business model

The Daily Grind: What should SWTOR do to pull out of its funk?

Is it just me, or does Star Wars: The Old Republic seem to be in a serious funk this year? I mean, the game has had updates and all, but there has been little to really stir up a lot of excitement among the existing community or to draw fans back to the MMO. Server merges, no expansion, fears over a stealth shutdown, and the same cruddy business model seem to be the order of the day.

Even our own Larry has called for SWTOR to put an end to the current storyline and move on.

Whether or not you feel that SWTOR is in a funk, what do you think BioWare should do to improve the game’s quality, content, and prospects in 2018? What could it be doing to really fan the flames of player passion and get this title noticed once more?

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Black Desert’s Pearl Abyss on feedback, cadence, and avoiding ‘aggressive’ business models

Pearl Abyss’ Dae Il Kim sat for an interview with InvenGlobal earlier this fall that’s just gone live, and while it might be a bit old, it’s packed with juicy quotes of note to Black Desert players.

For starters, Kim says the game’s UI is due for revision, and those reivisions were inspired by – wait for it – the mobile and console versions. That includes the minimap, mind you. And feedback from players? Yeah, he reads it, unfiltered and raw, to ensure that his team gets the “specific emotion” from player complaints.

But Kim does reject Inven’s assertion that the game’s update pace has slowed down, which is certainly the case in the West, where PA’s western publisher has reduced updates from weekly to biweekly.

“The [number] of updates is the same as it was before,” he counters. “I pushed myself to make a system which makes the updating progress much faster and easier.”

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EVE Evolved: Calling time on EVE Online’s five-year vision

When Andie “CCP Seagull” Nordgren walked onto the stage at EVE Fanfest 2013 and delivered her long-term vision for the future of EVE Online, the excitement in the room was palpable. EVE was riding its highest peak concurrent player numbers in the game’s history following the overhauls of the Crucible, Inferno, and Retribution expansions, and players were ready for a new blockbuster feature to fire their imaginations. CCP delivered its ambitious five year vision to hand the reins of EVE‘s living universe over to its players, with player-built stargates and deep space exploration in completely uncharted star systems.

We’re now about four months away from the five-year mark on that vision, and many parts of it have now been completed, but no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy. We’ve seen some big feature drops such as the release of citadels, the industry overhaul, and the recent moon mining overhaul, but that deep space colonisation gameplay still seems far off. Some players feel as if EVE is currently in a holding pattern, with everyone waiting for the next big feature or overhauls to their favourite part of the game before deciding what to do next. So what does come next?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I break down the progress toward Nordgren’s 5 year vision so far and talk about the possible next steps I think CCP could take to make it a reality.

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RIFT puts an endgame currency out for real-money sales

Look, we can all agree that “pay-to-win” is, at the very least, a difficult concept to be certain about. Right? There’s a lot of stuff where you can argue that a game is or is not pay-to-win just by slightly moving the goalposts. But then you have RIFT opening up sales of Captured Intel packs on the in-game store for real money, and we can all agree that yes, this is what pay-to-win definitely looks like.

Why? Because Captured Intel is a currency used to buy endgame gear. This is literally buying a currency used to advance in the endgame. If this doesn’t trip your pay-to-win sensors, nothing will.

A Reddit thread explains the issues with this quite eloquently (and already has at least one person actually arguing that it doesn’t count as pay-to-win if you can just buy endgame gear, so that works great). It also points out that the best thing for players to do at this point is to point out that this is not all right and then go on to not buy the packs; they’ll only be sold if people buy them, after all. Words to live by.

Source: Official Site, Reddit; thanks to Dark Daemon for the tip!

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Massively Overthinking: The best and worst MMO developer quotes of 2017

Think of all the wacky things devs have said in public in front of gamers and journalists this year.

Now imagine what gets said behind closed doors!

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to select the best (and worst) developer quotes from the year and reflect on what we’ve learned from them. Let’s dig in – we’ve got some whoppers.

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Tera M is not friendly to free players in its Korean version

Eager to have all of the gameplay of TERA in the palm of your hand with TERA M? You might want to be a little more cautious with that excitement. Steparu has been checking the game out and has concluded that however much fun the game may be, it relies very aggressively on pursuing microtransactions, to the point that level 40 on up is largely a paywall. You’ll be in a bad place if you haven’t bought anything, and that’ll make the game difficult if not impossible to keep playing.

Comparisons are made to the gameplay of Lineage 2 Revolution, and it is of course altogether possible that the business model will be tweaked or revised before the game launches in the west. Still, while we’ve embedded some videos past the break, this may serve to temper your enthusiasm slightly. Or it might instill with you the joy of knowing you shall be an ultra-whale. We’re not going to judge.

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Warframe on how studios should ‘learn to fight superficial microtransaction integration’

Warframe has become aggressively popular according to Digital Extremes’ own metrics, and our own readers back that up. Part of the reason is the game’s business model, which as DE VP of Publishing Meridith Braun tells GIbiz this week that the studio has been working hard on its monetization over the last several years since the game soft launched open beta. (Yes, it’s still technically in open beta.)

“[Players] say they are blown away by the fact that we aren’t a full retail game with paid DLC, and that the monetization we have integrated is more than fair. We’re looking to redefine what free-to-play means to gamers,” Braun argues. That means making almost everything in the game earnable inside the game, downing content progression walls, allowing players to freely trade within the microtransaction system, and respecting the new reality that “a games service is always on and needs constant attention.”

