Epic MMO Recap: The week of Show Me the Money!

Millions of dollars changed hands this week as Blizzard fans emptied their wallets for another cash shop mount, while Perfect World paid roughly $50M to become the new majority owner of Cryptic Studios.

Winged Guardian Flies Off the Digital Shelves

When the Winged Guardian flying mount went on sale at the Blizzard Store a few days ago, a vocal few proclaimed the $25 ride to be a recycled hippogryph with a slightly better graphics skin.

But this diss didn’t stop World of Warcraft players from lining up in the thousands, making Blizzard some nice chump change. It was roughly a year ago when the company also began selling the Celestial Steed, which managed to bring in an estimated $2.5 million on its first sale day alone.

There’s been no word yet on how many lion-eagle rides have sold, but a casual stroll in the forums shows that the new cash shop exclusive is quite the roaring charmer. And of course, there’s the usual groaning on why WoW Gold-bought mounts can’t look half as awesome as the Winged Guardian.

Perfect World Now Made More Cryptic

Atari wasted no time unloading Cryptic Studios off its balance sheet, inking a roughly $50-million deal with Perfect World for all equity interest in the MMO developer.

It’s an East-meets-West takeover. China-based publisher Perfect World has said that it purchased the US-based Cryptic Studios to extend its presence in the US, Europe and other western markets.

But the biggest question now is whether the acquisition will push all Cryptic Studios games like Champions Online, Star Trek Online and City of Heroes to become free-to-play. Perfect World has a full stable of free-to-play MMOs with prominent cash shops, so there’s an expectation that the subscription model will be chucked out the window.

OK This Time, Let’s Make It More Than An Hour…

Trion Worlds takes the first crucial steps to testing RIFT Patch 1.3, with the world event now on the Public Test Shard for what seems to be a one-day run-through. You can still catch the testing event – and don’t worry about RIFT Platinum or hitting max level. All your needs will be provided by gearing and leveling merchants on site.

The Children of War, Emphasis on Children

EverQuest II brushed off the delay woes caused by the SOE server outage and launched The Children of War patch as (revised) planned. This marks the 60th game update for the fantasy MMO, and focuses on sprawling PvP changes plus a few new instances and raids about supernatural kids with a serious case of the Bad Daddy complex.

E3 Showdown

And lastly, the big E3 conference commences next week, but there’s already been confirmation of who among the big guns are attending.

Star Wars: The Old Republic is sure to make a splash in the EA conference, while TERA and Guild Wars 2 are expected to blow people away with their preview reveals. RIFT is also opening a booth, although its big message might only be to try out the Ascend-a-Friend and Free Trial programs.

We’ll fill you in on what goes down there in LA as it happens. Till then, knock yourself out in the comments section. Did you buy the Winged Guardian? Why not? And did Cryptic Studios luck out with their new Perfect World owners?