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Exclusive Columns

Columnists - The Free Zone

Richard Aihoshi has been writing about MMOGs since the mid-1990s, always with a global perspective. He has observed the emergence and growth of the free to play business model from its early days in both hemispheres. This column runs each Monday.

2013's Free to Play Top 10

General -  Column

Research company SuperData recently released a list of the top 10 F2P games based on their estimated worldwide revenue last year. Not surprisingly, the top position was occupied by CrossFire, which is said to have brought in a cool $957 million. Depending on how this figure was sourced, is it possible that the MMO shooter from SmileGate and Tencent may actually have surpassed the $1 billion mark? Posted Jan 28, 2014 by Richard Aihoshi

Will Subscriptions Truly Prosper in 2014?

General -  Column

It isn't difficult at all to find predictions that this year will be a very good or even a great one for the subscription MMOG segment. For the most part, this thinking seems to be fueled by the impending arrivals of two high-profile titles. The more prominent of the pair is Zenimax' The Elder Scrolls Online, which brings one of the game industry's premier properties into the massively multiplayer space that has undoubtedly consumed hundreds of millions of dollars.Posted Jan 14, 2014 by Richard Aihoshi

A Few Wishes For 2014

General -  Column

With 2014 a few short hours away, it's time for our annual speculation about the coming year. The Free Zone today looks ahead at 2014 and offers a few thoughts about what we'd like to see. Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments.Posted Dec 31, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

What's Up With Webzen West?

General -  Column

Our latest Free Zone column takes a look at new and assertive steps being made by Webzen to gain a foothold in North America and Europe. See what we discovered and then leave us your own thoughts in the comments.Posted Dec 17, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

G-STAR 2013: Some Long-Distance Impressions

General -  Column

With this year's GStar 2013 behind us, it's time to take a look back at some of the annual event's highlights in this week's Free Zone. Read on to see what shook the game world at GStar before heading to the comments.Posted Dec 3, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

MMOG Miscellany Redux

General -  Column

One of the things we like to do with The Free Zone is take a look at all of the news surrounding the MMO genre. In our latest column, we do just that, checking out market growth, Trion's Trove and much more. Head through the jump to check it out before leaving your thoughts in the comments.Posted Nov 19, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

How to Critique Free to Play

General -  Column

Free to play is a relatively new phenomenon in the MMO space and it comes complete with growing pains on many levels. In today's Free Zone, we take a look at ways to critique F2P to make it fair and effective. Check it out before leaving your impressions in the comments.Posted Nov 5, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

How Well Do Publishers Listen?

General -  Column

Publishers are often thought of the uber bad boys of the gaming industry, the callous dispassionate tyrants. In our latest Free Zone column, we take a look at that idea. What we think may surprise you. Read on before heading to the comments.Posted Oct 22, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

What's Next For Subscriptions?

General -  Column

In our latest Free Zone column, we take a look at what may potentially lie ahead for subscriptions. Can we go back to "the way we were" as in the heady early days of MMOs? See what we think and then leave your own ideas in the comments.Posted Oct 8, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

What's Next For World of Warcraft?

World of Warcraft -  Column

With WoW's first decade nearly complete, we begin to speculate what will come next for the fading champion of the MMO space. In today's Free Zone, we opine about a few things we think could happen. See what we think before letting us know your own thoughts in the comments.Posted Sep 24, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

A Peek Behind the Bamboo Curtain

General -  Column

An often overlooked aspect of the MMO market in today's world is the Chinese market, one that is vital and enormous. In today's Free Zone, we take a look at the Chinese game community and what it means in game development. Check it out before heading to the comments to talk about it.Posted Sep 10, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

The Rejuvenation of Subscriptions

General -  Column

In today's Free Zone, we take a look at the recent spate of announcements by several game studios that upcoming titles such as WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online will feature subscription-based revenue models. Check out our thoughts on the subject before leaving your ideas in the comments.Posted Aug 27, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

Titan Not A Subscription MMORPG... Whodathunkit?

General -  Column

With last month's earnings report, the world learned a thing or two about Blizzard's Titan, most notably that it will not be a subscription-based title like its elder sibling, World of Warcraft. In today's Free Zone, we take a look at that tidbit of news and offer a few thoughts. Check it out!Posted Aug 13, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

How Might Tencent's Investment Affect Activision?

General -  Column

Last week, Activision-Blizzard bought itself out from under Vivendi Universal. One of its heavier investors is Asian games publisher TenCent. In our latest Free Zone, we take a look at the potential changes that might come along as a result. Read on and then leave your thoughts in the comments.Posted Jul 30, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

Selling in Free to Play Games II

General -  Column

The free to play MMO market is a growing one and one that is still flexing its muscles and suffering from growing pains. In our latest Free Zone column, we take a look at what selling is and isn't in F2P titles. Check out our thoughts before joining in the discussion in the comments.Posted Jul 16, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

The Complexity of Selling in F2P Games

General -  Column

The free to play business model in the MMO industry is constantly under fire for the perceived notion that it is pay to win. In the latest Free Zone, we take a look at how difficult it is to see a F2P title as long as that misconception lives. Read on before letting us know what you think in the comments.Posted Jul 2, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

E3 2013: One Outsider's View

General -  Column

Now that E3 is over and tons of coverage has been published, it's time to take a reflective look at what transpired. We do just that in today's Free Zone. See what we've got to say before heading to the comments to continue the discussion.Posted Jun 18, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

Thinking The Once Virtually Unthinkable

General -  Column

Last week's announcement that Blizzard was taking Titan back to the drawing board took many fans of the gaming behemouth by surprise. Is it possible that the unthinkable might finally be entering Blizzard's consciousness? F2P? Maybe? In today's Free Zone, we take a look at that astonishing possibility. See what you think before you add your thoughts to the conversation in the comments.Posted Jun 4, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

Has Obsidian's Future Become Brighter or Darker?

General -  Column

Last week, Obsidian Entertainment of Neverwinter Nights 2 fame, announced that it had entered into a partnership with Mail.ru and the Allods Online team to bring Skyforge to the MMO space. In today's Free Zone, we opine as to whether or not that was a good decision. See what we think before leaving your thoughts in the comments.Posted May 21, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

Can Ragnarok Online II Rock It?

Ragnarok Online II -  Interview

Ragnarok Online 2 launched last week with much fanfare. For today's Free Zone column, Richard Aihoshi managed to catch up to Gravity Interactive's Jason Koerperich, the Director of Game Operations. Find out a whole lot more about Ragnarok Online 2 than you probably knew before and then head to the comments.Posted May 7, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

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