Dubit: This Week In Virtual Worlds Blog

April 14th

Still in the aftermath of this month’s US iPad release it’s hard to imagine how anything will resist being overshadowed by Apple’s latest must have Internet gadget in the near future. Whilst the world is still undecided whether the iPad lives up to high expectations, until its UK release in May sadly we’ll all have just to make do with our now, somewhat inadequate by comparison, iPods and iPhones.

Things could be worse though. At least we’re not in North Korea, where concerns over gaming addiction amongst their youth has led the Korean Government to restricting overnight access to widely popular MMORPGs, such as Dungeon Fighter Online, Maple Story, and Mabinogi. The law, dubbed the ‘Night time shutdown law’ allows users to choose a six hour time period in which they will no longer be able to access the games, and was prompted by numerous incidents, dating back as far as 2005, in which Korean gamers have died after spending excessive hours continuously gaming. The deaths were ruled to be a consequence of exhaustion, sleep deprivation and starvation.

It’s the equivalent of a forceful parent, that rather than just telling you stop playing video games and to go to bed, will actively pull your plugs out and turn out your light. The only difference being that night time shutdown allows users to choose a shutdown period: either midnight to 6am, 1am to 7am or 2am to 8am, in hope of prising enthusiastic / addicted gamers away from their screens. In addition, during non-shutdown periods, gamers may experience slowdown and reduced Internet speeds if they have been playing continuously for a number of hours.

Although currently limited to the realm of freemium online games; games that offer the basic package for free, but then charge for extra content / downloads / special features, when you consider that between the 19 titles hit by the law, they account for 79% of the Korean game market, the potential impact could be severe. Thankfully no such plans for the UK or US markets have emerged as of yet.

In other social gaming news, clubv3 has announced its launch as a social game developer. Whilst their first releases; both their own titles and titles developed as a third party developer to other brands, are not due on Facebook till June, the company has been keeping busy developing its technology platforms. Director Domonic Mason states, “The opportunity offered to brands as well as license properties on Facebook and other social network platforms is huge”.

“At clubv3 we are looking forward to bringing our wealth of experience to social network games” Mason continues. With 30 years experience of games development between himself and fellow Director Richard M Holmes, it’s hard to be anything but excited for content that will no doubt provide endless hours of procrastination and entertainment.

And finally, for those on the move, and those hopelessly devoted to Farmville, it seems likely that the increasingly popular The Sims-meets-Old MacDonald online game will expand to iPhone, iPad and Android platforms. Whilst not confirming the expansion developers Zynga have recently purchased the following not-so-subtle domains: FarmVilleAndroid.com, FarmVilleiPad.com and FarmVilleiPhone.com.

It is suspected that these versions of the game, in fitting with the hardware, will appear as downloadable apps, which will serve as mobile interfaces for the game – similar to existing apps such as Mafia Wars currently available on iPhone. Regardless, Farmville for both iPad and Android would mark Zynga’s debut on both platforms, and a bold leap forward.

Next time: No more iPad. I promise.

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