Saturday, May 28, 2011
So when Activision-Blizzard announced earlier this month that subscriptions of its crown jewel had fallen 5 percent, heads turned. Was the mightiest title in the persistent world universe finally showing signs of weakness?
The answer really comes down to perspective. While the loss of 600,000 subscribers in one quarter would be catastrophic to virtually any other game, WoW is hardly struggling, as it still has a healthy 11.4 million people paying their monthly fees.
The drop-off has sent a message to the developers, though. The slow pace at which expansion packs have rolled out to date has to change, something that puts Blizzard in very unfamiliar territory.
Blizzard, historically, has been a company that has never rushed on games. It typically takes as long as it feels necessary to finish a title, and, as a result, has become one of the most adored developers in the industry, with no critical or commercial flops to its name.
But because players have become so well acquainted with Azeroth, they're getting antsy when there's no new level cap to hit -- and they're burning through expansion packs faster than anyone expected.
"As our players have become more experienced playing World of Warcraft over many years, they have become much better and much faster at consuming content," said Blizzard president Mike Morhaime during a conference call with analysts. "And so I think with [the most recent expansion] Cataclysm they were able to consume the content faster than with previous expansions, but that's why we're working on developing more content."
Rather than paying $15 per month as they wait on that new content, players are putting their accounts on hold and sampling the competition. That's proving to be good news for new entrants in the field, like the surpsingly successful Rift from Trion Worlds. And it bodes well for upcoming titles, including the EA's highly-anticipated Star Wars: The Old Republic.
More than 1.5 million people have signed up to participate in the beta for the upcoming game, which some industry observers see as the title that stands the best chance of giving WoW a real run for its money in subscribers.
EA certainly is hoping to live up to those expectations.
"For us it's about creating the right experience for expanding from tier 1 and the tier 2 users to getting people who have never played an MMO before, but are interested in Star Wars, to engage and give it a try," says Eric Brown, CFO at EA. "If we do that, our addressable market is well beyond 12 million people ... into more of a general gamer population, pretty much anyone that has a minimum spec personal computer."
The exodus from WoW is also giving an opening for several free-to-play MMOs that make their money on microtransactions. Titles like Vindictus and Lord of the Rings Online scratch a similar itch as WoW, and fans are getting excited about the forthcoming Guild Wars 2, which will carry an upfront retail charge, but no monthly subscription fees.
Of course, before anyone starts working on the obituary for WoW, they might want to first do some homework.
The Cataclysm expansion sold over 3.3 million copies in its first 24 hours on shelves, according to Mike Hickey of Janco Partners. That's 18 percent better than the previous expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. In its first month, Cataclysm sold 4.7 million copies in its first month of release -- again, an 18 percent improvement.
And while the numbers are down now, they'll spike again later this year when Activision-Blizzzard releases Cataclysm in China, a ripe market for the game.
Meanwhile, the first round of tickets for BlizzCon, Blizzard's annual convention/lovefest -- and the spot where the company often announces new WoW expansion packs and gives away all sorts of WoW tsotchkes -- went on sale Saturday and sold out in minutes, with queues reportedly reaching into the 12,000-15,000 range. A second round, which will be available Wednesday the 25th, will likely go just as fast. Even with subscribers down, the company's rabid fan base will ensure that, for the time being, the king of Azeroth will keep its throne.
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Indeed many negative things attached with this place, but it also could be as the 'embodiment of dreams' for you.
Well, but this time I do not want to discuss about 'gambling' casino or online casino, but a film based from the Nicholas Pileggi book which has the same title 'Casino'.
This film, starring Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone and Joe Pesci, will definitely good quality film. You are all know that Robert De Niro is a senior actor who has won multiple Oscars and Golden Globes award. So also with Sharon Stone, beside to be a model, she also won the Best Actress Golden Globe award for this film. If you're still curious and want to know more, you can follow its development in the Spotlight.
Saturday, May 14, 2011
Actually, he's already said enough. You'd think after brokering deals with Diana Ross and the Shah of Iran, Vladi would know how to keep a secret. Now that he's shared, we don't feel so bad poring over the details of their destination love-nest. Here are some factoids William is probably reading in his Frommer's right now.
