Massively Overthinking: Why doesn’t video game marketing reflect our demographics?

This week’s Massively Overthinking topic comes to us from Steve, and it’s a frustration for our team as well, I promise.

“If the following statistics industry execs and analysts put out are true – that online multiplayer games are most profitable, that the average age of gamers is 35, that over 40% of gamers are female, and that ‘women’ and ‘over 35’ are two of the fastest growing demographic segments – why are virtually all major online multiplayer games designed primarily (in fact, almost exclusively) for males aged 15 to 35? I can’t speak for women, because as a straight, white male, I am aware 97% of the world exists to obey my whims and desires. However, as someone in my 40s, I notice that video games increasingly tend to be the exception, and it’s pissing me off more daily. So I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for women (40% of gamers, but just one Overwatch pro, for example, has to be infuriating). For an industry that wants every cent it can get its hands on, ignoring these groups (particularly the affluent 35+ age group) seems like a massive oversight.”

Yep! Let’s dig in.

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EVE Online outlines February development, vows it’s ‘coming for the bots’

What’s coming in EVE Online’s February 13th patch? The game’s latest development preview explains that Upwell structures will finally be getting the promised revamp, which makes abandoned structures easier to blow up and active ones more defensible as well as seeks to find balance between attackers and defenders in structure combat (namely, by nerfing said defenses).

Meanwhile, PC Gamer has a fresh piece out on the same ol’ botting problem that we covered a few weeks back; the publication builds out the argument that botters are seriously disrupting the EVE Online economy, not to mention upsetting the playerbase’s faith in CCP Games, which is already low thanks to the dissolution of the community team following financial hardships at the studio late last year.

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Star Citizen touts Squadron 42 progress, monthly studio report, and the 3.0.1 alpha

The Star Citizen crew is back to work on Squadron 42 in 2018, as chronicled in the latest episode of Around the Verse. The Frankfurt studio, now up to 79 people, says it’s hard at work on fog and lighting, AI, graphics, weapons, engine performance, and ambient occlusion. The feature bit is all about the cinematics whipped up for the big stream reveal just before Christmas – you’ll recall it as the scene where Mark Hamill is kind of a jerk to your noob self.

Meanwhile, CIG has also just released its monthly studio report. And as teased earlier this week, the Star Citizen 3.0.1 alpha has landed on the PTU for testing, although you’ll note that now you’ll need a subscription to guarantee your earliest access to it, else you’ll wait for your invite. Bonus, now the game has monocles.

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Kings and Heroes may deliver that satisfying dungeon crawl you’ve been craving

The very definition of a game in stealth mode, Kings and Heroes is a title that traveled from early access to launch in 2017 without drawing much attention to itself at all. The buy-to-play MMOARPG released in November of last year with seven fantasy races and five classes.

Since then, Kings and Heroes’ first major post-launch update was published last month right before Christmas. Performance issues were tackled, difficulty restrictions on certain dungeons were lifted, werewolves showed up in the world, and NPC pathing in dungeons were removed.

Should you give it a try? PCGamesN wrote a piece that argued for a very fresh and inventive in its dungeon crawls despite a lackluster opening experience: “Its boon is that it actually uses procedural generation very well. Instead of repeating the same handful of dungeons over and over again, repeat visits to the same one retain some of the surprise and tension of your first. Using tilesets of different designs, each visit feels familiar but different enough to keep your wanderlust topped up.”

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Massively Overthinking: Tackling our hoarding problem in MMORPGs

By coincidence, two articles in my feeds this past week both centered on video game hoarding – not hoarding the actual games but hoarding stuff inside of them. Blizzard Watch posted a piece on what makes people stop hoarding things like currency in Blizzard’s games, while Gamasutra published an article about how game designers can stop turning us into hoarders in the first place.

For this week’s Overthinking, I thought it would be constructive for the staff and readers to reflect on hoarding in MMOs specifically. Do you hoard, and if so, is it primarily consumables? Currencies? Event items? Something else? Do you think it’s a problem, or only when it’s encouraged as part of a microtransaction loop that ends with your buying more storage?

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Albion Online characterizes layoffs as downsizing to ‘pre-release beta testing’ levels

Earlier this week, we got a tip claiming that the Albion Online team had been severely cut back before Christmas, perhaps as much as 50%, owing to poor performance. Turns out there were some layoffs, but not quite so many, and in fact the studio says it had ramped up studio numbers ahead of launch and is now downsizing to a live team. Moreover, the studio says its playerbase has “stabilized” and is still growing.

Here’s the full statement Sandbox Interactive issued to Massively OP this afternoon:

Albion Online saw a successful release in July 2017. To get ready for release, during beta testing, our team size almost doubled to more than 50 people. Now that release is behind us, we are reducing the team size to levels similar to those at the start of pre-release beta testing. 31 people in total, supported by talented freelancers, will constantly improve and expand the game. This goes hand in hand with our strategy to fully focus on the game’s original core vision: with the release of our Kay update in December, player numbers have stabilized at a high level and continue to grow. Our next update, Lancelot, will continue on this path and is set to release in March, with further updates to come according to our road map.”

