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Exclusive Columns

Columnists - The Social Hub

In this bi-weekly column, Christina Gonzalez records her thoughts on the ups and downs of online communities.

Titan Seemed Made For All & That Was its Downfall

General -  Column

Hearing the news that Blizzard had canceled the MMO project it had codenamed Titan after seven years of development, I can’t say I was surprised. What I really was was curious just what the game was planned to be. Leaks emerged soon afterward, and if they are to be believed, Titan might have been a game that offered something for every type of player. Yet the ambitiousness of the project could also be why it ultimately failed before ever being fully realized. Posted Sep 29, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

The Community is Your DM in Upsilon Circuit

General -  Column

With most players opting to play solo at least some of the time, the rest of the player population becomes a series of props to some, PvP fodder to others, and to the rest, members of the guilds and groups they play with. At PAX, a game in development called Upsilon Circuit looks to do something different. Blending action RPG, a dash of MMO, and reality TV game show, along with a touch of audience participation, the greater community’s role is emphasized even more. Posted Sep 15, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

Free to Play, ArcheAge, and LoL - Is Riot’s Model Better?

General -  Column

Last time around, I discussed free to play and so-called entitlement in the MMO community. While I do think that some are called out or made to feel guilty for simply enjoying what developers and publishers are putting out, that could’ve perhaps been a narrower discussion. Again, this time around, payment models get another look, and it’s in part due to some recent topics that have come up in both the greater gaming community and among MMO players. Posted Aug 18, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

We Are Not ‘Entitled’

General -  Column

The whole notion of MMO gamers being “entitled” is way overblown. There, I said it. We’re at the point where we’ve seen a couple of major releases this year so far, and we’re seeing talk all over the place --from gaming publications, to social media to forums--about whether the releases that came with subscriptions attached should or will go free to play, and how long that will take. Posted Aug 4, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

The Wrong Way to Do Free to Play

General -  Column

Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade and the developers’ decision to limit free players to the deliberately weaker Ork Boyz is a troubling precedent in the freemium game space. It’s not unheard of for some games to limit your race choice based upon how much you are or aren’t paying. This is the situation in the upcoming PvP-oriented game, and it’s concerning.Posted Jul 21, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

The MMO Isn't Over - It's Evolving

General -  Column

Recently, I read a piece proclaiming the MMO "era" to be over. While the genre has undergone some shifts through the years as both technology and gamers change, the genre isn’t on life support. While certain trends have held and others faded, MMOS are still being made, played, and planned. The genre is evolving, just as it evolved after 2004, and continues today. We seem to be on the verge of a new chapter right now, in fact.Posted Jul 7, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

Why We Need a Little Chaos

General -  Column

With the World Cup going on, I’ve been thinking about events, big and small. Events can bring people together around any game, and it’s no different when it comes to MMORPGs. Though in some of the more modern MMORPGs, sometimes it feels like things are a bit on autopilot. Everything is programmed in and left hands-off, and it makes me nostalgic for the days of active GM participants and the sometimes chaotic world of active live events in games. Posted Jun 29, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

MMO Marketing - Why the Community is More Important than Ever

General -  Column

Last week, Goblinworks’ Ryan Dancey released plans for the upcoming Pathfinder Online alpha test. Given the game’s debt to its Kickstarter backers, involving the community isn’t a surprise, but the degree of transparent design and the alpha’s lack of an NDA shows both an openness to feedback and suggestion and confidence in the project. It’s also a really great example of the greater influence of community input on MMO design and marketing.Posted Jun 9, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

The Changing Impact of Servers on Communities

General -  Interview

Servers. Some might think about them in purely utilitarian terms, but for others, servers conjure up all sorts of notions. With megaserver technology becoming somewhat more common in newer titles and even in older games undergoing some revamps, the idea of what a server is and what that means to a player is shifting. Yet things are changing on both ends, with larger environments and smaller ones taking hold in the genre. What might this mean for communities?Posted May 26, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

We Must Stop Poisoning the Well

General -  Column

MMORPGs have come a long way from the time when choices were few and the announcement of a new game was something people generally got excited over. These days, it seems like the announcement of a game in development is opening the gates for an mass game of ‘let’s predict what will go wrong with this project before it even launches’. While there’s nothing wrong with discussion, the rise in social media granting voices to the community seems to have also led to a sour edge to it all. Posted May 12, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

