Guild Wars 2 challenges MMO establishment with hybrid business model (preview)

The massively multiplayer online (MMO) games business is about to get even more competitive. Market leader World of Warcraft (WoW) dodged a bullet when the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) put only a minor dent into its customer base, which still sits at an imposing 10.2M. But the next challenger is already on its way in the shape of NCsoft‘s Guild Wars 2, due for release later this year.

Free-to-play games catching MMO subscribers’ attention (and wallets)

The successful launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic notwithstanding, the business model of mandatory subscriptions for massively multiplayer online (MMO) games seems to be on its way out. A new user survey by online core gamer network Curse indicates that free-to-play games and microtransaction purchases are gaining ground even among subscribers of MMO market leader World of Warcraft.

Electronic Arts reveals new Mass Effect 3 and Star Wars online numbers

Electronic Arts chief executive John Riccitiello is feeling “awfully good” about the Mass Effect 3 launch.” Speaking at today’s Wedbush Technology, Media and Telecommunications Conference in New York City, Riccitiello estimated that the game sold 890,000 units during the first 24 hours in North-America alone, meeting the company’s expectations: “We anticipated it doing well, so we’re happy.”

Valve “Steam Box” console rumor sounds like a bad idea

Valve is working on a new set-top gaming system standard based on PC architecture dubbed “Steam Box,” according to a report published by website The Verge, A standout feature is rumored to be a controller that could provide real-time biometric feedback from the player to the game. For example, a shooter would be able to adjust the intensity of the action based on the player’s pulse rate.

Gunning for another Kickstarter success Minecraft-style

Curious how a first-person shooter with crafting elements and “total environmental destruction” would play? For a modest $15 you can pre-purchase indie game Guncraft and help the developers meet their Kickstarter funding goal of $16,000 to finish the project. It combines typical multiplayer shooter gunplay with the creative crafting and environmental transformations made popular by Minecraft.

Co-op vs. Zombies: Leading Resident Evil to multiplayer shooter territory (interview)

Resident Evil is one of the most treasured names in video game history. Moving an action adventure franchise that has sold over 40 million units into the multiplayer shooter market seems like a scary endeavor. Looking for expert advice, intellectual property (IP) owner Capcom turned to Canadian studio Slant Six Games, developer of three multiplayer-focused SOCOM action games.

Bejeweled maker PopCap bets on Facebook casino-game gold rush

Ever since the Justice Department opened the door to the legalization of online gambling, the leading creators of social games are feeling increasingly lucky. PopCap Games just launched Lucky Gem Casino with a collection of seven slot machines themed after its brands such as Bejeweled and Zuma. It marks the entry of the Electronic Arts subsidiary into the increasingly active casino game market.

Minecraft official LEGO set ready for pre-order

More than 5 million people have been playing with virtual building blocks in Minecraft. This summer, they’ll get the opportunity to manually assemble 480 physical pieces with LEGO Minecraft Micro World. The $34.99 toy set comes with four customizable vignettes of Minecraft-themed LEGO pieces and two adorable figures, game character Steve and a Creeper (this monster’s tendency to spontaneously explode remains limited to the computer game).

New details and Outland screens from “World of Warcraft within Minecraft” project (exclusive interview)

A 27-year-old U.S. graduate student known as “Ramses” is creating a stir in the community of Minecraft, the sandbox-building game by Swedish development studio Mojang. Within Minecraft’s blocky world, he has spent about 100 hours so far on a re-creation of Azeroth, the enormous setting of Blizzard’s massively multiplayer game, World of Warcraft (WoW).

Classic online game EverQuest celebrates 13th birthday with switch to free to play business model

Boy, they grow up so fast: March 16 will mark the 13th birthday of Sony Online Entertainment‘s (SOE) massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORG) EverQuest. Sometime during March the business model for the fantasy classic will change from subscription fee to free-to-play, according to EverQuest producer Thom Terrazas.

Bare bones $25 ‘Raspberry’ computer available in January

You might want to hold back on that $600 Mac Mini purchase for just a little bit longer. The Raspberry Pi, the little $25 computer that can run Quake 3 Arena and play HD videos, is scheduled to go into volume production in January. If you want to splurge, you can also pay a $10 premium for the fancy Model B that comes with an ethernet port and 256 – instead of 128 – MByte RAM.

Star Wars: The Old Republic attracts crowds, server queues require Jedi patience

Players seem to enjoy Star Wars: The Old Republic – once they can get on a server, that is. Yesterday the new massively multiplayer online game by Electronic Arts finally launched after a one-week early access period for pre-order customers. The influx of new Jedis, Bounty Hunters and Sith Lords resulted in waiting times between a few minutes and more than an hour on about half of the 130 North American game servers. Players enter a queue if their server is at capacity.

Review: Should you buy Star Wars: The Old Republic?

Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft could soon be feeling a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of subscribers suddenly cried out and started heading for a galaxy far, far away. Star Wars: The Old Republic is an impressive and easy to play new competitor from Electronic Arts that makes great use of the Star Wars license. It is the most promising new massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) since World of Warcraft claimed the genre’s throne seven years ago.