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Rumor: SOE to close The Agency studio

MMO Industry, The Agency, Spy, Rumors

Rumors have been flying since yesterday afternoon that it's the end of the line for The Agency's studio. George Broussard, one of the minds behind the Duke Nukem games, made several announcements on Twitter last night that the studio will be closing today:
Word that Sony Online Entertainment Seattle is having layoffs and that studio closure is possible.

To be more clear, the layoffs may be SOE wide and not just limited to Seattle. So, Austin, San Diego, etc...

SOE Seattle and other studios (Denver is rumored) will be closed tomorrow. Good luck to all impacted.
In addition, Kotaku is reporting that these layoffs could affect nearly one-third of SOE's total staff. Sony Online Entertainment has not released any statement or announcement to confirm this, so it's uncertain whether Broussard has inside information or is merely getting a jump on April Fool's Day. We'll be watching for official word back from SOE, so keep your eye on Massively for more.

SOE's The Agency delayed until late 2011

New Titles, The Agency, News Items, Spy, Miscellaneous

Whatever happened to The Agency? Inquiring minds want to know, and since Sony Online Entertainment's internal memos haven't been given the WikiLeaks treatment, we'll have to take company president John Smedley at his word. "There was a moment in time in our company where we looked at our own stuff with a clear eye and saw we have to do better," Smedley told Kotaku in a recent interview. Translation: it ain't ready 'til it's ready.

While the spy MMO's launch would seem to be quite a ways off, fans should be glad to hear that it hasn't been shelved entirely. We haven't seen hide nor hair of the title since E3 2010, but hopefully the extra time will serve to boost the game's stock in the same vein as SOE's other upcoming MMO. DC Universe, originally scheduled to launch last November, has apparently benefited from the extra test cycles if the scuttlebutt surrounding yesterday's NDA-drop is to be believed.

Facebook MMOgraphy: First impressions of The Agency: Covert Ops

Screenshots, New Titles, The Agency, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, Spy, First Impressions, Facebook MMOgraphy

Every two weeks, Facebook MMOgraphy brings you the latest news, guides and analysis about MMOs on Facebook and Facebook apps associated with MMOs.

SOE's upcoming spy MMO The Agency has been long in the making. We've been covering it at Massively for quite some time now. Though it's not quite ready to launch yet, SOE has surprised us this week with a Facebook gaming app, The Agency: Covert Ops. Though Covert Ops is a Facebook app based on an MMO, it's not an MMO itself. There is no real time interaction with other players, for example. However it does provide light entertainment for those who enjoy the spy genre and has the same tone and feel of their upcoming MMO title.

The Basics
The core of the game is leveling your spy via missions. The missions follow a storyline and some of them are accomplished simply by having the correct resources needed, others require you to complete a minigame. Rewards include in-game cash, experience for your character and components to build better equipment. Every mission requires a certain amount of Cover to complete and when you run out of Cover, you need to allow it to replenish over time or buy more through a microtransaction store. Pop ups provide a tutorial to walk you through the gameplay flow and videos explain minigame play.

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Unboxing the Global Agenda Collector's Edition

Sci-Fi, New Titles, Hands-On, Spy, Global Agenda, Hands-On (Massively's)

Today's the day that Global Agenda has officially launched, and if you're still waiting for more information about this game before making that box purchase, we can help. Not only did we show you a round-up this morning of our complete coverage on the game, but now we want to show you what's in the physical retail box, also referred to as the Collector's Edition. That's assuming people remember how to go buy physical boxes in stores, right?

Follow along through the unboxing gallery below for a piece-by-piece tour of the Global Agenda Collector's Edition box contents.

Massively Speaking Episode 86: Global Agenda pre-launch interview

Sci-Fi, Podcasts, Culture, New Titles, News Items, Opinion, Spy, Global Agenda, Massively Speaking

Massively Speaking Episode 86 returns this week with special guests Erez Goren and Todd Harris from Hi-Rez Studios. Shawn and Seraphina discuss the pre-launch status of Hi-Rez's Global Agenda, set to launch early next week.

