Andrew Ross

Andrew Ross usually covers E3, MOBAs, MMO-ish multiplayer games, and game related studies for Massively OP. He's a hardcore PvPer who delivered pizzas to shard defender supply runners in Asheron's Call's Shard of the Herald event, fried fish during Darkfall's World War 1 and 2, and killed many alliance members in World of Warcraft for picking "his" flowers. He is a terrible jungler, but can usually stay on the road in Mario Kart.

Scientists say Pokemon Go helps relieve stress in Japanese workers

A new Japanese study in the acclaimed science journal Nature suggests that Pokemon Go players experienced a drop in “psychological distress” because of the game. The paper gives psychological distress a specific definition, but it’s easier to explain it as the amount of “vigor” someone has compared to depression, anxiety, and fatigue.

While the study had a control group of non-players and used a total sample size of 2,500 fully employed Japanese workers, at this point in the research game, I’ve started to become less impressed. While I’d love to sing praises of POGO, there’s a reason most people look at the game as a fad, and the research here only reinforced this. Let’s take a look at the study and what it really means.

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Niantic is releasing new Pokemon Go raids despite major bugs

Hot on the heels of its legendary bird raidsPokemon Go will have Generation 2’s legendary dogs as the game’s newest raids starting August 31st. As the dogs roamed the 2-D landscape 1999, they’ll now roam the world’s gyms, with each dog being a region exclusive for about 30 days before moving to a new territory.

Electric dog Raikou will be in the western hemisphere, fire dog Entei will roam Europe and Africa, and “why is this still weaker than Vaporeon?” water pup Suicune will be doggy paddling around Asia. For those thinking about jumping back into the game, Reddit user RyanoftheDay, who often creates infographs for the game, has already put together an image to help people prepare for the pups. In addition, EX Raids (formerly called “Exclusive Raids”) will be distributed to the public soon for events starting September 6th.

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The Walking Dead IP is getting a new augmented reality game, like Pokemon Go but maybe better

Next Games, the company behind The Walking Dead: No Man’s Land, recently announced an AR game based on the Walking Dead IP.

What’s interesting is that unlike Pokemon Go, the Walking Dead’s AR seems to be a key feature of gameplay, not an add-on, and it’s being marketed as such. Players will need to follow AR clues to find survivors and physically move around to find and combat zombies which may surround them. While that does seem highly engaging, I know I’ll have to worry about non-gamers reacting to AR weirdness in meat space, sort of like in Pokemon GO raiding situations in high-traffic areas.

In addition, comparing the demographics of The Walking Dead TV series to Pokemon GO player demographics reveals quite the overlap in terms of gender and age. Both have nearly equal appeal between the genders and primarily seem to attract people in their 20s and 30s. This means Niantic might actually have competition from another AR game based on a strong IP. It’ll be interesting to see how the community responds once The Walking Dead: Our World arrives.

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Why you should care that Nintendo’s social network Miiverse sunsets in November

We’ve known for a while that social network Miiverse would eventually be closing, but Nintendo confirmed the news and the official death date yesterday on its Japanese site. For those hoping it may only affect Miiverse in its home country, a second shot has since been fired on Nintendo’s North American site: Miiverse shuts down at 1 a.m. EDT on November 8th (10 p.m. PDT on November 7).

Miiverse wasn’t an MMO, but social-minded MMO players might care about the sunset all the same because of the MMO-like games it effectively serviced and the multiplayer future it could have heralded. While Nintendo cites the reality that users have migrated to other social media platforms as the reason to shut the service down, the fact remains that Miiverse integration made a lot of Nintendo games more multiplayer. Nintendo’s clumsy code system could often be circumvented through Miiverse, allowing people to add new friends by seeing who was active on a game’s Miiverse page, looking through profiles, and requesting to add buddies to friend lists. Miiverse profiles allowed not just text and mentioning of favorite games or personal interests but also custom art, something we still infrequently see in MMOs.

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Final Fantasy XIV’s Naoki Yoshida on Stormblood’s release, AI issues, and MMO history

After all this time, I’m sure some of you forgot that my original E3 2017 interview with Final Fantasy XIV’s Naoki Yoshida was supposed to have a part two. That’s OK, since, well, the team’s been a bit busy since then. With the expansion out and some fires smothered, the much loved game director finally was able to get back to some of my questions.

Naturally, the first question I had to ask was how Yoshida is feeling about Stormblood following early access, launch, and the release of the first content patch updates. For now, he said (through translators) that he’s relieved but that the expansion had “an unexpectedly high number of new and returning players [who] came back to the game, which caused some issues and frustration.” One of them was the DDOS attack, for which he again offered apologies.

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The Stream Team: Lucius Fox’s fate in Telltale’s Batman The Enemy Within

Oh man, did we ever end on a cliff hanger yesterday while streaming Batman: The Enemy Within – The TellTale Series! We’ve had some great Batman moments and met an old Batman villain, which led to an explosive event just as I had to end the stream. Hopefully we’ll get some good news in today’s stream as our OPTV audience continues to hop into TellTale’s Crowd Play and vote on what actions Batman takes next!

