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Trademarks, copyrights, and patents: What they mean for you and for video games

Has the pace of news moved so quickly that we’ve already forgotten about Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene’s statement that video games lack any IP copyright protection? Because that was really ridiculous. Especially since what he was referring to was not actually even remotely related to copyright, but covered something that would be handled via patent. And even that wouldn’t have worked!

Of course, you can’t really blame him. By which I mean you can totally blame him, but it’s a common misconception that turns up time and again. People talk about copyright, trademark, and patent issues in the same general melange of “this company owns this,” and the thing is that they’re related terms and concepts that nevertheless mean very, very different things.

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Age of Conan’s Saga of Zath fresh start progression server launches tomorrow as sub prices drop permanently

Back in December, Funcom announced that it had plans for the effectively maintenance-moded Age of Conan, and those plans included Saga of Zath, a fresh-start progression server. And now, it’s almost here: The studio now says it’s launching tomorrow on January 24th.

“Saga of Zath is a new limited-time server running on a PvE ruleset identical to Crom. You create a new character on this server, and play through a special Saga Quest as you progress. Completing objectives in this quest awards exclusive cosmetics, titles, and up to Tier 6-quality raid gear! There’s also a special Saga-exclusive Hoard you can purchase, featuring tradable items! The server is only open until May 15th. Once over, the server closes and your Saga character is transferred onto Crom with their inventory fully intact.”

Funcom designer Mussagana has been all over the forums the last few days explaining how everything works. Specifically, parts of the item shop will be disabled on this server, the raid finder will be turned off at least temporarily, experience gains will be normal, and yes, there may be other servers in the future if this one does well.

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Blizzard Korea helps Seoul cyber crime police arrest 13 Overwatch hackers and cheaters

The MOP comment crew was understandably creeped out by last week’s news that Tencent was going after PlayerUnknown’s Battleground cheaters by working with the Chinese police, leading to the arrest of 120 people in 30 cases. But Tencent isn’t alone; Blizzard is also getting in on the law enforcement fun, most recently in Korea, where its Korean wing has referred 13 people to Seoul’s National Policy Agency cyber crime unit for arrest in Overwatch hacking and cheating crimes.

As Dot Esports and Blizzard Watch report, this isn’t a first for South Korea; at least one teen has already been charged under the so-called “Game Industry Promotion Law,” which permits two years of prison time and up to $18,000 in fines for those convicted.

Here’s Blizzard Korea’s message to its players, as translated by Unikrn:

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Riot partners with the Peach Belt Conference, Blizzard takes OWL toxicity seriously with suspension and fine

E-sports is continuing its rise in respectability: ESPN reports that Riot Games has partnered with the Peach Belt Conference, known to “real” sports fans as a creditable NCAA division II lineup. Teams from the dozen universities in the conference will compete in to play in the Peach Belt League of Legends championship in March and ultimately the League of Legends College Championship in June. You’ll recall that schools from multiple division II conferences do already participate in the latter championship, but those conferences aren’t full partners with Riot.

While you’re still reeling from ESPN covering e-sports, this Overwatch League bit will pop your eyebrows up again. Dallas Fuel player Félix “xQc” Lengyel got into an internet spat with the Houston Outlaws’ Austin “Muma” Wilmot during which the former made a homophobic remark to the latter (who is in fact openly gay). Though the pair made up on Twitter, Blizzard suspended Lengyel for four matches and fined him $2000, while his team will bench him for additional matches and reportedly give him additional support and training. We’re assuming that’s training on how to shut the fudge up son as you will not be screwing this bajillion-dollar thing Acti-Blizz has going with your trash mouth. Yes, this is real life.

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Fragmented is ‘more or less in maintenance mode’ due to lack of revenue

Over the weekend, we added a new entry to our “whatever happened to X” series with a quick note about Fragmented, the survival sandbox that Above & Beyond put together in its attempt to raise enough funds to save The Repopulation. While we quoted the formal statement that A&B wasn’t abandoning updates for the game at launch, an awesome tipster dug up a forum thread from just last week where the devs effectively admit defeat.

