Meta Category

The category collects all of our more meta features and posts, like The Daily Grind, letters to the editor, and posts about the state-of-the-site. [Follow this category’s RSS feed]

The Daily Grind: What would Blizzard need to do to get you back into World of Warcraft?

In last night’s Massively Overthinking on hopes and fears for BlizzCon – which kicks off this afternoon! – I laid out my thoughts on Blizzard’s MMORPG meta, my worry that World of Warcraft’s yet-to-be-formally-announced will bedazzle us with cool, slick ideas… but the studio won’t have learned any lessons from the genre beyond its borders. As a gamer and blogger, I’m thrilled to see some spectacle, no doubt. This is one of my favorite events of the year. But for me to seriously consider going back as an active player, Blizzard would have to do way more than the inevitable free catch-up character booster. And I’m not sure Blizzard is willing to try harder than, say, ArenaNet or ZeniMax to ensnare ex-WoW fans like yours truly – not when the company can more easily snag those desirable “MAUs” in cheaper games in simpler genres.

Assuming you’ve played WoW and aren’t playing now: What would Blizzard need to do to get you back into World of Warcraft?

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 142: The state of the sci-fi MMO genre

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree discuss the up-and-down week that was Star Wars: The Old Republic, fret over CCP’s studio closures, marvel at Star Citizen’s CitizenCon, and talk about the flurry of MMO releases as of late.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Happy Halloween from Massively OP! Check out all the MMO Halloweens we visited

If you’ve followed any of our Halloween 2017 MMO coverage or even just skimmed through our great big guide to Halloween events in the MMORPG world, you’ve probably figured out that the one thing you can’t do on Halloween is everything. There’s just not enough time in the day for somebody to visit every single game and max out his or her Halloween skill. It can’t be done.

That doesn’t mean we didn’t try, however. MJ bravely trekked into 17 games so far to explore their Halloween offerings: Elder Scrolls Online, Guild Wars 2, Black Desert, Secret World Legends, Lord of the Rings Online, Dungeons and Dragons Online, RIFT, Citadel Forged With Fire, Trove, Wizard101, Gigantic, DC Universe Online, AdventureQuest 3D, RuneScape, EverQuest II, Fortnite, and SMITE, with Hide & Shriek coming tonight! It may not be every game, but it’s a lot! We’ve rounded up all her tours and travails down below — it’s a good way to peek in on games you didn’t have time for. Be safe out there tonight!

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The Daily Grind: Should video game developers unionize?

The New York Times ran an op-ed from Kotaku editor Jason Schreier last week outlining the perils of game industry “crunch”: 80-to-100-hour weeks, often not properly compensated, as a studio works its developers into a mad frenzy trying to release a game (or patch, or whatever). As the Grey Lady reports, some developers become sick from working so much — we’ve seen multiple deaths in the MMORPG industry over crunch — not to mention the fact that talented devs burn out or flee the industry. And Schreier doesn’t even touch on how crunch-like policies limit the labor pool to young men without families.

Let’s be clear: The studios, not the developers, are to blame here. And in declaring the current situation unsustainable, Schreier asserts that “game developers need to insist – to their bosses and, most important, to themselves – that health comes first.” But signing pledges is clearly not enough, and it doesn’t seem likely that after many decades of this that the problem is going to solve itself or that studios will voluntarily self-correct. It seems to me that devs need to band together more formally, to unionize like the film industry Schreier gives a nod and like the voice actors who said much the same during their long strike.

Is it time for game developers to unionize?

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WRUP: World of Warcraft: The We Just Want Eliot To Come Back Expansion edition

Well, here’s our World of Warcraft expansion leak. Apparently, it’s titled World Of Warcraft: The We Just Want Eliot To Come Back Expansion. I think they’re courting me. The expansion brings in all of the subraces I want, including Eredar, and it’s introducing Wardens as a hero class? Oh, and they’re apparently like a fusion between Shaman and Paladin. That’s nice. Also, we’re getting player housing, no new levels, and additional artifacts for each spec.

