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Pantheon devs want your feedback

The Pantheon dev team has turned the tables on its fanbase in a new community Q&A. Developers — including Chief Creative Officer Brad McQuaid, Lead Programmer Daniel Krenn, and others — want to know a bit more about player preferences, and their survey covers questions including adventure zone themes, independent vs. restricted crafting, and more.

“We would really like to see some genuine answers to get a better idea of what you all want and expect to see in Pantheon to help us going forward,” the team says.

[Source: Community survey. Thanks Paganrites!]

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NCsoft buys Netmarble stock to block hostile takeover by Nexon

How do you prevent a hostile takeover? In NCsoft‘s case, you buy something. Specifically, you buy a large portion of shares from Netmarble while also engaging in a large-scale swap of stock between the two companies to provide a buffer against Nexon‘s moves toward a hostile takeover. The deal in question involved a purchase of $345 million worth of Netmarble shares along with a stock swap worth roughly $635 million, providing a larger financial hurdle for Nexon to jump if it still wants to take NCsoft by force.

Nexon is currently the largest single shareholder in NCsoft and recently put forth a list of demands for the company. A hostile takeover is still possible during NCsoft’s next shareholder meeting in March.

[Source: MMO Culture, Thanks to Paul for the tip!]

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MOBAs dominate Raptr’s January rankings as WoW playtime falls

According to a Raptr press release posted today, MOBA League of Legends dominated the service’s January rankings with just under 20% of total playtime share. World of Warcraft held onto second place with not quite 11% of total playtime share, but it “lost 5.28% of play time in January compared to December.”

DOTA 2, SMITE, and Hearthstone scored well; Diablo III, in particular, saw its playtime rise 77.27% percent month-over-month, likely a result of the 2.12 patch.

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Former Guild Wars 2 writer becomes Bungie’s ‘loremaster’

Former ArenaNet writer John Ryan is now Bungie’s “editor/loremaster,” according to his Twitter account. Ryan started at ANet in 2010 and worked on Guild Wars 2’s dialogue, lore, and narrative. He explained his past and present role to fans on Twitter:

First, my new job at Bungie will be editing and riding herd on lore. I’m not writing, per se, but I’ll be working with some great writers.

Second, I’m not, nor have I ever been, a lead story writer at ArenaNet. It seems some media outlets are confused about that. There’s only been one lead writer for the five-ish years I’ve been at ArenaNet. And that is the one and only @BobbyStein.

I don’t know how much impact I’ll have on story at Bungie. I’ll play some role, I suppose but, again, there are so many great people at Bungie who are passionate, talented, and hard at work at making great narrative experiences for you. I’m lucky to be part of a legendary studio, and I only hope to match the energy and vision of everyone at Bungie.

In short: I will edit, I will work with writers, I will keep an eye on lore and style. I’m part of a great studio. I’m ready to kick ass.

[Source: Twitter via VG247]

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Daybreak teams reassure MMO players, deflect DDoS attacks

More assurances are coming your way from Daybreak Games, this time from reps of each of the studio’s games.

“Absolutely nothing” has changed, according to a Greg “SOELegion” Henninger post on the H1Z1 forums. “We’re properly staffed to move forward with our current development strategy. We’ll continue to be a transparent development team and we’ll continue on our promise and commitment to making this a player-driven game,” he writes before going on to mention a revised male player model and a female avatar “in the works.”

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The EFF wants to exempt some emulated game servers from copyright laws

How many times have you dusted off an old game you used to love to play online, only to find that the official servers have long since been shut down? It’s an unfortunate fact that unprofitable online games frequently get the axe, often leaving it to the games’ communities to try to put together an unofficial server. Dozens of early multiplayer games now have emulated servers and even player-made patches, all in an effort to keep the games we love alive, but technically those servers are breaking copyright law.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced this week that it’s pushing for changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that would make it legal for players to run their own emulated servers in cases of a game’s abandonment by developers. The proposal would also make it legal to eliminate any server-based DRM in lawfully acquired copies of a game in cases where the DRM server has been shut down.

