Saturday, January 17, 2009

Blooming of the free browser based online games

Those who have played MUD (pure text based multi-user dungeon) games in the past would know that there were a large number of different MUDs to choose from. When online games with graphical interfaces became popular, there were inclinations of free games with large thick clients, i.e. you have to download a large files (typically in the hundreds of megabytes) before you can play the game. In part this is due to lack of high speed connectivity since graphics and video will consume a large Internet bandwidth. In part the advance of gaming interfaces with ever more realisetic graphics for PC games, demand that other online games provide a minimal degree of good graphics.

Today, despite the increase in bandwidth, there seems to be a trend of a blooming free browser based online games. A simple search would have reveal many. Other than Travian (browser based strategy game), which I covered quite extensively in other blog posts, let me give a few other examples.

Thos who prefer Role-playing games with character stats to manage, we have Domain of Heroes. This is truly a simple RPG game; nothing complicated about skills or character stats. Items and quests are fairly straight forward. There is a good story plot, but the overall simplicity may not attract a large group of gamers. Domain of Heroes is part of the examples of newly created browser based games on the Internet. Revenue is earned by advertising and also user purchase of 'wishes' that allow for other in games activity, e.g. creation of guilds.

Not everything is new in these fields of browser based games. A different example would be Nile Online. Those who have played Children of Nile (e.g. me!) would find this game particularly interesting because it is sort of the same game, i.e. playing Children of the Nile together with hundreds of other players. Trading becomes important, and yes, Nile Online allows for trading of the 'bread' (in game currency) with resources. Would there be a trend of translating existing popular PC based games (e.g. Children of the Nile) into multiplayer persistent online games? Perhaps... there are a large potential and attractiveness for such games because the learning curve o play the online version would be much shorter.

Another category of free browser based games would be those provided via social networking sites. An example is Elven Blood that one could access via Facebook. The interface, gameplay and other mechanics are simple, and there is the added advantage of you playing with those among your own social network. The drawback is that you have to invite more people in order to explore certain part of the game realm. Nonehteless, the fact the game provides certain interface with your own social network is enough to draw more casual players into the game.

These are but examples of a few free browser based online games, and I'm sure there are many other categories of such games.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Gold farmers will be taxed?

It is interesting how the world of gold farming has evolved. Sometime back in August 2008, there was a report of an academic analysis of gold farming and I must say the report gave a pretty decent coverage of the entire gold farming industry, from the historical development to the breakdown of the different industry elements.

Subsequently in October 2008, there were some journalists in Singapore who decided to give the whole gold farm / transaction a try (i.e. purchase gold), and they provided a good account of the whole incident.

In a short span of a few months, i.e. 17 December 2008, an article (Straits Times) about gold farming taxes appeared in the news. Lolz. The article reported that the Korean National Tax Service had declared that gold farmers who earn more than 12 million won in 6 months would have to register as a business, declare their earnings and pay income tax. Apparently there are also gold farmers in Singapore, who earn income of about S$2,000 a month.

Wow! I wonder what next? A global conference for gold farmers? Legal debates about the legalities with gold farmers defending themselves in public against the anit-farmers? Would paying tax legalise and legitimise gold farming? Hmm interesting development of a semi-legitimate sub-industry.