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MMO Money Magazine

Writings on the business of fun: Virtual Worlds and Real Money Makes Online Gaming a Big Business. My economic view on the world of online games - without the hype.

Author: Inktomi

I am officially a "Big Freak"

Posted by Inktomi Saturday February 27 2010 at 5:26PM
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I just want to thank Ivan and Shamrock for having on their podcast: The Big Freaks. I had a great time and it was fun to talk about my favorite subjects, games and THE BIG TERRIBLE GAME COMPANIES THAT FORCE US TO BUY GAMES. RAaAAAaaHHhhHHhHhh!

However, I did learn a few things from the show and it gave me a better perspective on how far the industry has come. And eventually where it may be going.

Also, I need to step it up and get into the console market. 

Also, Shamrocks wallet has a chastity belt on it.

Had a great time and looking forward to doing it again! So don't forget to check it out, its a refreshing take on games from two wild and crazy guys. 

Play safe,

Inktomi

Gaming on a budget. Do you have one?

Posted by Inktomi Sunday February 21 2010 at 4:14PM
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 Hey all,

In my last post I mentioned having a budget for gaming. I have one that I try my best to stick to on a monthly and weekly basis. I call it the "poor college kids gaming budget". Normally I would say, "Oh what the heck, I work hard for this money, I'll spend it the way I want to!" and spend hundreds of dollars on subscriptions, item shops and console games. 

Unfortunately, I fall into that "adult gamer" demographic and have the normal monthly bills we all have. Rent, food, cable, cell phone, car etc. This keep me from going totally crazy on everything I want to. I am also a college student by night hence the college kid approach. Beau Turkey hit on this once before.

I understand that not everyone falls into my demographic or salary bracket. That is why I treat myself as one of the struggling college kids I see in class. Working to go to school, parents are helping but not wealthy and they are trying their best to make it by. Its a humble approach and also keeps me honest. If not I would of probably fallen into many traps that some other people have and spent foolishly. I'm sure there are many games you do regret buying. 

What is your budget for gaming? Do you have one or are you an independently wealthy lottery winner or your parents wealthy? I've spoken to hard working guys like myself, independent business owners and younger generations at the mercy of their parents allowance. Online gaming spans a huge audience and its hard to pin one down without doing an insane amount of surveys.

Personally, I spend about 30-$50 monthly on gaming. Rounded out to $600 a year. But thats a lot of box sales of games, monthly subs and PC upgrades. Some years higher, some lower. But averages out to be $600 a year. Is that a lot? 

How much do you drop monthly for gaming? Are you holding down subs for numerous games or spend in an item shop regularly. There has been many studies and surveys done on this matter. I'm trying to compile it all and would like to get some direct feedback from you.

Thanks and play safe,

Frank

The F2P Item Shop Survival Guide 2.0

Posted by Inktomi Saturday February 20 2010 at 3:00AM
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 Hello all,

Addition: I now realize the problem that people are having with Allods online. Concerning the perfumes only last 30 minutes and a stack of 20 lasts 10 hours for $13.50. Thats too rich for my blood. You can read through this blog to the point where I talk about budgetting. Its a little ways out of my budget and Allods is not the greatest game of all time for me. 

In light of recent events concerning Allods Online I decided to practice a little Necromancy. I looked at some of my old blogs and came across one that I wrote for people when the "cash shop vs subscription" was a hot debate. It still is on some blogs and I took a post from last year, fixed it up, updated it and added some cool pictures. 

I really hope this helps some people that are just getting into F2P games. It would be good to also quell some of the rage that has kicked up because of the Allods Online Cash Shop Debacle.

Now on with the show!

The first thing I do is look at the currency: they have a lot of different names according to the game company you use. There are the diamonds, NCcoin, Gpotatoe’s and even the new “cryptic buck” that is going to be used in the soon to be released Champions Online.

Edit: $1 = 100 Gpotatoes so $50 = 5000 Gpots.

They are usually sold in online packages that you can buy as bundles or pre-paid cards that come in $10 - $20 increments and up. These can be redeemed online and used in the cash shop; some are even sold in convenience stores. For that late night gamer in all of us!

