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Lockbox roundup: MMO studios on ‘elegant’ lockboxes, legal issues, and the ‘cosmetics only’ angle

You know the lockbox thing is reaching saturation when there are so many things to cover we have to resort to a roundup. Nevertheless, for those of you who want to stay on top of developments and arguments, here we go.

Polygon has an explainer piece up on Destiny 2’s Eververse fallout and why everyone is still rioting over the game’s monetization. Of note for this discussion is the publication’s note that if Destiny 2 is hell-bent on having lootboxes, it ought to adopt Overwatch’s lootboxes, as they’re relatively tame and haven’t produced a Reddit in full meltdown.

Gamasutra has a roundup of MMO developer quotes from studios that believe they’re doing lockboxes “elegantly,” including Trion (for Defiance), PWE (for Star Trek Online), Wargaming (for World of Warships). In this particularly case, that means either being easily accessible through in-game play (not just in the cash shop), making lockbox drops tradeable to other players, creating systems of accruing lockbox rewards, or offering a choice of lootbox type.

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Radiant Worlds is rescued but SkySaga’s fate remains uncertain

Things looked very bleak for SkySaga and its parent company Radiant Worlds last August when the upcoming multiplayer game shut down production following Smilegate’s decision to pull out as publisher and leave Radiant without funds to finish the game. However, hope for the studio blossomed following a statement today by UK media developer and publisher Rebellion, in which it was announced that the company had acquired Radiant Worlds for an undisclosed sum.

The publisher said that Radiant Worlds will now become a sister studio called Rebellion Warwick and “will immediately transition on to current projects including the 1930s co-op adventure Strange Brigade.”

Unfortunately, this acquisition did not include SkySaga, so don’t put too much stock in a resurrection. “As much as we loved working on SkySaga, the game belongs to Smilegate, so any future development plans would be from them, not us,” Radiant tweeted.

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Korean prosecutors target former NCsoft VP for insider trading

Former NCsoft Vice President and Blade & Soul lead producer Bae Jae Hyu has landed in legal hot water thanks to an ongoing insider trading inquiry.

The investigation began last summer when investors seemingly short-sold almost 200,000 shares in the company, a record that saw NCsoft’s stock values fall significantly. Swirling in the background were rumors that Lineage M would launch sans auction hall, which authorities believed might have provoked the move. Bae Jae-hyun, who sold 8000 shares in the company, immediately fell under suspicion, though NCsoft denied the allegations.

But last week, Korea’s Financial Services Commission formally turned the case over to prosecutors.

Insider trading scandals are nothing new to MMORPG gamers; you’ll recall that former Funcom executives were involved in a similar insider trading case following the original launch of The Secret World. The perpetrators in that case were convicted by the Norwegian courts last year.

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HEVGA argues WHO’s proposed ‘gaming disorder’ classification scapegoats and stigmatizes games

Is gaming addiction a thing worthy of its own classification? The World Health Organization is thinking about saying yes in its update of the International Classification of Diseases. The Electronic Software Association, predictably, says heck no. Now, the Higher Education Video Game Alliance has weighed in with a big no too, expressing “dismay” at the WHO’s stated intentions and suggesting that the classification won’t actually “combat cases of abuse rooted in individual behavior” but will “stigmatize a pastime that billions of players enjoy without issue around the world” and “warp continued research.”

“We do not support WHO in this classification scheme in the strongest possible terms,” the group’s press release says, suggesting classifications amount to “jumping to premature conclusions” and willful “scapegoating.”

“We’ve watched as games are repeatedly blamed in today’s world for violence, childhood obesity, failures in educational policy, and a host of other contemporary issues, despite both a lack of evidence and careful consideration of other, often far more powerful, systemic forces that contribute to societal behavior. Games are commonly referred to as ‘addictive’ despite numerous conflicting studies and a clear lack of consensus from the scientific and medical communities.”

