Today we introduce Eurogamer's MMO channel - your first stop for everything massively multiplayer.
Massively multiplayer online games - MMOs - are big. In every sense. They have millions of players. They make millions of dollars. They're increasingly attractive to gamers who want a social experience when they play. They're increasingly attractive to publishers and developers who want to find new ways of making money.
And the games themselves are huge. A single game can cover thousands of in-game square miles, hundreds of hours of play, and multiple complex gameplay systems.
As if that weren't enough, MMOs change over time. Game operators add new content and features, and make adjustments in patches and expansion packs. It's not all under their control, either. The social nature of the games means that changes in the size or mood of a game's community can have just as profound an effect on the player experience as changes to the game itself.
MMOs are different. They work in a different way, you play them in a different way - and you pay for them in a different way. We at Eurogamer believe that our coverage of them should be different too, hence this new MMO channel.
First and foremost, the reviews can't be set in stone. We're not going to do one review of an MMO when it launches and leave it there. We'll come back to all the major games at regular intervals, offering re-reviews that update you on the current state of play, advising you on whether it's time to jump in - or time to leave. Today we look at the current king of the hill: Blizzard's mighty World of Warcraft.
We also appreciate that even the friendliest MMO game can be daunting at first. So we'll be providing easy-to-understand guides to help you get the most out of your time online. Look out for features on getting into sci-fi epics EVE Online and Tabula Rasa very soon.
We know that community's important in MMOs, so we'll be reporting back from major community events, like Blizzard's Worldwide Invitational in Paris this June. And we'll be talking to players as well as developers, because the players make these games what they are.
Most importantly, we'll do all this while keeping to the standards that you expect of Eurogamer: the best writing, the latest news, the most honest opinions, and a real passion for gaming.
The next couple of years will be an exciting time for MMOs. Age of Conan, Warhammer Online and Aion will soon be trying to steal WOW's crown, while current contender Lord of the Rings Online prepares its exciting first expansion, Mines of Moria.
MMOs aren't all about fantasy role-playing on PCs, either. The next year or two will see some big console games and strikingly different settings - including the cool crime capers of All Points Bulletin and the espionage action of The Agency, both of which are looking very promising indeed.
The strange worlds of free-to-play and browser-based MMO games are exploding too, and we'll be sure not to ignore these on the MMO channel. We'll start our investigations by taking a look at the game that everybody plays but nobody talks about - the insanely popular MapleStory - soon.
And then there's the curve ball thrown by massively multiplayer sports title Empire of Sports. To celebrate the launch of this channel, we're delighted to be giving away 2000 pairs of invitations to the game's Private Launch phase (a bit like a beta, but more exclusive). Register now to see how it's shaping up.
So, welcome. We hope you enjoy reading the channel. But don't just read it - join in the comments threads, post and socialise on the MMO forums, find fellow players in the Eurogamers groups for your favourite title. Because taking part is what MMOs are all about.
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