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PlayStation 4 heads into the end of its life cycle, making console MMOs nervous

No console lives forever, although it seems like the more recent generations have enjoyed lengthy runs. Sony delivered some disconcerting news to fans this week as it said that the PlayStation 4, which debuted back in 2013, is now heading into the end of its life cycle as hardware sales decrease.

This doesn’t mean that the console is going to be abandoned any time soon, just that Sony is shifting its hardware priorities elsewhere. Software sales are still expected to continue strong for the time being, and the company reported that the online PlayStation Network now has 80 million users. Sony told The Wall Street Journal that the next iteration of the popular platform is at least three years off.

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Perfect Ten: The unique pitfalls of licensed MMOs

Making a list of the “biggest” MMOs currently running is always an exercise in frustration. It’s easy to put a few things on the list – no one’s going to argue with placing World of Warcraft on such a list, for example – but then everything else always gets mired in opinions and controversy, and endless cycles of “why isn’t this game I love on there while another game I don’t like is there?!” I speak from experience.

Still, on our list of the healthiest MMOs at the moment, we’ve got only three licensed games: Neverwinter, Star Trek Online, and Star Wars: The Old Republic. Those are by no means the only entries on the licensed game list, of course, but there does seem to be something of a dearth of those. And perhaps that’s more understandable than it seems. For all that we talk about how one setting or another would be perfect for an MMO, there are some unique troubles you inevitably run into when you get into the licensed MMO shuffle.

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Neverwinter details the cursed lands of Ravenloft and Barovia zone

The world of Ravenloft is a perfectly nice place to visit in Neverwinter. There are slight caveats, of course; to really enjoy it you just have to make sure you plan on never leaving. Or never being free of horrors in the middle of the night. Or shrieking terrors in the middle of the day. Or ever-present, all-surrounding mists. So it’s actually not very nice at all and you can’t visit, because once you’re there you’re there forever. Helpfully, this is all explained in the latest lore entry on the official site.

Players will be chasing on the trail of the legend of Strahd, a nobleman who gave the nomadic Vistaria free passage through his lands (sounds like a decent guy) and also damned himself and everyone near him to an eternity of torment (less decent). If you’re unfamiliar with the Ravenloft setting, it’s a good quick primer about why the members of your immediate friend circle who are familiar with it respond to requests to enter with a flip-off and a laugh.

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 170: Mild West Online

On this week’s show, Bree and Justin do their darndest to shape the MMO industry by holding up Wild West Online as a cautionary tale and talking about how studios need to think before applying real-world labels to games.

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.

Listen to the show right now:

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Neverwinter gets bitten by Ravenloft’s gothic horror

Dungeons and Dragons Online isn’t the only MMO that’s vacationing in the moonlit lands of Barovia. Cryptic announced this week that it is bringing Neverwinter into the Ravenloft campaign with a special module that is coming next month.

The Ravenloft update, Neverwinter’s 14th module, will introduce that game’s playerbase to a gothic horror setting. It will include a new adventure zone, tarot card readings by Madame Eva, a day/night cycle, heroic encounters, and a challenging Castle Ravenloft dungeon.

“The mists of Barovia pull adventurers to the Domains of Dread and into the land of the mighty vampire — Strahd von Zarovich,” the press release said. “In the darkest corners of this foreign land, adventurers will find new stories from quests and instances; all-new repeatable adventures with newly designed monster hunts and heroic encounters, where the creatures of the mist must be destroyed; and expanded endgame progression with a new campaign culminating in a journey into Castle Ravenloft itself. Heroes of Neverwinter must work together to free this cursed land from Strahd’s control.”

You can check out the extremely brief teaser trailer after the break.

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Perfect Ten: You got your MMORPG in my tabletop RPG

Tabletop games and MMORPGs seem like they would go well together, but remarkably they often don’t. That’s true for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is that we have a lot more games adapting different source material separately. You can certainly run a Star Wars: The Old Republic-themed game with a Star Wars tabletop system, but neither one is based on the other. (Technically there was a supplement published for it, but that was covering the first two single-player games, which themselves were based on that tabletop system.)

But there have still been incursions from MMOs into the tabletop space, and MMOs which pluck that fertile ground for the seeds of inspiration. So let’s spend today looking at these games, when you can log off of your favorite MMO, gather around a table with your friends, and keep playing your favorite MMO. More or less.

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Daybreak update: Renova boss questioned over Columbus Nova’s alleged payment to Michael Cohen

MMOs and politics once again collide this week as last night CNN broke the news that Robert Mueller’s FBI team has zeroed in on Russian oligarch and Renova Group chairman Viktor Vekselberg as part of the Special Counsel investigation into Russian election interference, questioning Vekselberg about money Renova’s US “affiliate” transferred to US President Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen. (Tangentially, those allegations were brought to light by Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti.)

And the name of that US affiliate under investigation? Yeah, it’s Columbus Nova, the firm that claimed it acquired MMORPG studio Daybreak back in 2015. Here we go again.

“FBI agents asked Vekselberg about payments his company’s American affiliate, Columbus Nova, made to Cohen, according to one source,” CNN reports. “The Russian was questioned as well about $300,000 in political donations by Andrew Intrater, Vekselberg’s American cousin who is the head of Columbus Nova, sources said.” Columbus Nova claimed to CNN that it is “owned and controlled by Americans”; it further denies any use of “Columbus Nova as a conduit for payments” to Cohen.

