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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Station Access Price Increase

The upcoming increase in the Station Access plan from $24.99 to $29.99 (via Plaguelands) is so ridiculous it almost doesn't deserve commentary. It's obviously bad for the players. And I don't see how it could even be good for SOE's bottom line. They have to be losing some subscriptions to this increase, not to mention creating ill will amongst the current and potential player base.

Let's not forget that it was only in May, 2006 that the price was increased from $21.99 to $24.99. That's an $8 per month increase in less than a year. And what's been added in that time besides Vanguard (which definitely still needs work)? Sure, EQII has gotten better (just look at the last patch). But the older games just seem all the more dated.

By pre-paying six month subscriptions, you could actually be playing both EQII and WoW for four dollars per month less than the Station Access plan. Think about that.

There needs to be a distinction between the types of players the plan is designed for. For those who only use it for extra character space, the price borders on the absurd. An extra $15 for four character slots in EQII? And for those who only use it to play two games, there's really no savings. I guess if you really want to play three MMO's or play two MMO's and have alt-itis, it might be a passable deal. But that has to be the exception and not the rule.

And the raise in the Planetside subscription after subjecting players to in-game advertising is just laughable.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Casual Gaming: Your MMO Vacation

When I have time, I'm always going to play an MMO. But when I only have fifteen or thirty minutes, I find myself preferring casual games. That way I can get a quick and complete gaming experience rather than just a chunk of a lengthy single player game. I also find that some casual games evidence really innovative design.

So, I figured I would share my casual gaming resources:

For Flash games, the definite spot is
JayisGames. You get a wonderful selection of games served up to you with great reviews. You can also read the comments for spoilers if you get stuck or just to see if others found the same flaws or greatness you did.

I also occasionally try
Digg's Playable Web Games section. There are some clunkers in there, but the selection changes relatively quickly. And again, you have the community experience with the ability to comment and vote on each entry.

Downloadable casual games are a bit trickier. JayisGames does feature some, but they're usually demos. I've lately been hitting up
Game Giveaway of the Day. Each day they post a new game. But the great thing about it is that for that day, you can download the full version of the game and not just a demo. If you fail to download and register within the 24 hour time period, you're stuck with a trial version. But if you do download and register on the day a game is featured, the full version is yours forever.

I was a little leery about mentioning this one because it's in essence a commercial site. And I really don't understand their business model. I understand what they say it is, but I just don't see how it could be profitable.

But the reality is, I've downloaded a ton of stuff from them and scoured my system with both anti-spyware and anti-virus programs. I've never found anything fishy. And, hey, it's completely free games.

The games aren't necessarily that great but I have gotten a few winners. I've been playing a pretty tight Arkanoid clone they had up a while back and today they have Master of Defense, which I actually played the demo for in the past and enjoyed. These games are far less likely to have an innovative design then the Jay is Games selections (like the recent entry Sprout
). They are more often just variations on traditional games like shmups, sidescrollers or puzzlers. But sometimes that can be fun too.

Be sure to read the comments before you download so you can be aware of any particular problems with the software. Let the first downloaders take the fall for you. And remember, you do have to register the game within the 24 hour time period by following the instructions in the readme file which is part of the download package.