cosmetic gear

E3 2018: Hands-on with Mavericks, the MMO battle royale hybrid

Automaton Games CEO James Thompson came along with Improbable, Bill Roper, and Mavericks to this year’s E3, where I got a second chance to see how everything in the battle royale/MMO hybrid is doing since GDC. I know battle royale is a hot topic around here, and the reaction we saw at GDC did have me worried about Mavericks’ potential audience.

Thompson was quite eager to talk about Mavericks, especially its battle royale side, but as someone who’s much more of an MMORPG player, I felt the one key thing we found common ground on was that Mavericks is aiming to be less of a simple genre game and more of a “platform” to build on, not because of any strength of the BR or even MMO genre but because of its ability to run a simulation. For virtual world fans, this is something I feel we should be paying more attention to.

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Worlds Adrift teaches you to git gud, promises instruments someday

Still having a rough time in Worlds Adrift? Bossa Studios has a new humorous guide out to help players “git gud.” Among the tips recommended by players: Use the builder to drop construction objects on your enemies’ head, point your cannon backwards to make yourself look less threatening, always ask before entering other players’ space, and cover your awesome ship with crappy parts to hide its awesomeness. Basically, be the Millennium Falcon.

Most recently, Bossa updated the game with the 0.2.1.1 patch, which added crouching, rolling, and sneaking, as well as improved the cameras, implemented an emote system, tweaked climbing, and fixed a ton of bugs. “YES – instruments are planned in the game,” says the studio.

This weekend, the devs are plotting multiple fun summer events across all the servers – make sure you check out the rolling schedule because there are indeed some sweet prizes, including engine schematic, cosmetics, lootbags, and “your ship immortalised in Dan Lish art.”

Git gud below.

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Smed weighs in on Sony’s historical PlayStation crossplay hangups

Sony’s managed to piss off a whole lotta gamers over its unwillingness to play ball on Fortnite. As we covered last week, the PlayStation 4 giant has refused to allow cross-platform play between the PS4 and the other big consoles, notably the Xbox One and the Switch, which has led YouTubers to blast the policy, as you basically need to run multiple accounts (and potentially buy all your cosmetics twice) if you like to move between devices.

Last night, John Smedley – MMORPG players know him best as the former President of Sony Online Entertainment and then Daybreak – gave his own take on why Sony used to be so stubborn about console crossplay in response to a GameOverGreggy tweet about Fortnite.

“When I was at Sony, the stated reason internally for this was money,” Smed tweeted, referring to his time at the company prior to 2015. “They didn’t like someone buying something on an Xbox and it being used on a Playstation. Simple as that. Dumb reason, but there it is. […] If we keep the pressure up this problem goes away.”

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Warframe releases its third cinematic quest, The Sacrifice, and beats its concurrency record once again

Update 23 isn’t just your regular run-of-the-mill patch for Digital Extremes or any Warframe fans who have been anticipating this release for over a year now. The Sacrifice brings the online game’s third cinematic quest to bear, and apparently the developers are getting really choked up about it.

The quest centerpiece of this update takes players on a hunt for a “savage warframe” that “has fallen into shadow.” And you best believe that players are going to want to attain this katana-swinging Umbra frame and its related cosmetics.

The patch also gives eight of the game’s 131 planned UI screens an artistic overhaul and offers two free themes for visually impaired or colorblind players. Once you dig through the patch notes, you might want to check out a couple of fun videos after the break showing the making of a Warframe mural in LA and the physical creation of Umbra’s armor.

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Sea of Thieves kicks off its recurring events with skeleton thrones

Running out of stuff to do in Sea of Thieves? The developers are trying to counter those summer duldrums with recurring in-game events, the first of which is going live today with Patch 1.1.2.

The Skeleton Thrones event will send players scrambling to declare themselves the rulers of the islands: “These thrones require a good sense of discovery to find, and for some an even steadier aim to reach. There are five small thrones and five large thrones, the small requiring just one pirate to sit on, but the larger requiring pirates to be sat on it from more than one crew. Look high, look low, and look within…”

The patch also made a lot of changes to the Bilge Rats faction (which ties in to the event), adding a dedicated progression screen, a unique currency, special cosmetics, titles, and a way to trade gold for rep increases.

