SuperData February 2017: World of Tanks perks up, Hearthstone is sinking

Happy SuperData day! That's the monthly holiday when we pore over the market analysis report, freak out over something doing well, freak over something doing poorly, and then fight over definitions, the evils of trusting paywalled science, and why more MMOs aren't on the current list. This round, there's lots to bicker over -- but also some bits to celebrate in the February 2017 charts of top-grossing game titles.

On PC, while League of Legends, Crossfire, and Dungeon Fighter Online continue their top-three dominance, the rest of the roster has seen a bit of a shake-up, as Overwatch has fallen from #4 to #6 and World of Tanks has pushed past it as well as World of Warcraft. WoW's status is a tad confusing; last month, SuperData began reporting Western and Eastern WoW separately, even though it does not appear to be doing that for any other game. This month, it's omitted the West/East tags but still has two entries for WoW, so we're left to assume to top one is still West as it was last month.

On console, ARK: Survival Evolved has fallen from its #4 spot to #6. As always, we point out that ARK: Survival Evolved has yet to formally launch, and it's absurd that it's on this list at all, but fools and their money and all that.

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Grab a pair of SMITE skins in honor of Celestial Voyage, courtesy of Hi-Rez and Massively OP

SMITE is kicking off a new event today, this one sure to bring a smile to the face of anyone obsessed with Stargate or Indy IV or just "alien astronaut" sci-fi in general. Dubbed Celestial Voyage, the event will ask players to complete quests to unlock goodies and hieroglyphs, the latter of which function as a puzzle for more loot.

As is traditional for SMITE, the update comes with a ton of exclusive themed skins. We've got two extra existing skins that match the theme to give away to our readers today: Celestial Isis and Stargazer Anubis. Onward to the giveaways!

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Pearl Abyss is still working on a Black Desert console port

Back in January, we learned from a Black Desert Taiwan release interview that Pearl Abyss had big plans to port the Korean-born MMORPG to both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. But the studio was stopping short of an official announcement, and cross-platform play wasn't a guarantee. Now it seems the game's western publisher, Kakao, is being just as coy.

In response to a player asking for confirmation of the rumors, Kakao tweeted that Pearl Abyss is indeed working on those console ports, but it couldn't discuss more.

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Rumors swirl around the Destiny 2 'announcement' for both lore and a PC version

Destiny 2 was announced yesterday... or teased, more accurately. The point is that it's definitely coming, and Destiny players being who they are, there's already a lot of rumors bouncing around and careful analysis going down. For example, just that teaser image has prompted analysis suggesting that the Last City is in flames and will no longer exist in the sequel. That'd be a pretty significant change to the lore of that gameworld right away.

Rumors are also buzzing from datamining and retailer pre-orders; some European retailers are already offering pre-orders, including German retailer Instant Games taking pre-orders for the game's PC version. Is there going to be a PC version? We don't know yet, but it's definitely possible, and it's a rumor that's been around more or less since the sequel was first hinted at. So there's a city in flames and a new platform getting added to the mix; that should be enough to fuel speculation until another lone image gets revealed.

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League of Legends' Ghostcrawler on diversity vs. politics in gaming

Don't think politics belong in games? Maybe your problem is a mangled understanding of what politics is. That's the gist of a blog piece out yesterday from Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street, whom many MMO players will likely remember from his long stint as World of Warcraft's lead systems designer, though now he's lead game designer over on League of Legends next door.

Street was responding to a gamer worried about his belief that "Liberal politics is forcing [its] way into games." "I just want to enjoy a fun experience, or take part of someone’s artistic vision," the player wrote, seeking validation for his worries.

Street agreed that he would be annoyed if League of Legends "tried to sneak in lessons on how taxes should be structured, or opinions on health care, or state versus federal power" as that would be too political. But the mere presence or acknowledgement of diversity? That's not politics, he argues -- that's reality.

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The Elder Scrolls Online releases Morrowind PAX recap trailer

ZeniMax has put out a fresh Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind video this morning, this time showcasing the PAX East reception for its battleground content and new Warden class. "Lucky players went head-to-head in Battlegrounds, fighting for supremacy in 4v4v4 showdowns using devastating new ice spells, tossing enemies into the searing lava of Red Mountain, and battling massive War Bears, which tore apart anything and anyone who dared attack their Warden masters," gushes the studio.

It's a little cheesy, admittedly, with carefully cut clips of journalists and players, but there are a few familiar faces, including prominent Skyrim vlogger "Grandma" Shirley Curry, whom everyone should be watching.

Morrowind took home our "most anticipated" award at this year's PAX, and our ESO columnist Larry Everett has since deep-dived the battlegrounds in particular, raising concerns about their impact on the future of the game's PvP. Check out the new trailer below!

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Path of Exile teases Nazi-inspired Oriath expansion baddies

Pumped for Path of Exile's upcoming Fall of Oriath expansion? Grinding Gear Games must be too, given the parade of videos it's slipping out. Today's entry is a look at the baddies who will be falling to your weapons and spells -- both in-game animations and concept art slides. The dudes at 19 and 44 seconds probably score the most points for creepiness, and I think you'll find the inspirations of some of the baddies more than obvious.

