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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.

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

Some Year-End Wondering

General -  Column

As 2013 dawns, many of us take a look ahead and speculate about what is to come, something akin to looking into the crystal ball. In The Free Zone today, we take a look at a few topics that are sure to be big discussion items throughout 2013. Check it out!Posted Jan 1, 2013 by Richard Aihoshi

Talking Crowdfunding with Mark Jacobs

General -  Column

In today's Free Zone, we take a small break from the gathering of worldwide news on the F2P phenomenon and talk with Mark Jacobs about crowd source funding. Jacobs offers his expertise on how the industry will be changed as a result. Check it out and then leave your thoughts in the comments.Posted Dec 18, 2012 by Richard Aihoshi

Can Runewaker Repeat its Success?

Dragon's Prophet -  Column

Runewalker, the creators of Runes of Magic, is now working with Sony Online Entertainment to bring a new game, Dragon's Prophet, to the world. In today's Free Zone column, we speculate as to whether or not Runewalker can 'hit another one out of the park'. Check it out before lending your voice to the conversation in the comments.Posted Dec 4, 2012 by Richard Aihoshi

Is SWTOR Moving Toward the Dark Side or the Light?

Star Wars: The Old Republic -  Column

Now that Star Wars: The Old Republic has officially adopted a 'free-to-play option', some players are beginning to wonder if BioWare and EA went far enough. Check out what we think in our latest Free Zone column and then leave your ideas in the comments.Posted Nov 20, 2012 by Richard Aihoshi

Two More Problems No One's Talking About

General -  Column

Dovetailing with Bill Murphy's "The Problem No One's Talking About", the Free Zone today takes a look at two other issues that remain under the proverbial table in many cases. See what those issues are and then leave your ideas in the comments.Posted Nov 6, 2012 by Richard Aihoshi

It Came from the Far East

General -  Column

In our latest Free Zone column, we take a look at trending news in the F2P market with a particular emphasis on Korea. In addition, we have a bit to share about the League of Legends championship and wonder who it is that exactly owns Crossfire. Check it out!Posted Oct 23, 2012 by Richard Aihoshi

Silkroad Online's Historic 15 Years

Silkroad Online -  Column

Silkroad Online recently celebrated its 15th year of MMORPG goodness. In today's Free Zone, we take a look at Silkroad Online and ruminate about its past and its future. Read on!Posted Oct 9, 2012 by Richard Aihoshi

From Russia With No Monthly Fee

General -  Interview

It's no secret that F2P games are given a hard time by many gamers in North America. But is that same thought prevalent in other locations in the world? In today's Free Zone, we talk with Igromania's Gevorg Akopyan about the F2P phenomenon in Russia. See what he's got to say about his country's opinion of F2P and then let us know what you think in the comments.Posted Sep 25, 2012 by Richard Aihoshi

A Divided Mind Times Two

General -  Column

In our latest Free Zone column, we take a look at a pair of issues that create strong opinions on both sides of the fence: Player-generated content and whether or not City of Heroes should survive. See what we've got to say about each and how difficult it is to come up with a single answer. Then leave your thoughts in the comments.Posted Sep 11, 2012 by Richard Aihoshi

Global F2P Gleanings

General -  Column

One of the things we love to do around here is put our collective ear to the ground for all the news that might interest our readers and then give some thoughts about those stories. In our latest Free Zone column, we take a look at some of the most interesting tidbits we've picked up lately. Read on!Posted Aug 28, 2012 by Richard Aihoshi