b2p

‘Buy-to-play’ is a term that refers to games that have box or download fees associated with them but do not incur a mandatory subscription. Some have optional subscriptions and are more properly referred to as hybrid B2P. Most have cash shops and microtransactions.

Leaderboard: What kinds of MMORPG purchases do you consider pay-to-win?

I know I’m not alone in noticing that MMO gamers of late seem to have become sharply divided on how to define the term pay-to-win – indeed, the debate raged last week in threads about Black Desert’s player protest, Elder Scrolls Online’s cash shop prices, and the general consensus that ArcheAge is whale heaven. Recently Massively OP commenter Pepperzine recently wrote to us suggesting that we address it and try to sort it out.

“While there are proponents for all sides of the argument, I think it would be interesting to see where the bulk of people draw the line,” he wrote. “At the end of the day, individual perceptions are important but what is most important when it comes to this topic is what the majority perceives as pay-to-win.”

So let’s turn his proposal into the requisite Leaderboard poll, shall we? And yes, you can click as many as you want!

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Analysts see ‘potential for earnings growth’ in NCsoft’s trio of upcoming titles

If you walked away confused by NCsoft’s most recent quarterly financial report, Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. might be able to sort it out for you.

The Seoul-based analyst firm suggests that the Lineage series, which appeared strong at first glance, actually turned in weaker than expected revenue, in spite of the fact that Lineage M was the top-grossing game on Android and iOS. “The biggest surprise was marketing spend, which jumped 10% QoQ and 69% YoY, despite the absence of any new major titles,” the firm notes. “We believe this suggests the company spent as much on promoting Lineage M’s massive updates as it typically does on promoting new titles.”

That said, the firm still calls the company a buy: “We see little reason for concern in terms of profit and valuation in 1H18 and see potential for earnings growth and a re-rating in 2H18, driven by new releases.” What new releases would those be? Blade & Soul II (first half of the year) and Aion Tempest and Lineage II M (last half of the year).

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Global Chat: What is the population of Guild Wars 2?

Does it matter how many people are playing your MMO? For some, yes, it does. It’s at least of passing interest to others, especially if players are looking for a “healthy” title or want a large number with which to impress their friends and argue that this MMO is besting another.

So don’t be too surprised that there is an effort to figure out what Guild Wars 2’s (undisclosed) population is at the moment. In An Age challenges one community estimate of 3.3 million players by looking at the available evidence and financial reports.

“Here’s my gut check: Guild Wars 2 probably has about 1.5 million monthly ‘players’ and many times less people who actually log on when there isn’t a holiday event/Living Story taking place,” he argues. “Ultimately though, I think Guild Wars 2 is actually uniquely well-positioned to survive regardless of whether it consists of a million actives or three million tourists.”

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The Stream Team: Love is in the ARK

Besides turning various animals bright pink or red, the Valentine’s event in ARK is a mating and breeding extravaganza! Massively OP’s MJ and the crew are taking advantage of it to increase their packs. That’s right, MJ is spending the weekend breeding. Tune in live at 12:00 p.m. to watch.

What: ARK: Aberration
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 12:00 p.m. EST on Saturday, February 17, 2018

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Massively Overthinking: Could bots save dying MMORPGs?

Last week, a reader named Chris, who is writing a paper on the MMO industry and revivifying sunsetted games, dropped an intriguing question into my inbox. It’s about bots – but not the sort of bots EVE Online is constantly fighting. The good kind.

“Do you think people would be interested in coming back to ‘closed’ MMO games if they were populated with AI bots instead of real players (to make them feel alive/populated)?” he asked me.

Let’s ponder that for today’s Overthinking. Certainly we’ve seen bots put to work in games like Camelot Unchained, which uses them to test massive numbers of players on the battlefield. Would you want to see them in live play? Would they help the feel of the world in ways that default NPCs simply would not? Is the AI even doable? Could AI bots take our place to make MMORPGs even better – or even to keep them viable and save them from destruction?

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Elder Scrolls Online has been nonfunctional through Steam since yesterday

Elder Scrolls Online players on Steam woke up this morning to find that the game is still down for them. Apparently, the client through that platform is throwing up nothing but “internal error” messages.

“To reiterate, this issue is only impacting our players on Steam,” ZeniMax posted yesterday in the dedicated forum thread. “We’re actively working with Steam to get this resolved as quickly as possible.” The support Twitter said the team was on top of the problem 15 hours ago.

Why not just follow the workaround, which is to run the 64-bit client buried in Steam’s files? You can, but only if you’ve previously linked your ZOS account to your Steam account, only if your account is old (according to Reddit), and only if you’re not subbed; apparently, if you’re subbed, you’ll lose that sub. We’re pretty sure Bethsoft will sort that out eventually, but in the short-term, it’d suck.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 157: Lunar Valentines

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin overdose on candy hearts as they look at Valentine’s Day in MMOs — as well as the Lunar New Year. From expansion alpha testing to a new MMO launch to unifying a game globally, it’s a pretty upbeat and positive week of podcast chatter.