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Michele Morrow calls out BlizzCon gender pay inequality

Michele Morrow, one of the most recognizable faces in gaming thanks to her long career as a show host and actress and World of Warcraft player, has seemingly accused BlizzCon organizers of gender discrimination when it comes to BlizzCon hosting pay. Morrow has hosted Blizzard’s outrageously popular annual convention since 2014, last year with Geoff Keighley Alex Albrecht and Malik Forte. As she began on Twitter,

“Glad the #GoldenGlobes are calling out discrimination. I’d like to point out gender & POC pay disparity happens in gaming, too. This has happened to me. Has it happened to you?”

She followed up her statements by referring to her treatment by BlizzCon organizers specifically, suggesting that she didn’t know ahead of BlizzCon 2017 that she had been paid less than her male co-hosts.

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Star Citizen developer Cloud Imperium files motion to dismiss Crytek copyright lawsuit

The bombshell of December 2017 was the news that Crytek was suing Cloud Imperium Games and Roberts Space Industries, the companies behind the sprawling and controversial crowdfunded MMO Star Citizen, alleging that CIG infringed its copyrights by using CryEngine to develop non-Star Citizen game assets in the form of Squadron 42 while misusing Crytek’s logo in marketing materials and Crytek’s CryEngine in the form of Star Engine. In its initial filing, Crytek demanded a huge pile of direct damages, lost profits, and punitive damages, as well as a permanent injunction against CIG’s use of CryEngine.

At the time, CIG told Massively OP that it was aware of the complaint but that the lawsuit was “meritless” as CIG hadn’t used CryEngine since it switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard. And now we see its promised “vigorous defense” action, as CIG has issued a volley of its own in the form of a motion to dismiss the entire suit.

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Guild Wars 2 is hiring a writer and narrative designer

We regret to inform you that while ArenaNet is definitely hiring a Writer / Narrative Designer for Guild Wars 2, it is also a job you are probably not qualified for. (This is in a general sense, mind you; if you’re a regular reader and have shipped two AAA games, by all means, go forth.) But it’s still interesting for those of us who are not qualified for the position, as it offers a hint about how much more writing is going to be coming out of the studio with upcoming patches. (And also that Riot Games just picked up the former holder of that job, Michael Yichao.)

Obviously, it doesn’t hint at all about the content of those stories, but it’s a senior position that indicates a need for more words, more characters, and more narrative. If that’s your favorite part of the game in the Living World, you have reason to be happy. But you probably don’t need to send off your resume, although if you do, make sure to check out the twitter feeds of ANet’s Bobby Stein and Tom Abernathy, which are stuffed full of advice for aspiring applicants.

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The Daily Grind: Which game made the biggest contribution to killing the MMORPG genre in 2017?

Last year, Massively OP commenter deekay_zero proposed this topic as a joke award, but when we ran it as a Daily Grind, it prompted really great responses (in spite of the obvious trolls). As we observed at the time, how you answer depends on what you think actually ails MMORPGs (assuming you think the MMO genre is in trouble to begin with) – whether it’s business model shenanigans or bad design pushing people and companies away, or other genres pulling MMO players out, or something else entirely.

So we wanted to pull the topic out again to see whether the answer has changed. 2017 was a big year for gaming, after all, as we saw the (re)birth of an entire spinoff genre. Did that influence our home genre in a good way or bad? Which game, MMO or otherwise, made the biggest contribution toward killing the MMORPG genre specifically in 2017?

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ASUS throws its weight behind League of Legends in China

Battle royale? Team shooters? League of Legends scoffs at these pretenders to the online throne, sitting on top of an e-sports empire that spans the globe. A big part of this empire is in Asia, where e-sports are blowing up huge in China.

Encouraging the spread of this is computer hardware company ASUS, which just dropped $16 million to help build and open an e-sports headquarters in the country. ASUS is a strong participant in the League of Legends professional community, sponsoring a new pro team called the Rogue Warriors that founded this past December.

