A little while back, I took a look at the healthiest games in the MMO space at this time. That was a nice, uplifting list, wasn't it? And all of those titles continue to do just fine, even if one or two might have had a few bits of shocking news along the way.
Unfortunately, this is not an industry in which health is assured. Games can be high-quality and beloved, but they can still be shut down by outside forces. And that's not counting games that just come out in the wrong time period or launch in an unrecoverable state.
That may sound grim, but we're already staring at the first two shutdowns of 2017 in the near future, and both of the titles being killed are surprises. One of them might have wound up on this list if it weren't being shut down, but at this point, it is. So let's look at the MMOs with the most unclear futures and start hoping for the best.
After a short delay from its original rollout date of December 20th, the new and improved item store is now live in Anarchy Online. You know, just in case you wanted to do any online holiday shopping (for a 'friend,' of course).
Funcom is running a promotion with the debut of the new shop: "As part of our holiday event and new shop launch, we're offering character slots at a 50% discount until the end of the event. Character slots may be found in the 'special' tab."
Anarchy Online players can also enjoy the holiday event, which is scheduled to run from now through January 9th.
Anarchy Online might be a tad tardy to the holiday party, but it's making an effort. With the game's December 20th patch, the Winter Celebration has officially returned for another year of merriment and decorations. Santa leets, run free!
The patch added a new membership reward item (the Staff of Cleansing, which sounds like a janitor's mop all gussied up) and mostly focused on improvements to the item shop. There were price changes, new nano cans, more basic gear bundles, and additional lotto tickets. Funcom is making it so that now item shop purchases will be labeled "NoDrop" from here on out.
Our favorite patch note? "Updated the item shop icon to better resemble a shopping cart, instead of a fry basket."
As we do every year, today we're going to squint back a year, into the depths of a Massively Overthinking from the tail end of 2015 when we issued our predictions for 2016. Sure, sure, it's a little unfair since we usually egg each other on to make wild and bold assertions for the fun of it -- plus that makes the hits all the sweeter -- but all the same: Did we nail it or fail it?
One of the most common questions that I'm asked from my adoring throngs on the street is, "Justin, where oh where can I get some of these marvelous MMO soundtracks that you talk about all of the time?" OK, that just never happens (on the street, that is), but people are often curious how they can go about starting to amass an MMO soundtrack collection or where to find their favorite album.
The sad truth is that so much music from these games is never officially released in any capacity, which is why I scour YouTube for fan rips of the music files. However, every so often I do discover a studio release somewhere, and I try to keep an up-to-date log on these to help others in their quest for video game scores.
So in the spirit of Christmas and sharing, today I'm going to show you how you can get your ears on more than 120 soundtracks and scores from MMOs, MOBAs, and other online titles -- some of which are free and legal for the taking. You're welcome; don't mention it!
With Conan Exiles' early access launch just around the corner, you can better believe that the community has a mountain of questions about the survival sandbox. Funcom's Joel Bylos stepped into the Xbox One Reddit yesterday to tackle many of these, although some, like queries about pricing, he declined to answer (Conan Exiles won't have microtransactions or a sub, however).
Bylos said that the primary inspiration for the game comes straight from Robert E. Howard's books. "Conan Exiles has a tighter focus on melee combat, a world that can be explored to find lore and stories, a religion system that allows access to magic and god avatars, a thrall system that allows you to enslave and turn your enemies into allies," Bylos said. "Oh and no flying mounts, because those tend to make the world too small."
Players will have a wide range of rulesets from which to choose, with each server hosting up to 70 players apiece during the early access period.
A while back, Funcom fans were able to purchase The Secret World t-shirts and posters through Welovefine. While that storefront has long gone defunct, the good news is that the studio has created a new store to sell merch from TSW and other Funcom titles.
The Funcom Store doesn't have the posters that used to be available, but there are plenty of other options to make up for it. Fans can purchase 3-D printed figurines (including Anarchy Online's leet and Hide and Shriek's screaming skull), phone covers, and a variety of t-shirts.
Of course, if you're in the market for a new t-shirt, might we recommend a sharp-looking Massively Overpowered tee? It's perfect for any business meeting or casual funeral get-together.
Fans of The Secret World should be excited today, as Funcom's third quarter financial report to investors reveals that "The Secret World team is mainly focused on a large update to the game to be released during the first half of 2017." The update is expected to be a "major upgrade to both retention and acquisition mechanics and content of the game to counter the declining revenues" with more info coming in the first quarter of the new year.
