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Guild Wars 2 game director talks about the free market and lootboxes

Convenience and cosmetics. These are the foundational pillars of Guild Wars 2’s microtransactions, and back at GDC earlier this year, Game Director Crystin Cox opened up about how ArenaNet monetized its game using these pillars along with the free market and lootboxes.

“Expressing yourself, relating to other people, showing off, making a visual representation of who you are, is hugely important to a lot of MMO players, so that was always very high on our list,” she said. As for convenience items, Cox emphasized how the studio “respected people’s time” and wanted to make items that could trade time and money if so desired.

As for the dual currency system, Cox said that it has turned out quite well for the MMO: “I think we’ve done incredibly well with the free market because it accurately represents the value of the things that people are purchasing.”

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Radical Heights’ CliffyB posts some ‘what could’ve been’ concepts

Alas, poor Cliff Bleszinski, forced to give up on so many game ideas after the closure of Boss Key Productions. If you’re interested in Bleszinski’s various early concepts, he’s posted a few on Twitter: DragonFlies (a dragon-riding air combat game), DogWalkers (a VR mech shooter with multiple people playing different parts of a mech), and Donuts (described as “Mario Kart with animals on water in VR”). You can choose for yourself whether or not these games would have likely been successful, although the term “VR” is showing up there an awful lot; these are still the very early stages of concept design, so it’s impossible to know.

If only we hadn’t all collectively decided to play other games instead of LawBreakers and Radical Heights!

Meanwhile, CliffyB’s staff took to Twitter to discuss the way the studio’s closure was handled. Here’s lead producer Ron LaJoie.

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TERA’s console versions cruise to two million players in month one

One month. Two million players. Three cheers for TERA!

En Masse Entertainment certainly is crowing about its accomplishments this week after TERA’s console editions had crossed the two million player mark by the end of its first month. The launch on both the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One looks to be a significant success for the studio, injecting new interest in this middle-aged MMORPG.

To celebrate this occasion, En Masse is giving out TERA PS Plus Packs to PlayStation 4 Plus members through June 12th. The pack contains a Shadowmare spectral horse mount, a blue baseball hat, and 15 days of elite status.

Source: Press release

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 170: Mild West Online

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin do their darndest to shape the MMO industry by holding up Wild West Online as a cautionary tale and talking about how studios need to think before applying real-world labels to games.

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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Expect e-sports betting to blossom thanks to new Supreme Court ruling

Gambling and gaming are two sides of the same coin. You guys wouldn’t believe how many gambling companies request to put ads on MOP every month (unsuccessfully!), so clearly advertisers believe there’s plenty of overlap in the groups. And the debate over gambling in video games – whether we’re talking about lockbox monetization schemes or watching bureaucrats home in on skin gambling – isn’t going away. In fact, it’s about to get much bigger as gamblers are walloped from still another direction.

This week the Supreme Court effectively overturned PASPA – the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act – in deciding Murphy v. National Collegiate Athletic Association. The ruling hinged on the section of PASPA that basically barred local governments from licensing betting on sports games, reserving that power for the federal government. The act had been interpreted to include e-sports once e-sports became a thing as well. The state of New Jersey and the NCAA went to war over the statue, battling in court over the last seven years, and now, New Jersey, or at least the gambling institutions of New Jersey, has won.

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Conan Exiles boasts about its concurrency while looking to stability improvements

While Conan Exiles may have made a fairly quick trip out of early access compared to its peers in the genre, there’s always the worry that it’s already made its mark and launch won’t get people interested in it. However, the people at Funcom seem happy with its concurrency numbers, as the game’s official Twitter reported concurrency of around 50,000 players on Sunday evening. That’s just how many people were all online and playing at the same time.

The same Twitter was also used to inform players that while there are other plans down the road, the immediate focus for the team is on addressing performance and stability issues; quality-of-life improvements and other patches will have to wait a little bit longer. So while there’s more stuff coming down the road, it can hold off until everyone can log in and play the game reliably. Which is probably for the best.

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Nexon posts strong Q1 2018 results, Final Fantasy XI mobile screens leaked

Nexon posted a strong first quarter in 2018, with its earnings call reporting that the game publisher raked in $827M in revenue (a 21% year-over-year increase). The company did most of its business on PC (84%), although mobile (16%) continues to be a significant factor in its success.

Most of Nexon’s focus continues to remain in the east, as both China (67%) and Korea (22%) pull in a vast majority of its earnings. The company singled out the the performance of Dungeon and Fighter, MapleStory, and Durango: Wild Lands for praise.

Coming down the pipeline in North America this year and beyond is MapleStory 2, Durango, MapleStory M, and Final Fantasy XI Mobile. Speaking of the mobile version of FFXI, purported screens were leaked on Reddit that showed this still-beautiful game in action.

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The Daily Grind: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win?

