Through an open letter to its closed beta testers on March 29th, Red5 Studios, owned by The9 (NASDAQ:NCTY), announced that it will be launching 24/7 operations of its Firefall game servers for its beta community beginning April 2nd. This is a major step for Firefall as the servers have previously only been operational during specified time frames when authorized beta testers were given access to the game.
Red5 Studios is launching its 24/7 beta operations just in time for PAX East 2012, one of the largest gaming conventions in the U.S. This year's convention starts on April 6th. PAX East 2011 drew a record 69,500 attendees. Attendees at this year's event will be able to play the game live with active beta testers.
Over 325,000 players have already registered to receive beta access to Firefall. It is not clear how many have actually been granted access since the beta launch in September 2011. However, in conjunction with this 24/7 server launch, Red5 invited an additional 40,000 of its registered users to join the beta test.
This development is a major milestone for Firefall and may give The9 more leverage in its negotiations with game operators looking to license Firefall.
Disclosure: I am long NCTY.