business model

Global Chat: The MMO blogosphere’s reaction to Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire

It seems like the entire MMO blogosphere wanted to chip in thoughts on the Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire announcement, whether or not each writer was playing the game. So what did they all think?

“Finally, something other than dragons to fight!” enthused Occasional Hero. “I love mounts. And I love leaping and jumping mounts,” wrote Aywren Sojourner. “BUT. We all know what else a mount system introduces — cash shop opportunities!”

GamingSF ran down the features, saying that he’s on the fence as to whether or not to come back: “The best way to know that, I suspect, is to play some of the game in the time between now and the 22nd of September.”

Not everyone is on board with the expansion. “The announcement did not in any way overcome my healthy skepticism of the ‘horizontal progression’ philosophy of the game,” chimed in Endgame Viable. And In An Age seems like he’d wants to play, but admits that the business model puts him in a “mental bind” regarding both expansions.

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Epic is working on a ‘hardcore survival version’ for Fortnite

Epic’s early access PvE-centric survival sandbox Fortnite has been heavily criticized for having a messy, micromanagey progression system that is inextricably linked to its pay-to-progress business model, but Epic says it’s listening to the feedback. “We’re in early access,” the studio’s Zak Phelps says in the game’s most recent dev video. “We want feedback. It’s a first version!”

Phelps, along with Epic’s Darren Sugg, say that the team is currently working on a “sort of hardcore survival version” of the game that’ll actually last up to an actual fortnight in-game (works out to about 3.5 hours real-time). Expect that big update coming later this summer.

The game’s latest teeny patch was intended to fix several crashes and memory leaks but appears to have introduced (or perhaps exacerbated) an XP display bug, so don’t freak out about that. Massively OP’s MJ Guthrie got some hands-on time with the game earlier this month; that’s down below, along with Epic’s latest dev chat.

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Ubisoft on Skull and Bones’ business model, ‘treasure chest’ lootboxes, and live events

If you thought that Ubisoft’s Skull and Bones pirate MMO wasn’t going to have lootboxes, seriously, what rock are you living under? (And is it comfy? And can you maybe scoot over and make room for the rest of us?)

In a new interview with Gamespot, Ubisoft creative director Justin Farren says that the studio is going for “more of a service-based approach so that when you pay for this game, you have a commitment from us to develop content, new gameplay, modes, new content for the player to earn, and then of course, new regions to explore, and those things will unfold as the game launches and provide service over time.”

“We don’t want to create pay to win,” he says. “We don’t want to create something where players have to pay to compete. Our PvP is completely horizontal in a way that gives players a chance to develop their skills and compete against other players.”

But Overwatch-style lootboxes are definitely still on the table.

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Make My MMO: Star Citizen scrubs release windows from 3.0 schedule, Fig investors turn a profit (August 12, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen surprised backers by removing all “aim dates” from its weekly production schedule, which is intended to provide a roadmap toward the (very delayed) 3.0 alpha release. CIG instead provided two graphs it says will give a “more accurate look at where [it is] trending” – check those out down below. (Cheers, Cotic!)

In more meta news, Fig announced that a game promoted through its equity crowdfunding platform actually generated profit for investors, a first for the company. That game would be Kingdoms and Castles, which according to Polygon netted $1M in sales and consequently provided a 100% return to investors through Fig (double their money). It’s not an MMO, of course, but several MMORPGs have turned to this type of equity crowdfunding since it became legal last autumn, including Crowfall and Shroud of the Avatar.

Meanwhile, Albion Online continued suffering from extortionists’ DDOS attacks, we kicked off a month-long deep-dive into Shroud of the AvatarDual Universe scored a huge chunk o’ change in its run up to alpha, Pantheon published its monthly newsletter, and we got the details on the superhero MMO panel at PAX, which we’ll be attending in person (thanks, cyanpill!).

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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Albion Online wings a week of extra time at players for DDOS disruptions

Albion Online emerges this week extremely battered and bruised after a prolonged series of DDOS attacks against the game and even demands for ransom payments by the perpetrators to make it stop.