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The MOP Up: Battlerite royale (May 6, 2018)

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 TERANeverwinterBattleriteThe Black DeathRoyal BloodSaga of LucimiaSkyforgeProsperous UniversePokemon GoOcean Legend, Ultima OnlineReign of GuildsDofusFinal Fantasy XIDestiny, and Osiris: New Dawn, all waiting for you after the break!

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Perfect World is sunsetting Swordsman Online and Jade Dynasty as teams move on to ‘bigger and better things’

Perfect World announced two sunsets yesterday: Four-year-old Swordsman Online and nine-year-old Jade Dynasty will close down in June. Here’s the official announcement for Swordsman players posted yesterday evening.

“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the shutdown of all Swordsman (SWM) servers on June 5th, 2018. On that day, your SWM character will no longer be accessible. This was a very difficult decision to make, but we are grateful for everything that you have put into the game and all the wonderful communities that have come from SWM. We no longer feel there is room for SWM to grow, but the development teams are moving on to bigger and better things! As amends to our most dedicated fans, we are making sure to offer refunds for the last few months.”

The Jade Dynasty announcement is nearly identical, with the same shutdown date and promise of refunds. Cash shop currency is no longer available for purchase; currency purchases made since February 1st will apparently be converted into Arc credit for your account.

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The Daily Grind: Do you buy the Daybreak-owns-Standing Stone Games rumor?

Buried in the Daybreak ruckus of last week was the rumor that Daybreak is not in fact merely the publisher of Standing Stone Games’ MMOs (LOTRO and DDO) – that instead it owns SSG outright. It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard the rumor, especially once it really heated up earlier this month when SSG’s Rob Ciccolini let slip that Daybreak Austin’s Jack Emmert was his “direct boss” in an interview. I have my own reasons to believe it’s true. But as they say, it’s not about what you know – it’s about what you can prove.

Daybreak declined to comment on the question of the full extent of its stake in SSG when I inquired last week; a spokesperson told me Daybreak wouldn’t comment on rumors (which is worth a chuckle since Daybreak commenting on the Russian sanction rumors is how it got into this mess). And sure, Daybreak doesn’t have to give its customers or the media a complete family tree. But given that Daybreak’s apparently been misrepresenting its own ownership for the last 3+ years, you’d think maybe they’d come clean just this once, as this isn’t a good look – which is why MMORPG players have dug up the bit about how a Daybreak VP appears to be an SSG director.

What do you think – do you buy the rumor that Daybreak owns Standing Stone Games, in full or in part? And if so, why do you think they’ve both been presenting it as nothing more than a publisher/developer relationship since the Turbine split?

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The MOP Up: Neverwinter’s Lost City of Omu arrives on consoles (April 29, 2018)

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 Project GenomSplatoon 2ClosersWorld of SpeedRuneScape, and Neverwinter, all waiting for you after the break!

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Enter to win a Neverwinter painted spider mount on Xbox One and PS4 from PWE and MOP!

To celebrate the arrival of the Lost City of Omu expansion for Neverwinter on console this week, PWE has granted Massively OP 20 Painted Spider mount keys to give away to our readers: 10 apiece for PlayStation 4 (Blue-Spotted version) and Xbox One (Tropic-Colored version). Arachnophobes should probably nope right out now!

“The visionary Suratuk is back at it again with a pair of limited run, custom- mounts. Freshly-coated and prepared to scurry into battle with the release of Lost City of Omu, these vicious arachnids didn’t become Blue-Spotted and Tropic-Colored without inflicting several bites on the artist.”

Both grant +50 movement speed and include two insignia slots. The codes can be redeemed only once per account and expire at the end of 2020, and the mounts are bind-on-pickup. Critically, these codes are redeemable on console only in the regions as outlined below, so if you’re a PC person, you can skip this one!

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Leaderboard: Does the Daybreak fiasco affect whether you play its MMOs?

Over the last couple of days, we’ve been covering the Daybreak scandal – specifically, how concerns over the impact of government sanctions on Daybreak’s parent companies would affect the games, which spiraled into Daybreak publicly denying that it was ever owned by the company it said repeatedly bought it in 2015 and scrubbing its website and wikipedia of references to Columbus Nova’s acquisition. We’ve all watched on, eyes wide, dutifully recording gaslighting in progress.

But then I have that luxury: I don’t play any Daybreak games and haven’t played any of them seriously since SOE shuttered the best MMORPG ever made. So I can look at the whole situation as the dumpster fire it is, and not as the doom of my favorite MMO, since it already killed that.

Many of you are not in my position. You play DCUO, EverQuest II, PlanetSide 2, even EverQuest. You might even be playing H1Z1, although that’s less likely if you’re reading Massively OP. Or maybe the Standing Stone games Daybreak publishes, LOTRO and DDO, are your thing, and you’re not convinced by yesterday’s vague Twitch sidenote that everything’s probably fine. You are watching on in horror, wondering what will happen to your MMO homes if Daybreak implodes. You might even be pretty sure the games will be OK but aren’t so sure you want to put your own money into the mess.

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