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2 Million Pirates Shanghai'd 45

The Escapist's news feed reports that 2 Million characters have been made in Puzzle Pirates since the launch of the game. From the article: "Three Rings' CEO Daniel James sees 2 million users as confirmation of the micro-currency model. 'We believe that this model represents the future for online entertainment. Our inspiration continues to be the Korean market, where 'free to play, pay for item' is the ubiquitous business model for online games. As the US market matures to meet Korea, we intend to keep leading the way.' In addition, the company recently released the beta version of a new game, Bang! Howdy, a multiplayer online tactical strategy game for the PC, which uses the same payment structure and online distribution model."
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2 Million Pirates Shanghai'd

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  • Really? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by 9x320 ( 987156 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @08:39PM (#15795813)
    I played Puzzle Pirates, and it seems to me most of those 2 million accounts are probably old ones that were abandoned after their owners, having tried the game out, got bored after realizing there were less than ten puzzles that get tired quickly. Are those active accounts, they say? I'd be more impressed if they were.

    But at least it's free (sort of). Congratulations, you have Runescape and Anarchy Online quality gaming awaiting you.
    • by jesdynf ( 42915 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @08:59PM (#15795891) Homepage
      It's a social game. You go out, and you go sailing. On a pirate ship. And you shoot at ships. And you take their stuff. And then you go home, and gamble your winnings away in poker or spades, or buy clothes, or furniture, or invest the winnings in your shop.

      It has a multi-tiered economy -- and we're not even talking about micropayments, yet. It has the most fiendishly sophisticated chat filter I've ever seen -- it doesn't just convert profanity, it actively attacks acronyms, net slang, and inappropriate use of Caps Lock. You log on to Puzzle Pirates, and the world is instantly literate. Try "a/s/l"ing sometime and see what happens.

      It has unlimited PvP... but you risk a terrible penalty if you attack a weaker vessel.

      And those old, tired puzzles -- you know why they're tired? Because they're friggin' classics of the genre, that's why. Dr. Mario? Puzzle Fighter? A demented two-fisted version of Snood? And when you do them, you aren't playing a puzzle, you are chasing down a merchant frigate or frantically repairing combat damage or meticulously decanting strange and wonderful elixirs.

      It's a silly idea, crafted with loving attention to detail and populated by rum-swilling fiends. It might not be for everyone, and no, of course that's not two million active accounts, but it's a milestone none the less.

      Oh. Sorry, I almost forgot.

  • by smbarbour ( 893880 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @08:57PM (#15795885)
    Since my budget does not include "gaming expenses" in it (games are purchased on a "Yay, we've got some extra money" basis), I only play MMO's that are free to play (such as MapleStory [mapleglobal.com], Fly for Fun [gpotato.com], and Space Cowboy Online [gpotato.com])

    Maybe someday I'll prove that the model works by buying something...
    • I just clicked the MapleStory link out of curiosity. Never in my life have I seen such an IE only message. A+ for creativity on that one. Nonetheless, unless my employer doesn't mind me playing this game, I'm out of luck.
    • You can check out Gunbound as well. They just recently released a US server so things might be faster.

      It's like an earlier version of worms, but with vehicles and items.

      The catch? Money is a pain to earn, but with enough time you can get pretty much anything you want. It's unfortunately a bit slanted once you have been given some experience and go against the more well equipped players.

      That said, players used to be able to earn pretty much their way through out the game without paying a dime, but last time
    • by tetromino ( 807969 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @11:26PM (#15796383)
      Hot damn. When I click on Maple Story, I see a pixelated chibi girl whoring herself out to Microsoft [mapleglobal.com]. Without IE, I can't even go to an "about" or "screenshots" section and figure out if their game is worth playing. Well, too bad there isn't a single copy of Windows in the building where I am sitting right now. Congratulations, Maple, you've just lost yourself a potential customer.
      • Agreed! I spend most of my time on Linux. But I keep a dual-boot partitian so I can play games under Windows. I'm not expecting developers to support Linux for their game, but is it so hard to have your web site support me? As you say, letting me a description and some screenshots will increase me chances of taking the time to boot into Windows and give your game a try. Same goes for sites that demand cookies or flash to simply learn about their product.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        The client is Windows only and not supported by WineX. Your complete lack of windows hints at a religious reason for it's absence, so I doubt you'd buy it just for this game and thus, no, they haven't lost a potential customer. Of course, you could always do the preferred thing and search for actual players screenshots [google.com] rather than cherry picked publisher ones, or heck, maybe even look for gameplay videos [youtube.com]. Just a thought. HIBT? :).
      • by Anonymous Coward
        yes, see them cry in pure agony as they realise they lost a "potential" customer to their FREE game.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Actually, it's just the Maple Global server that is IE-only. For some reason it seems to be the crappiest of them all (MapleSEA [South East Asia], MapleJapan, MapleKorea) - they support Firefox and always have. In other words, try the MapleSea server http://www.maplesea.com/ [maplesea.com] for a better experience.
        • Actually, it's just the Maple Global server that is IE-only. For some reason it seems to be the crappiest of them all (MapleSEA [South East Asia], MapleJapan, MapleKorea) - they support Firefox and always have. In other words, try the MapleSea server http://www.maplesea.com/ [maplesea.com] for a better experience.

