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Anarchy Online observations

July 3, 2007

About a week ago, around the Anarchy Online 6 year anniversary, Funcom announced in a letter from the game director that they were going to try slightly new business model to sell new content using a point system. These points can be used to buy new content, including smaller expansions (booster packs), character transfers, name changes.

They also announced they will be upgrading the server hardware Anarchy Online is running on and that they are working on a new engine for the game.

It is interesting first to see that what mainly seem to have made the news is one type of content they will be selling with this point system, the virtual items. In this case the vehicle booster pack. While the introduction of selling items can be a bit controversial, the types of items that Funcom are talking about here are not really that controversial. It is the same type of items that a number of games, even here in the west, includes in preorder packs or other special editions of their games. No big deal really.

I find the point system in general more interesting and the intent to release smaller content updates and other services through it. The booster packs can be like Notum Wars update and like the Everquest 2 adventure packs – smaller updates, potentially a bit more experimental in nature. Other types of services can be included at it does not need to cost much for each service, since they will be using points that is likely bought more in bulk. Or in the case of those paying for subscriptions, they will be receiving some points automatically.

Without tieing it to real money for each service, they bring down the overhead cost for the real money transfers and people would not need a credit card, since they probably will be able to buy points through”game cards” through stores.

The other parts of the announement, that talked about the new server environment and the new engine, did not quite make the news in the same way. New servers is of course nice for the current players and seems to contribute to the community feeling that Funcom is willing to put an effort into keeping Anarchy Online running.

The talk about the new game engine also contributed to that. This will probably not be ready until next year and the primary effect will be to better use the resources of the graphics cards to offload jobs to them, rather than have the computer CPU do the work. Simply put, take advantage of the advancements in what work the graphics cards of today can do. This can contribute to reduce lag, for example in large raids or PvP battles.

What probably many people are hoping for also here is to get a new graphics overhaul of the current game. I am not so certain how much of that will happen and probably Funcom does not know either at this point. That probably depends on how successful the experiments with new business models will be. Anarchy Online is a safer location to experiment with a bit, it does not cost a huge amount of resources time and money to do it there in comparision to Age of Conan, for example. It is simply not that much too loose if it will not work out that well.

Anarchy Online was my first MMOG back when I started playing those games in 2001 and that makes the game a bit special for me. From time to time I have reactivated my account there and played a little bit. I have bought some of the expansions in the past, but have not played much beyond the basic game actually. I am not sure when the next time will be to revisit Rubi-Ka, but it feels good that it is there and is live and kicking when the urge comes back.

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Categories: Anarchy Online, MMO Games
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