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Activision secures patent for software to trick you into buying cash shop stuff, seriously

Hey, gang, this is absolutely wonderful. Activision has filed and been granted a patent for software designed to push you into buying cash shop crappies through the most insidious means possible. The breakdown is fairly straightforward: Once you buy something, the game’s matchmaking software will push you to a match where that something would be very effective or where another player’s purchases would influence your purchases, thus creating positive feedback and inspiring you to buy more! Isn’t that grand?

For those keeping track at home, this is starting to cross the line from gambling over to extortion, which is not a pleasant road to be walking. If you thought microtransactions amounted to a cash shop wholly separate from gameplay and you never had to worry about it influencing anything else, you were wrong.

Activision’s official statement is that this was simply a patent filed for exploratory software and it has not been implemented in any games. Said statement does not include phrases like “will not,” of course, so draw your own conclusions about when and whether it will show up. You can also draw your own conclusions about how shady it is, but the answer is pretty decidedly “super shady.”

Source: Kotaku, Rolling Stone; thanks to OneEyeRed and Leiloni for the tip!

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The Daily Grind: Do you think EA is pivoting into a Star Wars pseudo-MMO?

Yesterday’s surprise revelation that EA was canning Visceral Games and “pivoting” the design of its in-progress Star Wars linear adventure RPG clearly struck a nerve around here, as we received a flood of mail about it (thanks guys!), and not because that game was an MMO but because of how EA justified the closure.

“It has become clear that to deliver an experience that players will want to come back to and enjoy for a long time to come, we needed to pivot the design,” EA VP Patrick Soderlund said. “Importantly, we are shifting the game to be a broader experience that allows for more variety and player agency, leaning into the capabilities of our Frostbite engine and reimagining central elements of the game to give players a Star Wars adventure of greater depth and breadth to explore.”

If you read between the lines, the “market” has apparently told EA to scrap a single-player RPG in favor of something more persistent, more marketable, and very likely more multiplayer, especially since Soderlund name-dropped Anthem’s engine and then mentioned how Battlefront II “fuels [its] live service” in the franchise.

What do you think? Are we looking at another Star Wars pseudo-MMO in a few more years? And maybe more importantly, do you think EA’s implication that return-worthy – presumably connected, online games – are the only games worth building right now? Read more

Massively OP Podcast Episode 140: Dubious drops in LOTRO, FFXIV, and SWTOR

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree navigate the dubious updates that dropped in several major MMOs (as well as a few other ones that seem to have gone off OK). It’s practically an all-patch, all-the-time show with the addition of a couple of interesting listener emails regarding accessibility and crafting!

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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Grab a RoboManiac currency key from YEPS and Massively OP to get your ‘bot on

So here’s a new game that’s just rumbled onto our radar: It’s called RoboManiac, and it’s a self-described free-to-play browser MMO that combines “an RPG and sports manager” with robots, an elaborate trading system, a league leaderboard, multiplayer alliances, and basic RPG progression. It’s also adamantly against pay-to-win tactics. Did I mention the robots?

“From the beginning, you have the option to individually equip your Bot with different weapons, drive modules, blades, and numerous other body elements from energy cells to booster packs. Using your Workshop, you can repair, upgrade and level up the various elements of your bot. In your habitat and its surroundings you can send your bot on different missions, fight other bots, or send it to work in the factory, so you can use a few credits to buy or sell important boosters and upgrades at the marketplace. Trading in parts and items is an important part of the game and allows you to do good deals with other players.”

German studio YEPS! has granted MOP codes that will unlock a nice chunk of in-game currency, called platinum. Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!

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Take home a Hand of the Gods Medusa key in honor of the console closed beta launch

Hi-Rez’s turn-based strategy card game Hand of the Gods — you might recall it better as SMITE Tactics or even its internal name, Hotgods — formally launches closed beta on console today, arriving on both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

“The​ ​beta​ ​for​ ​Hand​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Gods​ ​kicks​ ​off​ ​by​ ​offering​ ​special​ ​bundles​ ​for​ ​PlayStation​ ​Plus​ ​and​ ​Xbox​ ​Live Gold​ ​members–including​ ​FREE​ ​access​ ​to​ ​the​ ​Closed​ ​Beta​ ​for​ ​those​ ​members! Starting​ ​today,​ ​PlayStation​ ​Plus​ ​and​ ​Xbox​ ​Live​ ​Gold​ ​members​ ​can​ ​receive​ ​the​ ​Hand​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Gods promotional​ ​bundle​ ​for​ ​free!​ ​Each​ ​bundle​ ​features​ ​a​ ​unique​ ​Leader​ ​Skin​ ​and​ ​also​ ​includes​ ​an​ ​Exclusive Card​ ​Back​ ​and​ ​Player​ ​Icon.​ ​In​ ​addition,​ ​the​ ​bundle​ ​includes​ ​five​ ​Core​ ​Packs​ ​to​ ​give​ ​new​ ​players​ ​a​ ​jump start​ ​in​ ​building​ ​their​ ​decks.”

