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Nexon posts strong Q1 2018 results, Final Fantasy XI mobile screens leaked

Nexon posted a strong first quarter in 2018, with its earnings call reporting that the game publisher raked in $827M in revenue (a 21% year-over-year increase). The company did most of its business on PC (84%), although mobile (16%) continues to be a significant factor in its success.

Most of Nexon’s focus continues to remain in the east, as both China (67%) and Korea (22%) pull in a vast majority of its earnings. The company singled out the the performance of Dungeon and Fighter, MapleStory, and Durango: Wild Lands for praise.

Coming down the pipeline in North America this year and beyond is MapleStory 2, Durango, MapleStory M, and Final Fantasy XI Mobile. Speaking of the mobile version of FFXI, purported screens were leaked on Reddit that showed this still-beautiful game in action.

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Hands-on with Bless Reborn at Neowiz’s San Francisco media reveal

As you probably have heard, there was a Bless influencer event this week, with a couple of media and a smattering of MMO streamers in attendance. The leak of the price points happened soon before we went in, but none of the people in attendance, devs or streamers, really seemed fazed by it. Most people seemed ready to have a good time.

For someone like me, who was initially blown away by Bless circa 2011, the game had fallen off my radar, especially after the game’s rocky trip to Russia and initial Korean release. The western build-up for me has felt like a big PR push, with the pricing model dangled like a feature that people actually should be excited about. Basic questions like, “How does endgame work?” were easier to find on Reddit, Steam, and fansites than any of the PR I was reading. I was concerned, to say the least, but things like “tame almost any mob!” and “100v100” battles intrigued me. Though nothing I saw is probably going to change any core fans’ mind, it may be useful to those on the fence.

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Chinese authorities arrest 15 more accused PUBG hackers, fining them over $5M

Bluehole and PUBG Corp are apparently continuing their government-backed crackdown on PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds cheaters.

Last week, PUBG Corp told Steam players that it takes cheating seriously and has upgraded its security measures. “In the meantime, we’ve also been continuously gathering information on hack developers (and sellers) and have been working extensively with multiple partners and judicial authorities to bring these people to justice,” the studio writes. “Earlier this month, on April 25th, 15 suspects were arrested for developing and selling hacking/cheating programs that affect PUBG. It was confirmed that malicious code, including Trojan horse software, was included in some of these programs and was used to steal user information.”

The studio indicates the suspects, all in China and being dealt with by Chinese authorities, have been fined the rough equivalent of $5.1M USD for their infractions. Prison time is historically a potential factor in cases like these in China as well, but the report doesn’t mention it.

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Enter to win a Neverwinter painted spider mount on Xbox One and PS4 from PWE and MOP!

To celebrate the arrival of the Lost City of Omu expansion for Neverwinter on console this week, PWE has granted Massively OP 20 Painted Spider mount keys to give away to our readers: 10 apiece for PlayStation 4 (Blue-Spotted version) and Xbox One (Tropic-Colored version). Arachnophobes should probably nope right out now!

“The visionary Suratuk is back at it again with a pair of limited run, custom- mounts. Freshly-coated and prepared to scurry into battle with the release of Lost City of Omu, these vicious arachnids didn’t become Blue-Spotted and Tropic-Colored without inflicting several bites on the artist.”

Both grant +50 movement speed and include two insignia slots. The codes can be redeemed only once per account and expire at the end of 2020, and the mounts are bind-on-pickup. Critically, these codes are redeemable on console only in the regions as outlined below, so if you’re a PC person, you can skip this one!

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Ohio college begins Fortnite e-sports team and scholarship

E-sports programs and scholarships at universities stopped being newsworthy years ago once they were a dime a dozen, but a new one from Ohio’s Ashland University has caught the mainstream media’s eye because it’s reportedly the very first to include Fortnite.

“Ashland’s esports team, which will begin competition next fall, will arrange four-player teams that practice regularly and compete together,” says the university. “AU is at the forefront in adding Fortnite to its offerings, which already include League of Legends, Overwatch, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Rocket League. Eventually, [head coach Josh] Buchanan’s hope is that collegiate leagues will be set up for official Fortnite competitions.”

Open tryouts will begin for the 2018-2019 school year. The best players can snag “up to $4,000 based on player skill level and academic requirements” in scholarships.

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PUBG Corp sues Netease for cloning PUBG in Knives Out and Rules of Survival

Let the battle royale lawsuits begin! TorrentFreak caught wind of a new lawsuit in California that ought to set all the cloners on edge: PUBG Corporation is suing NetEase for ripping off PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, specifically alleging copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair business competition. (The Korean PUBG Corp and Chinese NetEase both operate businesses in the US, hence the justification for the venue.)

Given how old this particular genre is, and how PUBG was far from the first to run with it, you might be skeptical about the company’s claims. PUBG Corp believes it has copyrighted the concept of a pre-game lobby where you can test out weapons, among multiple other concepts, including the dynamic air-drop spawning system, the map, the boost bar and consumables, “starting with nothing” and being forced to compete for resources, realistic gear, character paper doll, shrinking gameplay, down-but-not-out incapping, butt-covering frying pan… it goes on like that for a while. Maybe we’ll give them the frying pan. Honestly the screenshots are more convincing than the list. 154 pages of this.

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GDC 2018: Ultima Online post-mortem with Richard Garriott, Starr Long, Raph Koster, and Rich Vogel

Plenty of panels at GDC are recorded and uploaded to the internet weeks after the event, including this one. It’s not quite the same as being there, as you miss a few things. For example, this year’s Ultima Online Post-Mortem panel was packed. It was international. It was fun, gross, nostalgiac, and sometimes groan-inducing.

