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Emil Chronicle Online closes its last server

It’s the end of the line for one long-running Japanese MMORPG.

Emil Chronicle Online, also abbreviated ECO (no relation), is closing down its very last server in August, MMO Culture reports. The anime MMO first launched in Japan back in 2005 and was gradually licensed out to other countries and regions over successive years. However, most of those other versions were subsequently shuttered (such as the English version back in 2010), leaving the Japanese server as the sole survivor.

The game went free-to-play back in 2009 and included some pretty wacky stuff, including the ability to morph into a marionette and the opportunity to roll as a machine race called (we kid you not) Deus Ex Machina. Check out a trailer below for a sample of Emil Chronicle Online’s flavor.

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Cyberpunk sandbox MMO Exile Online launches new crowdfunding effort

Don’t count cyberpunk sandbox MMO Exile Online out just yet. While the game’s Kickstarter didn’t meet its $45,000 goal last year, its developers continued work and are now rolling out GoFundMe campaign in its place.

“After our initial Kickstarter campaign did not receive the full funding, we realised we needed to do a lot more work,” the team wrote on Facebook. “This is our first in a series of planned phases of funding on Gofundme. We have decided to divide our goals up into milestones rather than seeking one huge lump sum. This way we can complete planned and announced milestones and prove to our pledges that their funding is being used wisely. The pledge levels will remain largely the same as before and we will increase the pledge levels at a later date to include the larger ones.”

Most recently, the devs have released a stream of updates on Facebook focusing on maps and says it’s “been making great progress on the mission system.”

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The Survivalist: ARK Survival Evolved discusses early access, launch, and wipes

Could ARK: Survival Evolved finally be launching? That’s a question many survivors would love to see answered soon. Unfortunately, we can’t provide you with any date as one hasn’t been announced. But it appears there could be a light at the end of that tunnel thanks to a Studio Wildcard interview earlier this week in a podcast dedicated to the survival genre.

If you are a fan of survival games as I am (and chances are high if you are reading this!), you might really want to check out Infection – The Survival Podcast. ARK fans especially will be interested in this week’s episode 122; it features a lengthy discussion with Kayd Hendricks, the senior technical game play designer. Hendricks touches on many subjects, including the team, early access, wipes, launch, narrative, and more. Even without a launch date, it’s really worth a listen/watch; a couple of his remarks really struck a chord with me.

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Exclusive Wild West Online interview on PvE servers, budget, and Red Dead Redemption 2

Here at Massively OP, there’s nothing we like to hear more than word that new, bold, and big MMORPGs are in development. Over the past week, Wild West Online rode in on a dusty horse out of a desert of MMO development, delivering the reveal of this western sandbox followed by a surprise announcement just this morning that full funding had been achieved and a launch was scheduled for later this year.

To dig more into these announcements, we sat down with Stephan Bugaj, Chief Creative Officer of 612 Games, to ask a few follow-up questions about this exciting project, its budget, its scope, and if only PvP gankers need apply.

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RuneScape’s Jagex is the latest MMORPG studio to employ Improbable’s SpatialOS

Add another gaming studio partnership to Improbable’s file: RuneScape developer Jagex announced today that it’s teamed up with the tech company to deploy SpatialOS in “future game production.” SpatialOS, you’ll recall, is a “distributed computing platform for building large virtual worlds for gaming.”

Improbable has been showing up in our feeds a lot lately. Earlier this month, the company picked up a cool half-billion bucks in investment from a Japanese telecommunications corporation. SpatialOS is being used on a number of up-and-coming MMO-related projects, including Identity, Worlds Adrift, Chronicles of Elyria, and Metaworld. Oh yeah, and it’s partnered with some company called Google for cloud distribution – probably no big deal, right?

The PR doesn’t directly say that RuneScape itself will make use of the tech, just that it’ll be used as a platform to “bring new levels of depth and scale to Jagex’s future creations.”

Earlier this week, a studio rep apparently accidentally leaked a stream slide with the logo for something called “Next Gen,” which also may or may not be RuneScape-related as we outlined Monday.

Source: Press release

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Funcom Q1 2017 financials: ‘Most profitable quarter ever,’ Secret World Legends delayed on Steam

Conan Exiles performed beautifully for Funcom, at least during the first part of this year, the company’s investor report for the first quarter revealed today. The survival sandbox’s early access launch in February helped propel Funcom’s once-beleaguered revenues to five times their state this time last year, making it the “most profitable quarter ever” in the history of the studio. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 releases are on track for Q3 2017 and Q1 2018, respectively.

The company reiterates that the reboot of The Secret World as Secret World Legends will make its recently announced June 26th debut, but the Steam launch will be delayed until July 31st as a result of “crowded market conditions with multiple MMO releases in May/June on Steam” — those being Black Desert’s Steam launch, Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind launch, and Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood. Seriously, nobody else should even try launching that month.

“The Company expects the majority of players after launch to be newcomers to the game, but is also working to make it worthwhile for as many veterans of The Secret World as possible to continue playing Secret World Legends. Due to the high uncertainty regarding a Free to Play business models the Company expects the development team to need to tweak the monetization mechanisms of the game in the months following launch. Paid User Acquisition will gradually be tested and introduced in tandem with the monitoring and tweaking of the game’s monetization KPIs.”

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Star Citizen reverses course on CCU concept ship swap system

Cloud Imperium has reversed course on its plans to renovate Star Citizen’s Cross Chassis Upgrade (CCU) system in time for the sale of the Eclipse concept ship.

