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EVE Online Executive Producer Andie ‘CCP Seagull’ Nordgren is leaving CCP Games

It’s always tough when a development studio loses one of its top people, but today’s news is sure to sting more than usual for both EVE Online players and the developers at CCP Games. We’ve just confirmed that Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren will be stepping down from her position as Executive Producer on EVE Online and leaving the company in about two months. Nordgren joined CCP in 2010 as a Technical Producer on the Core Technology Group before eventually spearheading the development direction of EVE as its Senior Producer and finally taking on a broader Executive Producer role in 2014.

Nordgren has been well liked by players for her clear vision of the future for EVE and open approach to development, and her interviews at events never fail to get us excited about what’s coming next for EVE. Most recently she has overseen the development of the Citadel, Lifeblood, and upcoming Into The Abyss expansions. CCP Games CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson, who has reportedly been getting more directly involved in EVE‘s development recently, will be helping to transition Nordgren’s roles until a replacement is selected.

We first heard this news as a rumour from a tip and reached out to CCP Games for comment, and it supplied us with the following confirming statement.

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You can gift people Blizzard Balance now, but not your own Blizzard Balance

If you have a ton of money sitting in your Blizzard account and nothing to spend it on, you have probably eagerly awaited the ability to gift that to people. The good news is that balance gifting is now possible, so if you want to give someone $30 in money to use on something within the various Blizzard games from World of Warcraft to Heroes of the Storm, you can do that now. The bad news is… you can’t do that from your actual balance. You have to buy it separately.

Yes, it’s just a little bit absurd, but that’s the route they’ve chosen. There are two different checkout options to add the funds to your own account or gift them to another account, and you have to choose the latter to give it to someone else. You also cannot buy a token in WoW and hand it to someone else, so that workaround won’t work out either. But, hey, at least the gifting option is there!

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Former Marvel Heroes boss David Brevik launches new game, It Lurks Below, into early access

If you’ve been finding yourself missing Marvel Heroes – but not all the drama and lies – you might want to mosey on over to Steam today, where former Gazillion CEO David Brevik is launching his new sidescrolly pixelart RPG, It Lurks Below, into early access.

It Lurks Below is a fun new one-man indie game project from myself, David Brevik, the creator of Diablo and Diablo II. Although the game is already engaging and addictive, I want to use Early Access to make the project even better. I’m a big believer in actively communicating with your community, getting feedback and improving the final product. This has already been going on in a small closed beta, but I’m ready to open it up and make the best possible game.”

Launch is expected later this year; the current version is just shy of 20 bucks. As we’ve previously reported, it’s not an MMO, and it’s not even multiplayer, so you won’t see much coverage of it here going forward, but Brevik is a big name in MMOs, so there you go – consider yourself duly notified about a cool thing he’s doing.

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Belgium orders Overwatch, CSGO, and FIFA 18 to remove lockboxes or face criminal penalties

Back in 2017, at the height of mainstream outrage over lockbox shenanigans, Belgium became one of the very first countries to take the problem seriously (instead of just passing the buck). The Belgian committee assigned to investigate concluded in November that “the mixing of money and addiction is gambling” and pledged to ban them.

Now, the country has effectively done just that. Its Gaming Commission spent several months investigating multiple games, ultimately finding that Overwatch, FIFA 18, and Counter Strike: Global Offensive are operating in violation of its laws specifically because of their lockbox mechanics.

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Daybreak update: Chief Publishing Officer Laura Naviaux has left the company

Yesterday, Massively OP put together a piece on MMO company Daybreak Games Company and its corporate overlords, chronicling the US government’s asset freeze of Russian megacorp Renova on down the chain to its subsidiary Columbus Nova, which has for three years been the nominal owner of Daybreak since it parted ways with Sony and dropped the SOE name.

The twist? When reached for comment on the story, Daybreak informed the editors of Massively OP that our understanding of Daybreak’s ownership was in error. Stunning the MMORPG community and beyond, the company spokesperson insisted it had “no affiliation with Columbus Nova” and that former Columbus Nova rep Jason Epstein “is and has always been the primary owner and executive chairman of Daybreak Game Company” since its founding in February of 2015. When pushed for clarification, Daybreak told us that the “distinction was never corrected in the past, so [it is] correcting that now.”

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Ohio college begins Fortnite e-sports team and scholarship

E-sports programs and scholarships at universities stopped being newsworthy years ago once they were a dime a dozen, but a new one from Ohio’s Ashland University has caught the mainstream media’s eye because it’s reportedly the very first to include Fortnite.

“Ashland’s esports team, which will begin competition next fall, will arrange four-player teams that practice regularly and compete together,” says the university. “AU is at the forefront in adding Fortnite to its offerings, which already include League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Rocket League. Eventually, [head coach Josh] Buchanan’s hope is that collegiate leagues will be set up for official Fortnite competitions.”

