Eurogamer


Nomadic former Blizzard leader Bill Roper has been promoted to leader of Disney's games business.


He replaces Bungie co-founder Alex Seropian, who held the role for one year, according to Gamasutra.


Roper joined Disney last July to head the Marvel gaming division.


But what exactly is he now leading? Disney pulled out of core gaming after Pure, Split/Second, Turok and Epic Mickey failed to set the world alight. Disney even closed Black Rock Studios and Propaganda Games as a result.


Disney's game factory now turns out less risky cash-spinners like Disney Universe, LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean and Toy Story 3 - an odd portfolio for someone like Bill Roper to manage. He was a director at Blizzard for nearly 10 years, and helped establish the Diablo, StarCraft and Warcraft series.


Bill Roper went on to make flawed but ambitious core action RPG Hellgate, and then superhero MMO Champions Online.


He then surfaced again early last year, talking about some big ideas he'd been sitting on and how he was no longer tied down. And now this - Disney.


However.


Disney owns Marvel, and there's a persisting rumour that Brink developer Splash Damage may be doing something with the iconic superhero IP.


A multi-platform Epic Mickey 2 was also accidentally outed by a Disney newsletter last month.


It could be Roper will lead Disney's second charge into core gaming.

PC Gamer
Champions Online The Unleashed archetype
He's not a Sith Lord, he's a Cosmic Knight. Champions Online's archetypes offer players who don't play a subscription fee pre-defined builds to level with. This one is called The Unleashed, and is described as a "Militant Monk," an "Eldritch Warrior" and a "Mysterious Visitor," albeit one you're not likely to let into your house. He specialises in close range chopping with his lightsa- swords.

Champions Online is free to play, you can download the client from Champions Online site and Steam. In other news, Star Wars: The Old Republic is nearly fully operational. Bioware are set to throw the giant "ON" switch today, launching the game worldwide. You can join us on the Nightmare Lands server in Europe, and on the Crucible Pits in the US.
PC Gamer
HalloweenCityofHeroes
Halloween is a time for many things. Candy, costumes, vandalism, paganism - you know, wholesome stuff. But Halloween also has its darker side. That's right: MMORPGs - perhaps the most evil, life-devouring game genre in existence. So clearly, it only makes sense that all of them would... OK, I'm done trying to make sense of this.

For some reason, MMOs take to Halloween like machete-wielding psychopaths to teenagers on camping trips. Why? Who knows? But it's stupidly fun, and you get to punch zombies in a videogame. That, like, almost never happens. Find out what the likes of WoW, Rift, World of Tanks, DC Universe, and many more are up to this Halloween after the break.



World of Warcraft -- WoW's brought back Hallow's End, which lets you "corral orphans" to earn candy currency, which is redeemable for holiday themed rewards. Or, if walking children down alleys isn't up your alley, you can light your opposing faction's Wickerman on fire and then rain on their parade with a hail of stink bombs. I guess the orphans are there to correct the karmic balance of you being such a huge jerk.
Rift -- Rift's going with the tried-and-true tradition of a real-life costume contest. Winners in each of three categories (terrifying, beautiful, and bizarre) will pick up in-game items - including an owl! Also, Trion released this new Halloween-themed trailer, which is basically the best thing.
Lord of the Rings Online -- Harvestmath is in full swing, with Mad Bilbo's Haunted Burrow is leading the charge. You can also win an Autumnfest Steed, which is great, because one can never have too many steeds. The real stars of LoTRO's show, though, are all the player-hosted events, which Turbine has kindly highlighted.
Age of Conan -- Conan's "Nights of Lost Souls" bring two solo quests and one team quest that see you hunting and ultimately having a pleasant tea party with three of the titular Lost Souls. Wait, did I say "tea party"? Silly me. But this is Conan. Honestly, what do you think you end up doing to them?
Champions Online -- This is already a game about running around in silly costumes; it may as well be Halloween year 'round. So Champions is having a real-life pumpkin-carving contest. Winner gets 1,000 promotional points, with second and third placers taking 500 a piece.
DC Universe Online -- The Scarecrow's opened his "dark lair" to all the heroes in DC land. That, er, probably wasn't the greatest idea on his part. You can probably see where this is going: Repeatedly pound the Scarecrow's face into pumpkin mush, collect tokens, and exchange them for Halloween-themed trinkets and style items.
City of Heroes -- Sure, other MMOs celebrate Halloween, but City of Heroes may just trump them all. In addition to a brand new co-op event called Dr. Kane's House of Horrors, there's a two-part (zombie apocalypse and deadly apocalypse) monster invasion event, and good old-fashioned trick-or-treating.
World of Tanks -- For many years, I've petitioned for Party City to add a tank section. Giant, soulless hunks of steel and death, after all, are people too. Until society catches up with my forward-thinking ways, however, we'll just have to make do with WoT's costume contest, which sees players send in images of themselves playing the game while in costume. Winner gets a premium account for an entire year. 
Eurogamer


