The Next Era of Kingsisle Games is Here!
The Big Deal
Last month, it was announced that Media and Games Invest (MGI for short) + Gamigo, one of Europe’s leading MMO publishers, is acquiring Kingsisle Entertainment for $126 million plus up to an extra approximate $80 million depending on the state of the games further down the line. This acquisition includes the popular and award-winning titles Wizard101 and Pirate101 as well as an assortment of related mobile IPS (with some remaining under control of Kingsisle’s original owners). The news of the acquisition has been seen circulating around the community and reported by Yahoo Finance, MGI Press Releases and an official announcement from Kingsisle. What exactly does this acquisition deal mean for the future of the well-known KI games? Let’s jump in and take a look!
Recap of Acquisition:
MGI has expressed great interest in further developing both Wizard101 and Pirate101, stating that both games have much potential to continue growing and have very strong, loyal communities. During an investors conference, they guaranteed that more updates will happen, discussed their plan of focusing on both games and further expanding them in the gaming industry, while taking a look at the Free to Play model of the game and the interest of potential console and mobile release in the future (2022 was a mentioned year associated with console/mobile development). They have expressed desires to expand the teams and resources behind our favorite MMO’s, and are even pushing for more advertisements. While Wizard101 and Pirate101 are available in other countries (including different versions and servers outside the main base game) they are also interested in internationalizing the game more to reach wider audiences and bring an ever larger community together. UPDATE: Kingsisle has confirmed that while looking at the Free-to-Play model, the games will not be going entirely free to play.
With the KI team getting access to more resources from their new owners, updates will for sure reflect the acquisition. KI has already mentioned the devs are working and coordinating with Gamigo to plan out ideas for future updates, not to mention that MGI has already publicly displayed interest in expanding the team with a consideration of adding approximately 80 people. The current presumptive update timeline consists of a Spring, a Summer and a Fall update that will bring more game-play content, quality of life improvements and bug fixes, with new worlds and larger expansions generally being at the end of the year. Make no mistake, Kingsisle always adds in new features in every update, targeting various interests of the player base. From new worlds and shadow spells for higher levels and the FTUE changes for those that are new, to the ongoing PvP balancing improvements for all players alike, KI works on the overall balance of new content among different player groups. The graphical revamp, for example, was released with the FTUE to revamp the graphics of Wizard City. Kingsisle has previously stated that they currently had no intentions to revamp the entire game, but could we expect the older worlds, such as Krokatopia, Marleybone, Mooshu and Dragonsypre to be revamped in the future? Either way, in a recent Kingsisle Blog Post, they discussed that they want to focus on bringing new content to all players in general, and now they may be able to do so even more in each update. The main story today continues to expand over a dozen worlds and four story arcs, making a great gaming experience.
Grizzleheim/Wintertusk and Wysteria currently remain the only separate side worlds, and extra side content include Darkmoor, Waterworks, ZigZag, Pagoda of Harmony, Briskbreeze Tower and the mini-world of Aquila. Skeleton Keys provide content to side-bosses with various loot tables, and an assortment of extra features such as gardening, pet training, monstrology, daily assignments, crafting and more are also optional side content. These well known side systems are a large portion of the game, and now is the greater chance than ever for side systems, both new and old to be developed and improved and for worlds separate from the main story arc to make a return. Overall, there is plenty of content to expect in future updates, such as the highly anticipated next world and the possibilities of new dungeons as well as new gear to farm. While Kingsisle has always been consistent with updating Wizard101, the new acquisition could could be the opportunity of larger content updates adding in more features, new systems, quality of life improvements and tackle bugs more efficiently. But Wizard101 remains only as one piece of the acquisition…
With all the content that is expected to be coming to Wizard101, we can’t forget the sister-game, Pirate101. Also an award winning MMO, Pirate101’s fun, skyway surfing nautical adventure was released in 2012, but hasn’t received as much attention as Wizard101 has had these past few years. MGI analysis shows that financially, Wizard101 has a bigger standing than Pirate, they acknowledged the potential of the successful pirate adventure and confirmed that they want to continue with major content updates. While Pirate101 doesn’t offer as many worlds or levels as Wizard101, the players of the game are well aware of the fun-filled journey. The #RevivePirate101 movement has exploded among the Kingsisle community, with pirate players old and new making their voices heard that they seek the revival of the swashbuckling MMO. Before, Kingsisle has mentioned that to keep regular updates with both games, they would require a larger team, which will likely come from this acquisition. So… what could we expect from Pirate101?
