deals

Humble Bundle and GOG.com cut deals for online games

Looking for a few good deals on MMOs and multiplayer games? Both Humble Bundle and GOG.com are running some sales right now that might cut you a deal on a title you’ve been eyeing.

Humble Bundle’s Sci-Fi Week includes price breaks on No Man’s Sky ($23.99), Osiris: New Dawn ($12.49), the standard version of Elite: Dangerous ($13.49), the commander deluxe version ($31.79), and the season pass for Elite: Dangerous Horizons ($17.99).

GOG.com’s Most Wanted Games Sale isn’t quite as relevant for the online gamer, although you can pick up Grim Dawn for a respectable $7.49, Torchlight for $3.79, and Torchlight II for $4.99.

Source: Humble Bundle, GOG.com. Thanks Dave!

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Dauntless charges into open beta on May 24

Dauntless is a game in which fleshy mortals willingly attack beasts twenty times their size, so this is not a title that deals in hesitant and half-hearted moves. In that spirit, the multiplayer behemoth battler has had enough of the protection of closed beta and will be dashing into its open beta phase next month on May 24th.

When the free-to-play open beta hits at the end of next month, it will include regular content updates and endgame activities. A cosmetic shop will be active to sell vanity items, and there will be no lootboxes in the game proper. The founder’s program will be ending on May 23rd, so if you want to secure one of those packages, you now have a deadline.

The closed beta phase started back in September 2017 and enjoyed a good measure of popularity, with over 100,000 players testing Dauntless to date. The studio said that an additional 700,000 gamers have lined up for the open beta experience.

Source: Press release

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Hearthstone enters the Witchwood on April 12

Is it Halloween already? In Hearthstone, it might as well be, as Blizzard is about to unleash the game’s creepiest expansion to date in just a week.

The Witchwood is coming out on April 12th, bringing players to the haunted realm of Gilneas, where a nearby witch has cursed the city with all sorts of doom and gloom. The expansion set is to be the first of three that Blizzard will roll out this year and includes 135 new cards, the “echo” card mechanic, and a new solo dungeon run called Monster Hunt.

Don’t forget to log into Hearthstone next week when the expansion launches to get three free card packs. Get caught up on The Witchwood with our extensive GDC preview and the cinematic trailer!

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GDC 2018: Yokozuna, big game data, and the future of MMO monetization

GDC isn’t E3. It isn’t PAX. It’s not even what I think stereotypical gamers can appreciate. But I think the Massively OP crowd is a different sort, and because of that, we can give you some content the other guys might not be talking to you about. Like data collection and monetization. They’re necessary evils, in that we armchair devs can generally see past mistakes rolled out again, but know those choices are being made in the pursuit of money.

So how do you make better games and money? Maybe try hiring some data scientists, not just to help with product testing and surveys, but with some awesome, AI-driven, deep learning tools. Like from Yokozuna Data, whose platform predicts individual player behavior. I was lucky enough to sit down with not only Design and Communication Lead Vitor Santos but Chief Data Scientist África Periáñez, whose research on churn prediction inspired me to contact the company about our interview in the first place!

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MMO Mechanics: The Fair Play Alliance and mechanising fairness

News of over 30 gaming companies taking a united stand against unfairness and toxicity in online game communities sprung out of GDC 2018 a few days ago, with some rather surprising company names making the list of those involved. The issue of toxic behaviour is a tough nut to crack, and these companies believe that the best way to tackle the issue is by pooling research and resources to share knowledge of what works and what doesn’t. It’s an interesting and complex idea that has got me thinking, so I just had to take up an issue of MMO Mechanics to discuss the potential implications for MMOs and near-MMOs.

In this edition of MMO Mechanics, I’ll look at the mission of the Fair Play Alliance, discuss the ground they’ve covered so far, explore a case study of how toxicity affects one involved MMO developer, and then will give my thoughts on mechanical rollouts that could be employed to help smash toxicity.

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It’s getting more expensive to join the Overwatch League

If you didn’t get in on the ground floor of the Overwatch League with a professional team of your own, just know that it’s going to cost you greatly to join up in the future.

This is because the popularity and success of the e-sports league is driving up the price of a team buy-in. Initially, the cost was $20 million for each of the 12 teams, but this looks to be on the rise for future franchise owners.

ESPN is estimating that, depending how the first season of OWL pans out, the second season could wield a buy-in price of $35M to $60M. “In the past three months, though, the Overwatch League has exceeded its revenue expectations, and several league sources said that the league is at almost four times its original projection. The league got a reported $90 million, two-year Twitch deal, and its two-year deals with HP Omen and Intel are worth $17 million and $10 million, respectively,” the news agency reported.

Source: ESPN via Blizzard Watch. Thanks Sally!

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Hearthstone gets wild and woolly this month

It’s hard to keep track of what year it is in Blizzard’s different games, but this much we do know: Hearthstone is kicking off the Year of the Mammoth with the most wild and woolly events the game has seen to date.

The dev team is several “wild” events that are scheduled to start on February 19th. Players can fight in a special arena that deals only with cards that are exclusive to the wild format, after which they can duke it out in the Wild Tavern Brawl or the Wild Brawliseum.

Looking ahead to next month, on March 1st Hearthstone will make some big changes to its ranked play. The gist here is that all future resets will knock players down only four ranks below where they were instead of hinging on stars. Also, the only way that the monthly card can be earned is by winning five games in ranked standard or wild.