# North Island is about 600 acres and it's surrounded by cliffs and coconut trees.
# There are more tortoises than people on the island. Some are as old as 150.
# It's only a boat-ride away from Kate and Will's vacation destination in 2007. They reportedly patched up their relationship at Desroches Island Resort, another luxury escape, which they checked into as "Martin and Rosemary Middleton."
# Other celebrities who have vacationed here include Roger Moore (aka James Bond) and Posh and Becks.
# P&B chose the location for their getaway in 2009, because "the security makes it like a spy base," a source told the Press Association. Since when do spy bases have thatched roofs?
# There are 11 villas that overlook the beach on North Island
# Each villa has a plunge pool
# And a butler type...not that that's anything new for William.
# It's an ethically conscious resort. Here's an example of what that means: the villas are set back from the beach to provide enough distance that they don't disorient the tortoises that lay their eggs in the sand.
# That also means you can watch tortoises give birth as you lounge by the ocean. Talk about entertainment.
# Guests receive a 20 minute massage upon arrival to "ease" them into island life, according to the North Island website. I'd love to meet the person who's having trouble relaxing.
# A movie called "Thunderbirds" was shot there . Bill Paxton is in it, case you're wondering.
# The bar and restaurant in the villa is built on an upturned tree.
# An ecologist who lives on the island offers nature tours for guests. He has a good job.
# The gallery attached to this post will make you relaxed at first and then outraged at the fact that only royalty, ecologists and giant turtles get to enjoy this island.
# Back in the '70s, the island was only inhabited by rats and cats.
# That sounds a lot like most New York City apartments. Maybe there's hope for us yet.
Sunday, May 8, 2011
When I was Internet Manager for a major car dealer, I compiled a list of the most common mistakes my customers made when buying used cars. I’ve been giving it away for free for the last few years in hopes that it will save others unnecessary suffering.
Mistake #1 – Not checking the vehicle history report
This is a no-brainer when buying privately or from a dealer. You want to make sure the vehicle has never been in an accident, a hurricane, or had the odometer rolled back. Was it a rental unit or a lease return? Many buyers don’t like rental cars, but know that lease returns are preferred over even trade-ins at major dealerships.
Most dealers make the vehicle history report available on any car they're selling. Not so with private sellers. There are two vehicle history reports available: Carfax.com and AutoCheck.com. Both do a good job; however AutoCheck will be less expensive if you’re running a lot of reports.
Mistake #2 – Not checking the vehicle inspection report
If buying from a car dealer, simply ask to see the mechanic’s inspection report on the vehicle you want to purchase. If they won’t show it to you, you’ll need to choose between walking away from the deal and having your own mechanic check the vehicle out.
What do you do when buying from a private seller? Always have a mechanic perform a pre-purchase inspection. This can be time-consuming and you’ll need to pay for it yourself. However, you don’t want to wake up a month down the road to find out the transmission is falling apart and that it’s going to cost you $4,500 to put it back together.
Mistake #3 – Ignoring fuel consumption
As a dealership employee, I was always surprised at how many customers arrived asking for a car that was good on gas, but then drove away in a gas-guzzling SUV they had always wanted.
It’s more difficult to ignore a vehicle’s EPA fuel mileage rating when gas prices are at $4 per gallon. The best place to research fuel consumption is a user-friendly, government website: FuelEconomy.gov. You can use this site to discover the miles-per-gallon for older model vehicles, or new ones.
Mistake #4 – Ignoring certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles
I frequently steer friends and family toward certified used cars. These vehicles not only meet a higher standard—only a few years old with a limited number of miles—but they are put through a comprehensive inspection with deficiencies repaired. Then, the manufacturer—not the dealer—provides an extended warranty and other benefits. You’ll pay a bit more for a certified pre-owned vehicle, but those benefits won’t diminish if you make a great deal on the selling price.
CPO cars, trucks, and SUVs are an especially smart buy if you’re busy and don’t have the time it takes to shop for a safe, usually less-expensive vehicle from a private seller.
Mistake #5 – Don’t comparison shop
The Internet has changed how new and used cars are bought and sold. There are now ample tools online to comparison shop. Begin on websites such as Kelly Blue Book or Yahoo! Autos to find out what a specific, pre-owned vehicle should sell for in your area. Then check sites such as Craigslist.org or Cars.com to see how similar vehicles are priced.
Remember that dealer prices are virtually always higher than the price offered from a private seller. In theory, a dealer offers more value to the end-user by taking at least some of the risk out of buying a used vehicle.