In fact, there's a bit of player forum controversy over whether some of the villains make sense in PoE's world, though other players are taking it in the spirit in which it was probably intended. "Can't wait to **** up some Nazis and evil donkey creatures from hell," wrote one gamer.

Check it out below, then peek back at last week's music and environments reveals.

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Final Fantasy XIV launches patch 3.56 and removes free trial time restrictions

Patch 3.56 has arrived for Final Fantasy XIV, bringing with it the end of the Heavensward main story quests, Season 4 of the competitive Feast rankings, and an increase to the weekly Allagan Tomestone cap, which you're probably not going to hit on a regular basis. (900 tomestones a week is a lot.) It's enough stuff to give you good reason to keep working your way across Eorzea until the game's second expansion comes out in June.

But maybe you haven't actually bought the game yet. Does the patch still hold something of interest for you? The answer is yes; this patch marks the abolition of the 14-day free trial's time limitations. So the free trial is now unlimited, although you can't get higher than level 35 and you're limited to the base game without Heavensward content. You can check out some screenshots for the patch just below if that's what you need as an eventual motivator, at that.

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Funcom CEO suggests that gamers are suffering MMO 'fatigue'

It's been a good year so far for Funcom with the success of Conan Exiles and the impending relaunch of The Secret World. CEO Rui Casais recently sat down to an interview discussing both the Nordic development scene for video games and the specific future of Funcom, including the company's focus on the Conan IP. Casais points out that it's not really a focus born of recent entertainment trends; rather, it's just that a lot of Funcom's staff knows the Conan lore in great detail, and it's a setting that lends itself to a wide variety of game styles.

As for MMORPGs specifically, he says,

"There are still many players enjoying this space and we continue to invest in it as is proven by our relaunch of The Secret World coming this spring. We do see that some players have gotten a bit of fatigue from the very large time commitment that these games tend to require and are moving on to our online social gaming experiences, and we plan to create some of those experiences as well, just like we’re doing with Conan Exiles."

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The Daily Grind: What's the most stable MMORPG (besides WoW) right now?

Massively OP reader Gail made an interesting observation in one of the City of Heroes Master x Master drama threads about what she called "corn flake games." A family she knew that ran a grocery store quibbled over how to stock it: One sister "always wanted to cram the cereal aisle with the latest cartoon character high sugar high profit fads." The other sister's refrain?

"'Corn flakes. People in this town buy corn flakes.' Corn flakes, while not hugely profitable, were steady dependable sellers. In the MMO market, CoH was a corn flake game. It wasn't going to magically turn into WoW overnight. It wasn't going to suddenly break out and take the gaming world by storm, though with the huge surge in superhero movies I wonder what some good advertising would have done. But it had a sizable group of steady customers who provided a stable profit. That's nothing to sneeze at."

That's precisely why the sunset was so baffling when most games would kill for a subscription playerbase of 100K: It was a steady earner. And it was and is surely not alone. What else do you think is a "corn flake" MMO? Or to put it another way: What's the most stable and dependable MMORPG (besides WoW) right now?

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The Stream Team: EverQuest II-sday, Monday edition

Why would Massively OP's MJ have an EverQuest II-sday on a Monday? With so many anniversaries lately, she couldn't not celebrate this one that is special to her personally: Today marks the fifth anniversary of her streaming! And what do you suppose she streamed that very first time on Massively-that-was? Why, EQII of course! Sadly MJ can't celebrate by recreating that episode (since the Chronoportal event ended last week), so instead she'll continue with the Heritage Quest adventures. Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. and wish MJ a happy 5th streamaversary.

What: EverQuest II
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, March 27th, 2017

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Final Fantasy XI opens up bonus reward campaigns for the start of spring

Spring is just around the corner, bringing with it a desire for most people to head outside to enjoy fresh air. Or you could stay inside, which is clearly the direction Final Fantasy XI is hoping for with its assortment of bonus campaigns starting on April 11th. They're all going to be familiar to long-time players, but they're also all the sorts of campaigns that the game frequently runs, where doing various activities gets you more rewards for the same effort.

More seals will drop, more Mweya Plasm will drop in Delves, more silt will come from Geas Fate content, and so forth. Players can also activate the special Adoulin reward dial for the Goblin Mystery Box, get additional personal loot from Geas Fate, and get more rewards from digging with a chocobo (including in areas where chocobos have only recently been added as mounts). The campaigns will start on April 11th and run until April 30th, so there's plenty of time for dedicated players to rack up plenty of extra rewards.

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World of Tanks players raised cash for kids during last year's War Child campaign

Wargaming announced today that World of Tanks players raised a huge sum of money for children in need last year. Last summer, the video game giant teamed up with War Child, a UK-based charity that focuses on children affected by local and global political conflict, to raise money for that cause.

"Late last year, Wargaming partnered with War Child for their Armistice Campaign. Players of World of Tanks were able to buy special emblems and packages to help raise money for children affected by conflict all over the world, with 100% of Wargaming’s share going directly to charity. Thanks to the community’s help and generosity, a donation of $84,800 went to War Child UK. Wargaming would like to thank all the players who donated to this great cause as every single penny raised was from the community."

Hear, hear and well done. Never let it be said that gamers have no heart!

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