New Worlds: Containing various worlds, some that are similar variants to W101 (such as Pirate101 Mooshu), Pirate101 has yet to see any new worlds within the last few years. New Worlds is one of the most requested Pirate101 updates, and now with the dev team being expanded, Pirate101 could receive more major content updates. Currently, level 70 is the max level you can reach in Pirate101 (with 140 being max in W101) but it was mentioned in the acquisition details that MGI is looking to close on the growing level gap, meaning more levels will likely mean more worlds!
Dungeons: Dungeons can be one the most enjoyable lore-filled content pieces in the games. These intense content-filled areas gain wide attention for their story and purposes, both games have these widely known areas. Pirate101 has a small amount of these more challenging areas, such as The Labyrinth and The Cave of Typhon. Dungeons may only typically take anywhere from thirty minutes to a couple of hours, they are known for the enjoyable content and drops they hold. Mount Olympus, Waterworks and Darkmoor dungeons contain some of the best gear and mini-storylines in W101, and many players are hoping to see an equivalent to those dungeons in P101.
Ships and The Skyway: One of Pirate101’s most well known and favorite features is Sailing on the Skyways in player customized ships. With new content coming, the ever growing Skyway and Ship customization can only grow from here. There is just something about sailing the skies that is so relaxing, and of course the exhilarating ship battles that can be had? With a chance of new features? The more the merrier!
New Features: Pirate101 offers many things separate of Wizard101, such as Ship PvP and the companion system. With regular updates returning to Pirate101, these systems can be expanded on with new companions, pets, ship customization and decorating, etc. Many features from W101 have yet to make an appearance in P101, such as Photomancy, Daily Assignments, Fishing and Events. With all these features built into W101, P101 will have the chance to receive them.
Free to Play Content:
It’s no secret that players are hoping to see more free-to-play content. Whether its anything from new features, gameplay, benefits or non-crown requiring items, players are hoping to see a change in the barriers between premium content and free-to-play content. One of the most requested changes is the expansion of free-to-play content to cover all of Wizard City, (or in some cases, the first arc) 100% of players would love to see more content to access freely. While KI has confirmed the games will not be entirely free-to-play, you can’t help but wonder what could become free-to-play??? The return of free-to-play weeks???
Free-to-play content is easily a highlighted phrase from the acquisition, but would could be the future of member benefits? Weekly member benefits? More overlapping benefits? The creation of more member benefits? Perhaps by luck an unexpected return of a rare double gardening benefits with seed drops (okay, that might just be more desire than chance)??? This of course is just speculation, but who knows what’s to come? After all, we just saw the new membership + monthly crowns combo deal that was just recently available.
