News From the Wider MMO World: September 16, 2008

The MMO genre is more than World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, and Warhammer Online. Here's what's going on in the rest of the world.

World of Kung Fu opens screenshot contest
From September 15th to the 30th, VestGame Entertainment has partnered with to create the first World of Kung Fu screenshot contest. "This contest really gives us the chance to showcase the awesome graphics and spectacular artwork that forms such an integral part of the game", says David Clarke, World of Kung Fu's North American Producer. The Grand Prize includes a permanent Xuan Wu mount and over a hundred rare items such as high level Forging Vouchers, Advanced Craftsman Charms, Sky Pearls, and much more. For more information, visit either founder's website.

Gaia Online brings Snoop Dogg and the Incredible Hulk to the virtual mall
Each month, residents of the virtual world Gaia Online have a chance to vote for their favorite real-world celebrities as part of the
Celebrity Snare section of the website. As an example, the latest items to have been made available are Snoop Dogg's hairstyle, and the Hulk's torn-up purple pants. "Gaia Online is truly an extension of our users' real life interests and passions and Celebrity Snare is just another way we're enabling Gaians to customize their online persona and express themselves to the community," said Craig Sherman, CEO of Gaia Online. "The same way fans hang a poster on their bedroom wall or wear a t-shirt with their favorite band on it, we're enabling our users to establish a connection with the celebrities they admire." Further celebrities to go virtual will include Elvis Presley, Justin Timberlake, Tila Tequila, Paris Hilton, Raven Symone and Marvel's She-Hulk.
Golemizer, a 2D steampunk MMO, released
Independent game creator Dave Toulouse recently announced the released of Golemizer, a 2D steampunk MMO that offers many features that come with much larger MMOs. The list includes: Persistent monsters created by players; Skills system allowing full freedom over character development; Crafting system allowing players to provide most items of the world; Player housing; Player cities; Player merchants; 2D avatar based chat between players; Guild system; RSS feeds of recent events while players are offline; Quests and a badge reward system. Check out this free-to-play title today.

Outspark's pre-paid cards coming to Target
Outspark, publisher of Fiesta and Secret of the Solstice have announced that their pre-paid SparkCash Cards will be available in Target stores on September 23rd. "Our users complete thousands of transactions daily, and pre-paid cards are the most convenient way for even more gamers to have a premium experience within our micro transaction model," Susan Choe, founder and CEO of Outspark. "With Target and our other partners, we have the opportunity to give our current community a new and easy avenue to get SparkCash while at the same time, introduce the Outspark experience to an entirely new audience of consumers." The cards will be available in denominations of $10 and $25.

OGPlanet game cards available exclusively at Blockbuster stores
In what seems like a trend, OGPlanet, publisher of Albatross18, Rumble Fighter, Cabal Online, and the upcoming title La Tale has announced that its in-game virtual currency, known as Astros, will be available exclusively at Blockbuster stores immediately. "The availability of OGPlanet game cards at Blockbuster stores nationwide represents an entirely new level of accessibility for OGPlanet fans," said Don Choi, COO of OGPlanet. "We're thrilled to be working with Blockbuster in this venture. Their success as an entertainment retailer makes them an ideal location for distribution of OGPlanet game cards." It is not known at this time what amounts will be available to purchase.

New website launched for Ultima Online expansion
Ultima Online's newest expansion, Stygian Abyss, isn't due to be released until next year, but EA Mythic has already set up its website. The new expansion will feature a new playable race, the Gargoyles, who excel in the arts of Mysticism and Imbuing. Other features include new spells, weapons, armor, monsters, and a vast new dungeon.

Aeria Games partners with BitTorrent for content delivery
Aeria Games, publisher of Shaia, Last Chaos, Dreamlords: the Reawakening, and Dream of Mirror Online, has announced a partnership with BitTorrent and IAHGames to provide its players with a fast, safe, and reliable download service for its content. "As the fastest growing free-to-play gaming community, Aeria Games is focused on providing the best community gaming experience to all of our players worldwide," said Terry Ngo, chief technology officer at Aeria Games. "In realizing that vision, it's critical that we employ the best content delivery service as part of our networking infrastructure. BitTorrent DNA gives us the ability to continue rapidly building our online gaming community, offer the best free games, all the while significantly improving the end-user experience."

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This article was originally published on Massively.