Do the math: Like any Foriegn RL currency there is a transfer rate from that currency to ours.
5000 ÷ 100 = 50
So for every $1.00 I get 100 Gpots, doesn’t seem so bad now does it?
1 gpot = 1 us penny.

“How do I buy Gpotatoes?” Most games do take PayPal, most credit cards or offer prepaid cards as I said earlier. If you don’t feel comfy with using your ID online and can’t find prepaid, what I do is go to my local mall and get a gift certificate that comes in the form of a VISA card.

Make sure it says VISA or MasterCard on it, if not then there are other alternatives, usually they will have that stuff listed on the site. The prepaid and GC’s are a great way to keep your ID safe and keep yourself on a budget. I know that I would be dangerous with a major CC tied to a F2P MMORPG, lol.

Edit: I've seen these Gpotatoe cards at Walmarts, Targets and 7-11's here in NY. Ranging from $10 up. There is cards for almost every MT game in the NA market, look around.

Storage: most F2P MT (micro-trans) games have an element built in that limits your storage capacity and sells you the slots (bank, bag, character, content or otherwise) for a time at a fee. I know that many games will put quest items in your physical inventory, along with other stuff you collect along the way. This can quickly become cumbersome, especially for crafters, collectors, explorers and general packrats like me. (I'm a packrat.)

Travel Arrangements: This consists of anything that get’s you from point A to point B. Mounts that fly or not, horses, teleporters, markers, portals etc. This division can get pricey and has items that fall under 2 categories, Travel and Vanity Items. Many times companies will offer you some startup travel arrangements ingame, and also offer sales.

But be careful, I know someone who went nuts over a $10 horse, and that seems like a lot. But if this is going to be a permanent fixture for you and plan on spending the money, make sure that it is going to be a one shot deal. If you don’t want an ordinary mount, then walk it and wait for something that you really want or take a temporary in the meantime.

Vanity Items: Ahh, everyones favorite. Anything that changes the appearance of your character, mount, pet or otherwise and doesn’t change any stats is simply vanity. Just for looks. Even that pet is vanity, that flying mount is as well as I mentioned before. Since it’s all for looks, this is where you ask yourself: “How important is this to me?”

Most Vanity is really cheap, but some isn’t. Changing facial or racial aspects can cost you some money; just keep asking yourself if it’s worth it to you to do it. Armor and weapons are sometimes offered in shops, this is where it gets tricky; if they do actually carry improved stats and are not available anywhere in game it falls under MLH’s, if not then they are strictly vanity items as well.

MLH’s or “Mommies Little Helpers”™: This is the category that has the MMO Society in an uproar and sometimes causes people to take stances and choose sides. This consists of anything that increases the game experience and how it affects your character.

Most of this consists of potions for increased experience gain or increased loot drops, also any armor, weapons or pets that provide a boost in stats. Very often, companies provide “packages” of these types of items or a subscription style access to the game (The DDO VIPs as an example).

Edit: this is some of the items that has the anti-RMT community up in arms. It does cause some imbalances if you look at leveling speed and accruing money faster. This is also part of real-life, not everyone has the same playing field. I know this is a game, again, you have a choice to 1) buy in and 2) play the game without it.

I also feel that certain types of upgrades to items at MLH’s and come in the form of enchantments or effect equipment in some beneficial way. Some feel that this might provide an imbalance in the game between characters that do and the ones that don’t.

This is a vast topic that is up for discussion about certain items or affects, I am not going to get into semantics here about it. I am just going to provide a loose and open category, if you want to get into particulars, which is your call. That is just my outlook on that, and that is all I have to say on the topic. TYVM

Most MLH’s usually will give you more exp bonus and less death penalty but that varies between games. For some, this can be a very way to really ramp up the meaningfulness in the time you play, or can be abused by some to get a “leg up” on other players.

This all differs from player to player, if you feel that this is not your route, don’t do it. If you feel that it streamlines the way you play, and then put it in your budget. I for one, always patronize a good game with at least 1 month of a package type deal, I feel its good karma, good business and gives back to the community. A lot of times though, I do ask myself “is this worth the money?”

