I read with disgust a recent GI.biz piece about free-to-play and its supposed coming of age. The business model has of course run amok through the western MMO industry since Turbine’s Dungeons & Dragons Online started the dominoes rolling in 2010, and it has been the weapon of choice for separating browser/mobile game players from their money since browser/mobile games became a thing.
Whether or not free-to-play is actually good for the long-term health of the game industry is up for debate. But you wouldn’t know that if you inhale the PR smoke commonly blown by development firms that owe their existence to the business model’s built-in saturation potential rather than their ability to make quality products that consumers value.
It’s become a cottage industry for EVE Online fans to try to figure out whether CCP Games is doing well or not. Gone are the days with regular crowing about subscriber numbers, and as with most companies, the focus is on publicizing the good rather than admitting what’s not going so well. A fan blog, however, legally obtained a copy of the most recent finanical report for the company and posted a lengthy and in-depth analysis of the company’s numbers through the end of 2014.
The short version is that the company reported significant losses, but analysis suggests that may have a great deal to do with writing off DUST 514 and World of Darkness assets. With some assumptions and estimates, the analysis looks solid for EVE Online itself despite the company’s 10% drop in revenue year-on-year and $15 million in negative equity. Take a look at the full analysis to check the numbers and see whether you agree with the estimates being made.
Massively OP commenter The_Grand_Nagus recently pointed us to a conversation on the Star Trek Online forum where a Cryptic Studios employee discussed the studio’s games’ revenues and staffing:
Game Development is directly proportional to revenue generated.
So long as a game is making more money than it costs to run, it will continue to run. And luckily, the costs to run a game are very scalable. The Dev team is most of the cost of running a game, and we can have more or fewer devs depending on the money coming in.
STO has a dev team proportional to its revenue.
NW has a dev team proportional to its revenue.
Champs has a dev team proportional to its revenue.
For the most part, there are very few scenarios where a game will simply shut down out of the blue.
It’s a dirt-simple declaration, of course, one that should give comfort to people concerned about Champions Online’s health in particular. And it made The_Grand_Nagus wonder whether the games wouldn’t be better off if players were more directly involved in directing that revenue.
Revival’s latest newsletter is essential reading if you’ve missed any of the fantasy sandbox’s developer updates over the past month. Illfonic links back to missives on whaling, the mercenary life, farming, and arena combat.
Illfonic also says that the month of May included progress on the game’s character creation system, which is ” designed to give players the freedom to create a look that they genuinely identify with, while keeping their appearance in line with their heritage and their physique in tune with their stats.”
It might seem a little odd that the one thing to break through my current state of hyper-excitement for the launch of Heavensward and the upcoming free-to-play conversion for WildStar is the shutdown of Infinite Crisis. But it’s also the first piece of news that I’ve actually found kind of worrisome, and I don’t usually get unsettled. Games get shut down, games keep running, launches happen, impacts are overestimated — it happens.
Infinite Crisis was not something I would call one of my main games, or even something I would call one of my games at all. I’ve played it at demo events and that’s about it because I don’t much care for the genre. But even if you share my general ambivalence toward the market, even passing into full-on antipathy, you should be paying attention to this. This is news, it’s important, and there are reasons to care about it even if you normally would have let it pass wholly under your radar.
CCP has published a blog post detailing the results of its latest PLEX for Good fundraising drive that provided assistance for victims of the recent Nepal earthquake. A total of $103,650 USD was donated, which equals 6,910 PLEX or 575 years and 303 days of game time.
The sum is the second largest in the history of EVE Online’s PLEX for Good program, and the total proceeds from drives over the past decade amount to nearly half a million US dollars.
With a large roster of potential classes, how will Crowfall balance it all? By starting small, of course. The devs wrote a new post today explaining how they will begin testing the game’s combat systems by picking a trio of classes on which to experiment: the Confessor, the Knight, and the Legionnaire.
“We’ll be concentrating on the basics of combat (hitting opponents, movement speeds, powers, physics interactions) and holding off for now on things like environment destruction, caravans, siege mechanics, etc.,” ArtCraft wrote.
The studio also posted a founder’s update with several business notices. The biggest item is that ArtCraft is selling $1 million in ownership shares in the company to raise additional funds for the game. There are also notices concerning upsales, website localizations, and new payment methods.
When Above & Beyond Technologies announced that its sci-fi MMO The Repopulation will launch before the end of 2015, sandbox fans simultaneously pumped their fists and arched their brows. MassivelyOP tracked down lead developer J.C. Smith and asked him about the ambitious release window as well as whether or not the dev team is feeling the pressure of expectations.
Read the full interview after the cut!
Fairytale Distillery has dropped another Das Tal info bomb on its Kickstarter backers and curious sandbox PvP onlookers. The indie MMO got its start as a prototype called Love 2D, which is chronicled along with early art assets in a recent update. A second update focuses on bugs and the dev team’s “small gallery of accidents,” while the third and fourth updates for this week cover more of the game’s history as well as how the studio is set up.
The title really says it all, no? Funcom has announced that it is bringing down The Secret World’s servers on June 3rd at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Downtime is currently estimated at two hours. When the servers return, they will feature the 1.11.3 update, which adds mounts to the modern day horror/fantasy MMO.
; thanks Nordavind!
Have you seen the new Hearthstone
TV commercial? It’s up on the newly released MOBA’s YouTube channel, in case you miss it on the boob tube.
It’s a brief clip that clocks in at just 40 seconds. It centers on a duel between a Stormwind Champion and an Ogre Brute, and, well, you’ll just have to watch how it plays out after the cut!
DC-themed superhero MOBA Infinite Crisis is shutting down on August 14th, according to an announcement posted on the front page of Turbine’s official site.
After much deliberation, we regret to announce the official shutdown of Infinite Crisis. We will end development efforts today and will close the service on August 14, 2015.
Between now and August 14th, the game will remain available to play completely free. If you have any questions, contact Customer Service for assistance at http://support.infinitecrisis.com.
This was an extremely difficult decision to make. On behalf of the entire Infinite Crisis team we want to thank all of you for your feedback, support and for joining together to create one of the best communities in gaming.
The announcement is echoed on the official forums by Community Manager Celestrata. The game officially launched in March of this year after an extended testing period and impressed even MMORPG critics.
Today’s Daily Grind topic comes to us in a roundabout way from Kickstarter donor Le Entrepreneur, who asks,
Why do MMOs use cash shops they know hurt players?
There’s an easy answer to this — because money — but it’s worth exploring in more detail, I think. Cash shops in general, after all, don’t hurt players, but cash shops that exploit players’ desire to win or that tinker with lockboxes are deliberately preying on games’ weakest customers. On the one hand, it’s just business, but on the other, it makes me uncomfortable that whales — some of whom are just terrible with money, not actually wealthy — are subsidizing many of the MMOs we play.