Hopefully it’s in the past now as the studio has taken steps to shore up the game’s defenses. For players who found themselves bereft of a game experience, Albion Online is gifting some extra subscription time as compensation. All players who have been subbed between July 17th and August 11th will get an extra week of game time credited to their account (this is on top of an additional week of subscription gifted for launch issues).

“Properly defending against well-executed DDOS attacks is a very challenging task, and far harder than a quick Google search might suggest,” the team posted. “In close collaboration with leading experts in the field, we are making significant progress. Recent attacks have impacted the server’s performance, but generally were not successful in bringing it down. Our defenses are constantly being optimized and fine-tuned. Having said that, we are not in a position to give the ‘all clear’ just yet.”

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Massively Overthinking: Is the popularity of small-scale co-op games hurting MMORPGs?

Gamasutra has an unusual piece from an Ubisoft developer this week arguing that co-op gameplay is the industry’s rising midcore trend, one that he believes will ultimately outstrip team competitive games. “It’s all about all the big data and stats that are finally available and can be mined,” author Andrii Goncharuk says, “and no surprise that it’s showing that players who played co-op mode have much more play hours, and players who played co-op with friends have even more play hours.”

He may be right, though first you’d have to believe co-op ever went anywhere to begin with (and console players would probably tell you nope!). But as I read the article, I couldn’t help but see MMOs in most of the arguments he’s making about what makes co-op games sticky, and yet MMOs are being edged out all the same. And while I don’t like to think of the MMO genre’s space in the industry as a zero-sum situation, the reality is that when people tire of MMORPG baggage but still want social play, co-op is exactly the sort of game they retreat to.

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to reflect on the rise of co-op PvE games outside the MMO label. Do we play them? Do we prefer them, and when? How can we learn from them? Is the popularity of smaller-scale co-op hurting MMORPGs?

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Final Fantasy XIV passes 10 million worldwide players and gets a small patch

Looking forward to more ranked PvP in Final Fantasy XIV or just the removal of the game’s automatic logout? Both of those features have been brought around with the game’s latest minor patch, which also makes some balance tweaks to several jobs and adds in the latest incarnation of the Moonfire Faire to the game. (There’s even a development dispatch on what you can expect from the event if you’re at work and can’t start it up yet.)

This patch coincides with the announcement that the game has reached 10 million players worldwide, with the caveat that it’s a cumulative number including free and trial accounts. It’s credited to the game’s frequent and robust content updates giving players all over the world reason to subscribe. Certainly it doesn’t hurt that the game’s staff resolves issues like the recent Russian/Brazilian Steam subscription increase by crediting all affected players with 30 days of play time and locking the lower prices for 60 additional days due to the lack of forewarning. So that’s a fine ending to that story, and a fine reason for the game’s growing player count.

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Make My MMO: Star Citizen 3.0 progress report, Albion Online DDOSed after RMT crackdown (August 5, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Star Citizen posted its monthly studio report along with its updated 3.0 production report as it works on the “User Experience Polish Pass.” Players tracked only two delays in this report: the UI and the mission system AI. Cross your fingers that the Evocati test access begins next week as planned (it’s actually looking pretty good).

Elsewhere, Albion Online was slammed with a DDOS attack yesterday, which the devs say was “most likely in response to [SI’s] recent actions against gold sellers to coerce [SI] to not interfere with their illegal business.”

Meanwhile, Camelot Unchained teased testing for beta 1 backers, Path of Exile launched its latest expansion, Crowfall profiled a dev, Dogma Eternal Night tinkered with its mission system, Descent Underground released a demo on BrightLocker, City of Titans returned to Twitch, and Global Adventures successfully funded on Kickstarter.

Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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Secret World Legends recovers from Steam stumbles, nerfs the Whispering Tide event

So how is Secret World Legends’ Steam launch going? It’s definitely increasing the game’s activity, although by how much and for how long is to be determined (Steam Charts has the title trending right now at a concurrency peak of 3,740 players on the platform).