Content: This I feel is the meat and potatoes of a cash shop. This constitutes any playable content such as quests or areas, minigames, characters/races or even slots for characters or content. City of Heroes recently started offering players extra slots for created content using the architect to store new story arcs.

Another example are the racecar and driver job of Free Realms, these have an effect on “what you play” and your meaningful experience within the game. If I was going to spend any money on a game, it would be here mostly, because I want to get the most out of this game and what it offers.

Again, watch your budget.

More on budget: Look at it this way. With a game that costs you $29.99 for the software and $15 a month, you play that for 1 year your are spending over $210.00. There was a recent survey done by Playspan and it stated that the average person who spent money on virtual goods spent around $50, give or take. The higher end spent over $100, but that was only 15% that was tested.

Enough of the boring numbers, if I could play a great game and spend $100 instead of $200, I'm your man. Your problem with it is that is it going to be a level playing field. It really never is. The real factor to me is time, do I have the time to play as much as other people? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. It depends on various factors. So popping a couple of EXP pots to catch up on a few levels is sometimes worth it to me.

Specialty Items: These are most items that are only offered for a limited time or tied into an event. One example is the new Thunderbird mount offered in Mabinogi, only offered between July 16 to July 23rd. This is an attractive flying mount that does carry abilities and stats, also boosts your stats as well. This can be classed as MLH, vanity and specialty, if your  playing Mabonogi you might want to consider this. Again, specialty items can vary from game to game and class to class.

I recenty posted this on mmovoices.com: Including buying expansions one can easily spend over $200 a year. I could get away with half of that, have a great time and walk away at any time. Returning to a F2P game is easy, just update and wa-la! I'm good to go again.

As far as the shops giving an advantage, it might give some a competitive edge with leveling faster. I haven't seen many shops offer OP'd items and equipment. Maybe some of the items to CREATE OP'd items, thats when I say to myself, "Is this worth it to me?" That's the question that many players need to ask themselves when they start playing a game with RMT.

The other question is, "Ok if it is worth it, how much is my budget?" That will give some players a rough idea on how much they are willing to sink into a game. If you can get along with spending $10-$20 a month, then you are right inline with the cost of a subscription based game.

In closing

There are pros and cons to playing games with micro-trans. As a community it is unclear on what is tolerable. I know we (as consumers I say we) are attracted to the "free" word.

This has been a buzzword in many online campaigns, someone actually wrote a book on it.  As a player its up to you to decide 1) how much you are willing to spend on your hobby and 2) do whats the most fun for you and your time. I would also read this article posted here. Its really helpful in putting this "cash shop cunundrum" in perspective.

I hate to be the one to tell you, but its a marketing tactic to get you interested. You have to understand, its a business. Nothing runs solely on handshakes and hugs. 

I hope you enjoyed this article and found it helpful. Gimme a bump if you think it deserves it. It makes me feel happy.

Play safe,

Inktomi

Gamestop price drops on MMO's.

Posted by Inktomi Friday February 19 2010 at 1:50AM
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 Hi, I just wanted to get something out there since I haven't posted in awhile.

Latest price drops I noticed on PC and 360 MMO titles. I watch G-stop because they pretty much follow the overall price trend of the market. You might be able to find a better deal or two on Steam, GoG or ebay.

Final Fantasy XI Ultimate collection: $14.99 ( I bought one today =D)

Star Trek Online Collectors Ed: $59.99 Regular: 39.99

Guild Wars Trilogy: $39.99

Fallen Earth: $29.99 @ 20 I'm all over it.

Demigod: $19.99 (I paid 40 bucks for that stinker)

Champions Online: $19.99 (not with a ten foot pole)

This might be old news to some. INB4: I know that Demigod is nawt an mmo, but it's still an online game. Hey, if league of legends can stay here, so can Demigod :P

I hope this helps someone compare some prices. If you see any of these cheaper somewhere else, let me know.

Play safe,

Inktomi

World of Warcraft is Bleeding Subscriptions.

Posted by Inktomi Friday February 12 2010 at 11:36AM
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It appears that they are. In a article posted on Kotaku.com, Mike Morhaime, President and Co-Founder of Blizzard Entertainment stated in a 2009 conference call that as of December 2008 the World of Warcraft had 11 million subscriptions. According to this article they have seen no growth since 2008.