Our sympathies go out to those affected.


Elite Dangerous drops the first part of Beyond this quarter, with beta launching January 25

We’re guessing there are lots of new Elite Dangerous players roaming around now, what with the game having been just 7 bucks on Steam over Christmas, but that just means a bigger playerbase to cheer today’s news. Early this morning, Frontier announced that the game’s third season of content is on the way, beginning with Elite Dangerous: Beyond – Chapter One (they have never been good at names, let’s be honest) coming in “Q1 2018.” The beta itself for the new content will be free for all players and begin on January 25.

“Launching Q1 2018, Elite Dangerous: Beyond – Chapter One is the first update of Elite Dangerous’ third season, following the Thargoids devastating assault on humanity’s starports. Beyond advances the ongoing player-driven narrative and introduces a variety of gameplay enhancements, upgrading the gameplay experience whether players prefer to trade, fight or explore in Elite Dangerous’ massively multiplayer galaxy.”

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Albion Online’s Christmas event is better late than never

Hey, why are you taking down those Christmas lights and hauling your browning tree to the curb? There’s still some life left in this holiday yet, even if it is technically over! Just look at Albion Online, which kicked off its Breath of Winter event today to keep players occupied during the rest of the month.

During this event, players can go on a “good deeds” quest chain to help the little NPCs of the realm and earn an essential item that will allow the creation of a Yule Ram mount.

There’s also an Icy Battleground for PvP, a quest to help Father Frost, and an extra-wintry version of the Three Sisters Expedition. Plenty of rewards await those who participate, including fancy winter finery, Christmas trees, and a placeable present chest.


Take a peek at Elder Scrolls Online’s Dragon Bones DLC and outfit customization system, coming in February

Just before Christmas, ZeniMax teased a ton of new content coming for The Elder Scrolls Online in 2018, including three DLC and a full chapter. The first DLC, dubbed Dragon Bones, is up first, and we’ve got a bit more info on the Skyrim-flavored pack coming today.

“The Dragon Bones DLC Game Pack will include two new dungeons – Scalecaller Peak and Fang Lair — available in both normal and veteran modes, with a veteran Hard Mode for each final boss. These new dungeons pit players against new and returning enemies, including plague-ridden ogres, powerful sorcerers and their undead creations, and even the reanimated bones of an ancient dragon. Players will be rewarded with new items and monster sets, collectibles, and achievements, as well as a Renegade Dragon Priest mask, awarded just for entering one of the dungeons. The Dragon Bones DLC Game Pack will be free for ESO Plus members, and available for purchase from the Crown Store for non-members.”

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RIFT players build remembrance garden for well-loved teen

Just before Christmas, 17-year-old Nikita Hedingham was biking to a volunteer position when she was struck by a semi and killed. Her death has had a great impact on the RIFT community, where Nikita was known as Wintercharm, a well-known and -loved presence in the player housing sphere.

“She loved this game and you people so much so I wanted to say thank you for being so kind to her,” Nikita’s mother wrote. “One of her goals in life was to see the Trion building, so please remember her.”

RIFT players are doing their best to honor the life of Wintercharm by creating a remembrance garden on the Greybriar server. During the month of January, friends and well-wishers can add to the garden on Sundays. “This garden is to celebrate Wintercharms gorgeous life and give us all another place to visit if we just want to sit a while remembering her,” the garden’s organizer wrote.

Our sympathies to the family and friends of Nikita during this difficult time.


The Stream Team: Winter holidays in Neverwinter

With a name like Neverwinter, you have to wonder how the cold-weather holidays are celebrated in-game. Wonder no more! Massively OP’s MJ is diving in to check things out. (Not that she needed a reason to stretch out celebrating the Christmas season.) Join us live at 8:00 p.m. for some Dungeons & Dragons flavored festivities.

What: Neverwinter
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

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The Stream Team: Going after the Grinchta in Villagers and Heroes

A new year is a great time for Massively OP’s MJ to face a new threat. A new year, a new threat — she’s supposed to face something at least! The Grinchta is the nemesis of the Christmas season in Villagers & Heroes, and MJ is determined to face and eliminate any problems this critter is causing. We must save Christmas for next year and all the years after, right? Tune in live at 8:00 p.m. for some a look at the holiday festivities in…

What: Villagers & Heroes
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EST on Monday, January 1st, 2018

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One Shots: Riding the unicorn charge into 2018

That’s it, folks. It’s time to put the wraps on the bumpy, odd year that was 2017 and get ready to flip our calendars to the pristine landscape of 2018. While the future of MMOs always holds uncertainy, one thing we know for sure: We’re going to screenshot the heck out of it.

To put a bow on 2017, I asked Massively OP readers to submit their absolute best screenshot from this past year — and the community took up the task with gusto. We’ll start things off today with Hugmonster showing us what a dignified, serious game Guild Wars 2 can be.

“My best screenshot of the year? Obviously me launching a stampede of rainbow unicorns!” he shared.

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