but I don’t think MMORPG class balance is even that important, so long as one character isn’t absurdly over powered.

rappelz-power-attack.jpg I’m getting a bit side tracked though. Aside from the class issue, the only other little complaint I have with Vindictus is its linearity. Now don’t get me wrong, I liked the linearity of Lunia, but the lack of a persistent world in a realistic game like Vindictus is a let down. The only persistent area in Vindictus is the town areas, which are broken down into different channels. This is actually a lot like the towns in Guild Wars from NCSoft. The game also currently lacks PvP, but I can bet it’ll be one of the best PvP MMORPGs once it’s implemented, as the action oriented gameplay takes a lot of skill. I really liked the PvP in Dungeon Fighter Online and Dynasty Warriors Online, so I’m sure i’ll enjoy the PvP in Vindictus.

Maybe I’m being too much of a negative Nancy. I just wanted to point out the few drawbacks to Vindictus. If you haven’t played it yet, give it a try. I’m sure you’ll love it.

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Champions Online going Free to Play – What’s Next?

Cryptic recently announced that their superhero MMORPG Champions Online would go free to play starting in early November. Champions Online isn’t the only pay to play MMORPGs that has gone free to play. In fact, this year alone The Lord of the Rings Online from Turbine and EverQuest 2 from Sony Online Entertainment both went free to play. In the past RF Online, Archlord and Seal Online have all gone free to play. I think the most successful pay to play game that has relaunched as free to play is still Dungeons and Dragons Online though. Things have definitely heated up in 2010 though – because both EverQuest 2 and The Lord of the Rings Online are Triple-A titles with big budgets. Seeing them re-launching as free to play is a HUGE vote of confidence for the business model. Pirates of the Burning Sea also announced later in 2010 that they would also be relaunching as a free to play title.

With more and more games dropping their subscriptions, it wasn’t that surprising to see Champions Online do the same thing. I’m wandering why Champions Online went free to play before City of Heroes though – as City of Heroes (which is being published by NCSoft) was the first game developed by Cryptic. Champions Online is an overall more impressive title, so seeing a new game go free to play was a bit weird. I’m curious what game will drop its subscription next. Lineage 2 could go free to play as its already free to play in both Russia and South Korea. Age of Conan could go free to play, as Age of Conan is already free to play in Korea. If I were a betting man though, I would wager that Warhammer Online will go free to play before anything else. Electronic Arts has been embracing the entire free to play model with open arms – as they launched Battlefield Heroes, Lord of Ultima, FIFA Online, Tiger Woods Online and numerous other free to play games. Electronic Arts is the first big Western MMORPG developer to really embrace F2P. All the big free to play games right now are either Chinese – thing Battle of the Immortals, Forsaken World, Perfect World or Korean – Think Fly For Fun, MapleStory, Iris Online.

I think it’s safe to say that free to play MMORPGs are the future. I know it’s a bit of a ridiculous statement, but just look at how many pay to play games have gone free to play in the last 2 years. 3 Years ago, no big western developed MMORPG has gone free to play before. I believe Dungeons and Dragons was the first major pay to plays gone free to play. Nowadays though, the gap between quality of free to play games and pay to play games has shrunk. Heck, some free to plays like Fantasy Earth Zero from GamePot USA, FreeJack from GamerKraft and Tales Runner from gPotato are unique. World of Warcraft is certainly a top notch game, but it has several free to play alternatives. Just look at Runes of Magic – if you enjoy playing WoW, try Runes of Magic. It’s free to play and nearly as good if not better. It has some 4 million registered users world-wide, so it’s mega popular.

Anyway, I digress. Which pay to play game do you think will go free to play next? Leave your answer in the comments!

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