Yesterday, Massively OP put together a piece on MMO company Daybreak Games Company and its corporate overlords, chronicling the US government’s asset freeze of Russian megacorp Renova on down the chain to its subsidiary Columbus Nova, which has for three years been the nominal owner of Daybreak since it parted ways with Sony and dropped the SOE name.
The twist? When reached for comment on the story, Daybreak informed the editors of Massively OP that our understanding of Daybreak’s ownership was in error. Stunning the MMORPG community and beyond, the company spokesperson insisted it had “no affiliation with Columbus Nova” and that former Columbus Nova rep Jason Epstein “is and has always been the primary owner and executive chairman of Daybreak Game Company” since its founding in February of 2015. When pushed for clarification, Daybreak told us that the “distinction was never corrected in the past, so [it is] correcting that now.”
I’m no stranger to the allure of alts in MMO, but there are some games where the content is so massive that I don’t have the time nor energy to level up a new character even if I truly wish to be playing a different class at endgame. As such, I really wish that there was an option — free or paid — to swap out a class for another one of equal level in my games (a feature that FFXIV does quite well).
I put this out on Twitter and got a lot of positive responses to it, with Bree chipping in, “This was one of the major perks of Star Wars Galaxies’ NGE, eventually — the ability to just pay in-game cash to switch combat classes and keep your levels/etc. It’s always slightly jarring to me that so few other MMORPGs have this feature.”
Trion Worlds’ Nicholas McDowell rebutted my wish by saying, “I understand the desire to switch, but that starts getting tricky to do in a way that doesn’t lead to an unsatisfactory experience. Instant level boost is probably the best way to do this in any RPG.”
What do you think? Would you appreciate the option to swap your MMO class, especially if you don’t want to lose your other achievements and progression?
Note: We’ve updated this piece heavily at the end with Daybreak’s statements and further links.
A chain of business connections could have a real and dire impact on Daybreak Games Company following the freezing of company assets by the U.S. government.
On April 6th, the U.S. Department of the Treasury targeted several Russian oligarchs and froze their assets due to “destabilizing activities” by these figures (including suspected interference in the 2016 U.S. election). One of the oligarchs so punished was Viktor Vekselberg, who owns the Renova Group conglomerate and its subsidiary, Columbus Nova.
Columbus Nova, you may recall, is the parent company of Daybreak Games. The U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control has given Renova and other Russian companies until June 5th to “wind down operations, contracts, or other agreements” involving these figures.
Did you think slipping player numbers were going to do in the battle royale grand-daddy? Nope. Free-to-play must have been a big boost, as Daybreak announced today that it’s porting H1Z1 to PS4. Open beta is set to begin on May 22nd, with both signups and a preorder bundle ($29.99) available presumably as soon as the landing page starts working.
“H1Z1 on PS4 is designed specifically for the console and focuses exclusively on the core elements that make battle royale exciting,” Daybreak’s PR says. “The game features a new weapon progression system, fully reworked UI, and new weapons and gear.” The company is touting a “tailor-made” control scheme for PS4, a “grab-and-go” equipment system, and new progression mechanics.
And lest you forget that this is the game Star Wars Galaxies fans can come home to,
“The crafting system has also been removed from the game.”
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Uncharted Waters Online, The Division, Paladins, TERA, Reign of Guilds, War Thunder, Escape from Tarkov, Magic the Gathering Arena, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, Wakfu, ARK Park, EverQuest II, Pokemon Go, Elder Scrolls Online, Crossout, EverQuest, Neverwinter, Citadel, and Kritika Online, all waiting for you after the break!
It may be hard to believe, but it has already been about four years since SOE decided to close down the troubled yet cult favorite Vanguard: Saga of Heroes. On July 31, 2014, the game world went dark, and many players found themselves saying farewell to Telon for good.
While I was not a regular player of Vanguard, I did admire the game for its interesting concepts (like its diplomacy system), its gorgeous visuals, and — pertinent to this column — its soundtrack. There was a lot of artistry involved in this title, and while it was hampered in many ways for many reasons, Vanguard left a legacy that is still fondly remembered by some.
Part of that legacy is its music, and other than screenshots and recollections, it is the only part of Vanguard that we can still experience today. The soundtrack was composed by Todd Masten, who has worked on many other video games such as the Age of Empires series. So let us take a trip back to this fantasy MMO and hear the music of a dead world brought back to life.
