My wife gave me an iPod touch for Valentine’s Day. I was so surprised I was speechless. I don’t think I have ever received such a nice, unexpected gift. She gave me an iPod case first, and my first idiotic thought was not that I would get an iPod touch next… it was “well this is weird, I guess it might work with my iPod shuffle.” That’s how surprised I was.
After setting up TweetDeck and buying Wine Snob, my third thought was “how will this feed me my MMO hobby?” I tried to look for an iPhone MMO through the App Store search, and I was bombarded with what appeared to be microtransactions for some Facebook game knockoff. Searching through Google didn’t help much either. I was about to give up hope when KingsIsle posted a Facebook article on their new WizardBlox.
Before I get into the newly released WizardBlox, I want to discuss the other MMO mobile offerings. World of Warcraft has an Armory app and they have an Auction House app in the works. Fallen Earth is taking their app a step beyond the Auction House and also allowing players to view surrounding areas, equip their characters, and set up crafting queues. EVE Online also has an API which gives players the ability to develop a multitude of apps. Lord of the Rings Online also has an Armory-like app. I’m sure there are more I missed, but WizardBlox takes the next step.
In WizardBlox players can play on their iPhones one of the minigames that can be played in the MMO to replenish potions and gain gold and items. Unlike all the other supplemental apps to MMO playing, WizardBlox is the first that I am aware of that actually gives players the ability to do what we all do in MMOs: acquire things. Let’s not kid ourselves on the core underlying mechanic of MMOs. The bulk of all MMO gameplay is acquisition of things.
WizardBlox takes this next step of mobile MMO play because it lets players acquire things through gameplay (albeit not the core Wizard101 gameplay) while not playing Wizard101. As a bonus the minigame, a familiar one whose generic name escapes me, is quite fun to play for a few minutes. And, it’s free! The one downside, for me at least since I only have an iPod touch, is that I have to be connected to the internet when playing to receive goodies.
Playing an MMO is much closer to a hobby than the entertainment of other video games. The hardcore (read: hobbyists) do a lot of MMO things when not playing the MMO. Mobile MMO games which suppelement my favorite MMOs are an arena I hope developers have their eye on. I hope WizardBlox does quite well for KingsIsle, and I hope they release more of their minigames. As a priceless marketing tool, I know they’ve already won because I am itching to play Wizard101 some more.