MOBAs are multiplayer online battle arenas, PvP-centric, non-persistent online games that share some but not all mechanics in common with traditional MMORPGs. We formerly categorized MOBAs as “Not So Massively” games. You may also be interested in our Multiplayer category for other multiplayer online games that aren’t fully massive. [Follow the MOBA category’s RSS feed]
Once again, gamers prove that protests can work.
Here’s the deal: Paladins players have been grousing about the Cards Unbound system for months, alleging that the system basically turned in-game purchases made with gold into purchases made only with real cash – in other words, that Hi-Rez had gone way too far over into lockbox-centric pay-to-win territory. At one point, the Paladins subreddit was so fed up that players were “designing” really terrible MS Paint-esque fake cards in protest.
At the tail end of February – the same day IGN posted an article citing an anonymous source claiming that the Cards Unbound system was forced upon the dev team by greedy execs, the studio finally backed down.
With the insane success — both in terms of popularity and finances — that Dota and League of Legends spawned, you can easily understand why game studios latched onto the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) as a relatively quick cash grab. After all, with players providing the ongoing content (through PvP matches), developers were freed up to focus on balance tweaks and churning out new skins and characters to sell.
In a relatively short span of time, the market became flooded with many imitators that sought to grab that slice of the profitable pie. And while some, such as Hi-Rez’s SMITE, have endured, many games discovered the one key danger with this approach: If you could not generate and sustain a large, active playerbase, you were as good as dead. A critical mass was needed, and when it was not achieved, games started folding up left and right.
In today’s Perfect Ten, we’re going to look at a dozen MOBAs that tried and failed to make it. Perhaps they serve as cautionary lessons to other studios seeking to mimic League of Legends’ format, but we somehow doubt that the era of the MOBA is over just yet.
Here’s a message that Blizzard Entertainment wants to trumpet from the mountaintops: Heroes of the Storm is not, in fact, spiraling down to oblivion.
So why would this be a question right now? It seems that the combination of the recent MOBA shutdowns and a consolidation of Heroes’ merchandise store section from five to one page had some players concerned about the lifespan of Blizzard’s oft-overshadowed title. But the studio went on the record by saying that it isn’t downsizing the MOBA or preparing to give it a pink slip.
“Heroes of the Storm is not dying. We’re not giving up on it, nothing like that,” said E-sports Franchise Lead Sam Braithwaite. “In general, I think people are taking something that is very unrelated, at all, to the game’s health, which is some merch that we’re re-evaluating, and kind of putting a doomsday ticker on that, which is absolutely not the case. We have an incredibly jam-packed content schedule for the rest of this year, people are going to be really excited for the stuff that we have planned.”
SuperData published its January recap of the worldwide digital games market this week, and the analytics firm doesn’t have much good to say for sub MMOs. “Continuing their decline, the Social and Pay-to-Play MMO segments shrank 5% and 9%, respectively,” it notes.
There hasn’t been much shift at all on the PC revenue side, with the top 7 games remaining exactly as they were in December – including PUBG, Fortnite, and World of Warcraft. CSGO entered the list to displace ROBLOX and nudge down World of Tanks, and that was it – not much movement.
On console, Call of Duty: WWII continues to hold the top spot, but Monster Hunter World has joined the list and claimed #2 thanks to its launch last month. PUBG, interestingly, has completely vanished from the console side (it was #3) last month, but Fortnite continues its upward climb.
The next patch for Heroes of the Storm is arriving on March 6th, but you can test the patch on the test server until March 5th. (At which point you can “test” it by just playing the game.) So what’s contained therein? Balance changes! Specifically, changes for Sonya and Medivh, neither of whom is in a terrible place before the patch but both of whom could use some development love.
Sonya, for example, has a pretty tried-and-true talent path that basically everyone picks, so the goal is to mix things up a bit with improvements to the AoE effect talents for Seismic Slam. Medivh, meanwhile, is a fun hero to play but also a challenging one, so the balance goal is to keep him fun and challenging while making him less frustrating to play against by reducing the uptime on Portals and Force of Will. Check out the full list of changes, or just look at the videos for both of these heroes just below.
Welcome back to another edition of our informal business roundup, where we wedge all the fun MMO industry tidbits that pile up in our newsroom.
Remember EA Spouse, the EA developer’s wife whose initially anonymous article busted open the doors on EA’s culture of abusive crunch back in 2004? Rolling Stone’s Glixel blog (via Gamasutra) has a 14-year retrospective and a sum-up of the state of “crunch culture” since then. Intriguingly, EA Spouse herself – Erin Hoffman-John – declined to comment much on how she got the ball rolling, but other developers gave Glixel conflicting accounts. Some believe that EA has made an attempt to change and is no “worse than anyone else,” while one producer scoffed at the pushback against crunch, calling it a “disruption.” According to him, hustle is just the patch to greatness.
