Citadel Forged With Fire is rolling out a new patch tomorrowday, and if you’re following the early access game, you’re probably gonna wanna know what’s in it. The big change comes in the form of a siege spell rebalance, the product of a lot of “feedback from the community” that we’re sure was entirely helpful and polite. Essentially, siege spells will be unlocked at lower levels, chiefly to “give lower level players the ability to retaliate should they find themselves the target of a raid.”
Dive Bomb in particular drops to level 30, but it’s also seeing a nerf. “We’ve made its AOE range significantly smaller to prevent it from causing massive damage to large chunks of a structure,” says Blue Isle, further noting it’ll be harder to make too.
Wanna see more? There’s a dev stream on Twitch later today at 4 p.m. EDT. Full patch notes are up too!
Breakaway has a fresh new trailer out for Gamescom today, along with a run-down of all its toons. You’ll recall the game from its slow-cook reveal last fall as one of the new titles Amazon Game Studios is currently building out — this one’s the stream-centric 4v4 online brawler.
“Breakaway is a team battle sport that blends the speed, strategy, and teamwork of sports in a competitive multiplayer action game, and is being developed with constant feedback and input from the community. Amazon Game Studios has partnered closely with Twitch to design the game to be as fun to watch as it is to play, and has added special features to help broadcaster engage their audiences.”
Check out all the new assets from the con, and make sure you’re signed up for the alpha!
Dual Universe today etched a date on its pre-alpha launch: September 30th. “Access to this first playable version of Dual Universe will be limited to Kickstarter and crowdfunding backers that have pledged at Gold Founder level and above, prior September 7th,” says Novaquark’s press release today, which characterizes the sci-fi sandbox as a “highly anticipated disruptive MMO.” The forums further explain that the originally planned alpha is in fact not actually ready, hence the pre-alpha label.
“You probably noticed that we’re calling this first public access Pre-Alpha and not Alpha, as originally intended. Why? Because we are not quite ready yet to switch the game into Alpha, but we still wanted to honor our commitment to our backers. This first public glimpse of the game won’t feature a proper game loop as we originally wanted but, after postponing the release a few months ago, we felt like a new delay was not appropriate. We think any additional delays, even though the game is not in the true Alpha state we had anticipated, would not be in keeping with the spirit of our commitments to our community and backers.
“We decided it would be better to give you access to the game at an even earlier state than to delay again. That it would be better to give you a look at where we are, rather than wait again for where we had hoped to be at this stage.”
When Oculus dropped the price of the Oculus Rift down to $400 earlier this summer, supposedly temporarily (but not its first drop), analysts were torn over the decision, suggesting that Facebook’s rumored cheaper wireless Pacific device might be the impetus.
Now this week, HTC joined in the price-slashing parade, reducing the price of the Vive from $799 to $599, a fee analysts said back in January was still too pricey for the Oculus. However, the president of the Viveport marketplace rejected the idea that the new price was a response to the Rift’s panic-mode. “I think we are the leader in the market, and the plan was always that high-end VR be available to everyone,” he told Polygon. “So of course there are a couple of components that need to fall into place … in order to reach the mass market, you need to have a lower price point. That’s been the plan all along. I think it’s good that other players in the market are making similar moves.”
For this edition of Leaderboard, I thought it would be fun to take stock of our core audience’s view of the price of VR here in 2017 to see whether it differs significantly from the 2014 vs. 2016 report, which suggested that while initial high prices had shifted many gamers’ expectations for a higher price, an even greater number still wouldn’t pay over $300 for a device. To the pollmobile!
Blizzard brought the goods to Gamescom this year, with trailers and announcements for almost every game in its stable, including — and perhaps especially — Overwatch. The team just revealed the game’s latest animated short, Rise and Shine, for viewers, and Mei fans will join me in cheering as this one’s all about her. Unfortunately for Mei, her story’s a sad one, but worth a watch even if you don’t play.
“In Rise and Shine, Mei wakes up years after being cryogenically frozen to find that Overwatch has been disbanded, the world is very different than the one she knows, and that she is the last surviving scientist at Ecopoint: Antarctica.”
Update: Patch notes are live now too! We’ve included them below.
Here we go, World of Warcraft fans: Blizzard just announced during Gamescom that patch 7.3, dubbed Shadows of Argus, is rolling out to your toaster ovens on August 29th.
Lore cinematic when? Now. “Watch as Azeroth’s massed forces arrive on the Legion’s homeworld in the prologue to Patch 7.3 Shadows of Argus. The last battle for Argus begins…”
As part of its Gamescom presentation today, Blizzard
has just revealed a new “musical animated short” for card battler Hearthstone
. It centers on the backstory Harth Stonebrew’s tavern, and it’s Blizzard, so it’s cute all on its own.