          Mod up the AC!
    • The beauty of it is that you don't -have- to buy anything to contribute towards the game's profits - if you exchange ingame currency for microcurrency on the ingame exchange, you create demand for microcurrency which drives people to purchase it. Indirect, sure, but very worthwhile. elizabeth@threerings.net
    • Sine my budget does not include "gaming expenses" in it ... I only play MMO's that are free to play

      So you aren't playing Puzzle Pirates why??
      You can play Puzzle Pirates for free, join a Doubloon server (or ocean, get it? servers are oceans).
      Yes people can buy Doubloons, but you dont have to and infact people can only "BUY" Doubloons, they can't buy pieces of eight, so there is a flucuating exchange rate on Doubloons to Pieces of Eight. (usually 750-800 POE/Doubloon). (actually you can even make POE by
  • Misleading title (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    When I saw just the headline "2 Million Pirates Shanghai'd", I was expecting it to be a story about some busted counterfeiters or something. I can understand the "2 Million Pirates" part, being about YHHPP, but what's Shanghai got to do with it? This suggests the users of that MMO are induced into doing something against their will, or something. A less confusing headline would be appreciated.
    • A Shanghai is a token given to crews when a crew member subscribes for the first time. It's used for renaming vessels, and crew names.
    • Re:Misleading title (Score:4, Informative)

      by FirienFirien ( 857374 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:00AM (#15797231) Homepage
      A "Shanghai" is the game name for a new user that subscribes; there's time-unlimited free play, with the only limitation being which puzzles you're allowed to play on which day if you're unsubscribed; a crew gets a 'shanghai point' if they hire someone and convince them to subscribe, and they can then use shanghai points for cosmetic-level things which isn't accessible in other ways. It's a mild incentive for players to recruit more people to the game.
  • by BigCheese ( 47608 ) <dennis.hostetler@gmail.com> on Thursday July 27, 2006 @09:12PM (#15795936) Homepage Journal
    ...that both Puzzle Pirates and Bang! Howdy are available for the PC, Mac and Linux. I play it on Linux and it works flawlessly.
  • by gmuslera ( 3436 ) on Thursday July 27, 2006 @09:43PM (#15796021) Homepage Journal
    In the game you have accounts. Each account can create as much as 3 characters in an ocean, and the game have 6 oceans (3 related to subscribed users, 3 to the ones that uses micropayment/doubloons, but you can have characters in all oceans). You must be subscribed to create a char in the testing ocean, so the amount of people/characteres there is far lower than in the other/production oceans, so for each account/real person behind, you can have 15 characters in the game.

    But also, you can create (and discard later or not) any amount of accounts, sometimes enables you to get some economic (in game) advantage, sometimes gives you more possibilities, sometimes it could be used as a way of cheating, and all of this is valid specially in the oceans that use micropayments,

    2 millon characters is a big number. But is pretty far from the number of real people that actually plays the game (my estimation is below 50k, maybe less than 20k even)

    • Your estimate is quite definitely off. Can't say how much, but I can point you in the right direction to come up with good figures. http://www.puzzlepirates.com/status.xhtml [puzzlepirates.com] has up-to-the minute concurrent user counts, which typically range from 3k to 6k at any time of day. Go do the math making reasonable assumptions about average session length and you'll end up in the right order of magnitude. Oh, incidentally, the 2 mil figure is total number of account registrations, so no need to divide by 15 ther
    • by FirienFirien ( 857374 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @05:11AM (#15797259) Homepage
      On any single night, there's 1000 people or so online on the server that I'm on. There's 5 oceans/servers (not counting the test server); then factor that up by geography and day of the week timing. As I post, there's 3259 [puzzlepirates.com] online, and it's the middle of the US night. Mmogchart.com puts them at 35k current subscriptions in March, so your 50k figure is probably about right; but your earlier reasoning is off. Only a tiny tiny fraction of people will have filled up 15 slots; it's largely pointless. What does complicate it is that by creating a satellite account to buy dubloons, you get shanghai points for your crew; you can then transfer the dubloons and ditch the satellite. Bonus shanghai point. That, in the dubloon/micropayment oceans, is what's boosting this figure.