Last week, in the comments under the Bless optional subscription brouhaha article, I made an offhand comment that apparently got MOP commenter Sally’s gears grinding. I was trying to sort through why Bless fans are mad, and I wrote, “Neowiz has been promising no P2W for months, but it’s really hard to have an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win.”

Sally didn’t disagree but said it was a “shock” to see it spelled out on Massively OP of all places: “In the current free-to-play climate, I see [the MOP] community as one of the last bastions for subscriptions. So a shot at subs from here struck me as ‘et tu, Brute?'” And Sally’s right! A lot of MMORPG vets enjoy F2P and B2P games but also hate double-dipping, and the subscription, or at least a mandatory sub without the usual gamblebox and pay-to-win trappings, is one way to guarantee healthy game design for the players.

On the other hand, if I’m honest, I truly cannot think of an MMORPG with an optional subscription that isn’t pay-to-win in some way. They’re trying to incentivize you to sub, after all, so they have to make the perks worthwhile, and very rarely do they stop at cosmetics. My Trove sub makes experience and drops fall from the sky. My Ultima Online sub lets me own a house and run vendors and hoard most everything. I’d say that games like Elder Scrolls Online, which hands out generous amounts of cash-shop credit for subbing, are on the better end of this argument, but then there’s that pesky crafting bag to contend with.

What do you think: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win in some way? Got a contender in mind?

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Make My MMO: Greed Monger’s Jason Appleton is launching a cryptocurrency TV show as donors still await refunds (May 12, 2018)

Here’s a bizarre one for you: Greed Monger’s Jason Appleton is now being billed as a “crypto YouTuber” ahead of the launch of his 13-episode television series funded entirely by bitcoin – it’s called the Crypto Crow Show.

Greed Monger is probably the most famous MMORPG Kickstarter failure to date, having raised over $100,000 back in 2012 to build what the developers said would be a “crafting-focused sandbox MMORPG.” By 2015, the project imploded as devs abandoned it over a lack of funding, generating scam accusations from angry backers. Subsequent attempts to revive the game failed. Appleton resurfaced earlier this year, promising to reimburse Kickstarter backers with his newfound fortune, though a quick glance through the Kickstarter’s comments shows that currently there are still backers who haven’t received theirs, and Appleton has apparently closed down applications for refunds and is bashing donors still asking for their money back.

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Betawatch: Boxes of sand survival for Conan Exiles and Wild West Online (May 11, 2018)

Sometimes, the title “survival sandbox” might seem a bit inaccurate or limiting. But then you get into stuff like Conan Exiles and Wild West Online, games that… well, pretty much place you inside of a box of sand to survive. And they both launched this week! Which means that we’re waving farewell to them from this particular column, but we hope everyone has fun in that box full of sand. Oh, there’s so much sand there, you wouldn’t believe. Sandy everything.

Other beta news? Hey, why not, it’s a free country. How fun.

Want more betas? Boy, you always want more. Good thing there’s a list just below! But do let us know if something slipped into proper launch without letting us know or if the developers seem to have dropped off of the face of the planet. That… latter one might be more likely.

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Bless fansite leaks founder pack info and partial subscription plan ahead of today’s stream, and people aren’t happy

This story has been heavily updated post-stream – keep on scrollin’!

An apparent leak on a Bless fansite – which was hastily scrubbed but nevertheless preserved by players and Redditors – has the community watching the game ablaze today. The leak revolves around the game’s plan for founder packs, set to be revealed today; according to the rumor, Neowiz aims to charge $40 for the standard edition of the game, on up to $200 for the collector’s edition. All of the packages include headstart, with differing chunks of premium membership time chunked together.

Neowiz has previously said it leaned toward a buy-to-play model in order to avoid pay-to-win pitfalls, but the premium membership time mentioned makes players think the game is more a hybrid model with an optional subscription.

The official stream is set to begin at 3 p.m. EDT, and then we’ll know for sure whether the rumors are bunk or not.

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Black Desert studio Pearl Abyss had a record first quarter thanks to mobile

Pearl Abyss’ financial report for the first quarter of 2018 is good news for both the Black Desert franchise and the company. PA, which went public last year, recorded a hefty increase in revenues and profits, thanks largely to the release of Black Desert Mobile in South Korea. The report mentions the console release still slated for this summer, the continuing PvP revamp, and plans for two new characters and “Ramones battle field”. The company is also still working on two new games: MMOFPS Project K and casual mobile MMO Project V.

The investor documents for the previous fiscal year on the whole tout the expansion of the franchise around the globe and into new markets, particularly the mobile sector. North America and Europe continue to dominate sales of the original Black Desert MMORPG in particular, accounting for 56% of the game’s sales (contrast that with NCsoft’s regional report yesterday).

During the call, the executives also noted that Black Desert Mobile is expected to roll out to Taiwan and then South East Asia by fall. Don’t get too excited, though; the game won’t reach western shores until next year.

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