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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.

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

Will FireFall Rise or Fall?

General -  Column

This past year has been a hard one on game makers and publishers the world over. In some startling news, it has been revealed that Red 5's owner is in financial straits. What does this mean for Firefall? We offer a few thoughts in today's Free Zone column. Read on and then continue the discussion in the comments.Posted Apr 23, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

Three Interesting Closures

General -  Column

The economy continues to hit the games industry hard including the recent announcements of game and possible studio closures. We take a look at three very compelling closures in our latest Free Zone. Check it out and then head to the comments.Posted Apr 9, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

More Questions Than Answers

General -  Column

The free to play market has been in the news a lot the last several days between TERA's rising numbers and SWTOR's proclamation that its high density servers are teeming. But is all the news really so rosy? Are there other questions that need answering before we proclaim success? In The Free Zone today, we take a look at that. See what we've got on our mind before telling us what's on yours in the comments.Posted Mar 27, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

Wargaming.net Goes Gas Powered

General -  Column

With Wargaming.net's buyout of Gas Powered Games, new questions arise about the viability of the US games market combined with foreign investment. See what we have to say in this week's Free Zone and then leave your thoughts in the comments.Posted Mar 12, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

Two Koreans Grow, One Shrinks

General -  Column

It's been a mercurial year in the gaming industry with layoffs and closures and mergers. In today's Free Zone, we take a look at three Korean companies as illustrative of the issue. Check it out before leaving your thoughts in the comments.Posted Feb 26, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

The F2P Consolidation Trend

General -  Column

After last week's announcement that regional rights once owned by Outspark were transfered to Europe's gamigo, we began to wonder if the F2P publishers would be undergoing a consolidation. Read The Free Zone to check out our ideas before leaving yours in the comments.Posted Feb 12, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

Allods Tries On Subscriptions in Russia

Allods Online -  Column

In this Week's Free Zone, we're taking a look at something we've not seen before... a F2P game trying out a subscription model. Wait, is that right? Yep, Allods Online is adding a subscription model in Russia. And we're figuring out what that means.Posted Jan 29, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

Can Revenue Models Be Too Complicated?

General -  Column

As more and more games add in "free to play" options, developers and publishers keep trying out new definitions of what F2P means. In today's The Free Zone, we opine on whether or not these different models are simply too complicated. See what we've got to say before adding your ideas to the mix in the comments.Posted Jan 15, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi