business model

Working As Intended: Ten lessons I learned from classic Guild Wars

Guild Wars — the first Guild Wars — celebrates its 10th birthday this week alongside several of my characters who are equally old. I originally picked up Guild Wars as a diversion from World of Warcraft, and at the time, I liked everything about it but actually playing it. Pre-Searing felt like home; it was pastoral and lovely with a haunting score. But back in 2005, the game past the Searing was difficult to traverse in a small party, let alone solo, and the deeper into the game I got, the less I liked it. In fact, I didn’t Ascend in 2005. I gave up on the grueling PUGs right around the time I got to the Crystal Desert.

But I went back, and went back again, and eventually I fell in love. That’s just the first of Guild Wars’ many lessons. Here are 10 things I learned from Guild Wars — in honor of its 10 years of fun.

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Make My MMO: April 25, 2015

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, a couple of high profile projects met stretch goals. Crowfall will be hiring a dedicated graphics programmer, while Camelot Unchained plans to add pet classes of a spiritual nature. Spirit pets are part of something called an Extender Pack, though, as they won’t be worked on until after the game’s initial release.

You can read the rest of our crowdfunding roundup just past the break!

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Perfect Ten: The 10 things every MMO’s official site should have

Are you ready to have you mind absolutely blown open? Because I have an astonishing truth to lay at your feet: While doing this job, I visit a lot of official game sites. A lot of them. Pretty much constantly.

Here’s an equally astonishing truth: Most of them are terrible. And I’m sure basically every person out there who has been forced to navigate through official MMO sites would probably agree with me. Like designers of many other websites, the designers seem to be absolutely certain that I want one thing when I go to the site when what I really want is something entirely different.

Let’s codify this, then. There are a lot of features that every game’s official site should have that very few of them actually do; today, let’s talk ten features that pretty much every official MMO site ought to have… which a depressing number of them lack, sometimes for really incomprehensible reasons.

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EVE Evolved: How many subscriptions does EVE have?

Two weeks ago, a mathemagician over at The Nosy Gamer published some interesting calculations showing that EVE Online‘s subscriptions may have dropped by around 18% in the past two years. CCP has always prided itself on the fact that EVE has grown year-on-year since release, but the last official number we heard was when it reached 500,000 subscriptions back in February 2013. Players have taken the company’s silence since then on the matter of subscriptions as an admission that subs have been falling or at least not growing for the past two years.

So where did this 18% figure come from? It was extrapolated from estimates of player participation in the last two CSM elections, and the reasoning behind the number seems pretty good in the absence of any official announcement. It will probably not come as a shock to anyone if this calculation turns out to be accurate, as EVE‘s concurrent player numbers have also seen a roughly 20% drop since 2013. As development on EVE has been very well-received over the past two years, I’m inclined to believe that the drop in activity has more to do with trends in today’s gaming habits and purchasing choices. Online gaming seems to be going through an evolution, and the mandatory subscription model may be becoming obsolete.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I run through a set of calculations to work out how many subscribers EVE really has, determine where the reported 18% drop is coming from, and ask whether this is a trend CCP can fight.

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Make My MMO: April 18, 2015

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, we learned about the new Powerplay update coming to Elite: Dangerous that promises to revamp the space sim’s mining profession into something approaching lucrative. We also heard from Crowfall’s devs, and more specifically, how they plan to make their ambitious realm war title for a paltry $6 million. Finally, Shroud of the Avatar got some visual upgrades and some pretty kick-ass in-game books!

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WoW Factor: The WoW token and the upcoming patch

Since the last edition of WoW Factor, two big things hit World of Warcraft in quick succession. The first is that the much-discussed WoW Token finally went live, meaning that anyone who wants to buy gold legitimately or buy subscription time for gold has an option to do so. The second is that patch 6.2 hit the test server, and unlike the rather anemic patch 6.1, it promises to have a bunch of stuff for players to digest and enjoy.

It doesn’t have flying, but then, we just had that discussion.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so it’s best to start from the oldest point and work our way forward, and that means the token. On the one hand, tokens represent a big shift away from how the game has always operated, but at the same time it’s also a fairly minor shift in the grand scheme of things. And if you had the gold to afford one, you’re even helping the game’s somewhat stymied economy.