Open tryouts will begin for the 2018-2019 school year. The best players can snag “up to $4,000 based on player skill level and academic requirements” in scholarships.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 166: Russia breaks the internet

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin dive into the Russia gaming crisis, tackle a trio of significant MMO patches, and celebrate the coming of a cute-looking title. Plus there’s always those challenging community podcast questions to keep them occupied!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Daybreak says it has ‘no affiliation’ with Columbus Nova, the company said to have bought it in 2015 (and whose assets are now being frozen)

Note: We’ve updated this piece heavily at the end with Daybreak’s statements and further links.

A chain of business connections could have a real and dire impact on Daybreak Games Company following the freezing of company assets by the U.S. government.

On April 6th, the U.S. Department of the Treasury targeted several Russian oligarchs and froze their assets due to “destabilizing activities” by these figures (including suspected interference in the 2016 U.S. election). One of the oligarchs so punished was Viktor Vekselberg, who owns the Renova Group conglomerate and its subsidiary, Columbus Nova.

Columbus Nova, you may recall, is the parent company of Daybreak Games. The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control has given Renova and other Russian companies until June 5th to “wind down operations, contracts, or other agreements” involving these figures.

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EVE Fanfest 2018: CCP Falcon on EVE’s community team layoffs and having Hilmar as a CEO

It’s safe to say that it’s been a rough year for CCP Games, with the company pulling out of VR game development and laying off around 100 staff worldwide. The entire EVE Online community team was reported to have been slashed down to just two employees, and many of the studio’s most experienced PR staff were let go when the Atlanta office was shuttered. EVE players (including me) came down hard on CCP and on CEO Hilmar Veigar Petursson in particular, and some inside the company were notably shaken.

EVE Online Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy was one of the few members of the community team left after the layoffs, suddenly finding himself organising the 15th anniversary Fanfest without a team. It’s now been almost five months since the layoffs, so I caught up with Paul at EVE Fanfest 2018 recently to find out how the company has coped with the loss of so many skilled community staff. He also clarified CCP’s role in tackling harassment outside the game client in the wake of a recent virtual scuffle on the Open Comms show, and gave a fascinating account of how Hilmar himself dealt with the recent layoffs and how he’s been getting more involved with EVE lately.

Read on for our massive in-depth interview with EVE‘s Community Manager Paul “CCP Falcon” Elsy.

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The Daily Grind: How much MMO game info should be hidden from the players?

A blog post on The Psychology of Video Games blog a few weeks ago seems relevant to our interests: It explores the “pleasure paradox,” which basically suggests that humans crave certainty, but once we get it, we’re bored. Experiments showed that subjects “said they would prefer to be less uncertain, but the results show that their happiness would have been diminished” if they actually were. We like a good mystery!

Consequently, author Jamie Madigan argues, games should take advantage of this human quirk – say, by rewarding us based on some hidden modifier but not telling us what we did to earn it.

In a weird way, that’s something ancient MMORPGs did by accident: Information was so obfuscated that playing was as much trial and error as anything, and game mechanics were an unintentional mystery. And something like, oh, websites publishing every single mage spell combo in Asheron’s Call? It killed the magic. So does every elitist in your group spamming DPS meters in chat in the modern era.

How much MMO game info should be hidden from the players? And is the “pleasure paradox” the reason?

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Betawatch: Defiance 2050’s closed beta, ESO’s Summerset on the PTS (April 20, 2018)

Beta testing for Elder Scrolls Online’s Summerset expansion – as well as the free update 18 that’ll launch alongside it – began this week as the chapter rolled out to the PTS, with plenty of glimpses at new housing and wearables on the way. What else is new in MMORPG testing this week?

Did we miss anything? Drop us a note in the comments, then check out our traditional list of all the bits and bobs currently malingering trucking along in some form of testing.

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Hearthstone Game Director Ben Brode departs from Blizzard to form new game studio

Without a doubt, one of the most vivacious and well-loved personalities at Blizzard Entertainment has been Ben Brode. The Hearthstone game director injected a lot of his fun-loving personality into all of the videos and appearances that he did, which is why it’s going to crush many to hear that he has decided to leave the studio after 15 years.

“I have made the incredibly difficult decision to embark on a new journey,” he announced on the forums. “Man, that was a hard sentence to type.”

Brode had spent a decade working on Hearthstone, and in his farewell letter, he states his pride in both the game and the team. “I have loved the silly memes, engaging in spirited debates, or even just being held accountable to our shared high standards for the game. We try to be highly available on social media, and I think our team helped push the envelope in this regard,” he said.

So what’s next for Brode? He’s helping to start a new company that will “probably make games.”

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TERA has revamped all its lockboxes based on player feedback

Never let it be said that complaining about lockboxes doesn’t help. While TERA isn’t doing away with its lockboxes, En Masse did post last night that it’s overhauled its lockbox system based on player feedback.

“Every strongbox you open – including the ones you’ve had in your inventory since forever – will include something that you, the players, find useful,” says the studio. “This means that each and every strongbox now has a chance to drop the important ‘jackpot’ items you’ve been clamoring for – and no longer contain the items you told us were just not that important to you. Furthermore, we’ve reduced the ‘leveling’ strongboxes to a single box with a focus on fashion so you look good while you level.”

Check out the whole list of what’s in which box – and the new caps on how many can drop for you depending on your levelband. If you’re a hardcore TERA player, we’d love to hear what you think.

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