"Rome wasn't built in a day," some might sniff, but guess what? Nobody cares about Rome. I'm totally going to build PCGamerLand in a day. Maybe even before dinnertime. That's something that's very possible to do, now that Anno Online's entered its English-language open beta.
It’s easy to be impressed and – if I’m honest – a little overwhelmed by Anno Online. I’m staring at a city built by one of the developers at Ubisoft Bluebyte, which he describes as “several weeks worth of playtime” and it’s a sprawling, intensely busy scene as tiny people dash around between myriad buildings, while ships clog up the harbour keen to deliver their goods. There are exclamation points everywhere. Apparently I need to build more vineyards to start wine production, there’s a shortage of goat farms, and some citizens in a far-flung corner of my empire are upset because they don’t have a road to the local market. Aaaaaaargh.
Ubisoft are making a big push into free-to-play browser based games, and they're using some classic franchises to do it. They're publishing THREE new games, and we've taken a look at all of them. Check out our previews of Silent Hunter Online, Anno Online and Heroes of Might and Magic Online for the first details.
We sent Dan out to have a chat with Benedikt Grindel, director of live operations at the developer behind all three games, Blue Byte. Grindel suggests that the move is about using the power of a familiar brand to find fresh fans, and argues that the move online doesn't necessarily spell the end for these series' much loved offline iterations.