Valve has announced Steam support for free-to-play titles with immediate effect.


Five launch titles are available now: Spiral Knights, Forsaken Worlds, Champions Online: Free for All, Global Agenda: Free Agent, and Alliance of Valliant Arms (AVA).


Starting tomorrow with Spiral Knights and ending on Sunday with AVA, each one will get a 'F2P Game of the Day' slot which will see exclusive in-game extras up for grabs.


"The introduction of Free to Play games is another example of the constant evolution of Steam," commented Valve exec Jason Holtman.


"Free to Play games offer new game genres and game experiences for customers, while offering developers and publishers new revenue opportunities and the ability to reach customers in areas of the world where the traditional packaged goods model is less popular than F2P."

Press Release - Valve
Five F2P Launch Titles Offering Exclusive Content to Celebrate Launch

Valve, creators of best-selling game franchises (such as Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Left 4 Dead, Portal, and Team Fortress) and leading technologies (such as Steam and Source), today introduced support for Free to Play (F2P) Games on Steam with the launch of five F2P games.

Available immediately, the launch titles are Spiral Knights, Forsaken Worlds, Champions Online: Free for All, Global Agenda: Free Agent, and Alliance of Valliant Arms (AVA).

Beginning tomorrow (Weds) with Spiral Knights and concluding Sunday with AVA, each of the five launch titles will offer exclusive in-game content to those who try the "F2P game of the day" on Steam. In game transactions in all of the titles will be supported by Steam's micro-transaction backend system that is available to Steamworks partners and currently used in Valve's Team Fortress 2.

"The introduction of Free to Play games is another example of the constant evolution of Steam," said Jason Holtman, director of business development at Valve. "Free to Play games offer new game genres and game experiences for customers, while offering developers and publishers new revenue opportunities and the ability to reach customers in areas of the world where the traditional packaged goods model is less popular than F2P."

Specific details on the F2P games of the day and their exclusive in-game content will be made available in the coming days.

Steam is a leading platform for PC & Mac games and digital entertainment serving over 1,500 games to over 30 million active accounts worldwide. For more information, please visit www.steamgames.com
Shacknews - Steve Watts

Cryptic Studios has been acquired by the Chinese MMO maker Perfect World, reports Gamasutra. According to the report, the company paid approximately $50.3 million for the studio, and acquired a 100% equity interest in Cryptic. Atari had been looking to sell Cryptic recently, having only acquired it in 2008.

Star Trek Online, Champions Online

"This strategic acquisition will add attractive game titles to our portfolio, which will help us further penetrate into the U.S. and global online game markets," said Perfect World CEO and chairman Michael Chi. "More importantly, Cryptic Studios' highly reputable development team and its technology platform will further strength our well-established R&D capabilities. We deem this as another noteworthy achievement of our global expansion efforts."

Cryptic is best-known lately for the MMOs Champions Online and Star Trek Online. The studio is continuing development on its next RPG, a D&D-styled game titled Neverwinter.

Eurogamer


Cryptic Studios - creator of City of Heroes, Star Trek Online and Champions Online - has a buyer: Chinese MMO outfit Perfect World.


