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Anarchy Online

Funcom's financials take a sharp blow

Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, Business Models, MMO Industry, The Secret World, Legal, Miscellaneous

The earnings report for Funcom's fourth quarter 2013 is in -- and it doesn't look pretty.

The studio reported that revenues are down both year over year and quarter over quarter due to deferred billings with The Secret World and increased competition. However, Funcom said that a better business model and new marketing programs are resulting in a stronger first quarter for 2014 and that its MMOs are "cash-flow positive and will remain so in the foreseeable future."

Funcom said that it is taking steps to turn around the business with a new strategy to focus on more mid-core online games with smaller budgets and shorter development time. It's also continuing to invest in LEGO Minifigures Online and the Dreamworld technology. The latter is important so that the studio can release games across multiple platforms including Android and iOS tablets. LEGO Minifigures Online is scheduled for open beta testing this summer.

The Økokrim charges regarding possible market manipulation between August 2011 and August 2012 were mentioned. Funcom said that no employees have been charged, and the company is cooperating fully with the ongoing investigation.

One Shots: Off the Grid

Screenshots, Anarchy Online, City of Heroes, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, Vindictus, Miscellaneous

As a former Anarchy Online player, I was always curious what the Grid looked like for the Fixer class, but I never was so curious that I rolled one up. Fortunately, reader Azzura was able to satisfy my curiosity this week with this awesome-looking structure.

"This is one of my favorite screenies I have, inside the Grid," he submitted. "You would click a machine and get digitized in to this area filled with exits to all over the game. Funcom seems to like this method of travel as you can tell by popping into Agartha in The Secret World.

We have sights and wonders the likes of which will make your ocular cavities gush forward in unabashed emotion after the break. Frankly, I wouldn't risk it; your eyes might not be able to take the strain.

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Anarchy Online rolls out in-game holiday events and deals

Sci-Fi, Anarchy Online, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play, Promotions, Subscription

Maybe a long coat would have been more sensible.
The holiday season is well and truly upon us now, and that means celebrations in your games as well as the real world. Anarchy Online is kicking off a multi-tiered event that features as many leets as players can cope with, starting with the arrival of Santaleet and his missions to aid his armies of Elfleets against the evil Grin'Cha. Rewards include a number of previous holiday event rewards, which adds extra incentive for players to take part in the Elfleet rescue.

There's also a new tree-themed dress, a free Gift-wrapped leet morph for everyone, a Gingerleet pet for members, and yes, even promotions for people getting into the game. Until January 2nd, purchasing six months of membership will reward you with an extra two months, while 12-month purchases award an additional four months. Both deals include experience boosts, and 12-month packages even throw in a special helping of Victory Points. If you're going to be running around saving leets anyway, it's a nice extra present to leave under your own tree.

One Shots: Darkness Falls

Screenshots, Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot, Culture, Guild Wars 2, One Shots, TERA, Miscellaneous

One Shots Darkness Falls
Going through the One Shots email account is a little like peeking into strangers' photo albums, complete with their private stories and embarrassing toilet shots. Seriously, folks, what is it with you people sending in toilet pictures? OK, it's a little funny, so keep 'em coming.

I was particularly drawn to Callie's photo from Dark Age of Camelot circa 2003 this past week: "My fiance and I loved going into the dungeon of Darkness Falls so much that we would frequently go down and fight the Prince, just the two of us, on our Warrior duo. I know newer games have come and gone, but nothing beats dungeon exploring and fighting a difficult boss with the one you love. Still one of my favorite MMO memories."

One can only assume that your characters discovered the lavatory behind the boss room and took many, many pictures as well. Speaking of tawdry screenshots, we've got a few more for you behind the break!

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Anarchy Online opens beta testing for new graphics engine

Betas, Sci-Fi, Anarchy Online, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play

That ray of doom encroaching on us sure is lovely.
A new graphical engine can make an old game feel new again. Anarchy Online has had a new engine in the works for what feels like forever now, with one delay or another pushing back implementation repeatedly. But fans of the game can rejoice, as the end is in sight -- the new graphical engine is open for beta testing, with all of the same content as the existing game and a much prettier way to look at it.

The team at Funcom is starting in closed beta, with players asked to create new characters rather than copy over existing ones to test out the included new player experience. Those interested in testing will need to sign up, with invitations coming in waves until the NDA is dropped and open testing is put into place. And there are some improvements to social items and the like, but what most players are going to be focusing on is the facelift.

