While the upcoming Warhammer 40,000 massively multiplayer online role-playing game is the highest-profile piece of THQ's North American push into the potentially lucrative genre, it is by no means the first part. That honor goes to Dragonica Online, a free-to-play MMO game that the publisher today confirmed for North American release this fall.
Developed by Barunson Interactive, Dragonica is a localized version of the Chinese MMOG Dream Dragon. The game combines MMORPG staples like a skill system with 3D side-scrolling combat and a microtransaction-driven business model. While the final game won't be released online or at retail until the fall, eager players will be able to try it out during an open beta-testing period currently scheduled for the summer.
While THQ is involved in the game, Dragonica will actually be put out by THQ*ICE, a new joint venture between the publisher and ICE, a Shanghai, China-based online game operator.
Dragonica and Warhammer 40,000 aren't the only MMO games on THQ's slate. Online editions of Company of Heroes and WWE SmackDown are also in the works, though they are currently slated for release only in Asian markets.
For more on Dragonica, check out its official Web site.