Want even more stuff? Hi-Rez has granted us codes for the Legendary Greek God Medusa, redeemable on either console (but not PC). Click the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys!

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The Daily Grind: Is PUBG finally the ‘WoW killer killer’ we’ve been waiting for?

Say the words “WoW killer” to a bunch of MMORPG players in 2017 and you’re bound to get eyerolls, for good reason: Even though we’ve been watching over the last decade as game after game chased the title, most folks don’t really believe that any MMORPG will ever truly “kill” World of Warcraft except possibly WoW itself, however slowly. Globally oriented, e-sports-centric games like MOBAs and shooters have long since surpassed the MMORPG market anyway, beating them at their own community game.

What I didn’t really expect to ever see was a game that killed the “WoW killers,” and that’s exactly what PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is doing. Oh, League of Legends, Dota 2, and CS:GO aren’t dead, and they’re not going to roll over and give up so easily, not when they’re still making money hand-over-fist (just a little bit less than before). But I have to admit that I didn’t see this coming. Battle royale is an old game type, and PUBG isn’t even the first to try to revivify it. I never expected this kind of dramatic sea change in online gaming. We’re watching a huge shift happening right before our eyes, and bizarrely enough, Daybreak is partly responsible.

Is PUBG a “WoW killer killer”? Is PUBG really worthy of all the fuss, or are people just sick of the old-school MOBA and shooter lineup?

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Enter to win a Skyforge PS4 Revenant Quickplay Pack from My.com and MOP!

Hey, Skyforge players! Are you having fun with the newly launched Revenant class? You know, that “mighty warlord, appropriately adorned with impressive armor and wielding a ghastly two-handed axe, which siphons the life from its enemies using vile shadow magics, assuming it hasn’t simply butchered opponents into a gory mess first”?

Oh, what’s that? You don’t have the Revenant class yet? Welp, you’re in the right giveaway! Thanks to My.com, Massively OP’s got a nice bundle of Skyforge goodies to hand out to our PS4 readers (PC folks, you can sit this one out)!

Fifty winners of this week’s raffle will be taking home a Revenant Quickplay Pack, which includes the Revenant class unlock as well as three days of Premium Subscription time. Please note that the codes will work only for Skyforge’s North American PS4 edition.

Read on to enter to win!

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WRUP: Names I have used for MMO zones other than their proper names edition

Boregrimmar. Dorkshore. Strangle-me Vale. Dun Moron. Ironfudge. The Kvetchlands. Hillsbad Footfails. Poorgrimmar. Zangrymarsh. More Donuts. Fishguard. Palaran. Nar Shady. Lomsa Lemonsa. L.A. Nausea. Goopstaberg. Winderps. Valkurm Dooms. Fort Smellsba. Rolanberry the Headless Thompson Fields. Castle Ooze Troy. Snoregrimmar. Nar Shut Up.

Lizardtown. Camp Steaky-place. Tython, land of pythons. Ord Mantelpiece. Sith Seattle. Invincible Turtle River. The Lich King Summer Camp. The Boyz II Men Tree. Gay Planet. Shadowlord Fun Time Activity Zone. Kitty Jungle. Pirate Jungle. Crackton. The Alliance Lives in a Closet. Stormwind Red Light District. Cat Gas Park. Earth Space Duck. “Oops I Crapped My Pants” City.

And those are just the ones where my wife and I didn’t just add obscenities to the name for no reason, or referring to a zone in one game with the name of a zone from a completely different game. Let us know what you’re playing in the comments, this is What Are You Playing. Theoretically.

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Betawatch: Wild West Online’s alpha just isn’t ready (October 13, 2017)

It’s not high noon in Wild West Online. It’s not any time at all, in fact. The game’s early access alpha would have established a time, probably, but that’s been delayed because… well, the game just isn’t ready for that sort of testing yet. Disappointing for those looking forward to the game? Certainly. But probably for the best in the long run, we hope.

This week has been thin in terms of beta news, but we’ve still got a few pieces here and there to show off, don’t we? Of course we do; check out this list.

