Is November 4th the Norwegian April Fools Day? I need to know these things, people! Because if not, reports like this are just disturbing to the core:
Norwegian developer and publisher Funcom, the company behind the Age of Conan and Secret World MMO titles, has been awarded a grant worth NOK 1.5 million (USD 262,000) to help it create a new social MMO based around extreme sports.
The firm is currently only in the early stages of planning, and a fuller announcement will be made in due course, but work should start in earnest at the beginning of 2010.
“Yes, I can confirm that Funcom is working on a new project called Board with the World,” Erling Ellingsen, director of communications at Funcom, told GamesIndustry.biz. “This will be a free-to-play social MMO focusing on the world of extreme sports. Right now we are in a very early planning phase for this project, but we expect to start working on an initial prototype in January next year.
“First and foremost we will be focusing on snowboarding, with the possibility of adding different sports later. We also want this to be a social world rich with different types of media content and pop-cultural elements such as music, video and even fashion. It is definitely exciting, and we look forward to revealing more on this later.”
First of all, I want $262,000 for doing nothing more than hooking up a few XBoxes and networking Amped: Freestyle between them.
Second, “Board with the World”? That’s so teeth-grindingly bad that I had to put a leather strap in my mouth for safety. Any punny game title that makes you slightly chuckle the first time you hear it and then stare deadpan the next two hundred times should be killed to death in the marketing brainstorming session from which it spawned.
Third, what IS it with “extreme sports” that marketers and game developers and soft drink producers think is such a magical, can’t-miss button with today’s youth? You can’t just go up to the top of a tall building and holler “SNOWBOARDING! TO THE EXTREME!” and expect a Mongrol horde of puberty-striken 15-year-olds to swarm the lobby. Corporations have been trying to sell that tonic since the early 90’s.
Finally, “extreme sports” and “even fashion” should never, ever be allowed in the same room together, lest they get into a cat fight and you have to bring out the fire hose.
P.S. – And isn’t this the MMO company that just fired a whole bunch of its staff and had to put off or slow development of its projects as a result?