And I’d hate to just summarize the talk, especially since some of you vets have heard these stories before, but since ya’ll couldn’t make it, I’ll do it. For you. But for this particular panel, not only will I try to summarize what was said before the panel will be viewable online in a few weeks, but I’ll dish out on the after-panel chat with Richard Garriott, Starr Long, Raph Koster, and Rich Vogel, including comments from the team on bad bans, kingslaying, VR, and the state of the MMORPG.

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Massively Overthinking: The war on MMO chat toxicity

This week, The Ancient Gaming Noob posted up an image of RIFT Prime, where Trion asks people to… play nice. “Just a neighborly reminder that 1-29 chat is for RIFT chat, ideally things relevant to level 1-29 gameplay,” the UI HUD reads. “Please be good to each other. We’ve muted some and shall mute again. Have a great evening!”

Meanwhile, over in Trion’s Trove, I’ve had to report-and-block dozens of fellow players just in the last few days for disgusting slurs in multiple languages, stuff the filter doesn’t catch. For a free-to-play game that’s also on console, yeah, I guess I expect no better from the playerbase. But but but RIFT Prime is subscription-based. Surely that means a strong community, where such polite warnings from developers aren’t necessary? Yeah, not so much, as anyone who played old-school MMORPGs can tell you. This is a problem even in games whose devs prioritize community and care a whole lot.

So this week, let’s talk about in-game chat. Do you use it? Do you watch it? Do you turn it off? Is it really terrible everywhere, or just in some games? Which one is the worst and the best, and what should developers do about chat specifically?

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Interview: ArcheAge 4.5 Legends Return launches April 5th with dragon taming and fresh start servers

If I were to tell you that ArcheAge’s next big update is launching next month, you’d tell me that it’s too soon. And we’d both be right! Although 4.0 was just released last December, and North America has been on a six-month cadence for getting the content after it launches in Korean, 4.5 will hit servers on April 5th. Yes, that’s 4.5 on 4/5 — easy to remember, no? Executive Producer Merv Lee Kwai explained that as XL Games is putting a renewed emphasis on the Western market, North American and the European regions get to launch an update first after Korea for the first time, instead of waiting until after Russia and China.

So what goodies do we have to look forward to before the other regions? Dubbed Legends Return, this update introduces dragon mounts, two new world bosses, a crafting commission system, and Battle Balance (a change to skillsets). There are also changes to regrading equipment and the bruisers badges. And last but not least, new fresh start servers are opening up, this time with a time-locked twist. To get a feel for all these changes, I sat down and previewed the new content with Kwai, Associate Producer Seraphina “Celestrata” Brennan, and Community Manager Joe “Muzzy” Brogno .

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Massively Overthinking: Is battle royale a fad?

This week in Massively Overthinking, I want to talk about something out on the fringes of our genre: battle royale games. We’ve been watching BR take off, first with H1Z1, then the explosion of PUBG last summer and fall, and now Fortnite has taken the crown, becoming even more popular and raking in even more money, at least on console and potentially overall. And yet less than a year ago, we were embracing Fortnite as a PvE building game – see how blazingly fast Epic pivoted to catch this trend? I remember when PUBG started to plateau in the west even as it continued it climb in China, and I wondered then whether anything could ever dethrone it – and I have to say, I didn’t think it would be Fortnite.

So let’s talk about battle royale. Is it bleeding an online subgenre – MMOs, shooters, MOBAs, or survival sandboxes, or is it just something everyone’s tacked on top of existing gameplay? How will mobile keep up? And most importantly, is it a fad that’s destined to eventually fade away, or is it here to stay?

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Enter to win a Neverwinter Teal-Dusted Axebeak for PC in honor of Lost City of Omu’s launch

To celebrate the arrival of Lost City of Omu for Neverwinter on PC last week, PWE has kindly given Massively OP 50 mount keys to give away to our readers! The Suratuk’s Teal-Dusted Axebeak grants +110 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 2020, 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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MMO business roundup: Steam, toxicity, Kartridge, contracts, dopamine, and guns

What’s going on in the online video games business this week? Let’s dig in.

Steam, toxicity, and Kartridge

The Center for Investigative Reporting (via Motherboard) has a scathing piece out on Steam toxicity this week. Valve has traditionally maintained a hands-off approach with Steam groups, which means that the groups can easily become a toxic cesspit. The platform is accused of being loaded with hate groups, many of which support racist agendas or promote school shootings. Motherboard notes that Valve has refused to respond to questions on this topic since last October.

Meanwhile, Kongregate is launching Kartridge, a potential Steam competitor that says it will embrace indie “premium” titles and small-fry developers. “Our initial plan is that the first $10,000 in net revenue, one hundred percent will go to the developer,” Kongregate’s CEO says. “We’re not coming in just to build another store. No-one needs that. This is about building a platform that is focused on creating a very fair and supportive environment for indie developers” – as well as on social and community tools.

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Daybreak’s zombie battle royale game H1Z1 has lost 90% of its playerbase since July

Polygon has a report out this afternoon sourcing data aggregator GitHyp, both of which are casting doubt on H1Z1’s future viability as a game and as a professional e-sport.

Daybreak-watchers will recall that last autumn, the MMO company dropped the King of the Kill branding from H1Z1 and the H1Z1 branding from Just Survive, splitting the two games up amidst a push for a China launch and a new pro league. In October 2017, we were already eyeing H1Z1’s falling playerbase numbers in comparison to PlayerUnknown’s Battleground’s meteoric rise – even at the time, H1Z1’s peak concurrency had fallen a full third since August.

That trend has unfortunately continued, according to GitHyp, which now says the game has lost 91% of its players since its July peak. Steam Charts suggests the drop-off is almost that bad too.

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