Red Alert: A Transformers MMO

By Alec Meer on August 2nd, 2010 at 10:10 pm.

Like all my Christmases come at once. And then not being allowed to go to them

My dream game, until I have a grown-up’s dream: a Transformers MMO. Design your own character, get deep into factional territory war, a universe full of weird planets to explore, a slew of alt-mode upgrades to pursue, endless humans to squish, cameos by Death’s Head. The ideal sci-fi property for an online world, yes?

I will never have this. Too expensive, too ambitious. Yet Asia is getting Transformers Online. Dare I to dream the impossible plastic toy-based dream?

Well, probably not. So far, it’s Asia, Russian territories and the Middle East, with no mention of the US or Europe. And it’s by Netdragon, the people currently turning the Dungeon Keeper MMO into something that’s apparently not much like Dungeon Keeper.

On the other hand, trademark-meisters Hasbro aren’t likely to let Netdragon veer wildly away from respecting the license, surely? Oh, hang on – they let Michael Bay reimagine two Transformers as negative racial stereotypes and have one of the franchise’s most beloved characters do a wee on John Turturro. Yeah, this could be anything, couldn’t it?

Still, Netdragon are being trusted with some enormous licenses – an Asia-only new version of Ultima Online (!) and another of Disney’s online magic kingdoms. They’ve surely got a ton of money in the bank by now – perhaps they could do World of Optimii justice after all.

As to chances of seeing it, they’re probably unlikely. Then again, Company Of Heroes Online crossed over to these shores eventually…

Here are all the details I have. Really though, they don’t say anything more than the headline does. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

HONG KONG, July 30 — NetDragon Websoft Inc, a leading online game developer and innovator in China, today announced that it has entered a brand licensing agreement with Hasbro, Inc., a worldwide leader in children’s and family leisure time products and services, for the exclusive rights to develop and publish in Asia, Russia/CIS and MENA an MMORPG based on Hasbro’s iconic TRANSFORMERS brand. The action-oriented PC online game “TRANSFORMERS Online” is expected to officially roll-out in 2011 in China as well as other select markets in Asia, MENA and Russia/CIS.

The TRANSFORMERS brand has garnered a worldwide fan base of millions due to the ideal worldview on which it is based, its ever-changing image, and its sustained promotion through toys, movies, TV shows, comics, and other consumer channels.

“NetDragon’s proven expertise at creating hugely successful MMOG’s, coupled with the passion they share for the iconic TRANSFORMERS brand, means we are thrilled to be entering into this license with them to deliver a truly ground-breaking MMO to fans in China and selected markets in Asia and Russia/CIS,” said Mark Blecher, General Manager and Senior Vice President of Digital Media & Gaming at Hasbro.

NetDragon Chairman and Executive Director Liu Dejian expressed, “As a brand and a cultural icon, TRANSFORMERS is already a household name in China, and we are extremely honored to be able to join hands with Hasbro to bring the excitement and fanaticism of TRANSFORMERS into the online gaming sector. We firmly believe that through the hard work of NetDragon’s passionate and creative employees, we will be able to create a game that will stand the test of time for TRANSFORMERS fans and hobbyists around the globe.”

About NetDragon

NetDragon Websoft Inc. is a leading innovator and creative force in China’s online gaming industry. Established in 1999, NetDragon has been operating and developing a broad range of MMORPGs since launching its first self-made title Monster & Me in 2002. In addition, NetDragon is China’s pioneer in overseas expansion, having directly operated its titles in overseas markets since 2004 in English, French, Spanish and other foreign languages. NetDragon’s game portfolio comprises a range of massively multiplayer online games that cater to various types of players and gaming preferences. Current offerings include the games Eudemons Online, Conquer Online, Zero Online, Way of the Five, Heroes of Might & Magic Online, Disney Fantasy Online and Tian Yuan. NetDragon also has several games currently in development, including Dungeon Keeper Online, Doomsday, Cross Gate, Legend of the Dark and a new version of Ultima Online.

I WARNED YOU.

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21 Comments »

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  1. DJ Phantoon says:

    Hmm. Would they enforce Chinese rules once it leaves their shores?

    Not interested in a game that forces me to use my real name, even if it IS the Transformers.

  2. Andy_Panthro says:

    I would want the new Ultima Online…

    We were promised one, one that would knock Everquest from it’s pedestal!

    Those were the days.

    Ah… I’d actually be tempted by an old school UO RP shard.

  3. Bobsy says:

    God, I remember that comic cover. I think I kept that one for longest, even after the rest had all perished or been thrown out. The UK Marvel comic run was pretty damn awesome. BETTER TO FIGHT AND DIE THAN LIVE WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT I RAN.

    • Bret says:

      Ever read Last Stand of the Wreckers?

      One of the few recent comics to really keep the spirit, I thought.

    • Urael says:

      Nick Roche (The Author of LSOTW) is an absolute treasure. Not only can he write stories on a par with the best of Marvel’s TFUK but his drawing is top-notch – not just detailed but so full of personality, too.

    • Selendor says:

      Still have issue one of the uk comic somewhere, its been ring binded and crayon’d though :(

      The holy grail of all that is gaming – a Transformers MMO with Gen 1 Styling! Life isn’t that good is it.