Plus, they’re adding dance studios and a better character creator. Oh, and better lady Worgen models. Level scaling through the world, all content scales down to duos, and totems are back! Also, something called “nightmare druids” and “mechanical warriors.” Sounds pretty good; I’m curious about the “customizable giant robots.” Anyhow, let us know what you’re playing down in the comments because this is What Are You Playing.

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Massively Overthinking: The state of early access, alpha, and beta ‘testing’ in the MMO genre

I remember years ago when then-Massively-columnist Rubi Bayer let loose with a blistering rant on the state of faux beta MMOs. She helmed Betawatch back then, see, and she was fed up with (mostly imported) MMOs claiming to be in beta when in fact they’d soft-launched. A lot of readers didn’t understand her fury at the time, but boy have things changed, right? Now, every game’s in on that very old trick, only they call it early access now, while some are still pushing the boundaries, charging $1000 for pre-alpha.

MOP reader Pepperzine proposed a topic for this week’s Massively Overthinking that’s right on point. “I was thinking it would be interesting if we could discuss when people consider a game to be in alpha/beta versus a final launch as a topic,” he wrote to us.

“Back in the day, this was easy to determine. Selective testers were extended invites into beta who were experienced testers who had the computer hardware to handle the software. The primary purpose of being in the testing phase was exactly that, to test and bug report. When the game was made available to the public at a price, a game was considered launched. Now, players are granted access to pre-launch titles by ‘donating’ or purchasing access. For the most part, the primary purpose of participating in the pre-launch experience for these players is not testing or bug reporting but rather to experience and play the game. The division of purchasing a game and donating to test has become so blurred that it is no longer a valid way of determining if a title is at a state to where it is launch ready. These titles can stay in this pre-launch phase for as long as they deem necessary, easily deflecting criticisms by reiterating it is still in development. So when do you consider a game to be launched? Is it when the producers declare it is? Is it when there is no longer the possibility of wipes? Is it when cash shop monetization is implemented? Is it as soon as the company begins selling access?”

Where’s the line in 2017? Let’s dig in.

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The Daily Grind: Are you an MMORPG gamer playing Destiny 2?

Pretty much the entire time between when Destiny 1 was announced and the day Destiny 2 was confirmed for PC, every single article we wrote about Bungie’s first effort was riddled with comments that amounted to “that’s nice – call us when you come to PC.” Bungie obliged, and the sequel has formally launched on the platform the majority of core MMORPG players call home.

But I wonder how many of the people who adopted the “PC or bust” stance actually put their money where their internet comments were. I thought I might give the game a go myself, once I realized guildies were interested, but in reality, I’m happily involved with a couple of genuine MMORPGs that are taking up all my time, so I didn’t grab it.

How about you? Were you a Destiny 1 holdout who is playing Destiny 2? Or are you still just watching from sidelines?

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SuperData declares Destiny 2 the ‘fastest selling digital console game in history’

SuperData’s September 2017 video gaming market global revenue analysis should make Bungie happy, whether or not it was bleeding players ahead of the Destiny 2 PC launch, because hey, Bungie got your money already: Destiny 2 rocketed to the top of the console charts, becoming “the fastest selling digital console game in history.” Presumably, we’ll see it crop up under PC in the next few months as yesterday’s launch is taken into account.

The PC side of SuperData’s report won’t surprise you, since it trickled out early yesterday: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds pushed up to #4 in global revenue, passing up Crossfire, an Asian online shooter that’s been in the top four for many years. Divinity: Original Sin 2 also entered the list, pushing Dota 2 off and proving, SuperData suggests, that “single-player games still have a draw with consumers.” Pokemon Go, meanwhile, once again dropped out of the mobile top 10.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 141: Mouse invasions and elf butts

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree go trick or treating as only grown adults can: in a video game! The is also prim and proper talk of MMO expansion pre-orders, launch dates, mouse invasions, and the all-important ELF BUTTS. It’s quite the event, to be sure.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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Enter to win a Gigantic Ezren Ghal hero unlock or Voden skin from PWE and MOP

In honor of the launch of Gigantic’s Halloween update and its concomitant new hero and map, PWE has granted Massively OP a bunch of goodies to raffle to our readers! They’re intended for the PC audience, so consolers can sit this one out.

