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.

Dark Age of Camelot hops on the microtransaction wagon

There's a whole lot to digest in this month's Dark Age of Camelot producer's letter, but perhaps the most significant is the move by Broadsword to introduce a microtransaction system into the game some time this spring.

Initially, the cash microtransactions will be used for cosmetic appearances, although the devs said that it will be expanded to include other, non-pay-to-win options: "Once this system is in place and working smoothly, we'll be able to work on the much-requested quality-of-life features like race, gender, and name respecs as well as potentially account to account character transfers!"

The team admitted that it may have pushed out game changes "too far, too quickly" last year and promised to revisit those this year. Other early 2017 projects include nerfing pet classes, retuning several hybrid classes, launching a new PvE campaign next month, and getting out the new forums and website by this summer.

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One Shots: I am no man!

The big screenshot challenge last week was to capture action, not just still shots, in MMORPGs. This is tricker than it sounds, because you have to be quick with the screenshot key and manipulate the camera just right to get the perfect picture. It is easier to do this with other characters, obviously, including those in cutscenes.

Borghive gets headlining honors with his "final showdown" between the Witch King and Éowyn from Lord of the Rings Online. She looks a little outmatched, what with being smaller and having an actual head, but I think she's going to come out just fine. After all, she is no man.

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Here's what's in Neverwinter's Cloaked Ascendancy lockboxes

One of the many content chunks and upgrades landing in Neverwinter when Cloaked Ascendancy launches next week is... lockboxes. In fact, PWE put out a new dev blog today on the Many-Starred Lockbox landing on February 21st, taking a page out of Star Wars: The Old Republic's dog-eared playbook.

Potentially in the lockbox for those who buy keys? The Arcane Whirlwinds legendary mount, the multi-spell Tome of Ascendance, and a number of packs tailored to mounts, artifact equipment, artifacts, companions, enchantments, and costumes, some of which are shown in the gallery below.

But whom are we kidding -- you're never gonna get these.

Further reading: Andrew's piece on gambling vs. gaming, Larry's ideas for making lockboxes suck less, and this article telling us to get over them.

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Massively Overthinking: Are MMOs designed for 'low-skill gamers'?

Ages ago on the MMORPG subreddit, a player made a bold statement: MMORPGs are designed for low-skill gamers.

"I remember being dazzled by EverQuest and Ultima as a child," he wrote, reminiscing about his memory of high difficulty old-school games. "I recently loaded up [Star Wars: The Old Republic] again, and I'm shocked. Piss easy. Everything. XP falling from the sky. Mobs dead in one GCD. Brainless. The same reason I quite every MMO. I never meet people, I never feel challenged. I just feel bored. 'Wait till endgame' isn't gonna cut it anymore. I'm over it. I'm done. I feel like I'm just hitting the 'Reward' button again and again and again, solitary and alone, like a stupid little rat in the cage." He then basically blames the perceived shift of the genre on people who don't want games to be "like a job": "The genre just seems to be fueled by mediocre, anti-social "consumers."

I wanted to pull this back out to see whether our staff and writers agree with the claims -- and whether we all have some advice for this fan, who concludes his rant by asking people to change his mind. Howsabout it, Overthinking fans?

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Perfect Ten: Terminology the MMORPG genre needs

MMOs, like any other hobby, have their own terminology. We have the term "newb" for new players, "noob" for players who aren't actually new but still make new player mistakes, and "n00b" if you want to sound like an insufferable weirdo from the aughts. But we also have a lot of terminology that just plain doesn't work any more for a variety of reasons, like "pay-to-win" and "hardcore" and so forth.

That does not, however, mean that we do not need our specialized terminology. Indeed, while some of our older vocabulary is not up to the tasks of modern games, I think a great deal could be accomplished just by adding some new words to our lexicon. So let's create some brand-new terms (or codify existing ones) so that we can, in fact, have shared words to describe scenarios that we encounter on a regular basis.

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Play Heroes of the Storm, earn a free World of Warcraft mount

There's a neat cross-promotion going on right now between Heroes of the Storm and World of Warcraft. Blizzard is encouraging its fans to give Heroes a try by enticing them with a free WoW mount. If you play 15 matches with friends on your Battle.net list by March 13th, you'll get a Primal Flamesaber mount in WoW and a Judgment Charger mount and 10-day stimpack in Heroes for your troubles.

In other World of Warcraft news, the PTR just started testing out Patch 7.2's long-awaited flying, as well as the new Cathedral of the Eternal Night and some reward changes to mythic+ dungeons.

Check out the new Primal Flamesaber mount after the break and see if it's worth the effort!

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Hyperspace Beacon: SWTOR's latest raid might be a too little too late

When Star Wars: The Old Republic launched, I was champing at the bit for raids. Then when I heard about the launch bugs from friends, I really didn't want to have anything to do with that. But thanks to the Darth Hater crew and eventually my raiding guild in Nefarious Intent, I came to really enjoy raiding. I started raiding in SWTOR when Karragga's Palace was the top-tier raid. I raided every week for three years. We were never the best raiders on the server, and I don't think that we ever really tried to be because it was about having fun in a team-based PvE.

