Rumor Killers: WoW’s New Races, So Long Grin, Sayonara Atomic Games

Opposite ends of the spectrum of success in this week’s Rumor Killers as Jennifer takes a look at rumors sounding the phenomenon known as WoW, and those speculating on the demise of two struggling developers. 

New Races Coming to World of Warcraft?

If there’s one thing that World of Warcraft players love, besides loot, mounts, and loot on mounts, it’s rumors that suggest something new is on Azeroth’s horizon. With the forthcoming BlizzCon, and the leaked news of Sam Raimi directing the upcoming Warcraft film, WoW fans are pretty excited already. Blizzard isn’t known for leaking news, but that may have happened twice in quick succession if this rumor proves true, a mere week and a half before the convention. Wow.com has announced reveals from various sources about the next World of Warcraft expansion pack, supposedly called "Cataclysm". According to the sources, this expansion pack offers two new playable races, namely Worgen for the Alliance, and Goblin for the Horde. Both goblins and worgens already feature as non-playable characters in WoW.

The rumor does have substance. Last month there was speculation on why Blizzard had patented the term Cataclysm, ranging from it simply being a name for the online service Battle.Net 2.0 to being an expansion pack for World of Warcraft. Which rumor you wanted to believe at the time depended on your level of optimism. However, things became a bit more interesting when a set of four Halloween masks was discovered in the latest test patch, provoking plenty of debate as to whether new races were on the way. These masks quite clearly depicted male and female goblins and worgens.

But just like all the best Internet rumors, it is pretty much pure speculation at this time. It does seem pretty strange that a new Alliance race (the good guys) would be something as nasty and evil as Worgen, and I’d be very intrigued to see how Blizzard try to spin it. The idea of a new expansion pack makes a lot more sense though. World of Warcraft is four years old now and only has two expansion packs so far, and while all MMOs surely have a finite lifespan, another expansion at least to extend WoW’s longevity is a fairly safe bet. The latest expansion pack, Wrath of the Lich King, has been out long enough that most avid players would have seen everything there is to see.

So it seems extremely likely that next week Blizzard will be announcing a new expansion pack for World of Warcraft. However I’m not so sure about the choice of races for the Cataclysm expansion pack. Goblin for the Horde makes a lot of sense, it’s certainly evil enough, but I don’t quite see how Worgen would work for the Alliance.All the lore surrounding the game suggests that worgens are horrible creatures from another dimension that exist simply to terrorize and torture. Surely any creature that enjoys hearing the screams and suffering of others couldn’t be one of the good guys? It just doesn’t add up at all and would ruin the point of the two different sides if they began to overlap too much. But anyway, I’d certainly get ready to pre-order World of Warcraft: Cataclysm though.

TGR says: True to the expansion pack. False to the choice of new races.

Sayonara Atomic Games and Six Days in Fallujah?

Will this game ever see light of day?

From one doom-and-gloom story to another. Yep, I’m afraid it looks like another games developer is on the way out. This time, it’s Atomic Games, most famous for the Close Combat series on the PC, and more recently the controversial development of the Iraqi War sim Six Days in Fallujah. The title was planned to focus directly on Operation Iraqi Freedom, namely the Second Battle of Fallujah which occurred five years ago. It was a hugely controversial thing to do considering the battle was so recent. Many critics saw it as inappropriate and insensitive to the victims of the battle.

Personally speaking, it was an extremely tough one to call regarding whether this could be considered a terrible thing to design, or a great slice of interactive history. If it’s OK to play games based on the Second World War or even titles based on the much more recent Gulf War, when some of the people involved are still alive, what’s the difference here? Of course it’s so much more complicated than that and the debate could and probably will go on and on. Of course it would really help to assess the title by actually playing it rather than simply reading about it. Unfortunately that’s looking distinctly less likely now.

Back in April the publishers of Six Days in Fallujah, Konami, pulled the plug. A Konami spokesperson announced that "after seeing the reaction to the videogame in the United States and hearing opinions sent through phone calls and e-mail, we decided several days ago not to sell it’. Things looked much more uncertain for Atomic Games and Six Days in Fallujah, and unfortunately it now looks like they’ve lost the fight. On August 6th the developer announced that, due to an inability to secure funding for the title, they would have to let go an unknown number of staff. Things then developed even further with IndustryGamers announcing the next day that an anonymous source had claimed that out of 75 people at the firm, less than a dozen remained, with very few of those actually being developers. On the same day Atomic Games’s official announcement was that development for Six Days in Fallujah will continue with a smaller team in charge and funded by their sister company, Destineer. However, it remains to be seen exactly what will come of that, as currently the company is keeping its cards very close to its chest.

No one could doubt that Six Days in Fallujah has brought some considerable controversy upon Atomic Games in recent months. And, much like in GRIN’s case, the current economic climate just doesn’t really lend itself to experimenting and risk-taking. I would dearly love to see how Six Days in Fallujah turns out but I suspect it may well never see the light of day. Perhaps if the game had been much further in development at the time of funding being pulled, it might have stood a chance. But when you bear in mind that only a few images have ever been released and brief presentations given to journalists, I suspect the game isn’t far enough into development to save. On a brighter note, things actually look a bit more positive for Atomic Games’s remaining staff with the financial backing of Destineer, so I suspect they will manage to survive this downturn providing they are careful with their development. In the case of Six Days in Fallujah, I think it would simply be too risky for a company to develop when they are so desperate to survive.