Have a comment for the podcasters? Shoot us an email to podcast AT massively DOT com. Maybe we'll read your letter on the air!

Get the podcast:
[iTunes] Subscribe to Massively Speaking directly in iTunes.
[Zune] Subscribe to Massively Speaking via the Zune service.
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
[MP3] Download the MP3 directly.
Listen here on the page:

Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Hi-Rez announces pricing structure for Global Agenda

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Spy, Global Agenda

Good news for you Global Agenda fans out there, as Hi-Rez Studios announced their pricing structure today for the upcoming spy-fi MMO. In a phone call this morning to Executive Producer Todd Harris, we learned that the game will have a few options, depending on your playing style. If you'd like to play Global Agenda as a multi-player, hub-based shooter, all you need to do is buy the box. There will be no subscription fees at all.

If you'd like to take part in large-scale Alliance vs. Alliance battles throughout a persistent world, then the subscription model would be for you. This sub model also opens up other features, like the Auction House, mail system and more. This is what any MMO player would want, while the subscription-free option would cater more towards your average Call of Duty fan. Keep reading after the jump for complete details on Global Agenda's payment model, feature comparison and details and their newest projected launch window.

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DragonCon 2009: Interview with Global Agenda

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, Events (Real-World), Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, Spy, Global Agenda, Interviews (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage)

At Dragon*Con this year, we had the chance to grab a quick video interview with Stew Chisam, VP of Game Operations at Hi-Rez Studios. Following two successful closed beta weekends, and some wonderful demos at Dragon*Con and PAX, Stew was happy to tell us how things are going in the progression of Global Agenda.

As promised on our last tour of the Hi-Rez Studios HQ, we're following the studio -- and the game -- as they progress through to launch. Follow along after the jump to see what Stew has to say about player feedback, projected launch and the overwhelming following they've seen at Dragon*Con.

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SOE Seattle staff departures shouldn't affect The Agency

MMO Industry, New Titles, The Agency, Spy

In the wake of the recent layoffs at SOE, we're now getting word from Eurogamer that some voluntary departures had happened at the beginning of the month as well. Studio Director and Executive Producer Matt Wilson, Art Director Corey Dangel, and Producer John Smith had all left the Seattle studio to form a new venture called Detonator Games. This Seattle studio is currently producing the upcoming espionage MMO The Agency.

Eurogamer also states that a source "in the Seattle game development community" suggested to them that this means some major changes to The Agency, possibly delaying it beyond its projected 2010 release date. SOE responded to that rumor by saying, "The Agency is not undergoing a reboot of any sorts - that is incorrect. The team in Seattle is still working diligently on this project and we're looking forward to showing you new content in the future."

Whether these departures will affect the production of The Agency or not, we'll just have to wait and see. What we do know for sure is that the game is playable and looks quite good, according to a demo we saw at E3 earlier this year. Best of luck to the SOE Seattle team and to Detonator Games for whatever project they may be developing.

Global Agenda fansite competition offers up more keys for next closed beta phase

Betas, Sci-Fi, Contests, New Titles, Spy, Global Agenda

With Global Agenda's current closed beta being all the buzz these days, getting in is no easy feat. Hi-Rez Studios is treating their testing phases as actual controlled testing -- with only around 1,000 people to start and mandatory feedback from the testers. If you're just looking for a free game to play for a few months, you might want to look elsewhere.

Going hand in hand with that, many Global Agenda fansites are being offered a very small amount of beta keys to distribute to their readers. You may remember earlier in the month when we gave away 10 keys for AgendaSource.com, and now we're here to help another fansite give away their keys. Keep reading below for more information.

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Preparing for beta: A video tour of Hi-Rez Studios

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, Events (Real-World), Interviews, MMO Industry, Hands-On, Spy, Global Agenda, Interviews (Massively's), Hands-On (Massively's)

Last week, we made the trek down to Hi-Rez Studios in Atlanta, Georgia to get a look at how Global Agenda is shaping up just before the closed beta goes live. As you may remember, we were one of the first MMO news sites to visit the studio in October of last year, and we're happy to see the popularity that the game has enjoyed since then.