After a two-year gap, the developers at BioWare decided that it was time to introduce a new raid. With Update 5.2, players will see additional story, dailies, and the first boss of the new raid on the planet of Iokath. Although I am very excited to see all of this hit the game again, I can't help but wonder if the interest in raids is strong enough to make that kind of gameplay viable again.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me tackle the questions: What is coming with Update 5.2: War for Iokath, what does the existing community think of it, and will it be enough to draw people back in?

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The Daily Grind: Do you ever play MMORPGs against 'type'?

Perhaps owing at least in part to the charisma of its chief executive, Camelot Unchained is one of those rare in-production MMORPGs that seems to attract people who would normally flee from it in horror.

What I mean by that is the same people I see freaking out over any new MMO that proposes open PvP of one form or another are following Camelot intently. There's even a lot of resistance to games that are basically tame battleground PvP, like Crowfall -- but Camelot seems immune.

Camelot Unchained isn't against my type -- I'm a huge fan of three-way RvR and can't wait to see how a modern Dark Age of Camelot sandpark looks in practice -- but I'm super intrigued that it's something a lot of non-PvP players (and even some of our non-PvP writers!) are watching. Can you think of other examples? Do you ever play or follow MMORPGs against your type -- and which ones?

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Dark Age of Camelot invites players to take part in matters of the heart

Just because times are dark in and around Camelot doesn't mean that nobody's finding the time to love. Dark Age of Camelot is bringing around A Matter of the Heart as a special event quest to celebrate the holiday, running from today until February 17th. Players will need to visit the imp Russel, who will help give players a set of tasks to earn... a Lawn Cupid trophy.

Look, the definitions of "love" can vary quite a bit depending on time and circumstance. In the right context, a Lawn Cupid is very romantic.

Players who are level 45 and above will also have access to the Keeping Company quest to earn a tiny Compatriot Cube, and there are three older Valentine's Day quests being brought around to earn a Heart Cloak and a Heart-Shaped Box (wherein you may be locked for weeks). Hey, you've got to do something other than just stab people for control of castles; you can do that in appropriately heart-bedecked fashions.

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The Daily Grind: Where are all the sports-themed MMORPGs?

On those rare occasions when we mention EA's FIFA series, usually relating to court cases over online gambling, I'm always struck again by how few sports MMORPGs we have. We have fishing games and golfing games. We have racing games. But major team sports have never bridged the gap, in spite of their immense popularity -- though maybe that's because they're popular with self-identified non-gamers.

Indeed, even few MMORPGs include sports as something our characters would do -- it's a weird omission, right? Wouldn't it make much more sense for PvP to play out as sporting simulators, a la Star Wars: The Old Republic's Huttball, one of only a handful of examples I can think of from our 20-year history?

So where are all the sports-themed MMORPGs? Why aren't we seeing more of them, and how would you make them work? Read more

Ultima Online adds wedding package in time for Valentine's Day

Are wedding bells ringing for you and your virtual significant other? Ultima Online wants to whisk you away to the event of your dreams with its new wedding package in the store. This set includes all of the decorations and outfits needed to put on a memorable event, including (and this is quite important) a buffet table.

The wedding package is part of this week's Publish 96, which has gone live on the servers. The patch also increased the challenge (and rewards) of the Doom Gauntlet, just in case you were getting too comfortable being such an elite player.

The team said that there is much more to come with the next update: "We are well underway working on Publish 97. The major feature release for Pub 97 is the long-anticipated pet revamp. More details will be available as we move through the development process, up front I can tell you we have new creatures to tame, new ways to train and customize pets, and new viable options for pets beyond just a greater dragon!"

Source: Newsletter

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Global Chat: Get over the lockbox debate already

One of the largest and most enduring arguments of the MMO genre is the purpose, legality, and profitability of so-called lockboxes in games. We've certainly railed against them pretty hard here on the site.

MMO Bro takes an interesting position this week by saying that, yes, lockboxes are annoying, but we need to move on from grousing about them: "If I may play devil’s advocate here for a moment, I think the time may have come for us to take a step back and examine whether all the furor over lockboxes is really productive. It’s clear that lockboxes are here to stay, so perhaps it’s time for us to learn how to live with them."

Agree? Disagree? That's why we have the comments section. Now that you're fully awake, why not check out the rest of our roundup from the MMO blogosphere, including essays on early access stumbles, costumes, multiplayer mounts, and -- everyone's favorite -- geography!

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Jukebox Heroes: The best of SWTOR expansion soundtracks

I have a confession to make: I was fairly underwhelmed by the original soundtrack release for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.

Sure, it did the job, hit some of those familiar Star Wars notes, and slathered the myriad of game worlds in music, but I found it either too weird (the cantina tunes, mostly) or too long and bombastic to enjoy. Wasn't the worst I'd ever heard, but certainly not near what I would expect from a game bearing the Star Wars moniker.

Yet while I wasn't looking, BioWare has produced some incredible musical chops for the past two expansions. My mouth was often agape when I was listening to Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne, because I kept thinking, "What is this! What is this! This is the soundtrack this game deserved all along!" It was quite the pleasant surprise, let me just say, and today I'm going to share some of my favorite pieces from these recent expansions with you.

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