“The Tavern is a warm and welcoming place full of laughter, camaraderie, and good-natured competition, and home to a charming cast of characters assembled from every corner of Azeroth. This includes vibrant and (mostly) friendly folks such as Malto, the kindly old mage; and Sarge, the Tavern’s resident mouse. The personalities in this ethereal inn draw inspiration from the many types of Hearthstone players who enjoy Hearthstone in real life. Whether they’re seasoned pros or just getting into the game like the young protagonist Ava, there’s a place in the Tavern for everyone.”
Expect more shorts and comics coming, Blizz says. We just want to see more singing gobbos. Enjoy!
Overwatch is gearing up to tinker with competitive play once again, according to a new dev video from Blizzard game director Jeff Kaplan. He explains that the biggest change in season six will be that it’s shorter: two months, not three months. A one-month season, he says, feels too short, but three months has turned out to a bit of a drag, with engagement being much higher earlier on, hence a two-month test to see how it goes.
Concurrently, competitive points will be rescaled to the new season length, skill rating decay at the lower tiers of play is under review (five games per week down from seven, and decay reduced from 50 to 25), and higher-tier matches should see better skill ratings, stronger balance, and longer queue times to make that happen.
Meanwhile, Blizzard has apologized to Aussie fans who accused it of “cultural insensitivity” for some goofups in the Junkertown map — specifically, the use of American slang where Aussie slang would more properly be used (take-out instead of take-away) and a voiceover line (“they thought they could take our land“) that observers suggest is oblivious to Australia’s historical and modern relationship with indigenous people and their territory.
Let this Black Desert
story be a lesson. Actually, no, let it be two lessons: Don’t cheat, and definitely don’t cheat if your job might be on the line. Maybe three lessons, in that we can’t always trust the people running the MMOs we play.
Black Desert, as MMO Culture reports, has suffered a black eye thanks to its Taiwanese studio. Apparently, a pair of Pearl Abyss Taiwan employees in the region used their personal, non-employee accounts to play the game during maintenance (while it was down for regular players), scooping up some sweet loot from the auction hall in the process.
“Both were stripped of their positions,” MMO Culture translates, “and 30% of their pay will be withheld for 3 months.” So apparently they keep their jobs?
OK, so four lessons: The penalties probably won’t be harsh enough.
Over in the west, there’s no patch today, but there are new bits and bobs in the cash shop this week.
Blizzard is not going to stop trying to make World of Warcraft e-sports a thing, gang, so we may as well have some fun with it, yeah? In fact, this week Blizzard released the first episode of its new e-sports program for the game, Gladiator’s Summit. Hosts Elliott “Venruki” Venczel and Jackson “Bajheera” Bliton trade formal ties for bushy beards to profile some of the teams and individual players aiming for fortune and glory at Gamescom on the road to BlizzCon.
Bonus, the YouTube comments immediately devolve into complaining about the game’s classes, PvP, and… actually no it’s pretty much just classes and PvP. Enjoy!
Elsword fans, a huge update is dropping for you tomorrow: The fourth and final dungeon in the Elrianode series, El Tower Defense, is going live on August 23rd. “This is the big lead up to a huge boss fight,” KOG Games promises.
“The crazed Henir Fanatics descend upon the last bastion of Elrianode, the El Tower. As Elsword and the El Search Party throw everything they have at keeping the fanatics at bay, Hennon, the Order’s arrogant leader, has discovered that the El Search Party won’t back down, and they’re putting up the fight of their lives. In a desperate attempt to overpower them, he combines the light and dark El fragments together, turning him into the nightmarish Interdimensional Colossus. For the first time, Elsword has realized that there is nothing left to lose. Chaos and devastation have done nothing more than temper metal and rally their spirits. Now, they go on the offensive and take the fight to the enemy.”
We’ve got the exclusive dungeon trailer down below!
If you’re lucky enough to be in Cologne this week for Gamescom, make sure you make your way over to the Star Citizen booth as it appears at least part of the 3.0 build — which you’ll recall has been severely delayed and is not available for backers just yet — is playable at the con.
If you can’t be there, of course, you can just set up a dedicated rig to stream the next four days of developer shows from the con floor, “leading up to the main event on Friday night, where Chris Roberts will share the latest on Star Citizen’s development (and as always a surprise or two) with a backer-only crowd.” The whole schedule is posted up on the official site.
Back in March, we used a Richard Bartle blog post to discuss retention in MMOs and how developers could up their stickiness factor. But in rereading it, I notice that most of us took as a given that MMOs want to increase their retention in the first place. And I’m not so sure they do anymore.
What studios actually want is to make money. For subscription games, sure, retention is equivalent to direct and obvious money in the bank. But for free-to-play and buy-to-play games, it’s not quite so direct. Presumably, roping players in, bringing them back again and again and keeping them playing for years, increases the likelihood that they will buy something. But instead of spending resources trying to make that happen in MMOs, why not just spend resources on, say, paid DLC and expansions, which you know a sizable number of people will buy flat out? And who cares if they leave in between as long as you got their money?
Are we not already seeing that exact model for non-subscription MMOs? Do MMORPG devs worry too much about player retention?