Bluehole and Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene ought to be pretty pleased with themselves, and not just because they’re rolling around in piles of money: They also set seven Guinness World Records with PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which still has yet to formally launch. According to the records body, the game now holds the titles for
- Fastest time to sell a million units on Steam early access (16 days)
- Fastest time to gross $100M on Steam early accces (79 days)
- First videogame to reach 2M concurrent players on Steam (well over that now)
- Most actively played game on Steam (2.6M concurrent last week)
- Most concurrent players for a Steam early access game
- Most concurrent players on Steam for a non-Valve video game
- First non-Valve video game to be the most played game on Steam.
Yeah, some of these are starting to seem a bit redundant, but hey, it’s the gamer’s edition, so they’re doomed to pedantry. Still, nice work if you can get it. And you can’t. You’ll have to position yourself at the global forefront of a dawning genre first. Good luck with that!
Most often, MMO Mechanics articles focus on the gameplay mechanics that both make the MMO genre unique and those that diversify MMOs from one another, but this time I’m focusing on the mechanics that drive profit for the modern development studio and will discuss the lootbox phenomenon. Although the lootbox is by no means a new topic in the world of online gaming, the purchasing method has been under fire more than ever recently and has seldom faced the same scrutiny from the playerbase and wider media before now.
Recently it has been ArenaNet under fire for the particular way randomisation factors into purchasing Guild Wars 2 mount adoption licence skins. A unique combination of a highly requested and anticipated extension of a likewise highly requested and successful new game feature and the employment of lootbox mechanics has caused quite a stir in the game community, despite the fact that Guild Wars 2’s Black Lion Chests already employ RNG lootbox mechanics. In this article, I’m going to discuss why the skins were such an issue in the first place, evaluate ArenaNet’s response to the player outrage the skins caused, and ponder on the reasons why studios rely on lootbox mechanics in the first place.
In a new paper released last week, University of York researchers sought to examine whether research that strategy gaming (like chess and arcade games) correlates with intelligence holds true in the modern games like MOBAs. “In our current paper we extend their findings by asking whether we can establish a link between intelligence and performance in widely-played, commercial, team-based videogames with global reach,” the authors explain.
The researchers examined League of Legends and Dota 2 players, comparing their ranks to their results on a fluid intelligence test and attempting to disentangle all of that from teamwork ability, practice, and age by comparing the results to those from more twitch-oriented games like Destiny and Battlefield 3 – easier said than done, since apparently there aren’t a lot of “olds” playing some of these titles – and the general population’s performance on fluid intelligence tests by age. The result?
To put it simply, it has not been the best of weeks for Electronic Arts, DICE, or Star Wars Battlefront II.
The publisher’s decision to push exploitative and pay-to-win lockboxes as part of the multiplayer shooter’s business model sparked a mainstream headlines-grabbing backlash from the community. After several PR stumbles, EA finally made the decision to reduce the cost of the lockboxes and pull microtransactions from the game (for now) prior to Battlefront II’s launch.
But the real decision for this move probably came from even higher up. The Wall Street Journal backs up last week’s rumors that “alarmed” Disney execs, in particular Disney Head of Consumer Products and Interactive Media Jimmy Pitaro, put direct pressure on EA to improve the situation. Considering that Star Wars: The Last Jedi is coming out in theaters next month, we suspect it definitely doesn’t help the franchise to have a high-profile video game racking up massive amounts of bad publicity.
What is the mobile game that everyone will be talking about this holiday season? Netmarble is confident that the answer to that is “Lineage 2 Revolution.”
The newly launched mobile MMO has some decent momentum at its back, considering that it is Netmarble’s top-grossing game in Korea right now and racked up 1.5 million pre-registrations. The studio is not shy in anticipating that Lineage 2 Revolution will blow up huge in the west as well, taking the top spot on mobile gaming charts.
“I’m taking every measure to make sure that Netmarble US would be successful here. I know for sure that we can reach the top of the charts with a mobile MMORPG,” said Netmarble CEO Shim Chul-Min in an interview. “To make sure that Lineage 2: Revolution becomes the number one mobile game in NA, we’ll do our absolute best.”
Did you know that PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is up for a Game of the Year award? Probably not, because… like, there are a lot of those. Every publication has its own game of the year awards. We have our own game of the year awards. It’s only a matter of time before Cat Fancy starts publishing one, and we can only pray the market reaches critical cat-related mass by that point. But the important thing is that it’s up for one, and Brendan Greene (aka PlayerUnknown himself, the person who owns the battlegrounds) doesn’t think it deserves one.
Is that because the game is still technically clinging to early access and has not actually launched? No, in this case it’s apparently just that he thinks better games have been released over the past year. Whether or not the judges agree remain to be seen, although we’re relatively certain that the game will win at least a couple of awards. And if not, he can always start up his own game of the year awards. Everyone’s got some now.
This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained continued its ramp up to Saturday Night Sieges. “It’s been all hands on deck as we prepare our siege deathmatch scenarios for IT testing,” City State says, noting the team has been working on spawn points, scenario rulesets, gear loadouts, animations, the UI, healer NPCs, battlegroups, boats, female clothing, and emotes. I am all about those boots and dresses!
