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South Korea's Netmarble to launch ambitious IPO

South Korean Tencent affiliate Netmarble announced today that it will launch an initial public offering to the tune of $2.35 billion US. That works out to approximately 17 million newly issued shares.

As GI.biz explains, Netmarble is hoping to pay off debts and increase its holdings, building "towards a state goal of being in the top five global gaming companies by 2020."

Reuters calls the IPO the second-largest for the country, sandwiched between two Samsung IPOs.

In the west, the company is probably best known for games like Lineage 2: Revolution, Prius, and Uncharted Waters; its recent partnership with Disney came with a license for Marvel and Star Wars titles as well.

Source: Reuters via GI.biz

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Club Penguin players make a game out of getting speed banned

If your MMO's overlords suddenly announced that they were going to shut down your game in a month's time, how would you spend those remaining days? For some of the players of Club Penguin, the answer to that is "try to get banned as quickly and memorably as possible."

Apparently there's this whole crazy fad going on right now in Club Penguin where new and existing players are making a game out of getting banned faster than anyone else. The goal is to make a brand-new account and time yourself while violating the game's rules and triggering an automatic ban. The current record to beat? One player used a few special tools to go from nothing to full-on ban in just 29 seconds.

The speedbanning community even has its own subreddit, bannedfromclubpenguin, in which players share their stories and techniques. Just so that you know, Club Penguin gives everyone a single free bad word before lowering the banhammer. You learn something new every day!

Source: Polygon

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The Daily Grind: How young were you when you played your first MMO?

We were remarking in the Massively OP office the other day how weird it was that Club Penguin's shutdown was getting mainstream news attention in a way that many more important and long-running titles (Asheron's Call anyone?) were not. One reason why this might be, apart from its Disney connection, is that for some players, Club Penguin was their introduction to online worlds and they still retain a strong emotional connection because we tend to fondly remember our first everythings. Never underestimate nostalgia!

MMORPGs as we know them today weren't really around when I was growing up, but I have no doubt that many of our readers cut their teeth on titles at a much younger age. How young were you when you played your first MMO? Was it a kiddie title like Wizard101 or an all-ages pick like World of Warcraft? Were you one of those who picked up RuneScape because it was free and you didn't have access to your parents' credit cards?

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Blizzard sells toys, ZeniMax buys VR studio, and Jagex brings RuneScape to Amazon Echo

Consider this your triple dose of MMO industry news for the day so that you can be the talk of the water cooler tomorrow.

Activision Blizzard might be getting into the toy market, as it has opened up a new consumer products division and hired a former Disney and Mattel exec to run it. What will they be selling? It's not clear yet, but they use PR words like "touchpoints," so chew on that for a bit.

Meanwhile, ZeniMax announced that it has acquired Escalation Studios, which has specialized in mobile, console, and VR games. Escalation might have been brought in to help with the Fallout VR project underway at Bethesda.

Finally, Jagex put out a press release stating that it has launched an audio RuneScape experience to the Amazon Echo. Fans can download the app RuneScape Quests: One Piercing Note to play this interactive murdery mystery.

Source: Press release, VentureBeat, Games Industry

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Disney's Club Penguin to close down in March to make way for its sequel

After an 11-and-a-half year run, Disney's Club Penguin is preparing to close its doors. Don't cry too hard; the move is one of those strange good news, bad news situations. The reason for the shutdown of both the mobile and desktop MMO is that Disney is preparing to launch a mobile successor called Club Penguin Island around the same time.

"As part of the launch of Club Penguin Island in March, we will be transitioning to an entirely new platform, and, we’ve made the decision to discontinue the current Club Penguin game on desktop and mobile devices on March 29th, 2017," Disney announced.

Club Penguin launched back in October 2005 and was purchased by Disney in 2007. Disney has a huge party planned for the game in February and is encouraging players to reserve their names for Club Penguin Island.

Source: Club Penguin. Thanks Ness199X!

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Battle Bards Episode 90: Wizard101

Expecto MMOsium! The Battle Bards have donned their robes and taken to casting nasty spells on each other with their wands, all in the spirit of today’s soundtrack — Wizard101. This surprisingly expansive kid MMORPG visits a wide range of genres and has a score to match. But was the experience magical or mundane?

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunes, Google Play, TuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

We’ve got Episode 90: Wizard101 and the show notes for you after the break!

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Jukebox Heroes: MMO music for the holidays

I absolutely adore Christmas music -- in moderation and in season. I keep to strict personal rules not to listen to it before Black Friday or after New Year's Eve, which for me keeps it special and doesn't overstay its welcome. There's just a sound about Christmas music, both religious and secular, that is so happy, hopeful, and unique. It brings out so many great emotions and coats the holiday season in an extra layer of musical joy.

As we downshift for the holiday season, taking a break from the routine to spend some extra time with friends and family, I want to give you the gift of a half-dozen MMORPG tunes that embrace the Christmas music genre. Some are new, some are traditional, and some are just plain weird.