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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Ubisoft investor presentation highlights the profit benefits of ‘games as a service’

Have you wondered why it is Ubisoft is so dedicated to putting out a continual string of games as a service, even its ostensibly single-player offerings? Actually, as an MMO fan you probably haven’t wondered, but the latest investor presentation for the company makes it absolutely clear why this model is favored by the company. Specifically? Because it means money. So much money, for such a long time.

Ubisoft has found that games like The Division and The Crew wind up generating much more revenue over the long term, meaning that a yearly game released as a service makes a lot more money over the long term than simple single-player launches. Of course, long-time MMO fans are probably familiar with this principle, and it doesn’t exactly address the question of whether or not it produces better games. But if you needed confirmation, here it is.

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Perfect Ten: The tabletop GMs behind MMOs

One of the advantages to computer RPGs, I’ve always thought, is that you don’t need a friend who you can alternately sucker or bribe into taking on 80% of the work that’s involved in making a tabletop RPG fun. You just turn on the game and it goes. The downside, of course, is that you also don’t have the advantages of having a GM in charge of the game, so you don’t get that personal connection and that sense of familiarity.

Except that’s not entirely accurate, is it? Yes, these games do not have a person eagerly perched behind a screen explaining how your characters have screwed everything up forever, but you still do get the same sense of a specific GM guiding the game over time. Because there are certain quirks, certain constants, and over time a feel to the game that informs what sort of GM you’ve got running the game. So let’s talk about the GMs running some games.

I warn you that if you’ve never played any sort of tabletop game, this column may not make a whole lot of sense. But if you’ve never played any tabletop RPGs I don’t understand how you live and thus cannot promise to target you reliably. Sorry.

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Elder Scrolls Online’s Dragon Bones DLC and update 17 are live – and the new outfit system is not cheap

Elder Scrolls Online’s paid Dragon Bones DLC and free update 17 are finally fully launched on PC. While technically the update rollout was yesterday, the EU and NA servers were up and down throughout the afternoon after an extra-long maintenance and an emergency downtime to fix a fairly major experience exploit/bug. Multiple storage bugs are also being reported on Reddit, so heads-up there.

The headline feature of update 17 itself is the new outfit system, but players are reporting it’s expensive to access indeed: You’re looking at 1500 crowns (roughly $15) for an extra outfit slot, and yes, that’s per character, though you do get one freebie per toon. Altering that outfit will cost you another 400 crowns (though you can also buy those with in-game gold). Incidentally, subbing to the game nets you 1500 crowns every month, but it’d take you a long time to deck out alts that way.

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Elder Scrolls Online’s Dragon Bones DLC is here, but the EU rollout hit a snag

We’ve updated below with the chronology of what’s up with the servers.

Elder Scrolls Online’s paid Dragon Bones DLC and free update 17 are live today on PC, at least if you’re on the North American server. Apparently the EU server hit a snag.

“During today’s Update 17 & Dragon Bones maintenance, we encountered a technical issue with the patch deployment on the European PC/Mac server,” ZeniMax writes. “Specifically, this is a server configuration issue that affects only the European server patch. Due to this issue, we are extending the maintenance on the European PC/Mac ESO server. We expect the extended downtime to last approximately 12 hours, and anticipate the European PC/Mac ESO server to open around 1am GMT on Feb. 13.” It does not appear at this time that any compensation will be doled out.

The content rollout includes the outfit customization system, new housing storage upgrades, and a pair of dungeons to boot. Check out our complete coverage of the patch from announcement to now, along with our playthrough of Dragon Bones with the ZeniMax team last week!

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Bless Online interview: Soft launch plans, why Gamigo bowed out, and avoiding pay-to-win

Bless Online is one of the biggest MMORPGs we’re expecting to launch in the west in 2018. Over the last six years, we’ve watched it blossom in South Korea, switch publishers, and even go back to the drawing board for a revamp before Neowiz pushes it westward. That’s left a lot of gamers, including us, with questions about the game’s future. And to get answers to those questions, we spoke with Game Director Jae-hoon Jeon all about the game’s planned monetization, early access, and just what sets Bless apart in a field of high-quality import MMORPGs. Read on for the details!

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The Daily Grind: What do you think about ‘buying runs’ in MMORPGs?

Long ago in classic Guild Wars, I used to be fond of buying runs – probably the earliest was the Beacon’s Perch to Droknar’s Forge run. You’d take your alt to Beacon’s, pay the runner a few plat, then sit back as the runner warped the party along an extremely dangerous route past the majority of the game to the zone where you could craft good-looking, max-level armor, then you’d port back and keep playing and not need to worry about tedious armor upgrades along the way. It was actually a lot of fun to watch the specialized runner “work” and to chit-chat with other folks in the running party. And yep, it was all legal gameplay. Other games have similar mechanics in spite of not having party warping; you’ve probably heard of gamers in themeparks like World of Warcraft buying a “spot” on a raid that will essentially carry them and give them the loot they’re after.

In Guild Wars 2, however, you’d probably best watch out if you’re into that type of gameplay: ArenaNet clarified last week that it’s OK with people buying runs in-game, but the studio says a lot of people in the running business are actually involved in third-party RMT, which the company considers illegal, so you buy runs at the risk of account bans if you transact with the wrong group.

What do you think about “buying runs” in MMORPGs?

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