VU Games to shoot MMO hoops

Publisher to import Korean hit Freestyle Street Basketball; micropayments-driven game set for 2007 release in North America.

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VU Games' American massively multiplayer online game World of Warcraft has been phenomenally popular in Korea (too popular in some cases), and now the publisher is hoping to re-create that success in reverse. Early next year, VU Games will bring the Korean hit MMO basketball game Freestyle Street Basketball (no relation to Acclaim's ill-fated Freestyle Street Soccer) to American audiences early next year.

As can be inferred by the title, Freestyle Street Basketball trades in the swords and sorcery for slams and jams. Instead of roaming the countryside looking for dragons and ogres to gang up on, players hit the hardcourt with their customized characters and form pickup basketball games.

Given that the game has an unusual MMO theme, VU Games is looking to market it to an unusual MMO audience with an unproven business model. Freestyle Street is designed with mass appeal and quick play sessions to target casual gamers, and it will be supported not by subscription fees, but by the increasingly noticeable trend of micropayments. While there are long-term goals and the ability to level up characters over time, players can also give their character a unique style by purchasing fashions, music, and new skills for their character with experience points and real-world money.

Originally developed by Korea-based JC Entertainment, Freestyle Street Basketball is set to release in North America in the first quarter of 2007. It will be released under VU Games' new Sierra Online label.

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