The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Heroes of the Storm, Elder Scrolls Online, DayZ, EVE Online, Pokemon Go, Dota 2, City of Heroes, Final Fantasy XIV, Portal Knights, Lineage 2 Revolution, Wizard101, Ingress, and Reign of Guilds, all waiting for you after the break!
A lot of critical things have been said about Pokemon Go and Niantic in the past. Professionals that tried to defend certain UI elements still had plenty of suggestions a non-professional could have made. Same goes for players and professionals that noted the need for quests. In fact, Niantic’s insistence on doing local events instead of global events created some huge PR problems, and that’s without noting that, for a social game, the game actually lacked a lot of social features.
But there’s a weird thing: Niantic’s addressed many of those issues. Several are ones I’ve previously suggested. There’ve been several UI improvements, new quests, at least two events per month since February 2018 that aren’t just cash shop sales, and a push towards community building. It’s far from perfect, like the glaring omission of in-game communication or a social media connection, but we’ll ignore that for now. What I want to focus on is how Niantic’s taken feedback and enhanced Pokemon Go.
If all goes well, later this year we will finally be treated to an actual Harry Potter MMORPG in the form of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. While that will be a mobile ARG in the vein of Pokemon Go, it will still be a big step into the online space that MMO fans have been craving for nearly two decades now.
Obviously, Harry Potter continues to be a mammoth franchise for J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., and Electronic Arts, which has handled the video game license over the years. While there have been single-player Harry Potter titles, especially on consoles, no MMORPG emerged even at the height of the IP craze that swallowed up Star Trek, Star Wars, Warhammer, and more. So why not?
The truth is that Harry Potter Online almost did happen. Its brief existence and development isn’t too well-known, even today, but the wasted potential has always tantalized me with what could have been. Using a time-turner, we will go back to the late 1990s today and peek in on a possible future that came to fruition.
I’d like to think that I’m kind of a healthy gamer. While MMOs take a lot of time, the nice thing is that their downtime can lead to forming bonds, or give you time to exercise. Augmented reality games can give you both at once, especially Pokemon Go, since it’s the best-known ARG we have (and the mountains of merchandise make it easier to stand out as a fellow player).
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows, and I’m not just talking about game mechanics that have plagued Niantic games since at Ingress. I remember playing that title and thinking, “Man, this game is dangerous! There’s no way they’ll just clone this for POGO, right?” And yet, here we are. But I can’t put all the blame on Niantic, especially after my time with ARG competitor Maguss. Some things just seem inherent to the genre.
Less than a year ago, I faced a crisis as a fan and player of The Secret World
. Funcom abruptly announced that it would be throwing the current game — the one I had spent about five years of my time playing and leveling — into maintenance mode and then rebooting the title as a free-to-play quasi-MMO called Secret World Legends
It was an obnoxious, brute-force decision that greatly alienated many TSW players, and in my opinion, did not pay off as well as Funcom had hoped. Without allowing us to port over our characters or perhaps figure out a way to transform the old MMO into a free-to-play model (like so, so many other MMORPGs had), the studio forced us into a Sophie’s Choice. Did we say goodbye to the game we knew and loved (or worse, remain in a stagnant game forever), or did we start over and put up with the changes?
Grudgingly and not gladly, I started over. I spent a half-year leveling up a brand-new character just to get to the same place that I was before all of this started. And now that we are on the verge of the start of season two, I have time to reflect on why, exactly, I put up with the reboot and didn’t bid this game universe farewell. Here are my reasons.
Everybody saw NCsoft’s financials last month, I’m sure – Guild Wars 2 bouncing back thanks to Path of Fire, Lineage M driving revenue, and Blade & Soul outperforming almost everything, pretty good news all around.
What we didn’t cover was the associated conference call and Q&A, which has only recently been fully transcribed in English and has a few nuggets worth highlighting
- CFO Jae-Soo Yoon told listeners the company is working on 13 new titles, of which the largest are Blade & Soul II, Aion Tempest, and Lineage II Mobile, all mobile titles, and Project TL for PC.
- To make those happen, the company’s hired “around 1000” new employees over the last two years. One analyst was skeptical about those numbers, suggesting that NCsoft is overspending on labor compared to an unnamed smaller company launching far more games; Yoon counters with some polite shade by suggesting NCsoft is going to for quality over quantity.
You may have thought the multiplayer online dinosaur genre is already tapped out, what with the likes of ARK Survival Evolved and ARK Park and Durango, but that’s not going to stop a classic from giving it a Pokemon Go-inspired effort.
Yep, Jurassic World Alive, built by studio Ludia, is a mobile MMOARG that tasks Android and iOS players with catching ’em all collecting and murdering dinos, snagging DNA samples, and then tinkering in lab mode to create new species – because what could possibly go wrong? There’s also a PvP arena mode where you make your dinos fight.