Get ready to level your butts off, because EverQuest is tossing a surprise bonus weekend to players for this week’s unexpected downtime. From now through the end of Sunday, all servers have activated a 25% bonus XP boon that should help everyone made up the lost time.
“On Wednesday, our live server patch was met with a number of issues that led to a lengthy downtime,” Daybreak explained. “We appreciate you all being patient with us as we worked to bring the servers back up, and wanted to show our appreciation by granting all players some extra experience to make up for the lost game time.”
Earlier this month, Pantheon’s community team tweeted out a question that keeps coming back to me: “What motivates you to play an MMORPG for long periods of time, as in months, sometimes, years?” My first reaction was a pretty common one I bed and was true for me for a long time: friends and guildies! I certainly played some games far longer than I would have otherwise because I wanted to hang out with friends (EverQuest in particular is coming to mind).
But in recent years, when I already “see” my friends and guildies every day in external chats, I’d found games need some other draw too. Housing is probably the biggest one. I don’t usually get sucked in for dailies or anything like that, but give me a house that I love and want to keep up – that I’ll not only log in for but pay for, as my continuing Ultima Online fees prove.
What keeps you logging into MMORPGs over a long period of time?
Massively OP reader Steve wants us to revisit the Daily Grind on making death more meaningful without making it more annoying. His letter was long, so let me paraphrase a bit:
“It feels to me like underlying point was, ‘MMOs are too easy, so how do we make them harder?’ The question of video game difficulty is something that is seldom ever tackled head-on, as it tends to draw out a somewhat vocal minority. There are so many worthy topics about how people define difficulty, twitch skills vs. depth, easy vs. hard, difficulty vs. accessibility, easy vs. engaging, shallowness vs. depth, and so on. These are things I’d love to really see discussed more online, and very few sites will actually touch it. But I think that MOP’s community is overall mature enough to actually have some discussions about this without it devolving into a fist fight.”
I’m sure you’ll prove him right! Right, guys? Guys? So let’s talk about MMO difficulty in this week’s Massively Overthinking. What do we really mean when we talk about “difficulty” in MMORPGs? Are games easier than they used to be, and if so, is there something studios should do to change that?
For those playing the now-free H1Z1 battle royale, a small Thursday patch might hold a few changes to improve your game experience.
It seems as though the primary purpose of this patch is to optimize the game’s performance, an effort which is vital to any PvP-focused title. Players using older computers will see the most improvement, although Daybreak is helping everyone out by putting an end to exuberant players who keep spamming the celebration emote.
Other tweaks include reducing the match countdown timer, showing kill receipts in team spectate mode, forbidding players from getting around ping restrictions by grouping up, and allowing players access to the map right away when going into Fort Destiny.
Now that Lord of the Rings Online
has emerged from Mordor, it’s preparing to go back in the future. SSG’s Rob Ciccolini and Jerry Snook
opened up about next couple of updates with MMO Central, teasing an epic confrontation with the giant spider Shelob. Before this takes place, however, Update 23 is going to deliver what sounds like a new region and lots of new instances.
“Our next update will move towards the Grey Mountains, but as we expand we expect to have some reference or maybe even a short appearance because that will be the beginning of [Shelob’s] storyline,” said Ciccolini.
With Project Gorgon now out on Steam early access, many first-time visitors to this strange game are feeling out the world and its systems. So what are they discovering?
Tales of the Aggronaut said that he was “hooked” when he put in a good weekend: “Part of the charm of this game is that it plops you into the game with no real warning or advisement about what you should be doing.”
“There’s never any doubting the sheer personality evident in every aspect of the game,” recommended Inventory Full. “The enthusiasm and good nature of the tiny development team sweeps all cynicism away.”
Project Gorgon not your cup of tea? Join us after the break for blog essays on Second Life, RIFT Prime, Shroud of the Avatar, and even Dungeons & Dragons!
Video games have always been a remarkably insular field; that’s the nature of development. Someone produces Super Mario Bros, and a few years later Sonic the Hedgehog sounds like a really good idea for some reason. But then you have games like The Great Giana Sisters, games that don’t try to just copy parts of what made the inspiration good but just copy the whole thing with one or two changes.
For normal video games, this can work out decently; a game that just doesn’t get much traction still sells some copies, hopefully. Just because Croc wasn’t Spyro didn’t mean that no one bought the former. But for online games, these trend-chasing games are almost always dramatic failures that litter the landscape. Why is that? Well, there are pretty good reasons, and today seems like a good time to talk about that.