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Blade and Soul preps two bonus events for its Celestial Dawn release

Seriously, what could be better than a juicy content drop for your favorite fantasy MMORPG? Well, how about a pair of events that tie into the patch and give you an extra boost to get caught up?

For the June 20th release of Celestial Dawn, Blade and Soul is planning a pair of events to maximize interest and excitement over this patch. First up is the Weaponsmith’s Forge, which runs from June 20th through July 25th. During this period, players will be able to upgrade their weapons for a discounted cost, get more upgrade materials, and snag a daily gildstone to exchange for pretty awesome cosmetics and weapons.

Also running during that same window is the Raid Crusade event. This throws down a weekly challenge to complete raids and hard mode dungeons in exchange for bonus rewards.

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Massively Overthinking: The case for rarity and randomness in MMO monetization

Last week, Guild Wars 2’s Crystin Cox gave a monetization interview to Gamasutra during which she made one specific argument I wanted to pull out and re-examine. She was trying to explain why lockboxes can provide a “value” to players that they can’t get any other way.

“When we talk about cosmetics, there’s a demand for every individual cosmetic. Like maybe I love cowboy hats, I just want to buy cowboy hats. But there’s also a demand, and a lot of players feel this way, for just cosmetic options. I like cowboy hats sure, but I also like bandanas, and I like clown hair, I like everything. I don’t really have a super strong preference. I just want more things to put in my dress-up box. That demand can be satisfied a lot better sometimes with just giving you a random thing because that can be done a lot cheaper. If you don’t care about which one you get and you just want one, you can get it for a lot cheaper. When you’re talking about games that have rarity, and rarity’s a big part of that game, then lootboxes can be done to distribute something on a small scale, so that not everybody has access to it but some do, as sort of a jackpot item. And then that gets into a little more complexity around the economy and your game, and whether not this is an enjoyable part of your game for people to play, play with the economy of some such. But if it is, then you can use lootboxes to be a pretty good distribution for something that’s very rare.”

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Defiance’s got 99 problems, but you ain’t one

With the conclusion of Defiance 2050’s closed beta last week, players might be at a loss for something to keep them occupied for the rest of May. Don’t fret, future warriors: Trion is going to unload 99 Problems on you.

That’s actually a good thing! The 99 Problems event is running through June 4th, giving players special pursuits to complete for EGO boosts and achievement points. The game is also cutting 50% off of the price of Arkforge through May 28th.

Trion Worlds also wants to remind you that playing old-school Defiance right now isn’t a waste of time. Players can earn valor from participating in events and activities and then use that valor to buy cosmetics and other rewards in Defiance 2050 when it launches this summer.

Source: Defiance

 

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Guild Wars 2 game director talks about the free market and lootboxes

Convenience and cosmetics. These are the foundational pillars of Guild Wars 2’s microtransactions, and back at GDC earlier this year, Game Director Crystin Cox opened up about how ArenaNet monetized its game using these pillars along with the free market and lootboxes.

“Expressing yourself, relating to other people, showing off, making a visual representation of who you are, is hugely important to a lot of MMO players, so that was always very high on our list,” she said. As for convenience items, Cox emphasized how the studio “respected people’s time” and wanted to make items that could trade time and money if so desired.

As for the dual currency system, Cox said that it has turned out quite well for the MMO: “I think we’ve done incredibly well with the free market because it accurately represents the value of the things that people are purchasing.”

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The Daily Grind: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win?

Last week, in the comments under the Bless optional subscription brouhaha article, I made an offhand comment that apparently got MOP commenter Sally’s gears grinding. I was trying to sort through why Bless fans are mad, and I wrote, “Neowiz has been promising no P2W for months, but it’s really hard to have an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win.”