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Make My MMO: Camelot Unchained inches closer to beta one (December 2, 2017)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained’s weekly progress report is on the shorter side (for CSE) given that the game’s monthly newsletter just went out, but there are some interesting tidbits within, including the fact that the studio is considering uprooting the game’s hosting services and migrating elsewhere. The team’s also been working on battlegrounds and warbands, status effects, animations, female clothing, tech stuff, and boats.

In great news for anybody still lamenting World of Darkness, victory seems assured for vampire MMORPG Shadow’s Kiss, whose Kickstarter should conclude on Tuesday with more than double its ask.

Meanwhile, Elite Dangerous patched its patch, Shroud of the Avatar is hosting a Movember team, Valiance Online teased female toons, Project Gorgon is planning its next update early tomorrow morning, we spoke to Mark Jacobs about developer wages, Ship of Heroes prepped its combat alpha, and Star Citizen drove eyebrows to the sky by announcing the pre-sale of land claims in space.

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

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The Soapbox: Evaluating gaming monetization through the lens of Nintendo’s mobile history

Bloggers and journalists throughout the online gaming industry have been talking about monetization a lot lately. It’s not just lockbox/gachapon scandals, or their relationship with gambling, but basic monetization and what we want from it. Games, after all, don’t make themselves; we have to pay for something to make that happen. But some gamers seem to view free-to-play games as a game that should be free, not one to be supported if it earns respect. And on the flipside of that, far too few game studios give off a vibe not of experimenting with monetization but of maximizing profits above all else while barely veiling their greed.

However, outside the MMO world, there is a company that’s been doing it “right” for a long time: Nintendo. The AAA developer/publisher is known for both innovation and hesitance, following in others’ footsteps with great trepidation, trying to figure out the ins and outs while entering the mobile market long after it’s been established. The company recently released a new mobile title, but what’s interesting is that it and the company’s last four games are all different genres with different monetization strategies. Exploring these titles and their relationship to their monetization plans will not only highlight the potential success of the models but hint at why they work and how they can be curbed into models gamers and lawmakers can better accept.

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Crowfall retires pledge packages in favor of pre-orders, partners with AbleGamers

Before we get to talking about ways Crowfall is trying to make money, here is something it’s giving away for free: four brand-new Patch 5.3 wallpapers. Treat yourself today.

ArtCraft gave its community a heads-up that at the end of 2017, it will be retiring its business model of selling pledge packages in favor of smaller pre-orders. This especially affects the larger bundles of $200 or more, which the studio said will be broken down and sold in smaller increments to those who want a la carte purchases. There will also be three pre-order editions put on sale as the game ramps up toward beta and release.

“In late January, we’ll be transitioning pricing for almost everything in our store to a micro-transaction currency (known as crowns), which function in a manner… well, like pretty much every other online game,” the studio said. “All virtual items will use crown pricing while digital and physical copies of the game, VIP Tickets and a few services will continue to be priced using real-world currency. All existing wallets will be converted to crowns, at the highest currency-to-crown ratio that we offer.”

ArtCraft also mentioned on Twitter that it is teaming up with AbleGamers to help make Crowfall more accessible for those with physical handicaps.

Source: Crowfall

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EA lockbox debacle wipes out billions in stock as SuperData forecasts regulation

It looks as though the rebels may have defeated the empire — or at least struck a mighty blow to give the latter pause.

CNBC is reporting that the fallout from EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II and its lockboxes has done serious damage to the company’s bottom line. EA’s stock price dove 8.5% following the uproar over Battlefront’s egregious lockboxes, the resulting decision to (temporarily) remove them from the business model, and weaker than expected sales. This means that $3.1 billion of shareholder value has now vanished. That’s no small potatoes.

Wall Street Analyst Doug Creutz said that this may be the catalyst that sets some serious changes in motion for the video game industry: “We think the time has come for the industry to collectively establish a set of standards for MTX implementation, both to repair damaged player perceptions and avoid the threat of regulation.”

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 146: World of Warcraft’s fun police

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree pat their turkey-filled tummies and pontificate on the nebulous fate of Marvel Heroes, look ahead to Lord of the Rings Online’s future, and chide World of Warcraft for taking away fun toys.

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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Clicker Heroes dev on abandoning the free-to-play model for the sequel

If you’ve never played Clicker Heroes, you can pick it up for your phone or on Steam right now; it’s a lightweight little idle game like Cookie Clicker, except with MMORPG-inspired classes, leveling, and zones. It’s pretty great. And it has a sequel in development, Clicker Heroes 2, which is not going to be free and use a microtransaction model. That’s kind of a swerve in the other direction, and the developers have taken the time to explain why a studio with a successful free-to-play game would develop a pay-to-play sequel.

The letter explains that while the free-to-play model always worked, it also led to some people spending thousands of dollars on the game, which led to concerns about people spending money they couldn’t afford to spend on the game. It also meant that no changes could be made to invalidate real-money purchases, which meant sometimes awkward patches on the game’s systems over time. While no changes will be made to the original, Clicker Heroes 2 will have a box price that the studio hopes can also support mods and enjoyable gameplay.

Source: Official Site via PC Gamer; thanks to Castagere for the tip!

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