Following that announcement, Vivendi Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy stated on a March 2009 conference call that they started 2009 with 12 million subscriptions. Do you see the difference here?

Michael "Mike" Morhaime - Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.comAs we speak subscriptions numbers from the last announcement are at 11.5 million. So this means that 500,000 players have left the building. Again, there should be a certain amount of stability from the release of the last expansion. There might have been but it seems to be tapering off and the company hasn't owned up to it.

In my last article someone posted a comment speaking that they have had played wow and wouldn't return even with a free $100. This seems to be the trend when talking to most people that had played wow and "Probably not. I had my fill of that world, and if Cataclysm doesn't lure me in I'll let it go for good and find something else" is the common theme. Blizzard could be banking on Cataclysm to retain their already fading customer base much like their players are.

Another interesting point of view: "Blizzard CEO Mike Morhaime said earlier today that 70% of people playing on a WoW trial account (which I'd imagine would be most new players) fail to progress past level 10 in the game." - reported from Kotaku.com 

Seems that new players or even hopeful returners like myself included sign on, play for a little bit and then leave. This is from most likely playing the 14 day free trial. So they don't even really scratch the surface in 2 weeks of playing wow. If you played wow before and leveled an alt or two, you could make level 24 in a matter of hours.

I'm not bashing Blizzard or being a wow-hater. I examine businesses and it looks like Blizz is hitting the plateau at 11 - 11.5 million subs. Which is not chump change at all, that brings in revenue of $172 million smackaroos monthly. Monthly...over the course of a year your loyal monthly subscriptions roughly bring in over $2 billion to the company. And I am not even factoring in box sales.

But this does reinforce my point that it is an expensive barrier of entry. It is quality and many will pay for it, unless they really don't like it. In a era of new mmo gamer that is moving away from the traditional theme-park pay to play style to a pay as you want sandbox, Blizzard needs to capture those new players and retain old ones.

It looks like right now they are sitting pretty with their "good base" as Vivendi called it. But if I know Big Corporate like I know Big Corporate, they are looking for growth and to make even MOAR mMO MONEY!

Thats right, I went there.

Play safe,

Inktomi

 

Talking about Blizzard in a Blizzard.

Posted by Inktomi Thursday February 11 2010 at 1:18PM
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So New York got hit with about 18 inches of snow yesterday. While I was digging out of the "Blizzard" I did some thinking about The World of Warcraft. 

 I was watching Frontline's special on Digital Nation and they touched on the World of Warcraft and Everquest being deep social games. They showed some footage from Blizzcon convention and an Everquest meet that looked interesting. 

After that I decided to do my first round of shoveling. I turned my iPod up and thought to myself, "Exactly WHY do I not play World of Warcraft?" I really didn't have an answer so when I was done I fixed a nice cup of cocoa and flipped my laptop open. I played WOW up until the Burning Crusade expansion then quit and always felt I missed out. 

 I still have the original software and armed with my credit card I checked on the expansions to see how they were running. 

 For the expansion alone is $29.99, the Wrath of the Lich King is $39.99 but the battle chest is $39.99 and just has the original software and the first expansion. BC.

I leaned back and scratched my head in wonder. If I wanted to play WoW today I would be spending close to or over $100.00. You've got to be kidding me? I checked eBay and saw some discounts but it seems that I can't get into Azeroth for less than 80 bucks.

Why is that? Is it because The World of Warcraft is the best MMORPG in the world? I talked to many people that would say different. And have played many other games that were good and were free. If I was going to invest that kind of money it wouldn't be something so saturated, so commercialized and so downright expensive.

An article from Gamasutra today announced that this year Acti-Blizz could rake in close to $800 million off of the Starcraft sequel and the World of Warcraft Cataclysm expansion. And you know that millions of people will line up outside of their friendly neighborhood Gamestop or Best Buy  for it. I can see it wearing a $39.99 - $49.99 price tag like Lich King did, and if you want to continue to play WoW you have too matter what.

 

I've read posts saying that people that play F2P games are getting ripped off over the long term. I disagree, EVE gets free content expansions and the freedom to stop playing at any time, all it will take me is $14.99 to get up and running again. I would be spending ten times that amount to return to WoW. 

