Age of Conan: Still aiming for the 360

Have you been wondering what's been happening about Age of Conan for the Xbox 360? Come on, you were, weren't you? You're all ready to vent your endless barbarian rages in digital Hyborea via Microsoft's premier console, right? Well Funcom have confirmed that it's still definitely in the pipe, and not (for example) stealthily canceled.

While work began on Age of Conan as a console title in late 2006, console development for AoC went on hold while Funcom worked to get the troubled MMOG across the line at launch for the PC platform. Obviously the MMOG hasn't been without its troubles, so Funcom's 2009 release for the console version might not end up being very early in 2009.

Funcom's got a few barriers to overcome for this whole effort. AoC has to keep bringing in the money, which means satisfying existing PC subscribers and bringing in enough new players to offset attrition. Not only does the actual development of the title come with a price tag attached, but consoles feature a little detail called code-signing.


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Code-signing is a process where the console manufacturer has to digitally sign code before the console is willing to run it. Potentially any patch that isn't a pure data patch may need to be signed. Signing console code is generally not a swift process and the cost of each signing is ... substantial. Code signing is why you don't see so many patches for console games, even though hard-drives in consoles have become something of a norm. It's really expensive -- though console manufacturers negotiate all manner of deals.

Code-signing is largely a response to many circumstances of the North American video game crash of 1983. If you weren't about during that period, it's shows how (among other things) a glut of quality-control-free third-party titles crippled the industry and put hundreds of companies out of business. Code-signing allows console manufacturers to combat that, while also profiting from it enormously.

Win-win for the manufacturer, but a long and potentially expensive road ahead for Funcom.

This article was originally published on Massively.