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The Soapbox: Has F2P worked for SOE?

The MassivelyOP staff was discussing the SOE Daybreak armageddon recently, and given the total absence of public data relating to who or what was ultimately responsible for the wide-ranging job cuts, we were forced to speculate. Some believe the company stretched itself too thin across its vast MMORPG portfolio. Others opined that everything from early access to SOE’s parent corp struggles to EverQuest Next and Landmark being in some sort of theoretical development hell were at fault.

Personally, I see the firm giving away expensive content — i.e., F2P — as the larger problem.

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Daybreak’s John Smedley: EverQuest Next is going to be ‘more than ok’

Worried about this week’s mass firings of Daybreak employees and wondering what might happen to both Landmark and EverQuest Next? The studio has a few words of reassurance for you on that front.

“[EverQuest Next] has the largest development team at SOE. It is going to be more than OK,” Daybreak President John Smedley tweeted yesterday. In another response, Smedley said, “The EverQuest franchise is our lifeblood and we treat it with the respect it deserves.”

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Elder Scrolls’ road ahead is paved with virtual currency

Elder Scrolls Online game director Matt Firor has posted a lengthy Road Ahead update on the game’s website. He touches on loyalty rewards (including a special mount for players who have been around since the beginning), console release questions and transfer issues, and — oh goodie — the upcoming cash shop.

Yes, virtual currency is coming to Tamriel when the title switches business models in a couple of months, and Firor trots out the usual “customization and convenience” lines when discussing the stuff currently slated for the item mall. He also mentions ESO Plus, which is the membership level that will net you 1500 funny monies per month along with DLC packs and leveling bonuses.

[Source: Road Ahead – Feb.]

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Nexon pressures NCsoft as largest shareholder

While Nexon and NCsoft may be competing developers in the MMO space, business has made strange and hostile bedfellows of both.

After purchasing enough shares to become NCsoft’s largest shareholder last year at 15.1%, Nexon is attempting to put pressure on its rival to conform to certain demands. However, tensions are running high as NCsoft is pushing back against those proposals.

Last week, Nexon issued a proposal to NCsoft with an unspecified deadline to allow Nexon to appoint a board member, sell certain non-core assets, disclose wages for unregistered board members, and adopt an electronic voting system for shareholders, among other demands. NCsoft responded to the proposal although the specifics of the response were not revealed.

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Former PS2 producer: ‘Don’t hate on Daybreak’

After yesterday’s news it’s understandable that fans of Daybreak Games‘ software lineup might be somewhere between nervous and upset. Former PlanetSide 2 producer David Carey took to Reddit yesterday to caution against some of those feelings, stating that neither Daybreak nor Columbus Nova (the investment group backing the former Sony Online Entertainment) deserves the ire or animosity of players. Carey explains that far from being the villains of the piece, both groups are simply doing what they should be, upsetting though it may be.

“The fact is, there are no (or at least, extremely few) permanent gaming jobs,” says Carey, saying that while several people lost their jobs, many of them will be in new jobs in very short order. High turnover is simply one of the perils of the industry, he argues; Columbus Nova and the shakeup of what was once SOE was necessary, something that the ur-studio had needed for quite some time. He goes on to state that if you enjoy the games, you should continue subscribing and playing rather than place blame at a company’s feet.

[Source: Reddit, Via: EQ2Wire]

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The Soapbox: Facing an industry of change

Right now I believe that we are on a threshold of change in the MMO industry, and it feels a little uncertain and a lot scary.

While there are MMOs being made and developed as you read this, it seems as though there are less of the traditional big-budget titles with highly recognizable IPs and more indie projects that are operating outside of the normal paradigm. We have games that are funded entirely through fan support. We have spiritual successors instead of sequels. We have MMOs that are also single-player titles. We have devs over here jumping on the Minecraft wagon, devs over there trying to get a piece of the League of Legends phenomenon, and devs designing for a specific audience rather than a general one.

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