china

Black Desert team reveals perma-AFK leveling, tent camping, and a wicked sea monster

(We’ve updated this article since it went live with additional notes from Kakao – it’s all at the end!)

When it comes to divining the future of an MMO that comes from the east, it is best to go right to the source. Pearl Abyss released an anniversary letter looking at the overall vision for Black Desert, including its plans for what’s to come.

Black Desert is preparing a “second awakening” to help balance the classes out more, a feat that the team feels it hasn’t accomplished as of yet. Players will soon be able to grind experience while AFK on new permanent Black Spirit trainers, enjoy an overhauled tutorial system, shop at a luxury auction house, deploy a tent in the field to camp, and fight Bell, a sea monster guarding a valuable treasure (as previewed yesterday).

“Bell is a new sea monster we are adding,” the team said. “You will need a group of players with powerful ships like the Epheria Saiilboat or the new Epheria Convoy. Cannons and hunting rifles will be used to hunt it down. Players that defeat Bell will have a shot at Bell’s heart, the best alchemy stone in game.”

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Enter to win a Neverwinter Ash Lion mount for PC from PWE and Massively OP

To celebrate the arrival of Tomb of Annihilation for Neverwinter on PC last week, PWE has kindly given Massively OP 50 Ash Lion mount keys to give away to our readers. The Ash Tribal Lion Mount grants +80 Movement Speed and offers three Insignia slots. And he’s a beauty!

The codes can be redeemed only once per account and expire at the end of 2017, and the mounts are bind-on-pickup. Critically, these codes are redeemable on PC only, so if you’re a console person, you can skip this one! The keys should work for all PC players except those located in China, Korea, Egypt, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Read on to enter to win!

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The Game Archaeologist: EverQuest II East

Publishing a video game globally is a monumental task, more so if it is a live online game such as what you’d find with MMORPGs. With different countries and regions come various traditions, prohibitions, language barriers, government restrictions, playstyle expectations, and financial models that must all be sorted out and overcome for these games to come out.

One of the most famous examples of adapting an MMO for use in another country is how World of Warcraft had to make significant graphical changes to its death-themed imagery (including its Forsaken race) in order to get approval to operate in China. Censorship aside, many studios have adjusted their games to include elements appealing to a certain country in order to get more fans (such as WildStar’s panda explosion).

Today we’re going to look at a short-term oddity in EverQuest II’s history, when SOE attempted to expand the game into the east — and how that rebounded back to impact the west.

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No, exploitative gacha mechanics are not a good idea for western devs

We’ve been talking about exploitative gacha games and related business models on Massively OP for a long time, most recently and notably in depth earlier this year when we covered how Japan, Korea, China, and Singapore have all passed laws to take the model down a peg. In fact, China’s newest anti-gacha laws have since been used to target MMOs, card games, and even Overwatch’s skins. So given all the crackdowns, you’d think that the trend would be to avoid it, right? That industry analysts and watchers on this side of the pond would be wary?

But no. Bizarrely, there’s a new GamesIndustry.biz article this week in which AppLovin Managing Director Johannes Heinze advocates that western developers start including gachapon mechanics, even citing Pokemon Go as a good example of how well it works. He argues that gacha requires:

  • A large, varied set of content
  • A strong desire from the player to collect as many items as possible
  • A game where gacha content is necessary for players to progress
  • An effective mechanic for duplicate content (to prevent player churn from pulling too many duplicates)

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Check out Black Desert’s Chinese debut trailer

You might be surprised to know that Black Desert hasn’t actually launched in China yet, given its status in South Korea and its popularity here in the west, but it’s true — just not for much longer. As we reported earlier this month, Pearl Abyss tapped Snail Games for the rollout in China, and the studios are gearing up now with a new trailer ahead of ChinaJoy 2017, where the game will debut a Chinese demo, though one without China-specific specialty content.

There’s a lot riding on the Chinese launch; Pearl Abyss is preparing an IPO push this fall with the Chinese launch and mobile and console ports waiting in the wings. Here in the west, we’re currently anticipating the Mystic class and Kamasylvia.

Check out the Chinese trailer via MMO Culture down below.

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Multiple countries will boycott the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games over e-sports concerns

Back in April, we wrote about how the Olympic Council of Asia and Alisports of China was aiming to bring e-sports to the Asian Games, reportedly the second-largest sporting event in the world, right behind The Olympics itself. In support of the move, the council cited the addition of e-sports to the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games (AIMAG) in September as a “demonstration” sport featuring multiple games, including Dota 2, Starcraft II, and Hearthstone.

That may be in jeopardy now, however. SuperData reported this week that multiple countries have now backed out of the e-sports section of the AIMAG competitions. South Korea’s e-sports division quit the event in May, followed by Australia in June and Thailand earlier in July. Thailand, we should note, blocked participation in part over health concerns and “fears related to gaming addiction,” but South Korea and Australia raised objections over the exit of the well-recognized International Esport Federation and the formation of a relatively unregulated Asian Esports Federation in its place, as well as objections over the recruitment process for teams, which appears to blur national lines.

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Perfect Ten: EverQuest’s EverExpanding franchise

When Daybreak announced last year that it was cancelling the highly anticipated EverQuest Next project, the series’ forward momentum lurched to a halt. This wasn’t helped by other EverQuest entities that have been retired over the past few years, leaving only the two aging flagship MMOs to carry on the legacy of the franchise.

For franchise it is. It might be fuzzy in people’s memories (or simply absent from them), but there was an era where EverQuest was the MMORPG at the top of everything, and Sony Online Entertainment wasted no time in capitalizing on its popularity. Spin-offs, sequels, and alternative versions spawned into being, creating a library of EverQuest games.

In fact, there are more than enough to fill up a full list of 10 titles — and then some! So today let’s look at some of the lesser-known entries in EverQuest’s ever-expanding franchise and muse about what might come to this series in the future.

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World of Warcraft announces $100K prize pool for Mythic Dungeon Invitational e-sports competition

World of Warcraft is giving e-sports another go. In a blog post going live this afternoon, Blizzard has announced the Mythic Dungeon Invitational, an e-sports competition themed around Mythic Keystone dungeons with a $100,000 prize pool.

“Teams aspiring to battle on the global stage must first push themselves through a gauntlet of Mythic Keystone dungeons, taking on increasingly difficult Mythic Keystones and earning the best scores on the Proving Grounds,” says the studio. “Top scoring contenders will be invited to join as one of 32 outstanding teams from around the world, competing for a share of the $100,000 prize pool—and ultimately claiming bragging rights of the #1 spot. Once chosen, 8 teams from the Americas, 8 from Europe, 8 from China, and 8 from Asia-Pacific will be tapped to face the challenge, proving they have what it takes to go all the way to the finals.”

Would-be participants should complete Mythic Keystone dungeons between July 25th and August 8th, submitting their best score to Blizzard, which says it will be “be judging performance across the 5 dungeons in which the team achieves the highest Keystone Level during those two weeks.” The top groups will be welcomed to a single-elimination bracket invitational event around in September. And yes, the rest of us will get to watch.

Source: Press release

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Monetization expert: MMOs are dying because of clueless design, not insufficient demand

MMORPG players just love it when somebody declares the MMORPG dead, right? All those games you’re playing, all the games we’re writing about and sustaining us? Zombie games! You’re imagining it all! Thanks, mainstreamers!

Today’s somebody, admittedly, is Ramin Shokrizade, an economist and author well-known for his career and expertise in gaming monetization specifically, and he doesn’t mean literally dead in today’s piece on Gamasutra, in spite of its title. “What Killed the MMOG?” is an excerpt of an unpublished paper he penned in 2009 on RMT: real-money trading/transfer and gold farming, a problem developers told him “had no solution.”

Shokrizade describes the “industrialization” of RMT in factories run by massive organizations in China dedicated to making black market botter cash off the burgeoning MMO market in the 2000s. “Since the accounts are optimized for profitability, they tend to bring in perhaps ten times as much coin per hour as a maximum level account played for entertainment purposes, and hundreds of times as much as an account at half the level cap or less,” he wrote. Consequently, paying for in-game cash from RMT companies was just a logical move for buyers.

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Chinese government attacks on Honour of Kings MOBA leads to child locks

You may not have heard of Honour of Kings, but that’s probably because you don’t live in China. It’s one of the most popular mobile MOBAs in the country, racking up an astounding 200 million players (50M of whom are monthly active users) since its launch in 2015. And it’s that popularity that has the government worried, with a state-owned newspaper calling the game a “drug” and “poison.”

In particular, the Chinese government is concerned that kids might be getting addicted to Tencent’s MOBA, hinting that regulations on the title should be imposed. Perhaps to get out in front of government interference, Tencent went ahead and slapped the game with a child lock. Now, kids under the age of 12 can play only an hour a day, and youth ages 12 through 18 are limited to two hours daily.

Tencent’s stock took a sizable hit from the government’s statements, falling 4% initially. The company also runs League of Legends in China and made $3.9 billion from gaming in Q1 2017. Honour of Kings will be coming to the west in September of this year.

Source: BBC, SCMP. Thanks CistaCista and Mysecretid!

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Black Desert has no plans for localized China-only content

Chinese players will be able to enjoy a localized version of Black Desert courtesy of Snail Games, but according a recent interview with developers Pearl Abyss the game will not have any specific content just for Chinese players. Adjustments may be made to costumes to deal with governmental censorship policies, and there’s the possibility of more costumes down the line, but nothing is yet being planned.

The Snail Games partnership apparently came down to a similar development history and philosophy, with Black Desert having already been highly anticipated in China. Players who are currently playing on overseas servers or private servers will be courted to join the official servers once they launch, to boot. For fans currently playing on the western version of the game with more interest in developing the existing game, there are also plans to bring stage two Awakenings to the classes while adding more classes to the existing lineup, so players can look forward to that in the future.

Source: MMO Culture

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Check out Legend of the Ancient Sword gameplay in action

If you enjoy keeping your eyes on Chinese MMOs that may make their way stateside, you’ll want to keep your eyes on Legend of the Ancient Sword. What’s it about? Presumably, a story involving a particularly old sharp bit of metal used to hack at people. Evidence tends to suggest that. But you don’t need to know the details about that just yet; what you do need to know is what the action combat title looks like in action.

There are three videos from Steparu below the cut showing off the game’s current build; it’s in closed beta right now, so even if you could speak/muddle your way through Chinese, you’d be unable to test it. However, the developer was at this year’s E3, so there’s hope for the game coming over at some point. Check out the videos and see if that’s the sort of thing you’d be interested in playing.

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Hearthstone nerfs bothersome Quest Rogue deck, skirts around Chinese lockbox regulations

Following Hearthstone’s most recent expansion, Journey to Un’Goro, one deck has come to dominate pretty much all others — and Blizzard now says that it is high time it left the meta.

The studio announced that it would be nerfing the key card behind the “Quest Rogue” deck to stop this runaway train: “The Caverns Below is uniquely powerful versus several slower, control-oriented decks and played often enough that it’s pushing those decks out of play. This change should help expand the deck options available to players both now and after the release of the next expansion.”

Meanwhile, over in China Blizzard has had to employ a… creative solution to get around a law that forces video game companies to state the odds obtaining desired items in lockboxes (of which Hearthstone’s card packs are considered). Instead of allowing players to purchase packs directly, Blizzard now encourages players to buy quantities of arcane dust, after which they will be gifted “free” packs that require no such revelations.

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