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MMOWTF - It's the End of the World

In his MMOWTF column this week, Dan Fortier takes a look back at the year 2007 and some of the news stories that dominated MMO headlines.

Editor's Note: This is an edition of a weekly column by Staff Writer Dan Fortier. The column is called "MMOWTF" and will look at some of the stranger or more frustrating events in MMOs as seen by Mr. Fotier. The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of MMORPG.com, its staff or management.

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Actually I lied...it’s only the end of the year. You can call shenanigans on my little hyperbole there if you like. Now that I’m fat with the Christmas ham and spoiled by the awesome presents, I can get back to work making enemies in my weekly column. Let’s all take a moment or two and share the fond and horrible memories of the year that was 2007.

It seems like the year just started, but as it comes to a close and I look back at the stories that made me laugh and cringe, there really is quite a lot that happened. The year started off with the release of the Burning Crusade that had been delayed from its original release date. This obviously didn’t hurt the sales figures at all as it broke several records on its first day tally of 2.4 million copies sold worldwide. Staggering as that number is, it pales in comparison to the first bid by William Shatner’s agent when he was approached about doing a WoW commercial. (“But....I’ve...never even.....played an online game.....before!”)

Over the course of the year Blizzard made headlines again several times when they sued a RMT company called Peons4Hire over spam tells being used to advertise their gold-selling and power-leveling services. We all know Blizzard hates those farmers, but its interesting that they chose not to sue them over RMT directly but another TOS/EULA violation instead. Perhaps their high priced lawyers found some kind of legal ground to stand on finally. They followed this up later in the year by announcing a merger with Activision and dropped the word about another MMO in the works in the coming years. That’s all for your yearly WoWWTF, We now return you to your regularly scheduled Year End review.

In other news, several MMO companies merged, changed hands or bit the dust. Auto Assault finally ran out of gas and was pulled by NetDevil shortly after its one year birthday. This game never really got off the ground. Fury is another title on the ropes this year since the developers were fired and replaced by ‘volunteer administrators’. I’ve seen the way those no-paycheck wonders run marathons so I doubt Fury will be around much longer after they run out of food for the hamster powering the server.

Gods and Heroes was also pulled from development by Perpetual this year seemingly to pave the way for the development of Star Trek Online. Shortly afterward it was revealed that a PR firm had filed a lawsuit against them regarding the way they moved assets away from G&H. It doesn’t take a legal eagle to see trouble brewing the horizon for the Star Trek MMO. Vincent Pourieux, the main man behind the V-World technology also threw the legal boot at NP Cube, the charlatans behind Dark and Light in 2007 for failing to respect his terrain rendering technology. Let hope he corners them before they escape to China with the microfilm!

Sony Online took the reins of Vanguard: Saga of Heroes this year bringing an end to the Sigil led development cycle. Unfortunately the Vision™ was obscured with a blindfold and a cigar and ultimately shot dead by the firing squad of an unfinished launch. Flying Lab Software also made news when they inked a deal with SOE to publish their new MMO title Pirates of the Burning Sea, bringing them into the Station Pass ‘family’. Maybe they got an offer they couldn’t refuse.

In related news, CEO of SOE, John Smedley offered an apology for the NGE while stating that to change back to the old system would be just as unfair. Although the people burning for their sins in Hell were thanking him for the change of weather, I doubt it did little to appease those unhappy with change in the first place. All that toxic sludge might go under the bridge if the rumors of a new Star Wars franchise emerge...Here’s to hoping for a light at the end of that tunnel.

In addition to this craziness, there were several other news stories that deserved mention:

  • Stray Bullet, makers of Shadowbane, announced a fresh new MMO was being developed early in 2007 only to go strangely quiet the rest of the year. Perhaps they are too busy finishing up their classes on “Designing Ubar MMOs that take Forever” with Flavien Brebion, World Fusion and the Darkfall team.
  • Eve Online’s most recent expansion had a hidden surprise for those who wanted to upgrade to the new Trinity graphics: A free deletion of their boot.ini file! I thought we saw the end of retail programs that acted like viruses when they declared Windows 98 obsolete.
  • WAR and Age of Conan both had their release date pushed back a couple times in 2007. I like the ‘do it right’ trend especially when it’s mandated by two big developers, but time will tell whether we are waiting for a polished game or just a finished game.
  • No word yet on the status of the Marvel MMO due to be cranked out by Cryptic. Makes me wonder if someone is going to give out an award for “Worst Game Promotion while sitting on a goldmine IP” next year.
  • EA bought out VG Holding Corp which owns Bioware and Pandemic Studios. Now they only need a handful of other companies to absorb and their conquest of the game industry will be complete. Didn’t Cyberpunk have a mega-corporation called “Mircosony EA?”
  • Greenpeace rated several MMO companies at the bottom of their list for responsible and environmentally friendly policies. Perhaps they should spend more time leveling their druids and watching Captain Planet eh?

Alas my allotted time has run out for this week. Next week I’ll have a preview of the 2008 game landscape ready for your perusal. Until then fill us in on your thoughts of the MMO stories that mattered this year. I’m off to log in all my Danboi alts...Till next time.

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