No wonder Blizzard is so huge, they are milking the cow for all its worth. Forcing loyal longterm players to buy expensive expansions to stay current in the game. Meanwhile the market for new games is getting inundated with Wow clones and hopefuls trying to get a piece of the pie. With the barrier of entry and re-entry I'm surprised that they are still accumulating new subscriptions. I guess that people look at that 11 billion number and think that they are the best. 

I compared that to another great game I was thinking about re-entering, Final Fantasy XI. The Vanadiel Collection runs for $19.99 and I get ALL FOUR expansions, free month and just $14.99 at signup. What a huge price difference between the two. This could simply be companies trying to pick up some of the scraps that WoW leaves behind. Not saying if you don't play WoW you are a scrap, it seems that the whole of the MMO-player population is there. Or are they?

 If you are a budget gamer like me you want to get the most for your money. Or if you really just want to play something new and have a good time there are hundreds of options to choose from. 2010 looks like it is going to be a banner year for new games and independent publishers to release some great new content. 

     Blizzard is taking the right approach to pricing. Being the gatekeepers they get charge whatever they want and the consumer is willing to pay it. They have the reputation of having the best game on the market, this maybe not necessarily true. But they are going to make you pay to find out if it is over the long term. 

I have to think, if I stumbled onto a $100 bill in the snow, would I spend it on the World of Warcraft?

When you could take that same $100 and play 4, 5 or maybe 10 games. Would we still run to what looks like the best of the best?

Let me know what you think, I'm interested.

Play safe,

Inktomi

It’s no /Secret/ the /World/ needs a good horror MMO.

Posted by Inktomi Friday February 5 2010 at 7:36AM
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          Let’s face it, we all are looking for something new. We want to be thrilled and if you’re like me your biggest thrill comes from being scared. It sends the adrenaline rushing through our veins. Fear makes your heart beat faster. Your brain moves faster, sometimes making good decisions or sometimes natural instincts just take over. These are some of the elements that make reading horror stories, watching scary films and also playing horror games a lot of fun.

Did I mention I was a big horror fan? Before you read on, make sure to check your front door. It’s just a hunch.

Clive Barker, Stephen King, Peter Straub and H.P. Lovecraft are some of the author names you might see on my bookshelf. My video shelf is filled with older movies such as the original Amityville Horror, Halloween and Alien. I even own some of the classics such as The Fly and Psycho. Nothing makes me feel better than putting on a DVD, shutting the lights out and scaring the daylights out of my girl and I for fun. It’s the same sort of thrill you get from riding rollercoasters.


But what makes the fear so real? The classic formula is an everyday normal setting such as a small sleepy town. Add in a few mysterious happenings and some gory, painful deaths and you have the basics of a horror story. After watching the latest clip released by Funcom for their newest game in development The Secret World, I felt even more excited about the game. If you haven’t seen it yet, you can watch the Welcome to Kingsmouth Trailer right on MMORPG.COM. MmMMmMM Zombies!


 

As far as I know, TSW (The Secret World for short) is set in our current time period. The game has a supernatural basis to it. Seems as if an ancient evil is rising up to take over the world, will you embrace it or fight to the death? Some of the lore is based on H.P. Lovecraftian mythos. It is a classless based character system that requires allegiance to 1 of 3 factions: The Dragon, The Templars and The Illuminati. These are the 3 faction descriptions that a player can choose from; no one knows what benefits come with choosing one of them.
 

There is a questionnaire offered on the website to give you some insight on the factions. From here you can also sign up for beta and the forums that have been a hotbed of speculation since they were opened 2 ½ years ago. Since I have signed up I have solved puzzles, received mysterious emails and delved into the insanity of speculation that permeates the forums. Those guys are relentless geniuses bent on uncovering every riddle that Funcom passes down to us.
 