Its roughest issue this week has been with Patron (subscription) players using Steam, as they were not receiving their rewards. It’s taken two attempts to correct and compensate for these issues, with the latest being yesterday’s hotfix.

The small patch also concerns itself with adjusting the current Whispering Tide event and making it a scooch more easy for players to complete. This event brings back everyone’s favorite Bird of the Zero Point Pathogen (or “Flappy”) while offering new rewards. Players get special lockboxes upon login every day that can only be opened by completing one of the fights in Agartha.

Source: Patch notes

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Derek Smart’s Line of Defense brings on secondary team for console version

Derek Smart’s MMO Line of Defense has a progress update this week covering the state of the game’s build. A new patch is on the way, and it’s fairly light, according to the post, being focused on the “underlying tech.” But that’s partly by design.

“Progress has been somewhat slow due to various factors including team and tech related challenges, as well as scheduling,” Smart says. “In addition to this, due to resources, scheduling, and dev costs, I also made the final decision to complete the PC version of the game using the existing custom engine in order to avoid any long term delays and complications.”

This means Line of Defense will be ported to UE4 by a secondary team. “In the end, we’re going to end up with two engine versions of the game, one for the PC, and the other for consoles,” he tells early access backers. “But due to the similarities between our Havok based custom engine, and UE4, there are currently no concerns related to parity in the game’s features. If anything, most of the noticeable differences will be in visuals, due to the vastly superior graphics of the UE4 engine.”

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PSA: Titanfall 2 and its beefed-up multiplayer is now free

If you’re already paying for a $5 a month subscription to EA Access on Xbox One or EA Origin on the PC, you are now eligible to download one of last year’s hottest shooters for free. EA announced this week that it is adding Titanfall 2 to the “Vault,” a selection of games that subscribers can play for no additional cost.

Titanfall 2 sported a multiplayer PvP option at launch that has only become more robust with time. There are at least nine different multiplayer modes at present, including capture the flag, bounty hunt, and last titan standing.

Another popular title, Battlefield 1, is also heading to the Vault soon.

Source: Polygon

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Hacker claims to have made a living cheating in MMOs for two decades

Motherboard has a fun-slash-depressing piece out this week on an unnamed hacker who claims he’s been cheating at MMORPGs to make a living for almost two decades.

Prior to his recent Def Con hacking conference talk, the hacker dubbed “Manfred” seemingly demoed via video a hack performed in WildStar, one he used to help him accrue nearly 400 trillion gold, which he then allegedly sold to players through various black markets. He argues he wasn’t hacking — he was providing a service by “finding unintended features in the protocol.”

At least some of his claims don’t even seem particularly outlandish, especially if you’ve been around in MMORPGs for a long time and have an understanding of how rampant duping and RMT markets have been over the last 20 years. Manfred claims he got his start in Ultima Online illegally deleting other players’ houses and selling his own on Ebay, funding his days in college. Since then, Motherboard says, he cheated and duped his way through the “wild west” of Lineage 2, Shadowbane, Final Fantasy XI, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of The Rings Online, RIFT, Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Guild Wars 2.

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Albion Online updates players on server issues and offers compensation

Every game is going to have issues when it launches; the good ones acknowledge those issues and keep players updated on the state of those issues and their solutions. Albion Online has run into some growing pains since its launch, and the developers are working hard at fixing the biggest ones, discussing the issues behind overcrowded areas, lag in larger fights, and periodic server reboots. Creating instancing for high-demand specific features like banks, for example, will allow players to access those zones even when crowded while keeping the rest of the world non-instanced.

Ultimately, the team is going to compensate all active players with an additional seven days of subscription time as a means of amelioration for the issues they’ve encountered. It also might help soften the blow for things like the most recent patch coming with a shiny new data rollback, which is resetting character data by 15 minutes. Not enough to end the world, but you still notice it; it’s the growing pains of a newly launched game.

Update: Patch notes for today’s update are now live!

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