Sally didn’t disagree but said it was a “shock” to see it spelled out on Massively OP of all places: “In the current free-to-play climate, I see [the MOP] community as one of the last bastions for subscriptions. So a shot at subs from here struck me as ‘et tu, Brute?'” And Sally’s right! A lot of MMORPG vets enjoy F2P and B2P games but also hate double-dipping, and the subscription, or at least a mandatory sub without the usual gamblebox and pay-to-win trappings, is one way to guarantee healthy game design for the players.

On the other hand, if I’m honest, I truly cannot think of an MMORPG with an optional subscription that isn’t pay-to-win in some way. They’re trying to incentivize you to sub, after all, so they have to make the perks worthwhile, and very rarely do they stop at cosmetics. My Trove sub makes experience and drops fall from the sky. My Ultima Online sub lets me own a house and run vendors and hoard most everything. I’d say that games like Elder Scrolls Online, which hands out generous amounts of cash-shop credit for subbing, are on the better end of this argument, but then there’s that pesky crafting bag to contend with.

What do you think: Is it possible for an MMORPG to offer an optional sub that isn’t pay-to-win in some way? Got a contender in mind?

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The Daily Grind: Do your MMORPG characters primarily wear in-game armor or cash-shop cosmetics?

Take a look at your main character in your main MMORPG right now. What is he or she wearing? And did you get it through play or from the cash shop?

This topic came to me as I was surfing the Guild Wars 2 Reddit earlier this week; a Redditor was polling players on whether they thought there was a good balance of cash-shop cosmetics vs. cosmetic gear acquired through actually playing the game. It’s a tiny bit hard to answer this one for Guild Wars 2, as multiple people pointed out, as you can convert the gold you get while playing legitimately into gems to buy cash-shop cosmetics (or just buy lockbox skins with gold from the gamblers). Plus, GW2 isn’t called Fashion Wars for nothing. But still: Almost all of my characters are running around in cash-shop cosmetics there. I may complain about the lack of new skins and the overabundance of buttcapes, but I like to spend money on games I want to support, and cosmetics are one of the least objectionable ways to do it. And GW2’s are still slick (vs. a lot of the in-game armor, which is grindy or group-centric).

In Trove, which is another of my favorite games lately, most of my characters are running around wearing at least core outfits from ancient Steam pack sales.

Do your MMORPG characters primarily wear in-game armor of cash-shop cosmetics? And do you see that as a problem, one way or another?

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Lord of the Rings Online wants to know what you want from your VIP sub

Never say the devs aren’t listening: Standing Stone Games apparently is.

Lord of the Rings Online forumgoers learned this lesson today when in a player-started thread from April about VIP subscription benefits, SSG RedPanda piped up to request even more feedback.

“I just wanted to pop in and say hi and let you know that we are definitely interested in hearing more ideas on these things,” RedPanda writes. “We’re not promising anything but we are here to listen.” In fact, the studio rep specifically asks what players want from gold and silver Hobbit presents (and what they don’t want) as well as what, beyond cosmetics, players want out of their VIP monthly gift.

So far, players are suggesting aids to reduce grinding, improve alting, and eliminate junk like low counts of potions; the community wish list also includes marks, mithril coins, experience-boosting skills, and special furniture. A few players have expressed boredom with cosmetics and minipets, too. If you play, make sure to hop over and take the mic.

Source: Official forums. With thanks to Tanek!

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Sea of Thieves ends sky ships, teases new cosmetics and customization

Sea of Thieves set sail with a brand-new patch this morning with better ammo crate positioning, UI tweaks, and new ship scuttling tips, plus tons of bug fixes, including the demise of “sky ships” – that fun bug where ships floated up to the sky when sinking. Also? No more earworms! “Players will no longer play the same shanty twice in a row.”

Do note that Rare says it’s still aware of bugs with not being able to view your character customization, the grey screen at launch, delayed achievements and commendations (stilL!) and missing DLC.

What’s on the horizon? “There’s rumour that a new shipment of clothing, items, weapons and ship customisations are on the horizon and heading for the Sea of Thieves!” Rare hints. “If you are saving yer coin for a pair of trousers, you might want to keep a weathered eye out for this arriving soon!”

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