      Sure, 2 million characters is a flawed number; and a figure of 50k when compared to games like WoW is pretty small. It's still by far the most social game I've seen - and that with easily the largest ratio of girls to guys. I'd guess it as around 50:50, probably ± 5-10%.
  • One interesting bit in Puzzle Pirates is that your levels aren't directly related to how much time you put in. It's how good you are at the puzzles. So instead of experience points you get real experience.

    It makes accounts eBay proof too. I've never seen a gold farmer in PP.
    • And until recently, Gaia Online was also considered eBay-proof too.

      I'm not sure how hard it would be to design a decompiler that could, say, play navy puzzles all day long and just harvest gold from duty puzzling, but I can't imagine it being fiendishly difficult, or would prevent a farmer from just playing the tournaments to sell off trinkets and other items in that manner.

      The main abuse of the game is the use of 'able' alternative accounts to disguise the actual skill level of a player, which I doubt has
      • by KDR_11k ( 778916 )
        I'm not sure how hard it would be to design a decompiler that could, say, play navy puzzles all day long and just harvest gold from duty puzzling

        I'm not sure if you know what a decompiler does.
      • While there isn't a fix for PvP puzzles, the duty and shop puzzles have scalling dificulty now. As an able pirate, you won't get the boards you need to score increadables. You'll get sailing boards with just one or two target platforms, your gunnery peices will move at a crawl, you'll only have four diferent pieces in blige, and all of the alchemestry bottles will only require one primary color to fill.

        Of course, you can still sit arround the docks with a Scimitar and slice and dice greenies till your ra

  • As a pirate AND a play-for-free advocate, I should let people know that there are two styles of playing. One is subscription play, where features are unlocked to subscribers who pay a monthly fee. I'm not one of those pirates.

    The other kind, which I would expect to be more popular among Slashdotters, is dubloon pay. Dubloon oceans require pirates to purchase dubloons, a second currency, in order to gain upper-tier features. The key thing is that dubloons can either be bought with cash, or with the primary c
  • "Our inspiration continues to be the Korean market, where 'free to play, pay for item' is the ubiquitous business model for online games"

    A few major examples :

    Lineage : pay per month
    Lineage II : pay per month
    RF Online : pay per month/30days of play

    So, describing the 'free to play' as ubiquitous is either misleading or wishful thinking.
    A valid business model ? In asia, surely.
    Ubiquitous ? hardly ... even and especially in Korea.

    Oh, and Korean pay twice as much per month than their US/Europe peers for the sam
    • There have already been a few other examples listed as replies, but there are SO many different games that match YPP's business model coming out of korea.

      I played one game that hadn't "launched" yet (the "item mall" wasn't open) called Goonzu. It was actually pretty good for a free game, and a lot of the item mall things could be acquired in game (like a bag to double your storage capacity, for example). The games you listed have one thing in common: They are all sold at retail in the US. That's ignoring su
    • Koreans don't have to purchase a copy of the game or expansions. They pay about $25US a month to play and usually play at net cafes.
    • Some do it like this, many others rely on item sales. Maple story, FlyFF, Pangya, Shot Online and Hero Online [gamespy.com] are the ones I can recall right now, there are many more.
  • by ClassicComposer ( 916856 ) on Friday July 28, 2006 @09:21AM (#15798052) Journal
    From now on, could we possibly make a new rule: when an article's full text is under ~200 words, just quote the whole damn article and write, "Full Article:" before the quote?
  • So does 2 million virtual pirates support the theory of a virtual flying spaghetti monster?
  • Kart World? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Daengbo ( 523424 ) <daengbo@NOSpam.gmail.com> on Friday July 28, 2006 @11:21AM (#15798940) Homepage Journal
    Following the Korean model? So, what, Kart Rider is taking over the world? I can't wait ....

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