Good: The Old Republic.
Bad: Book 8.

I think I have scorned every piece of marketing for The Lord of the Rings Online™ that I have seen, dating back at least to citing the number of characters created. That teaser trailer has approximately five seconds of video of new content, showing one boss doing one animation. I mean, if that one animation makes you want to put down your $15, I guess it worked, but I would hold out for at least five animations and maybe a tile set.

On the other hand, I have liked every piece of marketing that Bioware has done for Star Wars: The Old Republic. Syp keeps linking their stuff, like this Republic Trooper video. It is just graphics and concept, and I am the least visual person you know, but I found that really compelling. Everything that Bioware is releasing is high quality, and they are releasing it at a stately pace that does not imply a cry for attention or too early of hype. (And that trailer is showing some serious conservation of The Force.)

I also like the early media strategy from 38 Studios. What do you know about code name Copernicus? Almost nothing. That’s great! If a game is more than a year from release, I don’t even need to know its name. Call me when you have something to show me.

: Zubon

Mid-Session Game

EA CEO John Riccitiello said in a recent conference call that the upcoming BioWare MMO is a mid-session game, which are microtransaction based.  This caused quite a wave throughout the MMO news sphere, but EA came back to claim that their CEO is full of misunderstandings. 

I tried to do a Google search on “mid-session game,” and it truly seems to be a lexicographic frankenstein creation of EA used to tell their stockholders things.  Honestly, I find the term not catchy and kind of not descriptive of what they are trying to sell. From my understanding, a mid-session game is a microtransaction game that may also have a nominal buy-the-game fee or small subscription fee.

Mid-session evokes none of that.  I realize that EA might be trying to get away from the stigma attached to the filthy “microtransaction” word, but they can do better.  Mid-session seems to imply some sort of break in a gamer’s playing time.  “It’s mid-session.  Deposit 25 cents to continue playing.”  Even if Riccitiello is in the dark on his own company’s business models, I am excited with the possibility that another game might break away from the $15 flatline.  I honestly was not really interested in Star Wars: The Old Republic, but now I am.  The only thing I know about the game is Cloud-sword sized lightsabers, but I would pick it up on only that knowledge (and BioWare’s reputation) if it followed some rough equivalency of the Guild Wars business model.

Now “medium session game” makes sense, but that is just following the crowd.  Lord of the Rings Online and World of Warcraft are both becoming “medium session games” where gamers can knock off a few solo quests or do a complete dungeon run in an hour or so.  Warhammer Online let’s players jump in and out (as long as there is ongoing PvP action) in an even shorter time.  So, the amount of play required is not really determinative of whether the game is a subscription-based game or not.  Therefore, EA, with all your money, and lawyers, and English major marketing execs… create a new term.

I hope that whatever alternative business model they do, though, it is right for our (read: my) Western MMO payment schedule culture, and they are not stupid or greedy in adding microtransactions to a game.

And best of all kids, I am liquid.