If you've listened to Frank Sinatra and the Beach Boys one too many time this season already, here's something different that ties together your love of gaming with the holidays.

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Guardians of Ember denies misappropriating League of Legends concept art, tackles server issues

Following the early access launch of Runewaker's Guardians of Ember this week, Massively OP was made aware of player-floated allegation that the studio had misappropriated artwork for advertisements it's running for the game.

The original artist is Joon Ahn, a former Disney and LucasArts artist who now works for Riot Games. Indeed, his original piece famously features Katarina from League of Legends. The insinuation from our tipster was that Runewaker had used Ahn's image to create its own image for advertising GoE.

We reached out to Runewaker and InselGames PR for their side of the story and were told that it's merely a coincidence as it's a common pose.

"Our artwork is all drawn from scratch. Having similarities with other artworks are purely coincidence," the studio says. "Besides, the character pose obviously appears in several scenes including Black Widow in Captain America."

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Hyperspace Beacon: Where can SWTOR go from here?

Have you ever watched a great movie and ever wished that the director would make a sequel but also not make a sequel, all at the same time? More often, we are usually begging for a sequel only to be disappointed by it. Star Wars had the exact opposite effect to on me. I thought the sequel was better than the original. However, when Return of the Jedi released, I can't say that I was begging for a sequel to that. I'm not a fool; I wanted more Star Wars movies, but we hit the happily-ever-after moment. The story was done.

I won’t dive too far into the spoiler territory just yet, but it’s safe to say that with Knights of the Eternal Throne that the story for Star Wars: The Old Republic is done.

There have been some movies that wrapped up nicely that also did well when they received a sequel. The Terminator is the first example that comes to my mind. The sequel did just as well as the original, but that is rarer than the opposite happening. Although the Star Wars universe continued to turn with the books, when the creator went back to tell the beginning of the story, it fell flat. I have a fear that the same thing likely could happen to the story in SWTOR.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 95: Rising from the ashes

December isn't slowing down as we barrel into the holidays, and the podcasters are delighted with all of the hot news and revelations (literally!) from the past week. In this show, the co-hosts talk about Revelation's launch, the reveal of Ashes of Creation, geek out over Elder Scrolls Online's housing, and more.

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

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The Game Archaeologist: Mark Jacobs on Mythic's early online games, part 1

When you bring up the name "Mythic Entertainment," chances are that most gamers are going to immediately think of the studio's two major MMOs, Warhammer Online and Dark Age of Camelot. Perhaps Imperator Online might come into the conversation, perhaps not. But what is fascinating to me is that Mythic had a lot more than a pair of MMOs under its belt.

Since the formation of the studio in the mid-1990s, Mythic's team developed well over a dozen titles, many of which featured online multiplayer and other elements that would eventually lead into the company releasing DAoC to widespread acclaim in 2001. I've been curious what these older titles were like and how they contributed to the formation of Mythic's MMOs, and so rather than get all of my information from second-hand sources, I went straight to City State Entertainment's Mark Jacobs to ask him about games like Aliens Online, Spellbinder, and Darkness Falls. Considering that the man is still working on spiritual successors to the games he was involved with decades ago, I thought it would be great to get his perspective.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: Amazing Guild Wars 2 in-game Halloween costumes

I've devoured all of my homemade pumpkin pasties and downed the last of my butterbeer while enjoying the Halloween festivities in Guild Wars 2, gaining some very pretty treats for my playtime. One of my favourite parts of the Halloween season is seeing characters in costume, though: Only in GW2 -- aka Fashion Wars -- will you see so many characters getting into the season while playing the Mad King's games and generally being festive. The best effort I put forward this year was to apply more Abyss dye to smoke out my usual armour colour scheme and equip some spookier weapon skins, so I'm always blown away by the effort some people make to get into the spooky spirit. Costuming is a year-long pursuit for many players, but Halloween seems to bring out the most awesome character cosplays and gives me a perfect opportunity to showcase the talent in the GW2 community.

In this edition of Flameseeker Chronicles, I'm going to showcase some of my favourite character costumes from 2016, as spotted in-game, spied on the season-focused Guild Wars 2 Reddit threads, and during my random browsing of far too many GW2 YouTube videos. Be sure to add screenshots of your costumes in the comments for me to check out, and don't forget to share any real-life character cosplays you wore as well!
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Jukebox Heroes: MMORPG music for a haunted Halloween

You simply can't have a good and proper Halloween without a perfect soundtrack to back you up. Sure, you could just pop in one of those tired old sound effects cassette tapes (kids: ask your history teacher what cassette tapes are) and call it a day. Me? I prefer some genuinely atmospheric tunes straight from the games I love.

Today I'm going to put together a mix tape for your darkest dreams and your silliest spooks. It's Halloween, done MMO-style, and the only way to get to the dawn is to dive deep into the terrors of the night with gleeful abandon. Take my hand and walk with me, and don't worry if you start hearing voices murmuring just behind your left ear. That means they like you.

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