  4. ReV_VAdAUL says:

    Micropayments to improve your weapons / stats / appearance and micropayments to increase the range of vehicles you can transform into? Why yes Hasbro is interested.

    • Spacewalk says:

      You could say that you transform your money into content.

  5. PatrickSwayze says:

    I’d give anything to be the Astrotrain style character who whisks everyone away when a raid or some PVP nonsense goes awry.

    The question is , would the game be set on modern day Earth or Cybertron back in the day?

    I think Cybertron would be better unless the graphics are going to be equivalent to something like Aion, or Crysis. A MMORPG probably wouldn’t provide the interactivity or graphical fidelity if it was to be set on Earth.

    To be hoped if the game see’s a western release the character builds are for that of originals, head masters, target masters and triple changers instead of warrior/mage/rogue-a-likes.

  6. geldonyetich says:

    I’d be mildly surprised if there isn’t a fully enriched genre of giant robot MMORPGs in the pan-Asiatic area.

    • P7uen says:

      It’s mainly just ancient-dynasty-girls-with-big-swords-and-bigger-cleavage-MMOs out here, unfortunately.

    • Dominic White says:

      There’s a fair few of them, but it largely seems to be a sub-genre that not many people are interested in. A while back there was Gundam Online, which was effectively Ultima Online gameplay (no levels, no classes, very equipment-centric) but set in an enormous robot land-war in Australia. It had fuck-all content worth speaking of though, and ended up shutting down.

      There was Front Mission Online on the PS2. There’s some robot-shooter ones like Exteel (never played it) and Cosmic Break (quite fun, can’t wait for the beta to go back live again). Generally it’s pretty slim pickings, though.

    • DeepSleeper says:

      Exteel was basically Gunz + Mecha minus airdashing. It was firmly all right.

      There’s also a couple of other Gundam online games, including an SD one in the style of Cosmic Break. I don’t know if they’re really supported anymore though. Whenever I hear of them, it’s fan servers in Chinese or Japanese.

    • Xercies says:

      @Dominic

      Probably because there not doing the obvious thing and selling it to japan. If they did they would get huge numbers playing there games. japanese eat those kind of games for breakfast.

  7. mondomau says:

    Only in Asia / Russia?
    I was mad at first, then I realised that means this likely to be a by-the-numbers generic micro-transaction grind-fest.

    They can keep it. :-/

  8. dtgreen says:

    Looking forward to such moments as Constructicons ganking Wheelie…

  9. Urael says:

    Taking into account the shiny, puddle-deep waste of potential that was War for Cybertron, I see no reason to get excited over this new announcement, not if we Northern Hemisphere residents might not even get to see it.

    But as usual, Alec, well done on seizing such a fabulous opportunity to post some nostalgia shots. :)

  10. Jake says:

    Although War for Cybertron was decent, I am not so interested in Cybertron alt modes – a good deal of the appeal of TF is that the robot modes have elements of their vehicle forms – like Optimus’ truck grills and smoke stacks or the Seekers’ F15 stylings. It differentiates TF from other generic giant robots. It’s cool to see things like Grimlock’s Cybertron alt-mode, but way less cool than the fact he is usually a dinosaur. Cybertron forms are just a bit boring when that is all there is: high tech tanks or vehicles with little personality. Last Stand of The Wreckers was awesome but mostly as a change of pace from the earth based stuff – I wouldn’t want all TF to be like that (well, I’d like it to be all that well written).

    So I really hope they use earth modes. I actually loved the Simon Furman contemporisation of earth forms in the IDW comics before All Hail Megatron. Like having Hot Rod as a Dodge Viper, or even updating the Seekers to F22s. TFs are just much cleverer when they have a great looking robot mode that can actually change into a real vehicle and not just some random sci-fi vehicle thing.

    But I’d guess this is all unlikely to happen in a game, especially an MMO, where it would be a lot easier to make them transform into generic sci-fi vehicles – probably most TFs in War for Cybertron couldn’t really make those transformations as toys. I’d guess working transformations into real vehicles would be really time consuming and very limiting to the game to include – no way could you level up to gain more alt modes for example. I’d guess it’ll be more like the War for Cybertron style TFs: quite generic, mostly featureless robot modes with quite vague tank or plane or car alt modes available – only the few player characters were quite detailed. Hopefully they keep enough personality in the robots that they don’t just look like the movie robot forms.

    Then again, maybe I am now in a minority in thinking classic 80s Optimus looks just so much better than movie Optimus.

    • Urael says:

      If you are in a minority it’s not a very small minority. I hate Bay-verse Prime’s design as I do all those over-engineered visual nightmares, and mine isn’t the only voice on the ‘Net saying so…

  11. slot games says:

    I actually loved the Simon Furman contemporisation of earth forms in the IDW comics before All Hail Megatron. Like having Hot Rod as a Dodge Viper, or even updating the Seekers to F22s. TFs are just much cleverer when they have a great looking robot mode that can actually change into a real vehicle and not just some random sci-fi vehicle thing.

  12. free bingo games says:

    I think Cybertron would be better unless the graphics are going to be equivalent to something like Aion, or Crysis. A MMORPG probably wouldn’t provide the interactivity or graphical fidelity if it was to be set on Earth.