In what can be viewed only as a storm of epic proportions, game developer Blizzard announced that 2.4 million members of its eight-million-strong World of Warcraft user base put up their rubies, gold coins, and other means of purchase to buy the new Burning Crusade expansion pack. In the first day!
That makes it the fastest-selling PC game of all time in Europe. We'll find out more as to how the add-on did on these shores next week.
Wii at the theme park
Plenty of people are playing the new Wii console, but when it comes to Nintendo flexing its newfound market muscle, the company isn't playing at all. The Japanese company has just inked a deal with Six Flags theme parks to become its official game console. It looks like a purely ceremonial/marketing thing at the moment, but Wii contests for free passes and stuff should be ready by the time the weather turns warmer. Hold a Wii Sports contest for Kingda Ka rides and I will rule.
Looking for fun
While I wasn't the only one (by far) who said Halo 2 was a mere fraction of the fun contained in the original Xbox launch game, it's nice to hear an admission of guilt from the developers themselves. Bungie's Halo 2 staff have come out this week to explain the slice of lame on whole-weak bread that was this game's single-player experience. In the words of Halo franchise writer Frank O'Connor, "We drove off a cliff Thelma & Louise
style," he told game magazine Edge. Time constraints and too many minds mixing up the stew seem to be to blame. The first step in recovery is admission, we say. A new production process has lead designer Jaime Griesemer full of hope for the third game, due in the fall. "We now have a system for when I want to come in and do something crazy," he told Edge. Crazy
is a good start.
Speaking of crazy, like most other industries, the gaming establishment is trying to figure out the best way to harvest profits from the millions of gamers in China. Intellectual property protection, language barriers, and other obstacles (warehouses in China are full of paid MMO players that gather goodies for others around the globe, for instance) are making this a slow and steady affair. One thing that is making news lately is the increasing number of Chinese hack attacks aimed at the best online players. The aim is to steal passwords and in-game goods. Notice I didn't say financial information.
These hackers are much more interested in powerful weapons, gems, and other items of prestige.
"It's a cultural phenomenon that's certainly very popular in Asia," said Sophos employee Paul Ducklin in an interview with SC magazine (Sophos is a leader in Internet security). " 'I'd have to be online for a month without sleeping, so maybe I'll just log on and borrow someone else's.' "
As the saying goes, "It's just fun and games until someone gets hurt."