I am going to go out on a limb and say that TSW is going to be the shot in the arm that the MMO genre needs. We have seen every sort of fantasy hybrid. Swords and sorcery are good staples but it’s been overdone. Science Fiction has it’s spokespersons from all different corners of the galaxy. Cryptic Software’s recently released Star Trek Online is quickly becoming the Mecca to all Star Trek and Sci-Fi enthusiasts. EVE has dominated the space opera genre since 2003 and I haven’t seen many games that can hold a candle to them. The superhero’s are all spoken for by Cryptic’s new Champions Online and NCSoft’s City of Heroes/Villians. If you feel like taking a trip down post-apocalypse lane then look into Borderlands and Fallen Earth.

 I’m sure we have all been there and done that through all the different genres. What’s left? What hasn’t been nailed down, sliced, diced and overcooked? I would have to say the basic and unbridled emotion of fear. Scare me, please. I have had plenty of enjoyable moments in online culture and had PLENTY of laughs that are usually at my own expense. But not once have I been scared to the point of jumping out of my chair. The most fear I have felt was “OMFG HEAL ME PLEASE DAMNIT IMMAGONNADIE!” A bad priest in a raid can be scary but not what I’m getting at.


The closest that I can think of is Requiem: Bloodymare, that is a horror ‘themed’ MMO. I like the nightmare monster mechanic where tougher monsters spawn at certain times at night. Some of the dungeon designs can give you the willies, although many of the monsters look like they came from schlock horror B-movie cutting room floors. At the end of the day, Requiem turned out to be just another fantasy based grindfest. Ho hum.

Survival Horror
For the real fear factor I would have to take a look back at some older offline games. I know the first thing you might think of is Resident Evil or F.E.A.R. but let’s go farther back. Take a look at Alone in the Dark for Sega CD. One of the first survival horror games that made me go “Whoa where did that come from!” Farther back would take you to The 7th Guest and countless text based games that put you in the part of the lonely traveler that gets trapped in that creepy old mansion.


In my quest to be scared I dug through my old PS2 collection to find The Suffering that still gives me creeps at parts. I also found the ORIGINAL Resident Evil, not watered down directors cut. But for the life of me I cannot find my old Silent Hill (sadface), I think I loaned it out or (gasp) traded it in to Gamestapo.

Where can you find super-scary games to play until Funcom releases TSW? I have compiled numerous lists and some personal stuff I’ve compiled for my collection that I will share with you fellow horror buffs or someone looking for a new thrill.

Must haves:
Resident Evil, I would say any one but the first is a classic. Silent Hill 1, Silent Hill 2 and Alone in the Dark are rare but all are relatively cheap and available for either for both PC and PS2, look around.

Doom 3 Latest installment of the classic FPS series. The lack of the ductape/flashlight combo adds to the ambience.

Hey man, these are scary!
System Shock 2 an old favorite that has made many lists and is pretty scary to this day)

Obscure. Did I mention classic horror formulas such as being trapped in an abandoned school? (Available for PS2 used 19.99 USD)

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers and Sanitarium both creepy fun available from GOG.com for $9.99.
The Penumbra Collection avail from Best Buy for only $9.99!


The Thing for PC: A scary movie that made an equally scary game.

Condemned: Criminal Origins, I haven’t played this yet but it got rave reviews. I’m hunting a copy down as we speak.

The Path avail on steam for $9.99, this is a takeoff on little red riding hood.

The Suffering is available for free download at Gamershell, this is a personal favorite of mine.


If you’re looking for some really scary new stuff.

Batman Arkham Asylum which is only the best Batman Game EVER! This time you get to play the scare-er not the scare-e.

Dark Fall: Lost Souls. This is the third installment of the Dark Fall (no relation to Darfall Online) Series. And point and click adventure like Myst.

Deadspace. Man, this was the last game I played that really gave me that adrenaline rush. So worth it.

 And I can’t forget Valves masterpiece Left For Dead and Left For Dead 2. To this day the witch makes me jump when I hear her crying. I once put a sniper-rifle bullet in her eyeball from close range and she still killed me. That was a classic moment in horror gaming for me.

Also two mods for popular games that really spooked me out was Dear Esther for Halflife 2, available free from Steam. And for anyone still rocking old school Oblivion:The Elder Scroll you can download a mod called The Gates of Aesgaard for free off TESNEXUS. Both great horror based mods for popular games that made me leave the light on at night.