[Thanks to zendadaist for the tip!]

The Game Archaeologist: Classic MMOs in August

Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, Dungeons and Dragons Online, EverQuest, Lineage 2, PlanetSide, The Matrix Online, News Items, Opinion, Ultima Online, Vanguard, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Classic MMOs in August
How few players do you need to have before operating an MMO becomes ridiculously unprofitable and in need of closing? In the case of The Matrix Online, we found out that the magic number was 500. I wouldn't have even guessed that so few people were in that game when its shutdown was announced, especially considering the vocal anguish that arose when SOE lowered the boom.

I guess it goes to show that we're often quite clueless what goes on behind the curtain. There's always this balance between the number-crunchers (who need players and money to justify continued operations) and the passionate creators (who are often developers putting in the effort because they simply love the game and its community). If nothing else, it reinforced my belief that SOE does bend over backwards to keep these games running as long as possible, much longer than some other studios would in a similar situation.

So what other news regarding classic MMOs happened this past month? It's time for another one of my patented roundups, complete with archaeological commentary!

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The Game Archaeologist: Classic MMOs in July

Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest, MMO Industry, Warhammer Online, News Items, Opinion, Star Wars Galaxies, Ultima Online, RuneScape, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Classic MMOs in July 20
It's been over a month since our last round-up of news, events, and community features covering the classic MMOs we know and love. You wouldn't think that a lazy summer month would contain a lot of new information regarding these older titles, but these past few weeks have been absolutely hopping.

We've had several anniversaries, patches, player celebrations, mobile adaptations, and more. I'm constantly encouraged to see how players keep the memories of deceased games and the spirit of currently running ones alive throughout the blogging community as well, so we'll look into that today too.

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Free for All: MMOs will never be the same again

Screenshots, Anarchy Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Free for All

Zentia screenshot
Most of the arguments I make in this article come down to basic science. Once something is created, it can only be copied. The original is just what it is. Some of the MMOs that started me off on this journey across hundreds of worlds are closed now, but many still remain open and active. I can go back to those older games and enjoy them, but in most cases I go back and find that I'm glad I moved on. I have changed, and so has the internet and how I access it. All of these things factor into my changing opinion and the fact that MMOs as I remember them will probably always remain relics of the past.

Don't worry; I'm not here to tell you how incredible older titles like were. Those were some good times, but it's depressing to think that I would constantly be stuck in the past, never moving forward. Still, it's nice to think that those titles might be copied but never replaced. After all, gamers have moved on and so has design. As both should.

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Anarchy Online turns 12 on June 27, Funcom plans events and giveaways

Sci-Fi, Anarchy Online, Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Anniversaries

Anarchy Online turns 12 on June 27th
Guess who's turning 12 on June 27th? If you said Anarchy Online, you're pretty smart. Or you read the title of this article, whichever.

In any case, Funcom is celebrating the milestone by hosting in-game events and handing out free gifts including the Ganimedes jet pack. If you're an AO member, you'll also receive rare balloons and a celebratory social pet. As always, full details are available at the game's official website.

The Game Archaeologist: Anarchy Online turns 12

Sci-Fi, Anarchy Online, Free-to-Play, The Game Archaeologist, Anniversaries

The Game Archaeologist Anarchy Online turns 12
Most MMOs rolling into their 12th year (what few of them there are) live pretty quiet lives. Sure, there's the odd EverQuest expansion here and there, but for the most part the development has simmered down, the team trimmed to a handful of folks, and the best hope for the future is maintaining the status quo.

Anarchy Online, however, is not angling to molder in some nursing home. As the 2001 sci-fi MMO turns 12 this month, it's looking back at a year full of exciting developments, scary moments, and hopeful visions. It might be the smallest arrow in Funcom's quiver right now, but I see it as a scrappy underdog that isn't willing to lie down and be ignored.

So what happened this past year and what do Anarchy Online players have to look forward to? Glad you asked!

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The Game Archaeologist: Checking in with classic MMOs

Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, Lineage, Lineage 2, PlanetSide, MMO Industry, News Items, Ultima Online, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Checking in with classic MMOs
What's this, you say as you rub your eyes in disbelief. Is it... The Game Archaeologist, long since thought lost in his expedition to Atlantis (and the trials therein)? It is indeed, my friends. TGA has been a long-running passion of mine on Massively, but I needed a break for a while to recouperate and refocus. However, as of late I've felt the call of neglected classic MMOs and wanted to make sure that they were getting some column love here on the site.