CIG’s Tyler Zyloh explains that the CCU system was originally designed to allow package purchasers to “melt down” the theoretical ships they’d bought in order to buy different ones without sacrificing other package components or causing customer service overhead. Last week, the studio introduced plans to raise the base price of CCUs to $5 in order to encourage players to spend the more than a million unspent CCUs floating around in the system, aid the design team’s metrics on ship desirability, and reduce future stockpiling and what Zyloh calls “exploits that do not benefit all backers.”

But CIG is now rethinking that plan:

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Ubisoft: The Crew has 12M players, The Crew 2 is on the way

During its quarterly investor call today, Ubisoft announced that its working on a sequel to racing MMO The Crew. “In 2017-18 we will see the exciting returns of Assassin’s Creed, Far Cry, The Crew and South Park,” the company said, following it up with a forum post confirming that The Crew 2 is indeed on the way.

If that startles you, consider Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad’s takeaway from the call:

We suspect the massive one-month-free-to-play push last September had something to do with it too.

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Jagex leaks ‘Next-Gen’ project slide; is it for RuneScape?

During a weekend stream of RuneScape, Jagex Community Manager Shaun “Shauny” Akerman appears to have let slip a logo for an unannounced Jagex project called “Next-Gen.” The community is more or less united behind Shauny, who expresses concern on the video that he may be fired. He won’t be, by the by; another mod posted,

“Don’t worry, Shauny! Honest mistake, we all make them. This was a slide from an internal company livestream, so there must have been something leftover from that. God bless you Shauny – we just have to teach you to cut feed when a stream is over!”

Other folks on Reddit are a bit more cynical, suggesting that the whole thing was an intentional leak by the studio in the service of starting up the rumormill on whatever Jagex is working on next.

So what the heck is it? It could be RuneScape Remastered, which Jagex confirmed last year. It could be the VR tech for RuneScape the company hinted at earlier this spring. It could be just a throwback to RuneScape 3’s internal name. Or it could be a new property altogether, though it hasn’t had the best track record there (RIP, Stellar Dawn and Transformers Universe).

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The next era of Kickstarter may be starting

Is Kickstarter dead? With Ashes of Creation’s incredible success this spring and several other MMO projects still attempting at drawing in that sweet crowdfunding money, it’s hard to say “yes” to that question. Perhaps the better question is whether Kickstarter is entering in a new phase after seeing a large boom and contraction over the past few years.

Eurogamer has an interesting think piece about the use of Kickstarter in an age when some people have become disillusioned with the platform (and early access in general) and others have turned to actual investment platforms like Fig instead. While there were 456 fully funded Kickstarter video game campaigns in 2016, the collective total of $17.7M was less than half of that from the year prior.

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Survival sandbox Steam Hammer has already seen a major world balancing pass

We’d never heard of Big Way Games’ Steam Hammer before last week’s debut on Steam’s early access platform: It’s a multiplayer sandbox survival game (64 players to a shard) built around making steampunks fight dieselpunks. Reviewers thus far have likened it to Wurm Online and Life is Feudal, and several have complained about the lack of female characters, but surely that’s just a matter of time and patches. The most recent patches, in fact, have made some big balance and QOL changes already, including doubling gathering speed and increasing both spawns and gathering materials.

The game raised over $50,000 from crowdfunders last year, though it was in development a year or two before that. Possibly the most shocking thing about it is that it’s actually delivering on schedule — its Kickstarter promised a May 2017 alpha, and here we are.

The game is not to be confused with SteamHammerVR, a virtual reality game also in access on Steam. The full launch is expected at the end of 2017; early access will set you back $26.99 as of press time. Want to see it in action? We got an early look over the weekend!

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Make My MMO: Wild West Online debuts, Ashes of Creation nears $2M (May 13, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, 612 Games announced Wild West Online, a US western-themed game that the devs are definitely calling an MMO, though it looks decidedly hardcore and may not have as much PvE as we’re all used to. It will indeed be coming to Kickstarter eventually, so watch this space!

Ashes of Creation’s Kickstarter rolled along this week as well, nearing $2M as I write this. On Friday, we even sat down with the devs for a livestreamed interview.

Meanwhile, Shroud of the Avatar kicked off its free trial for the rest of May, Dual Universe’s Kickstarter update discussed its new digs, OrbusVR recapped its latest alpha and previewed the Musketeer class, ROKH prepared for this week’s early access launch, and Crowfall spent the whole week teasing… something! We still don’t officially know what it is!

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’ve got our eye on.

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NetEase has a smashing good first quarter 2017 thanks to mobile sales and Hearthstone

Chinese operator, developer, and publisher NetEase posted its Q1 2017 financial report this week, and the news is quite good for the company. NetEase made $2 billion in revenue during the quarter, out of which $1.6 billion can be attributed to game sales. This marks an astonishing 78% increase from Q1 2016 and sent U.S. stocks of the company up 3.6% this past Wednesday.

The end result? NetEase is enjoying nearly $570 million in profit thanks to its performance.

NetEase operates many of Blizzard’s games in China and has its own line of mobile and PC games. It attributed its Q1 success to the launch and huge popularity of Onmyoji in Japan, the release of several new mobile titles, and the juggernaut that is Hearthstone. The report singled out the latter for praise: “Achieved record number of quarterly active users for Blizzard Entertainment’s Hearthstone.”

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