Source: Hearthstone, press release

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EverQuesting: Frostfell blues and end of the year news for EverQuest II

Snow? Check. Good cheer? Check. Catchy tunes everywhere? Checkity check. Goblins and gigglegibbers in goofy get-ups? Great big check. New guide? Er…

Yes, it’s Frostfell time EverQuest II. And right about now is when I offer a guide to this wonderful winter event. Unfortunately, this year I won’t be. Actually it’s more of I can’t: I’m not being stubborn, there just isn’t anything to guide you through that hasn’t already been covered between the 2015 and 2016 guides. When the devs were passing out 2017 content, Frostfell was unfortunately skipped — or maybe it was out back recovering from too much celebrating last year! Whatever the scenario, there isn’t anything new to do, though there are a few new things to acquire or buy (eight new items at Santa Glug, five new ones at Gerbi Frostfoot, and three crafting scrolls.)

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Overwatch deals with trolls and smurfs

The complex and often times toxic environment of Overwatch continues to make the popular team shooter a source of controversy and attention. Even Game Director Jeff Kaplan seems fed up with it, publicly calling out a troll on the forums and giving direct examples of the player’s abrasive behavior.

“Our community has made it clear to us that toxicity is one of the top issues that needs to be addressed in this game,” Kaplan said. “As a result, we’re getting stricter and that means people are going to get suspended and banned for poor behavior. You’ve fallen into that category.”

Meanwhile, players in Overwatch’s competitive scene are grappling with the ongoing issue of “smurfs” — that is, multiple accounts run by the same person who is attempting to grab several spots in the top 500. While smurfing isn’t forbidden by the studio, some feel that it is unfair since it blocks other players from getting into the top 500. How widespread and prevalent smurfing is at this point is not exactly known, but there are suspicions that it is fairly rampant.

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Trion deals with DDOS attacks while ArcheAge dives into its Maelstrom update

Trion Worlds is reporting “intermittent” attacks on its Dallas hub over the last day that are causing connectivity issues for some of its online games, such as ArcheAge and Trove. The team is working with the local ISP providers to counter the attack and stabilize the servers for play.

“Please keep in mind that DDoS attacks are all too common and, for the most part, they don’t impact gameplay,” Trion said. “Our network engineers have setup substantial protections that allows us to mitigate the vast majority of these types of attacks. Without these efforts, taken by all game companies, any game under an attack such as this would simply be offline.”

It’s especially important for this to be resolved for ArcheAge, as today is the official launch of the game’s Maelstrom update. This patch contains a new raid organizational system, a non-RNG gear upgrade system, cross-server arenas, title collections, a redesigned folio, limited-time events, and the introduction of the Bloodsalt Bay naval combat arena.

Get the full scoop on Maelstrom with Massively OP’s interview on the update and its offerings!

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Guild Wars 2’s Hall of Chains raid wing first impressions

I promised you at the end of last week’s rundown of Guild Wars 2‘s fourth Living World season’s launch episode that I’d return this week with a first look at the new raid Hall of Chains and I never want to disappoint! While I haven’t stood toe to toe with each of the raid bosses yet, I’ve been glued to boss kill videos and have been gaining a feel for the fights I’m due to face. I’m delighted to explain my take on the new endgame content and I’m hoping that some of you are joining me in trying it out!

In this week’s Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll discuss each of the new raid bosses briefly and will outline the premise of the encounter mechanics. I won’t spend long outlining very detailed tips and tactics at this stage since I haven’t been hands-on with everything myself yet, though I will furnish you with some tactics guides as I get more experience post-holidays if there’s demand for them. Note that there will be spoilers for those who haven’t tried the content themselves yet, so bear that in mind before reading on. I’ll avoid totally spoilerific images and will hide big lore points behind tags.

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Conan Exiles deals with bed bugs while bringing the Xbox and PC into parity

After consuming the recent Conan Exiles newsletter, we are concerned that the Funcom team is succumbing to early winter madness over in Norway. At least, the studio’s gleeful talk of tackling literal bed bugs (as in, issues with bedrolls) and poetic descriptions of players leaping out of the water like dolphins is giving us that impression.

In all seriousness, it does sound like there’s a lot being done to this survival sandbox as the team scrambles to get as much work in as possible before the holidays. Chat windows are being cleaned up, war paint is on the way, and there’s something about a populated volcano that is on the way…

Xbox One players will be pleased to find that their version of the game was patched up this week to come into parity with the PC version. This means that the console Conans now have all of the newer features and fixes that their PC masters have been enjoying for a while now.

Don’t forget to party up with MJ tonight at 9:00 p.m. as she streams a new set of adventures from this survival sandbox!

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TERA deals out free Gunner gear, character slots, and weekend boom boxes

Is it too early to open your presents? TERA says it’s OK, so if Santa gets upset, we’re totally pointing fingers.

The action MMO pushed out its Miniguns update today, which turns out to be more promotions than content. Still, free stuff is always good, right? All players can log in from now through January 2nd to get a free Elin Gunner bundle that includes pink gear to speed level a character up to the cap.

All players will also enjoy a free additional character slot per account as long as they log in through December 8th. And all during next month, every weekend the game will pay out free boom boxes for every player that puts in at least three hours each weekend.

The update does contain one scrap of new in-game content, which is the hard mode for the RK-9 Kennel. New fight mechanics and a tougher doggy await a legion of pink-clad characters.

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