Console and Mobile Release: The Generational Leap
We’ve all seen the speculation of Wizard101 and Pirate101 coming to console and mobile somewhere every now and again, so the interests in a console and mobile release have always been high. But as noted in the acquisition details, MGI has shown interest in making the generational leap happen. To think as of the time of this writing, Wizard101 was released over 12 years ago! Released September 2, 2008, Wizard101 has lived through three main generations of Xbox (Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X) and PlayStation (PS3, PS4, PS5) consoles! Not forgetting the fact Wizard101 was available to play on PC during the lifespan of many Nintendo consoles (DS, Wii, 3DS, Wii U, Switch) it’s safe to say that Wizard101 has been around to see the changes of the last decade+, including the changes in computing and gaming power. Wizard101 is currently not full downloadable, but Professor Falmea has mentioned herself that an enhanced, fully downloadable Wizard101 game is something they have discussed, would love to see and it’s on a list of things they would look into. W101 was designed to be playable on computers built for the time (I personally remember playing Wizard101 on a Windows 7 computer with 2 GB of RAM). Network speeds were slower, computer hardware wasn’t as advanced and of course, the price of computers were generally higher back then. But now, computers have advanced far more beyond what was imaginable and are now more affordable. In the past, one appealing aspect of consoles was the power of gaming in an affordable price, with current generation consoles such as the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 closing the gap between computer and console power. Even the Nintendo Switch has brought extreme power to an affordable, hand-held device. Mobile phones are becoming a regular known item in homes everywhere, but what makes all this so important?
Next Generation Power: These computers, consoles and phones are now more powerful than ever before. The game was designed to run on lower-end devices, and tends to play quite well. But then there is the gaming PC spectrum and the power of consoles. Next generation capability brings advancements many thought impossible. Now, 4K (and soon up-scaling to 8K), 60-120 FPS, 4-8 GB of DDR4/DDR6 RAM and 512MB – 1 Terabyte of hard drive storage is becoming a gaming standard (as well as greatly improved network speeds, including fiber optic capability). Wizard101 as of now runs at 1080p60 (even with slower network connections), and runs quite smooth. The game takes little space, and after just a couple minute wait, you can get logged into the game and off to playing. The question now is with potential of a console release, will Wizard101 see these next generation enhancements?
The Difference: As stated before, Wizard101 runs well on lower-end and standard devices. How different would these changes be to the game? 4K is approximately 4 times greater in detail that 1080p, with 120 fps doubling the overall smoothness of game-play, especially on supported monitors. RAM allows for more content to be opened/accessed at a given time, which could mean improved load times and smoother game-play (note: according to Wizard101’s Operational Requirements, W101 is currently locked to 512MB of Ram) With these enhancements, the game would make a major leap. Though its important to note that some devices are more easily affordable than others, so a major generational leap like this should not be forced for all players, but instead be adjustable through in game settings. Through game optimization, Wizard101 should still be able to run as it does now (smooth on lower-end/average pcs) and offer a fully downloadable version to take advantage of the power of next generational hardware. Time during loading screens, would be the biggest noticeable change, and if even by a few seconds, would be a big game changer that doesn’t leave anyone else behind. But of course this is all talk of console and higher end gaming PCs, what about mobile?
Mobile: Many players have dreamed for a W101 mobile release. Being able to pull out a mobile device practically anywhere and quest, decorate castles, train pets or check on gardens is a desire all wizards would love to see. Current mobile devices are typically not as powerful as higher end PCs or consoles, or in some cases, as affordable. However, phones now look as though they could meet the operational requirements, but may not even have too? This is where the power of game streaming could come in. X-Cloud, Amazon Luna and Google Stadia are powerful game streaming services that handle the performance of gaming on servers, which is then streamed to a device. This can allow for high end gaming on mobile devices (and even on standard PCs) but there are concerns that services like these are not 100% perfect as of yet.
Mobile Games: The End of an Era?
Sadly, after the acquisition of KI, the currently ran mobile games Animal Cove, Ever-Clicker and Rise and Destroy will be officially closed at the end of the month. The acquisition notes state that MGI has acquired mobile-related ips to W101 and P101, though other than the mention of a potential mobile release for W101, no new announcements regarding new mobile games or the future of Grub Guardian have been made. It’s sad to see these ones go! Be on the look out for a short Animal Cove post soon!
While the future remains bright for Kingsisle, much of this post is still speculation with nothing set in stone. Drawn from information provided by various reports and posts, make sure to check out the official announcements, analysis and press releases. What are you hoping to see come to our favorite MMOs? With the support of a strong community, hard-work from the dev team and COO of MGI Group Jens Knauber stating: “We will deliver,” the sky is the limit!