Perfect World paid $50.3 million (£30.4 million / €35 million) for Cryptic. That's 55 per cent more than Atari paid for Cryptic in 2008 - $27.5 million.


Perfect World runs free-to-play cartoon MMO Legend of Martial Arts as well as Battle of Immortals, which looks similar to World of Warcraft.


How Champions Online and Star Trek Online will slot into Perfect World's portfolio is unclear. With Champions Online already free-to-play, however, the transition should be painless.


Perfect World talks of the purchase as a great way to charge West. Will this mean significant investment for Cryptic's new almost-but-not-quite MMO Neverwinter?

Video: Star Trek Online's Foundry mission maker tools.

Rock, Paper, Shotgun - contact@rockpapershotgun.com (John Walker)

It looks like Atari, recently the focus of negative attention after Test Drive Unlimited developer Eden Games went on strike due to their treatment, are looking to gather some more cash. Via PCG we see Gamespot spotted the news that the publisher is selling Cryptic, the studio behind Star Trek: Online and Champions: Online.

(more…)

Shacknews - Alice O'Connor

Atari is divesting its interest in Cryptic Studios, developer of Champions Online and Star Trek Online, looking to sell it, Gamasutra reports. The publisher only acquired Cryptic in December 2008.

"In line with the previously stated strategy of fewer but more profitable releases and further expansion into casual online and mobile games, the Company has determined that external development creates more flexibility in the changing marketplace," Atari explained in an earnings report.

Champions Online and Star Trek Online

Atari will continue to run and support Cryptic's MMORPGs Star Trek Online and Champions Online while it looks to sell the studio, Gamasutra says. Development on Neverwinter, Cryptic's co-op-oriented take on the D&D RPG series, will continue at least for now. Neverwinter was announced in August 2010, then slated to launch on PC in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Cryptic lost $7.5 million in the past fiscal year, though this was down from a $17.9 million loss the year before. The studio boasted that Champions Online's revenues increased by over 1000% after it went free-to-play in January 2011 but evidently this wasn't quite enough.

Cryptic community representative 'WishStone' took to the forums, explaining, "Right now I have no further details other than what has been mentioned elsewhere. Support for Champions Online and Star Trek Online will be continuing as normal, our staff is working hard on their projects... and there are no planned changes to the way any of our games and projects will operate.

When Atari picked up Cryptic only 29 months ago, Atari CEO David Gardener commented that "This is exactly the type of company we wanted to acquire in order to build Atari for the 21st century." Short century.

Eurogamer


Atari is to shed Champions Online and Star Trek Online developer Cryptic Studios.


According to the publisher's latest earnings report, the California-based studio was classed as a "discontinued operation" as of 31st March this year.


"In line with the previously stated strategy of fewer but more profitable releases and further expansion into casual online and mobile games, the Company has determined that external development creates more flexibility in the three changing marketplace," explained the report.


"Therefore, the Company has made the decision to divest itself from Cryptic Studios. The divestiture process is underway and more details will be provided as appropriate."


Cryptic had initially struggled following its purchase by Atari back in 2008, but had recently shown signs of an upswing. Losses were €5.3 million for the 2010/11 fiscal year, up from €12.6 million in 2009/2010.

Gamasutra reports that Atari will continue to support all active Cryptic titles while a buyer is sought, and development on its Neverwinter project will continue as normal.


A post from a Cryptic employee on the Star Trek Online forums suggested it wasn't all doom and gloom on the studio floor.


"The headline is chosen a little unfortunate by the colleagues at Gamasutra and makes it sound like we're a kicked puppy standing in the rain. That's not the case," stated a community representative.


"Support for Champions Online and Star Trek Online will be continuing as normal, our staff is working hard on their projects (and the folks from the Champions team deserve an extra cheer for their new stuff by the way) and there are no planned changes to the way any of our games and projects will operate."


Star Trek Online was Cryptic's most recent launch back in February 2010, scoring 6/10 from Eurogamer's Oli Welsh.

...

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