Registration on both platforms is up and running on the official site; you can check out the trailer down below.
If it weren’t for my promise to write this article, I would have given up on Maguss in less than 15 minutes had I been a consumer.
I understand the game’s in open beta, but from the start it was repeating issues I’ve seen too many times: bad tutorial, terrible UI, and aggressive monetization the likes of which I’ve only heard of in terrible games and dating apps. Like many of you, I grow defensive when seeing industry terms used as shields against bad design when developers (actually) need funding to continue. I’m jaded, I’m suspicious, and I don’t want to be nice or patient about it, especially when my money is on the line. What sounded like a great Pokemon GO challenger left me once again questioning why I bother with video games as a hobby at all.
But then I got past it. I found some things I genuinely liked that were in and functioning (mostly) as advertised. No, I’m not a convert, but I’ve dug through the dirt and found a bit of gold, and if the developer, Mawa, is able to make some changes to the game before really trying to attract a launch playerbase, Niantic may actually have a rival in the location-based alternate reality game genre.
Niantic is delivering a massive upgrade for Ingress next year. “Reboot” might even be a more appropriate term.
The company most people know for its bumbling stewardship of Pokemon Go actually launched Ingress in 2012 as a Google venture but then was spun off into its own company. Prior to POGO, Ingress was surely the biggest player in the alternate reality mobile MMO genre, pitting gamers against each other in a massive cyber war overlaid on the real one and causing my husband to drive out of our way to that pancake house in Sacramento to “capture” the node at its infamous bear statue more than once.
So if you are an Ingress player who’s been feeling like the proverbial red-headed stepchild while POGO got all the love and Harry Potter joins the fray, the announcement of what Niantic is calling Ingress Prime ought to fill you with glee. The reboot will boast retooled graphics and an improved UI as it moves to POGO’s more modern tech platform to make the game more appealing to newbies and also crack down on cheating. Critically, Niantic says the game will be “fully staffed,” contrary to the studio’s olden days when it had to shut down player node submissions because it lacked staff to approve them.
The Milwaukee lawsuit sparked by Pokemon Go is finally over.
Back in February, Milwaukee County in Wisconsin issued an ordinance requiring video game developers like Niantic to obtain park permits before using those parks as MMOARG destinations, as Pokemon Go does. That was because the influx of visitors Niantic effectively sent to the parks caused thousands of dollars in damage, and taxpayers had had enough. The ordinance required ARG devs to follow the same rules as geocachers when developing game nodes within the park: purchase a permit and carry $1,000,000 in liability insurance for damages resulting from its players’ park use.
But a few months later, developer Candy Lab AR filed a lawsuit against the county, alleging that the ordinance violated and restricted the company’s “right to free speech” via regulation, that it was “unconstitutionally vague,” and that it held companies legally and financially responsible for the actions of players on park lands, the last of which Candy Lab said would be “financially prohibitive.”
Now that we’re all waving around sticks and shouting garbled Latin in preparation for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, it is entirely possible that players in Niantic Labs’ other mobile ARGs might feel concerned that they are about to be benched in favor of the Boy Who Lived.
Not so, says Niantic Labs: “Just like many of you, we’re super excited about Harry Potter: Wizards Unite and are working hard with our partners at Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, and WB Games San Francisco’s development team to bring that to life. However, we — the Pokemon Go development team — want to say that we are 100% committed to creating an ever-changing and growing game that gets our players exploring, meeting each other, and deepening their connection to the Pokémon universe. We’re actively expanding the Pokemon Go development team to build many more amazing features in 2018.”
There’s potential in this game to be a smash hit: The Harry Potter franchise made $25 billion in 2016 alone, showing that its fandom is still alive and thriving. However, few specifics and no screenshots of the game have been revealed so far.
Wonder what we think of the Harry Potter: Wizards Unite announcement? Tune in to yesterday’s podcast or read our essay about the implications of a smartphone Wizarding World!
Source: Niantic Labs
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree wrassle a mess of eastern mobile MMOs that are leaping onto the scene, imagine a world full of Harry Potter gamers wandering about, discuss SWTOR’s server merges, and take Guild Wars 2 to task for lockbox missteps.
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:
When we first heard rumors about a Harry Potter version of Pokemon Go, I said I could barely imagine what the game might be like before listing several other IPs that would translate better as AR games. It’s not that I don’t like the Harry Potter series (I do) or Niantic (someone’s got to push the envelope). My issue is that I can’t see how their respective styles could combine to create something great.
So I’ve gone back to some of my pre-POGO notes about Ingress and what would need to change before it went live and, well, Niantic clearly thinks differently than I do because this game is very much happening. I thought it might be useful to consider Niantic’s past and how it may affect its upcoming game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. Let’s dig in.