A hundred winners will be taking home a code for the Desolation skin for Voden, the MOBA’s shooter hero. And 10 winners will also score an unlock for Ezren Ghal, the brand-new caster hero known for “wielding necromantic powers to damage his opponents, collect souls and trade them for powerful abilities,” twisting “the very being of his foes by draining souls in combat, which can be turned against enemies as devastating ability attacks.”

Read on to enter to win!

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WRUP: Of balls and pins thereof edition

Why are pinball machines so expensive? All right, that one’s obvious, they’re rather elaborate things with lots of moving parts all wired up to sturdy tables. They should be expensive. But it’s insanely frustrating that there’s no real way to get the proper feel of a pinball machine without spending a couple thousand dollars on a large, heavy table that plays one game.

And even “plays” feels a bit overly generous, because this isn’t, like, a similarly expensive arcade cabinet. A pinball machine is a matter of frantically mashing flippers and hoping for rain as various things happen with only moderate control. It’s incredibly frustrating and it’s pricey and I want one, because all of the digital solutions don’t have the tactile feel that is literally half of the fun of these things.

In summary, someone needs to make an MMO variant on pinball. Let us know why that’s stupid in this week’s installment of What Are You Playing.

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Betawatch: Closers Online’s alpha is totally open this weekend (October 20, 2017)

Welcome back to another edition of Betawatch, the game where literally everything is in early access forever. Except Closers, of course, which is open! I never get tired of that. Yes, Closers Online is running a fully open alpha this weekend, which I guess is what we do now when open beta is actually soft launch. Regardless, you can play it and check it out. What else happened in the world of eternal testing this past week? Let’s see…

  • Go Project Gorgon! It put your crowdfunding to work on a programmer to overhaul the in-testing UI.
  • OrbusVR kicked off its third round of closed beta testing. Backers could also take part in Dual Universe’s second pre-alpha, which begins tomorrowday.
  • Both Legends of Aria and Prosperous Universe put the wraps on their alpha testing.
  • Crowfall talked up its action harvesting, while Ship of Heroes went all pew-pew with lightning.
  • H1Z1 changed its name. Again. This is its third try and it’s still in early access! So is PUBG; it broke 2.3M concurrent players last weekend. Not too shabby.
  • Don’t get your hopes up about Star Citizen spinoff Squadron 42; it’s not launching this year. Star Citizen itself is still busy breaking alpha 3.0. But Bless Online is definitely coming (to us) in 2018!
  • Conan Exiles, on the other hand, will stay in testing an extra quarter.

Did we miss anything? Other than Eliot, who will be back in action next week? Send it along to us! And in the meantime, check out our ongoing list of MMOs-purporting-to-be-in-testing that we’re watching.

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Massively Overthinking: Is open-world housing really a ‘failed’ MMORPG experiment?

Massively OP’s Justin Olivetti has a provocative article on his personal gaming blog, Bio Break, this week on MMORPG housing.

“I once again wonder why open world housing is this holy grail that some players and developers seem hellbent on chasing,” he writes. “It’s an ideal, a beautiful mirage couched in the notion of players inhabiting the very world they play, allowing them to stroll through neighborhoods of fellow adventurer’s homes and basking in the connectivity of it all. Yet it’s a failed experiment, one that is proven time and again to have far more drawbacks than benefits.” After listing off his complaints with the mechanic, he ultimately concludes that “we simply don’t need fixed open world housing, even in sandboxes.”

But being Justin, he also asked for feedback on why the joys are worth the drawbacks – and how to fix the system so it works instead of running off the rails. That’s just what we’ll do in this week’s Overthinking. Is he right about not needing this type of housing? And if not, how would you fix open world housing?

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