electronic arts

Megacorp known to MMO gamers primarily for its ownership of BioWare’s Star Wars: The Old Republic. EA has previously been the steward of Mythic Entertainment (which in turn once controlled Ultima Online and Dark Age of Camelot) as well as The Sims Online, Warhammer Online, and Dawngate.

Global Chat: Why you need to be playing Warframe

You know what’s one MMO that seems to be capturing the interest of a lot of gamers these days? Warframe. It seems to be sucking players in and surprising newcomers even four years after its debut.

Warframe lends itself to replay in quite a number of different ways,” noted Why I Game in an extensive review. I Has PC is gushing over the various Warframe discoveries: “There is something for everyone here, all wrapped up in a tight, beautiful gameplay package. I have read people on Reddit learning new things about the game after putting in over 1000 hours already.”

Warframe not for you? This week’s edition of Global Chat points you toward MMO essays on the joys of climbing, grabbing free stuff in games, and the pain of healing a group of idiots. Check it out below!

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The Daily Grind: What’s keeping you from going back to a favorite MMO?

It’s weird to think that I’ve been playing Star Wars: The Old Republic on and off since its release. Seems like such a long time ago. I’ve had great memories in that game and still appreciate the work that the team put into the cinematic stories, voice acting, and the occasional moral choice.

But as of late, it’s been more “off” than “on,” especially following the most recent expansion. I don’t like the subscription-locked endgame system, and pretty much everyone keeps advising me just to finish the story and then ditch the game. That’s disheartening to me. So I’ve been waiting to see what BioWare has in store for the long-term future. Depending on the direction that the game goes, I could see going back. Just not right now.

What’s keeping you from going back to one of your favorite MMOs? Is it a change, a lack of friends, or something else entirely?

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Leaderboard: What do you expect out of live MMORPG events in 2017?

Earlier this month, Black Desert GMs ran a live in-game event. I was super excited to hear about something like that in a newer MMORPG until I saw some of the complaints. Apparently, the event amounted to a “mysterious stranger” played by what I assume is a GM, who arrived on Valencia 6 and started “gathering souls,” i.e., murdering everyone in sight with a scythe, until players took him down.

To me, that’s not really a live event. That’s the sort of obnoxious thing GMs used to do in classic EverQuest, inhabit sand giants and just start massacring newbs (less funny back when deaths cost you experience).

I’m jaded; I’ve seen live events in Ultima Online for so long that my bar is way higher than just powertripping GMs on a god character. I expect a long-running storyline, discussion, choices, a purpose to the interaction that elevates it above, well, a world boss. What do you expect out of live MMORPG events in 2017?

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The Netherlands joins Belgium in investigating lockboxes as games of chance

Earlier this week, we reported on a move by the Belgian Gaming Commission to investigate lockboxes/lootboxes in games like Star Wars Battlefront 2 to determine whether they constitute games of chance to the degree that they require regulation meant for gambling. Now it appears the Dutch have joined them.

According to NU.nl, the Dutch Gaming Authority is also investigating whether this particular game mechanic falls under the banner of online gambling, which according to the news outlet is currently banned in the Netherlands, while games of chance on the whole are subject to special licensing rules. According to the regulatory group, it is “still in a research phase.”

EA has insisted that Star Wars Battlefront 2’s lootcrates “are not gambling” for all the usual reasons online gaming studios trot out to confuse people about what games of chance are: that players win something, even if it’s lint, and that players can earn crates via play. Last night, the company announced it was disabling all microtransactions while it sorted out the continuing uproar.

Source: NU.nl via Eurogamer. Cheers, Veldan!

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Massively Overthinking: Are modern games too cheap?

This week’s Massively Overthinking topic is a submission from reader and commenter camelotcrusade, who takes the industry’s current fight over monetization in a different direction from lockboxes. “Are modern games too cheap?” he asks, probably slowly reaching into a can of worms with a wicked gleam in his eye.

“When you think about it, many other things we buy have increased in price over the last decade but AAA games are still expected to be a maximum of $60, with many of us waiting for sales (or for free-to-play). Meanwhile, games everywhere are adding shops, post-release content, and DLC galore with increasingly aggressive pricing models. How much of this is to make-up margins they can’t capture up-front? How much should an AA game cost in 2017? $75? $90? Is there a price point where lockboxes, gambling, and in-game stores could focus on value-add instead of survival? And how did we get here? Whose fault is it? And how do we get out of this, or is ‘would you like a game with your store’ the future as we know it?”

Let’s talk money!

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Star Wars: The Old Republic delays the release of the Yavin warzone from patch 5.6

Players of Star Wars: The Old Republic will be able to start taking part in the latest bit of the traitor storyline with the release of patch 5.6 on November 28th. Here’s the bad news, though: The patch will not include the new Yavin warfront. There are still some issues with the new map, so it’s getting delayed very slightly until patch 5.6.1 scheduled for December 12th.

Everything else that’s planned for November 28th is still in place; that includes Legacy-wide credits, a character boost item to bring a character to 70, a new flashpoint, a new boss in Gods From The Machine, and many more things for players to do. (Also improvements to group finder queues, so it’ll be easier to find other players to do things with.) You can even read some new lore exploring the events leading up to the next set of quests centered around the traitor story. You’ll just need to wait a little bit longer for a new warzone, that’s all.

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EA disables all Star Wars Battlefront 2 microtransaction crud – for now

Whenever you see a studio call fans “passionate,” it’s almost always shorthand for “rioting with pitchforks and torches.” Guess what Star Wars Battlefront 2’s execs are calling its players this week?