TGR says: True to Six Days in Fallujah’s demise, False to Atomic Games’s

 At time of writing, GRIN was still open for business, but now we are sad to understand that GRIN has officially closed its doors, with some of its team going to make a new development house called Outbreak studios.

So Long, Grin?

Wanted: Weapons of Fate was one of many underperformers for GRIN.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Swedish developer GRIN. In the past year they have been busy with the launch of no less than three big names in the gaming world: the re-envisioning of Bionic Commando and the movie tie-ins for Terminator Salvation and Wanted: Weapons of Fate. That’s not forgetting the XBLA and PSN hit Bionic Commando Rearmed. However things are now becoming quite uncertain for the company and their staff with rumors that it may be facing bankruptcy. On Monday Gamasutra reported an IDG story that stated that the company had closed two of its offices and that apparently employees at its main Stockholm office had been told not to show up for work. This isn’t the first time that bad news has hit the developer. In May Kotaku reported the possibility of two offices being closed. With the current global recession, it comes as no great surprise that companies are struggling to survive, particularly when you bear in mind GRIN’s recent track record.

Bionic Commando, despite being much anticipated, didn’t exactly hit the spot. It suffered from mixed reviews and managed to only sell a bafflingly tiny 27,000 units in its first month. In comparison, Bionic Commando Rearmed, the remake of the original game released on XBLA and PSN, achieved sales of 130,000 in its first week alone. It was a huge success both critically and commercially, the antithesis of Bionic Commando in many ways. Perhaps most bafflingly of all, Terminator Salvation sold 43,000 units despite being one of the worst games I, and many others, have ever played. It was rightfully deemed abysmal by most reviews. Wanted: Weapons of Fate was GRIN’s most recent retail success with 100,000 units sold between March and May, but it also received negative reviews. Simply put, GRIN just hasn’t been producing games good enough to compete in such a competitive market.

Unfortunately for GRIN’s fans and its workers, I’d say it’s looking pretty conclusive that GRIN is on the way out. I’d suggest that it could simply be a matter of cutting back to ensure the company’s survival, but I suspect that has already been attempted and now it’s just a matter of trying to make the closure as smooth as possible. We at TGR are here to kill rumors, not to revel in the glory of bad news. No matter what you may think of its latest titles – and I’m certainly not going to defend Terminator Salvation – take a moment for GRIN’s staff. It’s never nice to lose your job, especially not in this climate. We wish all people involved with the company the best of success, and hope that we’re wrong about this particular rumor.

TGR Says: True

 

So Long, Grin?

Wanted: Weapons of Fate was one of many underperformers for GRIN.

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Swedish developer GRIN. In the past year they have been busy with the launch of no less than three big names in the gaming world: the re-envisioning of Bionic Commando and the movie tie-ins for Terminator Salvation and Wanted: Weapons of Fate. That’s not forgetting the XBLA and PSN hit Bionic Commando Rearmed. However things are now becoming quite uncertain for the company and their staff with rumors that it may be facing bankruptcy. On Monday Gamasutra reported an IDG story that stated that the company had closed two of its offices and that apparently employees at its main Stockholm office had been told not to show up for work. This isn’t the first time that bad news has hit the developer. In May Kotaku reported the possibility of two offices being closed. With the current global recession, it comes as no great surprise that companies are struggling to survive, particularly when you bear in mind GRIN’s recent track record.

Bionic Commando, despite being much anticipated, didn’t exactly hit the spot. It suffered from mixed reviews and managed to only sell a bafflingly tiny 27,000 units in its first month. In comparison, Bionic Commando Rearmed, the remake of the original game released on XBLA and PSN, achieved sales of 130,000 in its first week alone. It was a huge success both critically and commercially, the antithesis of Bionic Commando in many ways. Perhaps most bafflingly of all, Terminator Salvation sold 43,000 units despite being one of the worst games I, and many others, have ever played. It was rightfully deemed abysmal by most reviews. Wanted: Weapons of Fate was GRIN’s most recent retail success with 100,000 units sold between March and May, but it also received negative reviews. Simply put, GRIN just hasn’t been producing games good enough to compete in such a competitive market.

Unfortunately for GRIN’s fans and its workers, I’d say it’s looking pretty conclusive that GRIN is on the way out. I’d suggest that it could simply be a matter of cutting back to ensure the company’s survival, but I suspect that has already been attempted and now it’s just a matter of trying to make the closure as smooth as possible. We at TGR are here to kill rumors, not to revel in the glory of bad news. No matter what you may think of its latest titles – and I’m certainly not going to defend Terminator Salvation – take a moment for GRIN’s staff. It’s never nice to lose your job, especially not in this climate. We wish all people involved with the company the best of success, and hope that we’re wrong about this particular rumor.

TGR Says: True

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Yahoo! Buzz
  • Twitter
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • N4G
  • Tumblr

Comments are closed.

Support TGR

Resources

Categories

TGR iPhone App (Free)

TGR