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The Secret World kicks off a powerful weekend early

The Secret World is kicking off a weekend of power early. What makes this weekend worthy of the nickname of “Power Weekend,” exactly? Just the fact that every single thing you do over the weekend in the game results in more. Did you earn a piece of black bullion? You get one more. Earned Marks of Venice? You get 50% more. Recruit a new player into the game? You get another player automatically!

All right, no, you just get a month of free subscription time for that last one. It’s still more stuff for doing what you’d normally do.

You’ll also earn 50% more AEGIS research, making this the perfect weekend to go to town in Tokyo. Just make sure you get in as much as you can before Monday, as the event ends on April 20th.

[Source: Official site. Thanks to Nordavind and Crow for the tip!]

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Rumor: WildStar box recall and promo might herald free-to-play

The last time the retailer yanked boxes of a game from the shelves and returned them to the distributors, it was The Elder Scrolls Online, shortly before that title announced its buy-to-play conversion. Now the same thing is happening, only this time it’s boxes of WildStar. As go Australian EB Games outlets, so goes the rest of the world. You laugh, you mock, but can you be sure it isn’t true?

In all seriousness, there’s no smoking gun proving that this does herald a business model shift, and there are plenty of potential causes for pulling the boxes from shelves. But after what happened the last time, the rumor does have a bit of extra weight.

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Make My MMO: April 11, 2015

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, we said goodbye to Descent Underground‘s fundraising campaign. It was a fond farewell, though, since the sci-fi space shooter reboot topped its $600,000 Kickstarter goal with just over three hours to spare.

Also this week, Star Citizen updated us on the progress made in March, showed off a new dev studio, released alpha version 1.1.1, and addressed community concerns about the length and accessibility of its Squadron 42 single-player campaign. The rest of our crowdfunding roundup is just past the cut.

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Report: Whales make up majority of mobile F2P sales

Whether or not developers like the term “whales,” the truth is that big spenders are still very big business for free-to-play games. Gamasutra points to a report that says that the top 10% of spenders in mobile games made up 64% of the revenue for those titles.

In-game purchases are on the increase, too. In January, 2.3% of players spent money in mobile apps, up from 1.5% in January 2014 (back when only 50% of spenders were whales, by the way). Those spenders dropped an average of $29.17 per game.

With both spending and big spenders on the rise in the mobile market, it could be indicitive of the same trends in MOBAs and MMOs. Should devs be chasing whales now more than ever to bring in those big profits?

[Source: Gamasutra]

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Perfect Ten: 10 MMOs that let you turn real money into MMO money

Two days ago, World of Warcraft launched the WoW Token service, which will kill the game forever. It thus joins the list of every expansion and change to the game since launch as a herald of certain doom.

Joking aside, it’s understandable that players would be a wee bit apprehensive, since this is a bold new direction for the game. Sure, people have always traded real money for in-game currency, but before it was usually under the table, shady, and generally the sort of thing that resulted in bans and accounts being stolen. Now it’s totally legitimate. Plop your credit card on the table and get some game money.

But while it’s new territory for World of Warcraft, it’s not new territory for MMOs. There are a lot of titles that have, in various ways, codified the idea that you can drop some real coin and pick up virtual coins. To the great surprise of no one, none of these games has erupted in flames as a result of it.

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WoW Token prices fall on the first day of operation

Have you been holding on to your hat during the first day of WoW Token sales? Did you think that 30,000 gold was a bit too low or too high for a month of World of Warcraft? Because the data from the first day of sales are in, and it looks like 30,000 didn’t stay for long. According to tracked data, while the tokens were briefly trending toward higher numbers, the values have plummeted through the game’s prime time and into the present.

As of this writing, a single token sells for 22,181 gold, about 75% of the initial offering. That would indicate that tokens are being bought for money in higher numbers than they’re being bought for gold; while sales remain brisk, it looks like most people were jumping to convert their cash into virtual coins. The bright side, of course, is that if you want your gold to pay for your subscription, that’s getting cheaper by the minute.

[Source: WoW Token Info]

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World of Warcraft tokens go on sale April 7th

Looking forward to paying for your World of Warcraft subscription with in-game gold? You don’t have long to wait at all; the WoW Token will be going on sale after maintenance tomorrow, April 7th. Tokens can be purchased for $20 of real money and sold via a special in-game interface, with the initial price being pegged at 30,000 gold.

Once the tokens are live and being sold by players, the sale price will fluctuate based on demand and availability, so that 30,000 gold figure is unlikely to last long. Which direction it will shift, meanwhile, is an open question; you’ll be able to find out tomorrow.

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