The announcement was part of the investor package posted today; the company says it raised almost a million dollars through its share offering in August, improving its total equity since Q2. "Revenues in 3Q16 amount to USD 1,728 thousand compared to USD 2,195 thousand in 3Q15, following a gradual and expected decrease in the sales from the current Live Games. [...] The cash position improved from USD 5,100 thousand at the end of 2Q16 to USD 5,208 thousand at the end of 3Q16, mainly due to the net proceeds received from the subsequent offering. The Live Games – The Secret World, Anarchy Online and Age of Conan – were the major contributors to the revenues."
"Two things I did on Hallows Night: / Made my house April-clear / Left open wide my door / to the ghosts of the year." ~ "All Hollows Night" by Lizette Woodworth Reese
Is your door open to the ghosts and ghouls of MMORPGs this season? They are definitely shambling up your walkway, looking to tell you of the grim delights of the holiday in your favorite online games. Indeed, Halloween season is upon us, which means that MMOs have an excuse to break out their favorite yearly festivities.
With so much to look at and do, you might be in a terrible fright trying to figure out what to do first. We consulted our Massively OP gravedigger Bram (he's on retainer), who offers surprisingly good advice for sorting out the Halloween season in MMOs and getting the most out of the holiday. We recorded his words in this guide, although beware to the soul that reads them all -- Bram might be seeing you before the week is up. MUAHAHAHA.
One of the oldest sci-fi MMORPGs looks like it will soon become one of the newest members of the Steam club. On the official forums, the Anarchy Online team said that the platform launch is imminent.
"Coinciding with the release of [last week's] update, 18.8.16, we are preparing to launch on Steam," Funcom said. There is still some preparation work, but this version is the first one we hope to offer on Steam, which is something we hope to be able to turn on soon. We will be sending out more news on this as we get closer to this big day."
In other AO news, the game's Halloween festivities are underway. Each players can take on a mission to explore a scary underground facility all by his or her lonesome. The team has a trove of rewards to pay out for successful runs, including new seasonal items and older gear making a comeback.
Unlike fantasy, the sci-fi genre has had a rocky relationship with MMORPGs. While studios have tried just as hard to make and promote them, there seems to be a curse that hovers over some of these games. From the canceled (Earth & Beyond, The Matrix Online, Tabula Rasa) to the radically retinkered (Star Wars Galaxies) to the relatively niche (Anarchy Online), sci-fi has struggled to be seen as relevant and embraced as its bigger brother.
That isn't to say that these games or the genre is worthless, just that it's a harder sell in many areas of entertainment. Fortunately, studios haven't given up on these games, and some of these titles -- such as EVE Online or Star Trek Online -- have proven that they're worth pursuing.
Enter PlanetSide, circa 2003. While sci-fi MMOs, multi-faction PvP, and online shooters had been done separately at that point, PlanetSide stepped up to the plate to combine all three into a persistent war on an alien planet. Today we'll be setting our sights to the far reaches of the galaxy and beyond as we explore one of the more unique MMOs in existence.
One repeated refrain that comes up around the Massively OP office when we're dealing with older MMOs is, "Wouldn't it be great if they made a sequel to that game?" We love the original IP worlds, the unique design, and the long history of these titles, but we would also love to see them updated and overhauled for 2016.
Of course, it's a little hard to figure out which game deserves it the most. Dark Age of Camelot? City of Heroes? Both have spiritual successors in the works, but it's not quite the same as a true sequel. Anarchy Online and Asheron's Call are both often cited as strong prospects for an updated entry. And without worrying about licensing an IP from outside the studio, these games theoretically could be done easier and less expensive than contemporaries.
What do you think? Which original IP MMO deserves a true sequel?
Cross your fingers and wish on a falling star for Anarchy Online, as the classic MMO is working hard with Steam to get its game on the platform by the end of the year. It sounds as though some technical issues have been holding the game back from making an appearance.
"Over the past couple of months, we have been working with Valve to enable Anarchy Online to run via Steam," wrote Lead Designer Henry Senger in a monthly development update. "In order to make this happen, some changes needed to happen with their platform, which took longer than we had expected. Truth be told, however, I am still a little starstruck that Valve made a change to Steam just for us. Fanboying aside, this week showed the first real signs of progress towards getting AO on Steam, as we were able to log in and play without the previous issues we had encountered."
Senger also teased fans with the mention of a new solo instance "deep under the festering pumpkin patch" for this year's Halloween festivities.