The MMO business is a risky one. Each new MMO that launches seems to come crashing back down before too long. It is clear that the subscription model simply won’t work for most games. Successful MMOs tend to start off free to play or convert to that model when subscription numbers drop. Bioware’s The Old Republic has shown that not even the mighty Star Wars universe can’t retain subscribers for more than a year without moving towards free to play. Even World of Warcraft, which completely dominates the genre, has lost 2 million subscribers since its peek.
While free to play certainly seems to be the way of the future, it isn’t the only successful model. Enter Guild Wars, an MMO that asked for a one time game purchase. After that there were no additional charges for playing. Additional content came in the form of expansion packs and standalone sequels. This lets gamers pay only for what they want while incentivizing the developers to complete expansions quickly. There is no subscription fee, but no micro transactions either.
This week Guild Wars 2 brings back the unique business model as it battles the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion Mists of Pandaria. While the original Guild Wars had a level cap of 20, Guild Wars 2 will start with a level cap of 80. This is a fundamental change in the way the game will be structured. Additionally dynamic events will replace traditional questing, combat is more action oriented and steps have been taken to make PvP competitive enough to be a viable eSport.
ArenaNet find itself in the unique position of developing a Fantasy MMO with the potential to stand up against World of Warcraft. This is easily the biggest MMO launch since The Old Republic and may be last major MMO launch for quite some time. If you’re a fan of the genre then you should definitely check it out.
Madden NFL 13 (360, PS3, Wii, Vita)
Are you ready for some football? I sure am! After a weekend of agonizing over fantasy football drafts, it’s time for the football season to begin. That also means that it’s time for another edition of Madden! This year’s updates focus on presentation, the passing game and overall AI. There is also a new physics engine and the 360 version will have updated Kinect functionality.
PlayStation Collections (PS3)
Some of the biggest PlayStation exclusive franchises are being bundled and released in collections! God of War, Rachet & Clank and inFamous will all get collections this week. If you’re late to the party then these games will provide a lot of content for a low price.