DICE GM Oskar Garbrielson apologized to the game’s “passionate” community about the missteps that EA made in locking its characters behind a prohibitive grind and aggressively pushing microtransactions. He said that the team is disabling all in-game purchases with crystals, at least until the company can figure out a better way to implement them:

“But as we approach the worldwide launch, it’s clear that many of you feel there are still challenges in the design. We’ve heard the concerns about potentially giving players unfair advantages. And we’ve heard that this is overshadowing an otherwise great game. This was never our intention. Sorry we didn’t get this right. We hear you loud and clear, so we’re turning off all in-game purchases. We will now spend more time listening, adjusting, balancing and tuning. This means that the option to purchase crystals in the game is now offline, and all progression will be earned through gameplay. The ability to purchase crystals in-game will become available at a later date, only after we’ve made changes to the game. We’ll share more details as we work through this.”

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Star Wars Battlefront 2: The AMA, Wall Street, and the Belgian gambling commission

In case you ever wanted to sniff the distinct scent of internet dumpster fire, you probably should’ve gone to the Star Wars Battlefront II DICE developer AMA on Reddit yesterday and watched that EA world burn. Almost 30,000 comments later, EA’s handpicked community masseuses didn’t walk back any of the specific business model shenanigans or the “sense of pride and accomplishment” blither, and players are actually madder now than they were when they downvoted EA’s comments 677,000 times on Monday.

Meanwhile,

  • Wall Street is freaking out over the potential stock hit to EA should the game launch poorly thanks to angry gamers.
  • Belgian authorities are reportedly investigating SWBF2 (via GIbiz) to determine whether its design amounts to a money-fueled game of chance, in which case it would be subject to gambling laws and potentially be fined or censored.
  • Players have assessed that it’d take over 4500 hours of play or $2100 to unlock everything in Star Wars: Battlefront 2 as the game’s monetization is currently set.
  • Finally, that “EA dev” who claimed he’d received death threats? It’s no longer clear he’s an EA dev, let alone that he received death threats, and he disappeared from social media after Kotaku went digging. Astroturfer? Hmm.
Source: Reddit. With thanks to Sorenthaz and Miol.

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Hyperspace Beacon: Assessing SWTOR one week after the big server merges

Many people believe that server merges are innately bad because in games like ArcheAge (or even all the way back to Star Wars Galaxies), they were done completely wrong or the game itself wasn’t designed for its servers to ever consolidate. However, other MMOs – RIFT comes to mind – have nearly perfected server merges. And for the most part, server merges help the game and its population. Because many of the smaller servers combine together with larger servers, there are more people around, group-finder queues tend to pop faster, PvP is more dynamic, and roleplayers can reach the all-important critical mass.

If I were to just look at the Star Wars: The Old Republic server merges from the perspective of the overall benefits of combining different server communities, I would have zero issue with them. SWTOR is one of those games that has no innate issues with combining server save for players losing character names. It could be done without losing character names, and I will get into the flaws of that system in a bit.

Now, let’s talk about my specific perspective having experienced two server merges by BioWare, then we will get into the details of how this latest one affected those in my community.

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The Stream Team: New chapter on a new server in SWTOR’s Knights of the Fallen Empire

With the Star Fortress destroyed, Massively OP’s Larry and MJ can return to the main storyline in SWTOR’s KOTFE expansion. They are even getting close to finishing! But they will be doing it all on a newly merged server. Farewell, Ebon Hawk; you will be missed. Tune in live at 2:00 p.m. to decide the fate of MJ’s Chiss Agent in Chapter XV, the next episode of Choose My Alignment.

What: Star Wars: The Old Republic
Who: Larry Everett & MJ Guthrie
When: 2:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, November 15th, 2017

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Former SWTOR dev talks about designing ethical lockboxes

An extensive Twitter thread from former Star Wars: The Old Republic lead systems designer Damion Schubert grappled with the timely and touchy topic of lockboxes and microtransactions from the perspective of one who designed them.

Schubert said that designers can make lockboxes that aren’t pure evil: “I’ve been working in free-to-play games for four years, and lootboxes are pretty crucial to that business model working. But it is possible to do them ethically, and they are super easy to f**k up.”

“Good [microtransactions] design is an art,” he continued. “It requires designers to be equal partners with product managers to come up with something that is perceived as fair and is celebrated […] MTX will fail if it doesn’t feel good to spend. It will fail if it creates a poisonous environment around the game instead of excitement.”

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 144: Harry Potter and the Deathly ARG

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree wrassle a mess of eastern mobile MMOs that are leaping onto the scene, imagine a world full of Harry Potter gamers wandering about, discuss SWTOR’s server merges, and take Guild Wars 2 to task for lockbox missteps.

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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EA drops the costs of heroes – and reward payouts – in Star Wars: Battlefront II by 75%

Don’t be too proud of the barrier to entry you’ve constructed; the ability to make in-game unlocks incredibly expensive is insignificant next to the power of angry consumers. An update after the latest furor over Star Wars: Battlefront II’s hero unlock prices sees the prices for these characters slashed by 75%, bringing Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader down to 15,000 credits, while Palpatine, Leia, and Chewbacca will run 10,000 credits and Iden will cost only 5,000 credits.

What EA doesn’t note in its blog post is that it also reduced reward payouts commensurately.

We’re sure the cost is one that’s still meant to provide a sense of pride and accomplishment, somehow. Whether or not this mollifies players who were rather justifiably miffed about the whole thing remains to be seen; what is already quite obvious is that this is not something that the target audience is taking lightly, so the next move is on Electronic Arts – and that move appears to be an AMA?

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