The Shadow’s Kiss Kickstarter has also now doubled its funding goal, unlocking game narration and music. Just over two weeks remain to back it; a demolitions stretch goal looms at $60,000.
Meanwhile, Crowfall delayed its soft launch again, Shroud of the Avatar launched R48, Albion Online began a new season of referral rewards, Valiance Online updated to the latest version of Unity, Ashes of Creation talked politics, and Path of Exile announced its latest expansion. Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.
“You ain’t anybody if you ain’t on Steam,” our momma told us when we were tykes. Of course, back then Steam had yet to be invented, so this statement was more cryptic than it should’ve been. Now? Now it’s practically truth, which is why World of Warships
made an attempt to get onto the platform.
Access to the game through Steam went live earlier this week, offering fans another way to install and play the multiplayer ship battler. Other than how you get into the game, there is no difference between Steam’s World of Warships and the official client.
The team confirmed that all players can enjoy the same game on the same servers, although any new Steam players will have to pick and commit to a region before playing. You cannot use your Wargaming login for the Steam client, unfortunately.
Steam collectibles and achievements are on their way, the team said, although they won’t be present in this launch edition.
. With thanks to BalsBigBrother!
Earlier this week, we reported on a move by the Belgian Gaming Commission to investigate lockboxes/lootboxes in games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 to determine whether they constitute games of chance to the degree that they require regulation meant for gambling. Now it appears the Dutch have joined them.
According to NU.nl, the Dutch Gaming Authority is also investigating whether this particular game mechanic falls under the banner of online gambling, which according to the news outlet is currently banned in the Netherlands, while games of chance on the whole are subject to special licensing rules. According to the regulatory group, it is “still in a research phase.”
EA has insisted that Star Wars Battlefront 2’s lootcrates “are not gambling” for all the usual reasons online gaming studios trot out to confuse people about what games of chance are: that players win something, even if it’s lint, and that players can earn crates via play. Last night, the company announced it was disabling all microtransactions while it sorted out the continuing uproar.
This week’s Massively Overthinking topic is a submission from reader and commenter camelotcrusade, who takes the industry’s current fight over monetization in a different direction from lockboxes. “Are modern games too cheap?” he asks, probably slowly reaching into a can of worms with a wicked gleam in his eye.
“When you think about it, many other things we buy have increased in price over the last decade but AAA games are still expected to be a maximum of $60, with many of us waiting for sales (or for free-to-play). Meanwhile, games everywhere are adding shops, post-release content, and DLC galore with increasingly aggressive pricing models. How much of this is to make-up margins they can’t capture up-front? How much should an AA game cost in 2017? $75? $90? Is there a price point where lockboxes, gambling, and in-game stores could focus on value-add instead of survival? And how did we get here? Whose fault is it? And how do we get out of this, or is ‘would you like a game with your store’ the future as we know it?”
Let’s talk money!
Whenever you see a studio call fans “passionate,” it’s almost always shorthand for “rioting with pitchforks and torches.” Guess what Star Wars Battlefront 2’s execs are calling its players this week?
DICE GM Oskar Garbrielson apologized to the game’s “passionate” community about the missteps that EA made in locking its characters behind a prohibitive grind and aggressively pushing microtransactions. He said that the team is disabling all in-game purchases with crystals, at least until the company can figure out a better way to implement them:
“But as we approach the worldwide launch, it’s clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design. We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right. We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this.”
So Marvel Heroes has about six weeks to live thanks to the impending shutdown of the game following Disney’s decision to drop Gazillion as a business partner. That’s going to leave some superhero MMO players once again without a home, and though the game’s current Steam numbers can’t hold a candle to the number of players affected by the City of Heroes closure five years ago, we’re left with the same situation – and a similar roster of games vying for refugees.
The big superhero MMORPGs are still DC Universe Online and Champions Online, the former of which is certainly better supported with content, the latter of which may have more of that Marvel feel. There’s also three strong crowdfunding superhero MMOs still trying to fill the CoH vacuum: Ship of Heroes, City of Titans, and Valiance Online. Which MMO would you recommend to Marvel Heroes refugees? Would it be another superhero MMO, another superhero game or ARPG altogether, or something else? If you’re a former MH player, where are you getting your fix?
NCsoft announced this evening that it will sunset its relatively new MOBA Master X Master, explaining that the game just “wasn’t enough to take on the established juggernauts.”
“There is no easy way to say this, but regretfully, we will be discontinuing our service for MXM, with the final day of the game’s life to be January 31. Deciding to close the game is not a decision we come to lightly, but ultimately it came down to a matter of business—we explored several options, but none of them were sustainable. We truly believe that MXM is special, and offered a lot of new ideas to change up the MOBA genre, but in trying to carve out a niche for itself, we failed to connect with players.”
The company will compensate players with a stack of cash-shop currency, refund all purchases made from August 30th to today, and turn on all game modes for the remainder of the game’s life, which will come to an end on January 31st.