What: Batman: The Enemy Within- The TellTale Series
Who: Andrew Ross
When: 4:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, August 11th, 2017
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The Stream Team: Digging into Batman: The Enemy Within – The TellTale Series

Let’s solve some crimes and make up rhymes as TellTale Games pits Batman, Andrew, and our Crowd Play audience against the Riddler in the newest choose your own adventure title, Batman: The Enemy Within- The TellTale Series. As in other TellTale games we’ve streamed, the audience will be picking Batman’s choices as the story unfolds based on Andrew’s (slightly brutal) experience with the first game. Join us this afternoon on OPTV as we play…

What: Batman: The Enemy Within- The TellTale Series
Who: Andrew Ross
When: 4:00 p.m. EDT on Thursday, August 10th, 2017
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Elite Dangerous: A ground-pounding newbie’s perspective

Earlier this summer I wrote that Elite Dangerous community events were something the MMO community should watch. Watch. I never said play, and I never ended up pushing the “purchase” button when I saw it on sale. I’m not really a flight sim person. Heck, I’ve even mentioned several times that I prefer kart-racers to realistic racing games.

However, I recently snagged a review key for Elite Dangerous to try it out on the PlayStation 4. I even streamed my first experiences with the game. It was a rocky session to say the least, but I decided to stick with it for a few more hours after getting some support from viewers. I really wanted to be able to recommend the game as something to pick up, but honestly, I’m still in the “watch” category.

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First Impressions: Splatoon 2 is a lobby shooter for socializers

After my hands-on at E3 and experience with the first Splatfest demo, I was a little concerned about Splatoon 2. I loved Splatoon 1but something about the E3 Salmon Run fell flat, and after having experienced the full version of Splat 1, I thought that the demo of Splat 2 without customization felt too shallow.

So I was provided a review copy of the game prior to launch, and something still didn’t feel right. While it was good to get in time with the single player mode and prepare me for launch, I figured out what was missing: the real Splatoon community. It’s what gives Splatoon more of an MMO-y feel than most of Nintendo’s other titles.

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The Soapbox: The disastrous Pokemon Go Fest was just Niantic being Niantic, and that has to stop

I know I complain a lot about Pokemon Go in my articles here, but there’s a reason for this. I’m a huge fan not just of the Pokemon series but of what Niantic is trying to do with its game on a basic level. The idea of getting games outside with the rest of the world instead of hidden in our rooms and offices is hugely appealing. I’ve even applied to work at Niantic before (though obviously I wasn’t selected), so for me especially it’s frustrating to see a company I want to succeed repeatedly making the same kinds of mistakes. These are mistakes that plagued the game’s launch, several events, feature reworkings, and now not one, but two birthday celebrations within the same year. 

I actually got sucked into the hype recently and even said that the events surrounding the festival might give people a reason to come back. I’ve finally removed my foot from my mouth after previously downing some crow, but I’ve realized that, now more than ever, Niantic needs some tougher love, and here it is.

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Pokemon Go: Milwaukee County lawsuit injunction and preparing for legendaries

Back in February, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, tried to prevent Pokemon Go player-inflicted park damage by requiring ARG developers, including Niantic, to acquire permits before implementing games within the park. The county was subsequently sued by Texas Rope’ Em dev Candy Lab AR this past spring, and now, a judge has granted an injunction blocking enforcement of the ordinance until after the lawsuit’s been resolved, noting not only that it’s unconstitutional but nearly impossible to execute.

In happier POGO news, Legendary Pokemon are coming to Pokemon Go. Unlike other Pokemon, Legendaries cannot be put into gyms to defend, but they should make raids a little bit easier. Trainers at the Chicago event will have a set of challenges to meet, but players not attending also need to help out. PokemonGO Hub has a great chart for finding out when the events begin if you need a little guidance. On the way to legendaries, players can unlock bonuses to just about everything, from Star Dust to increased spawns.

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MMO Burnout: Nintendo’s ARMS and the Switch in public and private

It won’t surprise anyone who reads our WRUPs that a lot of my free time gaming has been mobile-based as of late, especially if it has local multiplayer. While I still prefer PC gaming for the most part, it’s hard for me to bring a mouse and keyboard with me to a convention and play while the line is moving. MMOs with local multiplayer are even harder. Recent conventions have made jumping into traditional MMOs harder, as has the summer heat that magnifies the heat I feel when playing on ol’ lappy (although that could just be a result of the airless storage space I call home!).

At any rate, I decided to bust out my Nintendo Switch a bit more, bringing it with me to try to recreate Nintendo’s questionable marketing ploy and so I can play in a room where open windows don’t pose a risk to my papers and electronics. My weapon of choice? ARMS.

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No, exploitative gacha mechanics are not a good idea for western devs

We’ve been talking about exploitative gacha games and related business models on Massively OP for a long time, most recently and notably in depth earlier this year when we covered how Japan, Korea, China, and Singapore have all passed laws to take the model down a peg. In fact, China’s newest anti-gacha laws have since been used to target MMOs, card games, and even Overwatch’s skins. So given all the crackdowns, you’d think that the trend would be to avoid it, right? That industry analysts and watchers on this side of the pond would be wary?

But no. Bizarrely, there’s a new GamesIndustry.biz article this week in which AppLovin Managing Director Johannes Heinze advocates that western developers start including gachapon mechanics, even citing Pokemon Go as a good example of how well it works. He argues that gacha requires:

  • A large, varied set of content
  • A strong desire from the player to collect as many items as possible
  • A game where gacha content is necessary for players to progress
  • An effective mechanic for duplicate content (to prevent player churn from pulling too many duplicates)

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