Mentioning lootboxes at this point is a good way to send players into paroxysms of rage regardless of how fair or unfair they are; any goodwill about the random crates has pretty well evaporated now. League of Legends
seems to be aiming to ameliorate some of that rage with its Hextech boxes and upcoming Masterwork chests by fully disclosing the drop rates for everything within a given crate
, so at least you can have a good idea of your actual odds before you pull the trigger on buying them.
Obviously, the rarest and best rewards are, well, fairly unlikely, but the crates at least allow you to reroll items that you already own at the moment. (The designers are looking into other ways to make “getting stuff you already have” feel like less of a letdown.) We can’t tell you if this will make you any less angry about lootboxes, but at least disclosing the odds is pretty decidedly a step in the right direction.
Despite the recent rash of shutdowns, game developers haven’t quite given up on trying to crack into the MOBA market and siphon off that sweet, sweet revenue flow. To accomplish this, some studios try a different take on the MOBA, such as Muvgames’ FeArea.
Not a traditional League of Legends-style MOBA, FeArea styles itself as a battle arena that borrows elements from that gamestyle while adding in tanks, mechs, and high-powered weapons. The studio claims that there is no grinding or minion battling in these 5v5 bouts. It sounds more like a demolition derby than anything else: “You can crush and destroy any obstacle or even a building!”
FeArea is currently fighting its way through early access on Steam and can be purchased for 25% off at $4.49 through March 1st.
I’ve been playing a lot of Monster Hunter World when time permits, and while I’m enjoying the game, I’ve noticed it’s been, well, oddly silent. Initially, I thought maybe it was just a PlayStation 4 thing. Then a friend who roped me into playing with her told me she felt the Overwatch PC crowd was much worse than the console crowd, but since she’s not much of an online gamer (and lacks a PC), I shrugged that off too.
However, as I’ve spent more time in online games that aren’t MMOs lately, I’ve noticed that I don’t really use voice chat with strangers, even when it’s built into the game – maybe even especially when it’s built into the game, depending on how I feel about the community. I didn’t bother in World of Warcraft, and apparently EVE players aren’t into it much either, yet Heroes of the Storm is going to get it years later despite uproar. It’s not that I dislike voice chat; I’ve just been around the internet and feel that most randoms can’t be trusted with unmoderated chat.
What about you, readers? Do you use default voice chats? Maybe only with fellow PC users or to help keyboardless console users? Let’s take it to a poll…
Is your Valentine’s day about love, friendship, or free candy from mom? In MMORPGs, it’s about questing, murder, and free loot! So, yeah, kinda the same. Enjoy Massively OP’s guide to this very pink not-a-holiday across the MMORPG genre – and some not-quite-MMOs too!
Nexon has big plans for its MOBA Hyper Universe over 2018. The Korean giant – or rather, its super adorable disco dog – laid out its spring plans for the game this week. The big news is a brand-new ranked mode, with eight tiers to climb, a drafting system that lets you block specific characters you don’t want to play, a “true skill” system whereby failure loses you points, and special skin and nameplate rewards for victory.
Technically, the first season begins on February 22nd, but you can jump into the preseason to test it all out right now as long as your account is level 15 and you’ve got 12 toons unlocked. There’s also a new toon debuting this week: Captain Red, a hybrid specialist for both melee and ranged.
I’m gonna be honest: I’d rather hear patch notes read to me by a disco dog than by pretty much anyone else. That video is down below.
When the toxicity topics just keep piling up in the news room and nobody wants to cover them, you get the Toxicity Roundup, your weekly report on who’s being a jerk in gaming this week! (We’re kidding. This is not really a thing. We don’t really want this to be a thing. Please don’t make this a thing.)
Let’s start with Overwatch. Kotaku has a report out on a stream sniper who was hassling popular streamer TimTheTatMan. The troll would show up in the streamer’s matches, refuse to play anything but Symmetra, and proceed to suck – meaning the team always lost. Apparently, TimTheTatMan wasn’t the only person this jerk had griefed. “To be clear this player is being banned, not for their hero choice, but rather for systematically ruining Overwatch games for thousands of players,” Blizzard wrote on Reddit. “We recognize that not finding this player faster is an unfortunate failure of our ever-developing reporting system and we’ve already taken steps to quickly eliminate outliers like this in the future.” So one down, how many more to go?
What else have we got here…
For a MOBA, SMITE
sure doesn’t play by rules, or at least any rules we recognize. Hi-Rez
seems to be constantly reinventing the game
and its modes and toons
, a pattern on display once again this week as the game rolls out its first adventure of the year: Anime Horde Mode.
“Da Ji and the Legend of the Foxes transports players to a colorful realm, complete with anime inspired artwork, where they’ll defeat relentless waves of enemies. Lending her talents to this new experience is renowned voice actress Cristina Vee (Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and Hunter x Hunter), who stars as the Adventure’s main character Senpai Da Ji. […] Da Ji needs help defending the sacred fox from waves of various enemies. Surviving the ninja hordes will pit players against one of the epic bosses in an exciting battle. No two Adventure playthroughs will be the same as each bossfight is randomized, with more bosses being added each patch. With every victory, players will level up and earn in-game rewards to help their progress.”