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TERA sweetens its subscription package

Just because an MMORPG is free-to-play doesn't mean that the studio really wants you to, y'know, play for free. Over the past year or so, we've seen several MMO studios strongly encourage players to make the switch to a subscription from both the carrot and the stick angles.

TERA is more carrot, for sure, especially this week as the fantasy title announced that it's beefing up its subscription benefits with a new daily reward. "TERA has a lot to offer players who opt in for elite status, and En Masse just made elite status that much more tempting...with free EMP!" the studio posted. "Once each day, elite players will be able to collect 15 EMP when they log in on top of all the other perks they get for their elite status."

TERA's sub also includes double dungeon entries, double XP boosts, special store sales, a village atlas, a travel journal, no broker fees, and other daily rewards. So what do you think, TERA players? Is this enough to convince you to make the switch?

Source: TERA

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The Secret World welcomes new community manager, should talk about relaunch plans soon

Ever since finding out in late February that Funcom has plans to relaunch The Secret World with a new business model and redesigned combat, players have been desperate for more information on how this all will shake out. Fortunately, we're about to end a month of speculation, as the studio will reportedly be opening up on the subject soon.

According to a player post on the forums, Funcom said on a livestream that it will be talking about the "big update" by the end of March -- so sometime in the next week -- but is keeping silent until then. That might prove welcome news for fans that have started to feel stressed out about the lack of communication on this relaunch so far.

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Ship of Heroes touts Unreal Engine 4 progress ahead of Kickstarter bid

Since our community has City of Heroes on the brain of late, let's recall that there are no less than five games inspired by the late superhero MMORPG on the way, each in a different state of development. One of the newest entries on that list is Ship of Heroes, possibly the most similar to the classic game, except for that whole "oh yeah and the city's on a spaceship" twist.

This morning, Ship of Heroes' Heroic Games posted a press release talking up its Unreal Engine 4 progress.

"Epic Games is excited that Ship of Heroes is being built using Unreal Engine 4," an Epic rep is quoted as saying. "Ship of Heroes is developing quickly and we look forward to having another MMO in the market based on our technology, and the community of artists and coders that utilize it."

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Here's why everyone's pissed off about City of Heroes NPCs in NCsoft's MOBA

Yesterday, NCsoft took the lid off a secret it's clearly been working on for a while: The company means to introduce a notorious and well-known City of Heroes NPC as one of the characters in its upcoming MOBA, Master x Master.

Here's the thing. Master x Master is actually pretty well-liked around here. The writers we've sent to test it out the past few years came away thinking it was an excellent hybrid PvE MOBA with a lot of MMO elements, a genuinely good entry to the market and something we're happy to cover. So I don't think anyone wishes it, specifically, harm.

But NCsoft? I don't know who told you this was a good idea. It's really not a good idea.

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Perfect World sees mobile sales jump up in 2016

When it comes to financial reports, there's always one word that every investor wants to see: growth. And for those that read Perfect World's 2016 annual report, that's exactly what they saw.

The international publisher, which operates titles as diverse as Dota 2 (in China) and Star Trek Online as well as other media properties, reported that it had a very good year, raking in 6.1 billion yuan over the course of 2016. Its gaming division was responsible for over two-thirds of this revenue and an impressive 25% growth compared to 2015.

What's interesting here is that while PC game sales remained relatively stable and flat, it was the mobile market that was the driving force behind this increase in Perfect World's income. This means that we can expect to see the company put an even higher priority on developing and publishing mobile titles in the future.

Source: Superdata

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Frostkeep Studios explains the 'why' behind the game and the studio

If you've ever been responsible for interacting with a toddler for any length of time, you'll probably have some idea of the nature of the "why" practice implemented at Frostkeep Studios. Essentially, the idea is that when someone asks for something, you ask "why" five times to get at the core reason behind it. It might sound childish due to its specific similarity to one of the more annoying games children play with authority figures, but it also informs one of the central philosophies behind developing for Rend to hopefully improve upon the whole survival genre.

The official post explains is that for every element within the game, there needs to be a reason to include it more robust than "these other games have it as a core feature." It has to be a feature that is, fundamentally, fun for players in this game and something that works well for this design. Whether or not the philosophy will work out in the long run remains to be seen, but it's certainly a good place to start.

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TERA's EU branch claims player numbers have 'risen massively'

We see a lot of odd press releases around here, many of them loaded with vague commentary on how well a game is doing or how big it is. This one from TERA's EU branch today is definitely up there with those that make you wonder whether you're spying doublespeak or a funky translation that somehow lost the details.

"Gameforge and Bluehole, Publisher and Developer of TERA, proudly announce that players numbers of the MMO have risen massively since the game is available through the Steam platform as well as gameforge.com. Since the launch TERA has held a spot in the top 30 of F2P on Steam and received lots of positive user reviews."

Risen massively.

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The Soapbox: What the Mass Effect Andromeda kerfuffle ought to teach us about games criticism

Today is the official release of Mass Effect: Andromeda, which was preceded by the frankly baffling decision to allow people access to an early build of the game ahead of time. Or perhaps the final build without everything enabled? The point is that you could play a bit of it if you were willing to drop some money. That seems like a bad idea that we've been dealing with in online-game-land for a long time, but regardless, it gave people the opportunity to see some of this RPG ahead of time.