There is plenty of stuff I haven’t mentioned such as Clive Barkers Undying and The Lost Crown, go hunt around and you can find some hidden gems. This is part of the element of exploration and surprise. If there is anything that you played and scared the BeJesus out of you that you can share I am all ears.

I know it’s late and you have been reading this post. Maybe the wife and kids are in bed, the house is now quiet. You hear something outside your window. Oh, it’s just the wind. What that scraping down the hall? Oh, it’s the cat with his bowl. Are you feeling a chill down your spine?  I should have checked the front door. I’ll just turn the heat up, that’s it. Did I feel something touch my chair? I’ll just turn arou…

 

Play safe.

 

MMO Crash Test Dummies

Posted by Inktomi Tuesday February 2 2010 at 3:07PM
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This might sound a little cold, but I believe they are vital. In the days of "paid betas" and indie studio's making sub-par MMO's, one has to be careful with their resources.

I've been on this Joe college student budget for over a year now and it has saved me a lot of dough. Since I limit myself to 1 sub a month has made me really take a look at my choices. I don't jump on every new bandwagon that comes down the street, play trials and see what I can get for free.

There are so many games coming out. What to choose? I usually wait and see who is getting the positive feedback overall. As in Darkfall, I have prowled the issue for months now and get an overall feeling of "nah, don't do it" from the overall attitude. Since DFO will run me about $55 and $15 bucks up front, I chose Dragon Age: Origin instead. Good choice, wouldn't you agree?

What are the big boys of the MMO-blog-o-sphere playing? I would recommend a site named Grinding to Valhalla. On the first page there is a post asking some pretty popular names in blogging what they are playing. DA:O came up frequently, so did WoW and a sprinkling of Borderlands here and there. One game did catch my eye and I have been playing it as well.

Torchlight.

I've been messing around with this game for a few weeks now and I'm having a great time with it. Yes, its a total Diablo knockoff. Yes, it's almost exactly like its  predecessor Fate. But it's flat out fun.

Some games feel like as exclusive city nightclub to me. I wait on line, someone scans my ID and tells me I can come in. I pay way too much to walk in, in some cases over $60 to get in the door. Anything extra will cost you? What will it be? 30 day, 6 month or lifetime? 

Lifetime? I don't even know your going to last my lifetime? So many titles are struggling now since the industry has become saturated they have come up with new an interesting ways to corral your money in their pockets. Enticing you with beta access if you buy a lifetime sub, only to offer you another lifetime sub. 

I am an MMO veteran, no more taking chances.

Not at this stage of the game. I have burned as much cash as I could into this hobby to be on the cutting edge and its time to get smarter. I prioritize my time as well as my money. Since many of these games require a large amount of dedication to really achieve any type of advancement I tend to stick with one.

Lately I have been hopping around a few of the more obscure free to play titles. I played Mabinogi and found it to be very polished, very indepth and fun. Don't let the anime graphics fool you. It's a good game that makes you think about your choices from the start since NPC interaction is very important. No more just clicking through NPC dialog, I was actually reading what they had to say. Most importantly the game hasn't cost me a dime.

Win!

Torchlight cost me a whopping $16 at gamestop with trade ins of some old PS2 titles. You can get it on steam for $19.99

Dragon Age was an investment coming in at $60 with all DLC included. But I got that as a birthday gift. Thanks honey! 

My message for the day: Be careful. Don't just jump on the bandwagon and pay to get in that club since you are watching everyone else walk in. If you waited you would learn more about it from the reactions of the people leaving. Of course your going to have your whiners and some people will never be happy. But it will help you make your decision easier. It always feels better when you know you made a good decision, than feel as if you got taken for a ride.

As for the recent titles like Champions Online I decided not. And was glad that I did, it seems as most of the public like to visit but doesn't want to live there. 

I'm doing the same with Star Trek and Mortal Online. I'm going to sit, wait and watch reactions. Heck for the $100 dollars I spent including my EVE subscriptions I have more than enough gaming to keep me busy for the next few months. 

I might not be on the cutting edge of new MMO's but I don't write to be, I want to let the consumer know that they are making a good decision. Not just acting as a fanboy of the industry, I'll tell you what works for me and what doesn't.

Pick and choose your spots. 

Inktomi

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