In Bold Move Toward Free Online Fantasy Gaming, Turbine Prepares to Throw Open the Gates to Dungeons & Dragons

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porting the user forums for Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online to mobile platforms such as the iPhone.

On the technology front, Crowley and Horsfall told me that Turbine is working on a console-based game—though whether it’s based on one of the existing Turbine titles, and whether it’s for the Xbox 360, the Playstation 3, or some other platform, they aren’t ready to say. The company also has plans to build Mac versions of its games, which have all been Windows-based to date. Crowley says Turbine will soon take back the global rights to all of its games, which have historically been marketed and operated through partners in Europe and other regions. Finally, Crowley and Horsfall hinted that Turbine is on the verge of acquiring an additional entertainment property—something on the scale of Tolkien and Dungeons & Dragons that will serve as the foundation for a completely new set of online games and associated services.

“We are a little bit of Hollywood on the Charles here,” Crowley says. “Okay, we’re not really on the Charles, but give me a bit of license. In many ways we are similar to Pixar, in that we have to excel at a lot of disciplines: we have extraordinary technology that is very robust and rich and cutting-edge and operates in 54 countries, in multiple languages; we have the game development itself, which requires an incredible amount of creative talent; and then we also happen to be an online company.”

With consumers now spending more on video games than they do on going to the movies, “We’re in a very sweet spot,” Crowley says. And come September, Turbine will get to see whether the free-to-play model option makes that spot a little more populous.

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Wade Roush is the producer and host of the podcast Soonish and a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @soonishpodcast

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18 responses to “In Bold Move Toward Free Online Fantasy Gaming, Turbine Prepares to Throw Open the Gates to Dungeons & Dragons”

  1. Alex Fairy says:

    love me love you we!!!!!!

  2. Miramon says:

    The game has very few subscribers anyway. Since DDO was not profitable as it was, the change is not all that bold, not much of a gamble: it’s just an attempt to recoup losses with a different revenue model.

    It’s very rare for any MMO to recover from a bad launch. Anarchy Online is perhaps the only such game to do so, and its recovery was very modest — the fact you’ve probably never heard of it attests to that….

    As an aside, LOTRO and DDO are not the next-most-popular MMOs after World of Warcraft, though this assertion is difficult to prove or disprove, as Turbine never releases subscription figures. However, you can make some rough estimates based on named game world deployment. LOTRO might possibly be one of the higher ranked American-owned-and-operated MMOs after WoW, but I would be surprised if it had 250,000 active subscribers, and there are many other MMOs worldwide with more subscribers than that.

  3. Gelmir says:

    Whoa!

    What about Guild Wars?

    It has been free online since 2005

    http://www.guildwars.com

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guild_Wars

    The games in the Guild Wars series were critically well received[4][5][6][7] and won many editor’s choice awards, as well as awards such as Best Value, Best Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG), and Best Game.[8] Guild Wars was noted for being one of the few commercially developed games in the MMORPG genre to offer online play without subscription fees,[9] its instanced approach to MMORPG play,[10] and the quality of the graphics and play for computers with low specifications.[11] In April 2009, NCSoft announced that 6 million units of games in the Guild Wars series had been sold.[12]

  4. Sthims says:

    It’s amazing to see how many similarities there are in Turbine’s new positioning to the statements and stories around Jeff Anderson’s new venture at Quick Hit. Seems like Anderson had the right vision all along..

    will be interesting to see what comes of this model in the MMORPG world…

  5. Kalanth says:

    It is not just that it is free to play, like Guild Wars. Instead it is that you don’t even have to buy the game itself and simply download the game and play without every paying a cent. That is something no game has done, not even Guild Wars which cost $50 at time of release.

    DDO is a very solid MMO with an outstanding playstyle that is unmatched in other MMO’s. Only recently are some of these things being copied, and even then there is no equal. Anyone that has given DDO a chance would tell you that.

  6. igrat says:

    (quote)Miramon 8/4/09 1:05 pm
    It’s very rare for any MMO to recover from a bad launch. Anarchy Online is perhaps the only such game to do so, and its recovery was very modest — the fact you’ve probably never heard of it attests to that….

    (above is a quote)

    EVE Online had a dismal first year or two. There’s a reason why CCP is often referenced in relation to success and that’s ‘cs of a focus upon their product. Did you know they were unable to pay their staff at one point in time?

  7. Miramn says:

    @igrat:

    Good point, Eve Online is another example. I’m not sure how successful they really are at this late date, but they certainly improved after launch, and I’m sure they have more users than DDO, if not LOTRO. I see they claim around 300K, which may perhaps be more than any American MMO except WoW.

    Did CCP suffer from the Icelandic economic collapse?

    Edit: Bah, typoed my handle.

  8. Alex says:

    So does that mean the 3.5 year old Europe DDO characters will all be deleted like their Japanese counterparts were?

    Would be nice if Turbine could clear up that tiny little issue for us.

    P.S. Eve had its money spread about the globe and didn’t loose a ton of it to the collapse of its local banks. They made a press release to tell their players not to worry, they weren’t going to suddenly vanish. Nice how some companies can take the time out to relieve their customers fears.