In the video embedded just after the jump, you'll see a bit of the inner-workings of the studio, as well as a few interviews with members of the Hi-Rez team, asking the question, "How are you preparing for the closed beta?"

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Win a closed beta key for Global Agenda!

Betas, Sci-Fi, Contests, New Titles, Spy, Global Agenda

Interested in the upcoming Spy-fi MMO Global Agenda? We have 10 closed beta keys to give away in a random drawing, courtesy of AgendaSource.com. If you're interested, simply make a comment on this post and you'll be entered in the drawing. Winners will be chosen at random and notified on Saturday, July 11th at 9am EST, so get your comment in before then!

Keep in mind that the Global Agenda closed beta does not start until July 24th, and these keys are simply a way to gain priority in their closed beta queue. This means that it puts you higher on their beta entry list, but you may not get in immediately.

So best of luck in the drawing, and thanks to our friends over at AgendaSource.com for these keys!

[Update: Eligibility is now closed. Thanks for participating!]

E3 2009: Massively's day 2 roundup

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, The Agency, News Items, Consoles, Spy, Global Agenda, Free Realms, Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage), Kids, Final Fantasy XIV

We thought the first day of E3 2009 turned out pretty well, with announcements for Star Wars: The Old Republic, Final Fantasy XIV, and All Points Bulletin. That's in addition to the packed interview schedule we lined up so we'll have plenty more to show you in the coming days. While the Massively team frantically taps their fingertips down into little bloody tater tots to bring you more fresh E3 goodness, have a look at some highlights of what day 2 of E3 2009 brought in MMO news.

Want to see more? We've got E3 galleries to flip through for these titles and events after the jump.

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E3 2009: The Agency in-game footage

Video, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, Previews, The Agency, News Items, Massively Meta, Spy, Interviews (Massively's)

As part of our extensive E3 tour through SOE's newest games, launched and upcoming, we got a fairly good look at some gameplay footage in The Agency. Of course, you know The Agency as the spy MMO that had everyone talking at last year's E3. With this new gameplay footage, you lucky readers (or, viewers) get to see what to expect when the game launches.

Click through after the jump to see the game's lead producer, Lorien Gremore, show us around a bit with combat, stealth, minigames and even a bit of female persuasion tactics*.

* Not from Lorien

Massively is on the ground in Los Angeles this week and covering all the latest E3 MMO news coming from the convention. Check out our breaking coverage (or all the Joystiq network E3 reporting) and keep your eye on Massively's front page for the latest developments.

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The Agency declassifies intel for revamped game site

The Agency, Spy

One of the new titles on the way from Sony Online Entertainment is The Agency which promises to bring espionage into the world of MMOs. There were no announcements for The Agency at today's Sony press event at the E3 Expo, but we've noticed that there's new content to be found on the game's official site.

A quick search of The Agency site reveals some new screenshots and wallpapers, concept art, info about both playable factions -- U.N.I.T.E. (spies) and Paragon (mercenaries) -- and a tongue-in-cheek 'evaluation quiz' for recruitment to each faction. In addition to the new art assets, they've also got their latest trailer up on the site as well. If you've been looking forward to some spies-and-mercenaries gameplay in an MMO, check out what's new on The Agency's revamped site.

Global Agenda video contest winners announced

Sci-Fi, Video, Contests, Culture, Events (Real-World), Spy, Global Agenda

Last month, Hi-Rez Studios announced a special video contest where fans could create their own representation of a promotional video for Global Agenda. The results are now in, and they're happy to announce the winners for each category*. On their official blog, they've compiled a list of the winners, including a combined winner's playlist video, also available after the jump below. The maker of the "Best Overall" video receives a $200 gift certificate to Amazon.com, with all other listed winners receiving a gift certificate to the Global Agenda merchandise store.

The folks at Hi-Rez have also announced today that they will be offering hands-on time with Global Agenda at E3 this year, as well as a chance to meet up with the developers themselves. They'll be located at the South Hall, Booth 2630. We look forward to seeing them again ourselves, and finding out the latest developments in Global Agenda as we approach the beta period, hopefully soon.

*We highly recommend the winner of Most Humorous!

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