I found this an interesting point: since switching to the free-to-play model barely over a month ago, LOTRO’s revenue has doubled. That’s a pretty big increase, considering that paying at all is optional (sort of.) Apparently 53% of all players have used the in-game store, though that’s a fairly useless statistic, in terms of actual money they’re making, since you earn Turbine Points by playing. There is in fact a new-character quest that involved an NPC giving you 10 Turbine Points and making you buy an item (for 10 points, naturally) in the store to complete the quest. I’m hoping that they aren’t including that purchase in their 53% figure since if they are, it means that 47% of players never even made it to level 5…
For those who haven’t heard, Lord of the Rings Online is now free-to-play. As I’ve played the game before and found it pretty much fun (though not QUITE as much fun as World of Warcraft), I found it impossible to resist returning to the game.
As with any so-called free-to-play game, free is quite a bit of a misnomer. Sure, you can play the game for free, but at the end of the day, SOMEBODY has to pay. The company running the game (Turbine) isn’t a charity – they need to make money somehow.
In this case, the ‘free-to-play’ part of the game is pretty limited. You only have full access to part of the game, specifically three zones (Ered Luin, Bree-Land and the Shire), all of which are starting areas for lower-level characters. These zones will have enough quests to get you to level 22-24. After that – well, there are a few options.
Petville is another facebook game by Zynga, who are also the makers of the previously-reviewed Cafe World and Farmville. In Petville, you create a humanoid furry creature and control them as they live their life, in a vaguely Sim-like way. The graphics are actually pretty impressive in this game. The number of appearance options you have when making your pet is pretty massive, and the resulting pets are generally really cute. I’ve played some other pet-type games on Facebook, and none of them come anywhere near Petville’s level of detail. As an added bonus, the (Flash-based) game runs at a respectable speed as well, just about the only Zynga-made game that does (though it frequently suffers from slow loading in the evening.)
By far the funnest part of Petville is the decorating options. You can decorate your house from a nearly overwhelming number of items that are available to purchase. There’s dozens of carpeting options, dozens more paint/wallpaper options, a huge variety of windows, furniture and electronics, kitchen appliances and even cars. Clothing options are similarly massive with just an overwhelming number of shirt, pant, dress and shoe options. There’s even a lot of costumes available, so you can dress your pet up as anything from an astronaut to Santa Claus.
Farmville is a game that’s gotten some attention lately, though, not really the positive kind. Apparently even Dr. Phil had an episode about it, dealing with people ‘addicted’ to Farmville (I know about that only from what I’ve heard. Trust me, I don’t watch Dr. Phil.) Apparently there’s 60 times more people playing Farmville than there are actual farmers in the US. So its a pretty popular game.
Without a doubt, its a pretty casual game. You plant some crops, come back later and harvest them. That’s about 90% of the game there. Like the best of casual games, ‘playing’ it doesn’t require much time investment, which is why it often winds up eating up so much time. When you play a game like World of Warcraft, you always have to ‘plan’ your playtime – you know that if you’ve anything else that needs to be done in the next hour or so, its really not worth starting the game up at all. There’s always a fairly hefty minimum time investment to get anything done. Read the rest of this entry »
Lately I’ve been playing a lot of games over on Facebook. There’s an amazing amount of games available over there. Some of them are pretty good. Some of them are amazingly bad. I’ll start by reviewing one of the first games that I started playing on Facebook, Cafe World.
I’m a big fan of cooking shows. I’ve been watching FoodTV for years, and am a fan of Top Chef Read the rest of this entry »
I finally found some of the new Mountain Dew Game Fuel the other day, at Walmart. As it combines my 2 greatest loves in life, Mountain Dew and World of Warcraft, I obviously needed it. It comes in 2 flavors, one for each side, Horde Red and Alliance Blue.
I’ll start with Alliance Blue: Alliance Blue is, not too surprisingly, blue. Its official description is “Mountain Dew with a Punch of Wild Fruit Flavor”. Basically, its a slightly citrusy fruit punch. Its not bad, but its not that great, either. I thought it tasted a lot like one of the blue flavors from last summer’s Dewmocracy promotion. I’m sure its not quite the same flavor, but similar.
Horde Red is misnamed, IMO, as its really more of an orangish color. It really should be redder to match the color of the Horde insignia. Its flavor description is “Dew with a Blast of Citrus Cherry Flavor”. I though it was pretty good, better than Alliance Blue. Not good enough to be a permanent Mountain Dew flavor by any means, though. It kind of needed a bit more of a citrus kick to be really good, I think.
You know, this blog has turned into a bit more of a soda review site than I intended. I’ll have to start posting about, you know, other things…
I haven’t bought many games for my Wii yet – aside from a few WiiWare downloads, all I have are Guitar Hero: World Tour, Samba de Amigo and, of course, Wii Sports.
I really haven’t had the opportunity to play any Guitar Heroes up until this point, so I’m starting fairly inexperienced. Nevertheless, the game is, in my opinion, extremely fun. Most of the songs are pretty fun to play. There is, though, one complain that I have about the game, one that I think is an issue of poor game design:
Last week or so, I bought the WiiWare game Megaman 9. Its fun, but its HARD. The game has an amazingly realistic retro feel to it. You could absolutely believe this game out on the NES around 1990 or so. Its not just the 8-bit graphics: the music and sound are totally authentic (including limited channels, leading to missing music when too many sound effects play at one time.) The game also realistically emulates the NES’s flicker when too many sprites are on one scan line. Even old-school Megaman bugs are included, like enemies disappearing into the ether the instant they step off-screen.
I doubt the game will be of much interest to younger gamers, but for the people who grew up playing NES classics like Megaman 1-6, the game is a blast. I still haven’t beat it. As I said, its hard. No harder than Megaman 2&3, but my skills seem to have degraded significantly since then…
I got a Wii the other day. I actually won it, back in October or so, from Red Baron pizza. They were running a contest where you entered a code printed on the inside of the pizza box on their website with a chance to win prizes instantly, and I won a Wii. It took from around the middle of October or so until the end of January for it to arrive, but it finally did.
I don’t really have any games yet. The Wii comes with Wii Sports, of course, but bowling gets old rather quickly. The only thing I’ve bought for it was a $20 Wii Points card, with which I bought the Wii internet browser (500 points/$5) and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (1500 points/$15.)
A lot of gamers really dislike ‘casual’ games. I’m not one of them. In my own opinion, the so-called ‘casual’ games movement is often just a return to where video gaming started: small and fairly easy to understand. Accessible, in other words.
Return to Ravenhearst is a great example of how casual gaming is essentially gaming returning to its roots. It very much feels like an old-school adventure game from adventure gaming’s CD-ROM based heyday. Had it been released in the mid-90′s, during the era of 7th Guest, Gabriel Knight, and the like, it would be remembered as a classic.