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MMO Roundup: Massively's week in review

Shawn Schuster

When it comes to MMO news and special features, Joystiq sister site has you covered. Whether you're looking for info on the hottest new MMO, or you're just curious about an old favorite, you'll find it at Massively. Check out our biggest features of the week:
Massively's 2009 Winter Holiday Event Guide
It's that time of year again -- whatever holiday you are celebrating, the denizens of your favorite MMO are sure to be celebrating it too. Whether it's Festivult in Dungeons and Dragons Online, Wintersday in Guild Wars, or the Starlight Celebration in Final Fantasy XI, the theme is the same. There are presents, some sort of sugary treats, and tons of fun.
NASA releases new information on their upcoming MMO
Back in November, we talked about an exciting space MMO in the works from NASA, called Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond. The information they had at the time was pretty extensive, and left us anxious to find out more and try it out.
Hi-Rez Studios announces Global Agenda launch date
Hi-Rez studios officially announced that the game will launch on February 1st, 2010, and pre-orders are available through Steam,, and the official site beginning today. Those who pre-order will enjoy all sorts of perks, including access to the January beta events, ability to reserve their player and agency names, and special in-game items.
Funcom offers unlimited free trial for Age of Conan
With the Age of Conan expansion Rise of the Godslayer approaching, opportunities for new and returning players to explore the game (or revisit it) have been more frequent than usual these days. The latest offer comes via FilePlanet. If you're a FilePlanet subscriber, you can play the first part of the game for free in an unlimited trial. The offer is good until December 31st, but as long as you download before then, your trial will not expire.

Demystifying The Secret World's enigmatic Dragon
There's definitely a certain type of player the enigmatic Dragon secret society will appeal to in The Secret World. We can say that with even greater confidence after reading Gamespot's Dragon-focused interview with Funcom's Ragnar Tornquist. They're masters of the subtle and maestros of manipulation -- also, they carry katanas and guns.
Too late to start playing Lord of the Rings Online?
The trouble with any long-running game is that it gets top-heavy. This is especially a problem in games such as Final Fantasy XI, where you simply have to group to accomplish most things in the game, but it's really a problem even in the most solo-friendly game with an expansion or two. After all, more often than not there's an ever-raising level cap, gear curve, and expected knowledge about the game, not to mention stretches of previously endgame content that's no longer relevant. When A Casual Stroll to Mordor asks if it's too late to start playing Lord of the Rings Online, the question could be extended to many other games.
Free Realms releases massive December patch
Like many free-to-play games, Free Realms has seen pretty notable gains with the occasional rough patch -- not exactly a surprise when you consider how the year has in no small part been a renaissance for the business model. But love it or hate it, the game is still going strong, and is ending the year with its best foot forward.
Champions Online announces iPhone app: Champions Companion
It seems like these past two days have been "everyone gets an iPhone app" days. Developers, we love you, but did you all have to release your apps at the same time? Anyway, back to the original point, Champions Online is on your iPhone. Thanks to the Champions Companion app, you can take CO wherever you go. Much more than a simple "armory" application that lets you look at your character's stats and show your hero off to friends, the Companion lets you view the in-game news, view your friends list and friend activity streams, and even send and receive in-game e-mails.
Fallen Earth free trials are back in time for the holidays
Just last week on our Fallen Earth/Wild West MMO article, many of the commenters were looking for a Fallen Earth free trial. Now we're happy to announce that the Fallen Earth team is offering a 10-day free trial straight from their main site. In addition, they're also offering a 20% discount (now $39.99 USD) on all purchases of the game through their online store.
Nearly three-fifths of users buy items in free-to-play games
There's a strong sense in most free-to-play games that the playerbase consists of two people: those who refuse to pay any money unless absolutely necessary, and those who will happily part with their income on a voluntary basis. This is largely true. What's apparently less true is the notion which goes hand-in-hand, that there are a decided minority of players forking over cash for in-game perks. As it turns out, according to a recent survey, 58% of users in free-to-play games have bought items through the in-game store. On average, users who did pay apparently dropped around $75 over the period of one year.
The most efficient way to make money in MMOs
Cash flow in many games is almost as big a problem as it can be in real life. We've recently had our resident EVE Online column running a series on the best ways to make ISK in the game, and you can barely throw a stone without hitting a site offering a guide to make X ludicrous amount of gold per hour in World of Warcraft.

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