This, in turn, allowed the typical internet trolls to find any and all animation flubs and then happily declare that it was all the result of one woman working on the game and handling all of the animations. Which, you know, is a conclusion that would be helped significantly if the woman in question actually worked in that role on the game, which she did not.

Obviously, the game under discussion is not an MMO. But it is symptomatic of two all-too-common problems in gaming culture that are worth noting to people who do not have balls of spiders in place of a soul. So let's talk about those.

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The Daily Grind: What one thing should MMORPGs do to increase player retention?

Zubon at Kill Ten Rats recently spied a lovely tidbit over on Dr Richard Bartle's blog. Bartle, I shouldn't need to type, is considered one of the founding fathers of the MMORPG genre, having inspired through his research the infamous Bartle test. So it should be no surprise at all that he sees online worlds in everything: As his piece explains, he examined a document intended for advising universities on how to improve their student retention rates -- and Bartle realized it read like an "MMO newbie-retention handbook."

"A place where people can hang out between teaching events and make friends? Check. Organised groups led by experienced students that you can join? Check. A communication channel for students just like you? Check. A method of finding other people who are interested in the same things you are? Check. Fun tasks for people with different skills working together ? Check. Easy challenges with small rewards to get you into the swing of things? Check."

It's worth a quick read, especially for the cake joke, but I want to focus your attention on retention and stickiness specifically for the purposes of today's Daily Grind. Do you agree that developers should be spending more time on retention? And what one thing should MMORPGs do to increase player retention?
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Leaderboard: The Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind 'chapter vs. DLC' fee debate

In the comments of a Daily Grind last week, a few commenters tangented into debate about The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind pricing.

See, the original "ESO Plus" deal for ESO subscription holders granted them full access to all future downloadable content (DLC) forever and ever, as long as they were subscribed to the game. Morrowind, however, has been marketed not as DLC but as a "chapter," meaning it will not be subject to the Plus promises, and so everyone will have to pay for it. Grumbling ensued.

"Suppose I paid BMW a monthly fee to drive [BMW] cars," commenter Odin wrote. "I could drive whatever I want as long as I paid. They announce a great new car I want to drive. I cant wait, but they tell me, "This isnt a car; it's an automobile. You have to pay extra.'"

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South Korea's Netmarble to launch ambitious IPO

South Korean Tencent affiliate Netmarble announced today that it will launch an initial public offering to the tune of $2.35 billion US. That works out to approximately 17 million newly issued shares.

As GI.biz explains, Netmarble is hoping to pay off debts and increase its holdings, building "towards a state goal of being in the top five global gaming companies by 2020."

Reuters calls the IPO the second-largest for the country, sandwiched between two Samsung IPOs.

In the west, the company is probably best known for games like Lineage 2: Revolution, Prius, and Uncharted Waters; its recent partnership with Disney came with a license for Marvel and Star Wars titles as well.

Source: Reuters via GI.biz

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EVE Evolved: What's the deal with EVE's PLEX changes?

This week CCP Games announced that some big changes are on the way for PLEX in EVE Online. The PLEX or "30-day Pilot's License EXtension" is a virtual item that represents 30 days of subscription time and can be bought for cash and then sold to other players for in-game ISK. This simple mechanic has proven to be one of the most important innovations in the subscription MMO business model over the years, allowing players with lots of in-game wealth to effectively play for free while permitting cash-rich players to buy in-game currency without funding dodgy farming operations that can disrupt the game world. Dozens of games now support some kind of player-mediated currency roughly like PLEX.

The proposed changes are intended to simplify EVE's business model by merging PLEX with the microtransaction currency Aurum. Players will also be able to put their PLEX into invulnerable account-wide PLEX Vaults that are accessible at all times rather than having to move the valuable items manually by ship. There's been significant backlash from the EVE community over the newfound invulnerability of PLEX, plans to delete some microtransaction currency from the game without compensation, and the possibility that someone leaked the announcement to friends early in order to make a profit. So what's the deal with these PLEX changes, and why are some EVE players going nuts over them?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the upcoming changes to the safety of PLEX, the opportunities that more granular PLEX could have for EVE, and why players are up in arms over plans to delete Aurum from thousands of accounts.

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Make My MMO: Pathfinder is alive, Starfighter seeks crowdfunds (March 18, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Pathfinder Online resurfaced this weekend with good and bad news. Paizo's Lisa Stevens tells fans that efforts and research into selling the game to a large MMO company to finish weren't fruitful. While consultants said the game might appeal to a more indie developer, ultimately they recommended Paizo finish the game itself, which the studio is doing, putting together a one-year timeline to polish the title for "open enrollment."

We've also got a new online multiplayer space sim cooking (thanks, Crow!). The game is Starfighter, Inc., and it describes itself as "Counter-Strike meets World of Warships in Space." It's about a third of the way to its $150,000 US goal with 27 days yet to go.

Meanwhile, we checked out the newly revived Repopulation, Chronicles of Elyria suffered controversy over its monarchy allotment, Grim Dawn got a new patch, Wild Terra began open testing, Dual Universe delayed its alpha, we spoke to Legends of Aria's team about its name and design changes, OrbusVR's Kickstarter funded for over 200% its original ask, Ship of Heroes announced it'll seek $400,00 in crowdfunds, and Star Citizen gave a clear view of its level development. It's been an incredibly big week for crowdfunded MMOs!

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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