“The game hasn’t been abandoned but it is more or less in maintenance and bug fix mode only at this point,” A&B’s J.C. Smith says in response to players asking whether it’s worth $3 from the latest sale. “It just doesn’t bring in enough revenue for anyone to support it full time at this point. Josh are I still around to fix emergency issues and issue the occasional bug patch but the team has moved on to other projects at this point and we don’t foresee any major additions to the game in the future. Future patches will likely be similar to the last couple patches, focusing on streamlining and bug fixes.”

Just one more casualty of The Repopulation’s sad story.

Source: Steam. Cheers, Emmanuel.

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Make My MMO: Greed Monger resurfaces; Camelot Unchained snags $7.5M (January 20, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Greed Monger is back in the headlines, as former owner Jason Appleton told Kickstarter backers that as a result of a cryptocurrency windfall, he’s finally planning on refunding those who feel swindled from the game’s now-ancient Kickstarter failure.

“To put it lightly, I’ve been doing well. 2018 is the year I pay back GM donations,” he says. “I will update this once more when I’ve got things worked out with Kickstarter on a system for how this will work. I may only be able to refund $10k a week or $10k a month, but I expect to get this all resolved this year. Hopefully the first round of refunds can happen this coming week.”

It’s not the first time he’s promised some sort of compensation for the game many MMO players still believe was a scam; last year, he was promising cryptocurrency itself. If anyone actually does receive any refund, drop us a tip! (With thanks to Sally Sally’s “friend” for passing this along to us! :D)

In happier news, crowdfunded MMORPG Camelot Unchained received a $7.5 million cash infusion from a group of investors, intended to increase hiring and speed up completion of the game. Mark Jacobs retains full creative control and the largest slice of the corporate pie, meaning the game will ship as originally designed.

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Whatever happened to Ascent: the Space Game, Aura Kingdom, and Fragmented?

Ever pause during your day and find yourself wondering, “Whatever happened to that game?” With hundreds upon hundreds of online titles these days, it’s surprisingly easy for MMOs to fall through the cracks and become buried as more aggressive or active games take the spotlight.

Well, every so often we here at Massively Overpowered find ourselves curious what has transpired with certain MMOs that we haven’t heard from in quite a while. Have we missed the action and notices? Has the game gone into stealth maintenance mode? What’s the deal? What has it been up to lately?

That’s when we put on our detective hats and go sleuthing. Today we look at what has been going on with Ascent: the Space Game, Aura Kingdom, and Fragmented.

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Betawatch: Chronicles of Elyria hit with sizable layoffs (January 19, 2018)

So it looks like things are not all roses and light behind the scenes for Chronicles of Elyria, as the studio has apparently let several of its team members go. How many? We don’t have an exact number, just a knowledge that the team had apparently doubled in sized and is now notably reduced. Here’s hoping for the best for the people affected by the layoffs.

Other beta news? Perhaps even happier news? Sure thing. We can do that.

We can’t promise that our list below is all good news. It’s a list. It organizes entries in list format. But you can still take a look at it, and if something on that list is inaccurate, you can let us know and we can fix it. Is that good news? Maybe!

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Hell freezes over: Devilian to sunset in March

Two-year-old Devilian will not make it to its third birthday, we are sorry to report. Trion Worlds announced on Friday that it will be shuttering the Diablo-style MMO on March 5th. This makes sense following developer Bluehole’s decision late last year to discontinue work on the game.

“Trion Worlds and Bluehole Ginno have come to the mutual agreement to bring Devilian to a close,” the publisher posted. “In order to help with this transition, we want to ensure that you have time to say goodbye to your favorite haunts and to decide where your journeys will take you next. As Nala’s time nears its end, we want to offer you every opportunity to enjoy your remaining time there. While the servers are still on, we are turning on a 24/7 event with bonus experience, gold, gems, Enigma keys, and flower drops — making it easier for all to experience endgame content together.”

Devilian players are being compensated with a welcome package and credit transfer to one of Trion’s other titles. We recently checked in with the title, as you can see in the two-year birthday stream below.

