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Blogged Out: 'Free Radio MMO'

Blogged Out: 'Free Radio MMO'

December 1, 2006 | By Jim Rossignol

December 1, 2006 | By Jim Rossignol
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More: Console/PC

Welcome to 'Blogged Out', the news report that looks at the world of developer blogging and the conversations being had with the community at large. This week: why your ISP might not actually be killing a night elf.

Videogames Resurrected The Radio Star

Japanese games blogger Hiroshi Yamaguchi reports that NC Japan have started to broadcast Lineage II radio programs as a part of their marketing program.

"Nowadays, it is not unusual for Japanese game companies to have radio programs on their products. But as for MMORPG, this is the second attempt, preceded by the case of GungHo Online Entertainment on Ragnarok Online. Many radio listeners in midnight time are active game players, and NC Japan tries to extend subscription base of the game by this radio program."

Could this concept be extended to Warcraft's millions? Is there a captive audience there just waiting to be tapped into by games companies and related advertisers? Should MMOs come with built-in radio functions? Can a third party pick up this idea and run a gaming-radio application? Geek culture documentaries and bleepcore soundtrack evenings? Oh my aching brain.

Answers On A Postcard

Like a number of net-denizens I had been perplexed by the conclusions drawn up in this bizarre article about net-neutrality. Luckily we have NCSoft's Scott Jennings around to explain why it's a load of old twaddle:

"If written correctly, MMOs are actually among the best behaved of network applications around. Ideally, MMOs will run well on 3k/sec of bandwidth - low enough to be playable on a dial-up connection, and low enough to keep the network costs for the MMO providers down. Of course, it's pretty easy to spike that higher - say, during any event where large amounts of people gather, bombing the user's client with requests - but there isn't a dedicated need for a broadband-level connection. Unless, say, you're Second Life and are constantly streaming music streams of Suzanne Vega and texture maps of pixelated strippers every time you enter a new building. But that, like Second Life in general, is the exception. Again - bandwidth requirements are a cost of doing business for an MMO provider, and it's in their direct financial interest to keep those as tiny as possible. Keeping MMOs playable for the folks still on dialup is just a bonus. This is the sort of traffic ISPs love. As opposed to BitTorrent downloads of multi-gigabyte movie files, which is the actual target of ISP traffic shaping."

Click through for Jennings' further indignation, as well as some amusing commentary on gold farming.

Usage And Abusage

Greg Costikyan's 'Why Are There No Prestige Games?' post has received a lot of coverage elsewhere in the blogosphere, but I wanted to highlight part of it for my own nefarious ends.

"Suppose Capcom, instead of closing Clover Studios and muttering about "disappointing sales" had trumpetted Okami's critical success, instructed its publicists to attempt to interest both game and tech media in presentations of art from this beautiful and visually stunning game, and announced their strong support for innovation and creativity in future? They might have produced greater interest in, and sales for, the game, but more importantly, could have worked to establish for Capcom what no company other than Nintendo has in the industry today--a reputation for actually caring about gameplay."

"Could Ubisoft not have done the same with Beyond Good and Evil? And since Ubisoft is in direct competition in most of the cities where it has studios with EA, which has a reputation for mistreating its staff and a lack of innovation, would this not also have benefited their recruiting efforts?"

I think Costik's point about marketing is a big deal: games journalists are increasingly writing about not simply what is coming out next week, but what is interesting to write about. Future Publishing's magazines in the UK have increasingly come to depend on clever retrospective angles on gaming, with meta-gaming articles discussing games from an angle other than a review (as I did with Planetside) or second looks at a game, such as Edge magazine's Time Extend articles. If Capcom had indeed sold Okami as 'OMG games really are art' then they might have been able to surf the controvesy surrounding that debate to gain cred with the usual suspects of game commentary as well as picking up interest from non-specialist press editors.

On a related note, I link once again to Kieron Gillen's 'How To Use And Abuse The Gaming Press', which is an essential read for developers who want to get a bit more attention for themselves.

[Jim Rossignol is a freelance journalist based in the UK - his game journalism has appeared in PC Gamer UK, Edge and The London Times.]

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