Sorry there’s a little less news this week, but we do have that whole list down below; that’s something cool, right? You can let us know what you’re thinking about betas you’re playing in the comments, or you can let us know if something surreptitiously launched without us noticing as well. We would prefer that you not place your recipe for chili con carne in the comments; just mail that along.

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Massively Overthinking: Three-way RvR and ‘fair’ PvP in modern MMOs

MOP reader Sally Bowls is on a roll with the good questions lately! She lobbed us one this past weekend that seems a good follow-up to a comment thread discussion about the problems inherent in unregulated three-way factional PvP/RvR (and how a game like Camelot Unchained will regulate it). By way of example, she noted that a certain MMO griefer famously argued in favor of strategy that basically made the opponent not want to log in, using tactics like creating timesinks and hassles in a sandbox. “Should the dominant faction on a RvRvR server ‘camp’ the smallest to try to drive them off?” she wondered.

“If it’s about fair PvP, then that is anathema. But if you see the game as being about your faction being at war with other factions, then not doing your utmost to win that war is incompetence. Neither is bad design per se, just a conflict in understanding of the goals. And will Camelot Unchained really be RvR, doing everything legal for your realm to win? Or will it be about PvP battles, with the RvR rhetoric being more marketing fluff than von Clausewitz and Machiavelli? If camping a mine hurts your kill/death ratio but makes the opponent weaker due to hassles or crafting, is that winning or losing? Is an RvR game really about realms vs. realms or is it just another BG?”

I’ve pitched Sally’s comments to the team for consideration in this week’s Massively Overthinking. Is RvR just a more carebear-friendly way to market FFA PvP? Do you play RvR or factional PvP to win or to have fun, and how does that differ from a more open FFA sandbox? How would you design three-way factional PvP to keep people from quitting and stop griefing before it starts?

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Video game journalist infects hundreds of EVE nerds with insidious virus

A gaming convention turned into the banal opening scene of a zombie outbreak movie this week as a number of players who attended EVE Vegas 2017 suddenly came down with the symptoms of a cold virus after the event. The airborne virus was brought to the event by an anonymous video game journalist — let’s call him Drendan Brain — and is believed to have originated in the United Kingdom, where it’s been sweeping rapidly across the country this month.

We reached out to Drendan Brain for comment, but his phone always went to a busy tone and his emails keep getting returned to me. The cold may also have been brought to the event by 19 other attendees from the UK, the EVE: Valkyrie team from the UK, or literally anyone going through any airport, but that wouldn’t make a snazzy headline. However the outbreak started, hundreds of EVE Online players were potentially exposed and many are now crawling into bed with some chicken soup and a cup of hot lemon. Get well soon, space bros!

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Enter to win a Star Trek Online T6 Tzenkethi Shuk-din Escort or Accelerated Officer Training Pack from PWE and MOP

In honor of the launch of Star Trek Online Season 14: Emergence on PC last week, PWE has granted Massively OP a bunch of goodies to raffle to our PC readers (console folks, you can sit this one out)!

A hundred winners will be taking home a code for the Accelerated Officer Training Pack, which contains a Retrofitted 23rd Century Constitution-class Cruiser (T1), one Large Experience Booster, and free gear requisitions from Level 10 through 50.

And five winners will also score a T6 Tzenkethi Shuk-din Escort:

“As expected with Tzenkethi design, the Shuk-din Escort [T6] is highly maneuverable with immense shielding capabilities for its size. It comes equipped with the latest in Tzenkethi shield technology, which allows the starship to massively increase defensive capabilities along all non-Forward shield facings. The forward array is tuned to offense, increasing the damage dealt by the ships’ weaponry against any foe within their forward-facing 90-degree arc.”

Read on to enter to win!

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The Daily Grind: Why does EVE survive where other PvP sandboxes stumble?

MOP reader Tobasco da Gama pointed us to a recent Reddit thread about why EVE Online persists, even in a weakened state, where other hardcore PvP sandboxes fail. The thread OP posits that in spite of what he calls “CCP’s criminal level of mismanagement and incompetence,” EVE has outlasted other games of its ilk, from Darkfall and Mortal Online to Albion Online and pre-Trammel Ultima Online. The reason? He argues it’s because the vast majority of players who don’t quit outright never leave high-sec and aren’t actually playing the “hardcore” PvP game that New Eden is known for at all. In other words? Most people playing EVE are carebears.

Fightin’ words, right? It makes a lot of sense to me, frankly, and since my husband still plays EVE, I’ve seen the phenomenon in action, that the toxic part of the playerbase perpetually eclipses the majority of normal folks just happily space mining and killing pirates and watching their skill bars go up.

Why do you think EVE survives where other PvP sandboxes stumble?

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