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PSA: Darkfall New Dawn is free-to-play right now ahead of next week’s launch

If you’ve been curious about the indie spinoff Darkfall: New Dawn but aren’t sure yet about plunking down pre-order cash, then you’ll be interested to know that Ub3rgames has set aside this weekend for you to try it out for free. The game has multiple packages ranging from €19.99 with a €9.99 per month sub up to €74.99 with a €6.25 per month sub, but this weekend marks a “free trial” period before the launch.

“Wanna check out all the changes we’ve made and make your own opinion about what is new in the world of Agon? Time has come, our free trial will start tomorrow, January 19 12:00 CET [6 a.m. EST this morning]. During the free trial, there will be no limitation and the amount of xp gained will be increased by three. The free trial and the Indev_ server will close on Wednesday January 24 8:00 CET [2 a.m. EST].”

The game is scheduled to launch on January 26th in the wake of the abrupt and bizarre disappearance of the original Darkfall dev team in 2016, just after blessing multiple indie ventures seeking to reboot the game.

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Town State Leisure: Camelot Unchained responds to absurd scraper article as only CSE can

If by chance you’ve ever run a blog about literally anything, you surely know about scrapers – those jerks who use scripts to steal your stuff in full and put it on their site to make easy money. The really clever ones use scripts to also change some of the words around so that it’s not as easy to get caught. Most of these scripts aren’t very good and just use word swaps, so they sound like somebody who barely speaks English grabbed a thesaurus and waved it around in the air.

Enter Owne Tech, a scraper site you’ve probably never heard of. Yesterday, when Camelot Unchained’s huge news hit the internet, this site apparently scraped VentureBeat’s piece on it and… well, the garbled version is actually hilarious.

“The previous writer of Mythic Leisure’s The Darkish Age of Camelot is again with a brand new recreation, and he has raised $7.five million for the net fable recreation dubbed Camelot Unchained,” the piece declares. “Jacobs was once the lead clothier and founder at Mythic. […] He left EA in 2009, and began the brand new corporate, Town State Leisure, in 2011. Via 2013, he had found out what he sought after to do. His Town State Leisure raised $four.five million in a Kickstarter crowdfunding marketing campaign, and his staff went to paintings on Camelot Unchained.”

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Albion Online characterizes layoffs as downsizing to ‘pre-release beta testing’ levels

Earlier this week, we got a tip claiming that the Albion Online team had been severely cut back before Christmas, perhaps as much as 50%, owing to poor performance. Turns out there were some layoffs, but not quite so many, and in fact the studio says it had ramped up studio numbers ahead of launch and is now downsizing to a live team. Moreover, the studio says its playerbase has “stabilized” and is still growing.

Here’s the full statement Sandbox Interactive issued to Massively OP this afternoon:

Albion Online saw a successful release in July 2017. To get ready for release, during beta testing, our team size almost doubled to more than 50 people. Now that release is behind us, we are reducing the team size to levels similar to those at the start of pre-release beta testing. 31 people in total, supported by talented freelancers, will constantly improve and expand the game. This goes hand in hand with our strategy to fully focus on the game’s original core vision: with the release of our Kay update in December, player numbers have stabilized at a high level and continue to grow. Our next update, Lancelot, will continue on this path and is set to release in March, with further updates to come according to our road map.”

Our sympathies go out to those affected.

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Ex-Cryptic devs are making an Aliens shooter set in a persistent world

Way back in 2016, a trio of former Cryptic developers — Craig Zinkievich, Shannon Posniewski, and Matt Highison — struck out on their own to form a new company called Cold Iron Studios. At the time, all we knew about the studio’s aim was that it was working on an AAA online action game.

Now we know better; we know that it’s Alien. As in, the long-running sci-fi horror film franchise with Ripley, Newt, and chest-bursting xenomorphs. Apparently Fox bought Cold Iron Studios fairly recently and decided that the developer would be perfect to make the latest Alien title. It will be published by FoxNext Games, the interactive entertainment branch of 20th Century Fox.

There isn’t much information yet on this game (including the title), but we do know that it will try to explore some untread areas of this universe. Fox is calling it an “action-packed persistent world,” and Craig Z told us in 2016 that it’ll have some MMO features, so there is some hint in there that it will be more than a lobby-based shooter.

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