So going forward, expect to see The Game Archaeologist pop out of his hidey hole once or twice a month to talk about our old favorites and perhaps pontificate more on the history of MMO development. Sound good? Did you miss me at all? You totally didn't, did you.

If you've been out of touch with classic MMOs, I've done the legwork this week to provide you with the 10 important and relevant news items that are sweeping through this aging yet still vibrant community. Read on, McDuff!

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Funcom Q1 sales and restructuring keep studio moving forward

Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Age of Conan, Anarchy Online, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, The Secret World, Legal, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Funcom restructuring, good Q1 sales keep studio afloat
If it's not the best news ever, at least we've got some good news from Funcom today. The studio posted its first quarter financial report, showing that it had solid sales and "significant" operating expense savings because of the recent restructuring of its organization.

Funcom made over $6.3 million of revenue in the first quarter, mostly thanks to sales and subscriptions of The Secret World and Age of Conan. The studio said that it saved almost $1.2 million of operating expenses in the same period thanks to the restructuring. Also, The Secret World made more money in Q1 2013 than Q4 2012 thanks to its new business model.

In terms of game news, Funcom is pushing forward with its LEGO Minifigures MMO, the new Anarchy Online graphic engine, a summer release for Issue #7 of The Secret World, and development of several smaller titles. Both LEGO and Funcom will be working to "establish closer integration between the physical product and the game." Finally, thanks to recent decisions by the studio, both Anarchy Online and The Secret World are boasting larger numbers of players than in the previous quarter.

Jukebox Heroes: Battle music!

Anarchy Online, Dark Age of Camelot, EverQuest, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Final Fantasy XIV, Miscellaneous, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Battle music!
It's time once again to take a week off from looking at specific MMO soundtracks and open ourselves up to a theme instead. The topic? Battle music. Yeah, it can be some of the most obnoxious music in the game, especially after hearing it for the 3,000th time, but every once in a while I hear a piece that has some merit to it. These are the ones we want to examine today.

What makes for a good battle music track? I think it has to get you excited without being annoying or grating and not so loud or incredibly noticeable that you can't help but get tired of it sooner rather than later. It was actually pretty tricky to pull together six such tracks for this column, but I managed to do with with the help of Colonel Bugle up there. He's got the best MP3 collection around.

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The Perfect Ten: Cutest creatures

World of Warcraft, Anarchy Online, Lord of the Rings Online, Opinion, Star Trek Online, Guild Wars 2, Humor, Wizard101, Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, Final Fantasy XIV, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

The Perfect Ten Cutest creatures
I vividly remember a conversation I had with my then-girlfriend's parents back in 1996 about the potential of this growing "internet" phenomenon. With my limited understanding, I made it sound downright noble, a Library of Congress available at the fingertips of the average Joe or Jane. What I really should have said that it would be a tool for the distribution of pornography, nerd rage, and cute animal pictures.

I have no idea how big the cute animal picture industry is, but there have got to be millions of aspiring photographers daily who prod little baby critters with encouragement sticks in the hopes of eliciting a few "awws" out of strangers. Even when the serious business of MMOs came a-calling, cuteness infested fantasy lands near and far.

Whenever I see something absurdly cute in an MMO, I always smile because I know that somewhere, some uber-elite, way-too-serious player is developing facial tics from being in the same game world as it. So twitch away, as here are 10 of the cutest critters as seen in-game!

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One Shots: Views from a beta

Betas, Screenshots, Anarchy Online, One Shots, Miscellaneous, Neverwinter, Firefall

One Shots Views from a beta
It's hard not to turn into a total tourist when you're checking out a new beta. Out comes the fanny pack, the giddy delight of a new world, and most importantly, the camera.

Reader Michelle kicks off this week's One Shots column with a screenshot of the first Neverwinter beta weekend. It's a shot of her character Nora overlooking the edge of aptly named Neverdeath Graveyard. We're guessing that the caretaker down there has his hands full.

Would you go into such a place if you saw it in real life? I guess that's why we have our avatars to be bold where we would flee! Let's take a look at a few other places where angels fear to tread.

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