ASUS recently developed and released a laptop in India specifically designed to cater to e-sports players. The ROG Strix SCAR Edition was put out under ASUS’s Republic of Gamers brand.

“E-sports is gaining tremendous popularity in the country especially game titles like Dota 2 and Counter Strike,” noted National Business Development Manager Arnold Su. “The number of gamers switching from casual gaming to professional is increasing every year at an exponential level.”

Source: MMO Culture

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Make My MMO: Star Citizen’s new website and private concierge event (January 6, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen devs gave a first look at game’s brand-new website, which is due to launch later in January. It’s good news for those of you who’ve argued the existing site doesn’t do enough to explain the game to newbies who haven’t been following the game for years.

High-end Star Citizen backers also have the opportunity to attend an exclusive shindig in May. “On Friday May 4th, we will host a private Concierge event, which will include an intimate tour of our LA headquarters, followed by dinner in the commissary and a sit-down Q&A with Chris Roberts and key devs from the Star Citizen team,” members of the Chairman’s Club were told via email this week. “The event will be filmed with highlights airing at a later date. It will be limited to 60 tickets, going on sale to Concierge members for $350 in three installments [beginning next Friday].” (Thanks, DK!)

Meanwhile, Crowfall talked parcels, Chronicles of Elyria wrote about identity, Elite players are busy rebuilding, and Ship of Heroes spoke to us about its hopes for the superhero MMO genre. Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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Betawatch: A new year, a new closed beta (January 5, 2018)

Here we are, in the untamed wilderness of 2018! It feels a lot like 2017 so far, except that it’s a year later. Also, at least here, it’s buried under snow. Also, Global Adventures has moved into its closed beta test, which is new. You can get in on that, although you should feel fairly warned that it’s going to have a wipe prior to open beta, so fairly warned be ye.

For the most part, it seems that studios were still remembering that they have to get back to work if they’re going to enjoy the new year. But we still had some movement on the beta front, so that’s all right. Examples of such are listed below.

That’s not a bad way to kick off the year, huh? There’s going to be more this year, we’re sure, but we’ve still got a list past the break of the games we know to be in testing. If something has skipped into launch or seems to have quietly shuttered while evading our notice, do let us know down in the comments. It’s very helpful and we appreciate it.

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League of Legends unbans ‘reformed’ toxic player called a ‘humunculus’ by fired employee

Among last year’s toxicity-in-gaming stories was the one that taught the internet an important lesson: how to spell homunculus. No, that wasn’t it. It was “don’t be a game dev who insults and jokes about your toxic players’ deaths,” or at least, don’t get caught, because at the end of it all, the toxic players will still be playing and you’ll be out of a lucrative job.

We’re talking here, of course, about Tyler1, who was banned by Riot Games from League of Legends back in 2016 for toxicity – in his case, specifically verbal abuse, harassment, and outright cheating. Even though he kept streaming, you probably forgot all about him until October 2017, when Riot’s Lead Experience Designer apparently drank a little bit too much joy and then called him a “humunculus” in public, remaking that it’d be “gucci” if Tyler1 were to “die from a coke overdose or testicular cancer from all the steroids.” Though Tyler1 (wisely) stated he wasn’t upset and had no hard feelings over the insults, Riot still fired the employee.

And while the whole ordeal did cause a noticeable spike in google searches for the word homunculus, which continues to amuse me, it may have also influenced Riot’s decision to unban him, news that he announced on his twitter account yesterday and which appears to have been confirmed obliquely by Riot.

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Massively OP’s 2017 awards debrief and annual recap

As we did in 20142015, and 2016, today I’m going to recap our annual awards and other meta articles from the end of 2017. We gave out 19 formal awards this past year, all in addition to dozens of other recaps, roundups, listicles, predictions, bloopers, oddities, polls, provocations, and retrospectives. It was by far our biggest content dump to date, even bigger than last year!

Following our deep-dive into our awards and the attached reader polls, I’ll be recapping all of the end-year articles in one convenient place in case you missed something over the holidays – enjoy!

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