Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Glad I Didn't Play It Theater

You may remember that back in July, I mentioned that I wished I was playing Age of Conan, an MMO set, strangely enough, in the Conan universe.  You know Conan, it's that the endearing story of a brutish muscle-man who can't speak English, yet somehow manages to bed tons of buxom, topless women while ripping the throats out of other dudes.  And then goes on to be the governor of California.  Man, who would've thought that Conan wouldn't know how to run a state?

So the game, like most major MMOs (that's Massively Multiplayer Online game (World of Warcraft is the one you've heard of due to its appearance in a South Park episode)), it was released to great fanfare, and thousands of geeks extolling its virtues.  In this case, its virtues came in pairs, were size DD, and hung out for the world to see.  That's right, nekkid boobies.  This was not the reason I wanted to play, but it likely was the reason for a lot of people.

Even more than most MMOs, this game was huge at launch.  Massive sales, a lots of servers up.  The future looked bright for our barbarian friends.

Then, the crash.  After a few weeks of playing, people figured out that there was basically nothing to do after reaching level 20.  That's level 20 out of 60.  This would be the equivalent of going to see Lord of the Rings, getting everyone together at Rivendell, and then watching them walk across fields for the next three hours.  Actually, that kind of happened.  Except in my metaphor, they'd never get anywhere, and there wouldn't be sweeping helicopter shots, just one guy with a camcorder filming them.

Well, people didn't like this, and quit the game in droves.  The developers made some effort to add content, but, returning to our metaphor, the content they added was the equivalent of the fellowship stopping to ask a farmer for directions.  More people quit.  With no subscription money, the developers have taken huge losses.  Recently, the publisher, based in Switzerland, announced fourth quarter losses of $23.3 million, and the CFO resigned over it.  Had it been a Japanese company, seppukku would have been required.  In Switzerland, they simply stopped letting him have chocolate.

As part of that loss, Funcom also closed down 31 of 48 servers for the game.  This is roughly equivalent to the US shutting down the swath from the Mississippi to the Rockies, and Delaware because they're too sparsely populated and nobody likes it, respectively.  

Of course, the players of the game haven't taken this news well.  Reports from inside the game report large numbers of female characters stripping naked and running through the game world.  It's unclear at this time if this is being done in protest, or by players that haven't yet figured out that photos of actual breasts are widely available on the internet.  That they connect to to play the game.

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