How Founder’s Packs Can Do Better

General -  Column

Recently, Trion unveiled Founder’s Packs for ArcheAge. While you will be able to play the game for free at launch, you can secure guaranteed beta access and numerous other perks much sooner for a fee. This is similar to what SOE has offered for its upcoming EverQuest Next: Landmark. Trion also offers “support” packs for its upcoming release, Trove, that run up to $2500. These aren’t limited to MMOs, as MOBAs have also started to get into the founder’s pack game.Posted Apr 28, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

There’s Nothing like Launch

Elder Scrolls Online -  Column

We’re on the verge of a couple of major launches. The first, The Elder Scrolls Online will already have had its first early access players by the time you read this. The other, WildStar, is coming in just about two months. It seemed like the perfect opportunity to discuss MMO launches, and why, despite the bumps and kinks, it is one of the best times for establishing community.Posted Mar 31, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

The Subscription Model - A Matter of Expectations

General -  Column

Subscriptions. From where we are right now, the topic is worth revisiting. The Elder Scrolls Online is set for release in just a couple of weeks, while WildStar will be debuting in early June. Some feel that the subscription model is outmoded, with a contingent of players that agree that a free to play game attracts them more. Despite some games launching with subscriptions and then converting to a hybrid model, a couple of studios are trying again. Posted Mar 17, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

The Impact of WoW’s Instant Boost to Level Cap

World of Warcraft -  Column

Last week, word got out that Blizzard had set its price for boosting a character to level 90 after the World of Warcraft Warlords of Draenor expansion is released. There was already speculation going on, given previous leaks that included surveys with Blizzard asking players how much boosting a character up to cap was worth to them. It was thus pretty inevitable that we were going to see this sort of thing come to the shop. The settled upon price, as we know now, is $60.Posted Mar 3, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

Why ESO’s ‘Slower’ Pacing Leaves Me Optimistic

Elder Scrolls Online -  Column

MMOs have evolved in many ways, but sometimes players want to sit down and enjoy a good multi-course meal spiced with good conversation, music, a couple of drinks, and spending time with one another over a quick fast food stop. Leveling speed is a topic for debate, and it's been brought up as both a positive and a negative aspect from the press impressions for The Elder Scrolls Online. Posted Feb 17, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

Crowdfunding & MMOs - Showing the Community’s Voice

General -  Column

When it comes to the overall MMO community, there seem to be few current topics with less controversy than crowdfunding. Because crowdfunded games have mainly been single player affairs, and MMO budgets notoriously high, the skepticism is deserved when it comes to these projects. Criticism and a wait and see attitude aren't unreasonable, though there are multiple benefits to looking to the community to fund a game that traditional publishers might not touch. Posted Jan 20, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

Looks Like a Good Year for Player Housing

General -  Column

Some of my colleagues have already taken us through the year in MMOs that was in 2013 and shared a taste of what's to come and what we're anticipating. Like you, we're players who enjoy the genre and don't always agree on what's fun or what will hold our interests. What does stand out is what several of 2014's games (and games we expect to release this year) are doing on one particular front: housing.Posted Jan 6, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

Holidays & Events – A Welcome Way to Close the Year

General -  Column

As the end of 2013 rolls around, MMOs crack out winter / holiday events for players. In our newest Social Hub, we take a look at why we believe those events and celebrations are important for the community. Check out our thoughts and then add your own in the comments.Posted Dec 23, 2013 by Christina Gonzalez

Player Choice & the Decline of Interdependence

General -  Column

Called "MMO", the games we play are designed for interdependence with other players. In our latest Social Hub, we take a look at how player choice may have led to a decline in that interdependence. Check it out before heading to the comments.Posted Dec 9, 2013 by Christina Gonzalez

Will Niche Games Save the Genre?

General -  Column

There is a lot of gloom and doom surrounding the longevity of the entire MMO genre. In today's Social Hub, we take a look at the notion that games seem to be trending to niches. See why we think so before leaving your thoughts in the comments.Posted Nov 25, 2013 by Christina Gonzalez

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