During this week’s Massively OP Podcast, Justin and I attempted to tackle a question sent in by commenter and listener Sally Bowls – specifically, she wanted us to speculate on what a post-launch monetization plan for Star Citizen might look like.
“Assuming they have a lot of overhead and expense, are they going to fire most of their employees at launch? Keep them and support them with subscriptions? DLC? Cosmetics? A stream of new ships would be my first guess – but new ships good enough that people spend $50M-$100M per year withouth causing old customers to think the new shiny invalidates their previous purchase? That seems to me a non-trivial tightrope to walk.”
Put away your instinct to joke that it won’t matter because Star Citizen is never coming out. Let’s just reasonably assume that it does eventually launch into something the studio will call more or less ready. How do you think Star Citizen will make money after launch? That’s the question I’ve posed the Massively OP team for this round of Massively Overthinking.
My husband and I were chatting about the whole Chris-Roberts-is-fed-up-with-trolls-and-date-estimates-that-everyone-knows-aren’t-going-to-stick thing from last week when he said something that struck me. “It reminds me of how people harangue George R. R. Martin (of Game of Thrones fame) about his next book,” he observed. “They believe he owes them something for being his loyal fans,” which you’ll recall once prompted famed author Neil Gaiman to declare, “George Martin is not your bitch.”
The difference, of course, is that George R. R. Martin can do whatever the heck he wants while he rolls around in his well-earned piles of money because his books aren’t crowdfunded. He quite literally doesn’t owe us anything, even if people who’ve been his fans for multiple decades might feel otherwise.
Crowfunded MMOs like Star Citizen aren’t quite in that position. Technically, you knew when your credit card number hit the screen that yours was a donation toward an idea. Some of the games we Kickstart? They fail. Or they drift in limbo. Or they don’t meet the vision. They aren’t all Path of Exile and Elite Dangerous is what I’m saying. But when those campaigns masquerade as pre-orders, people can be left with the idea that, well, they’re owed what they think they paid for.
Do you feel the MMO you’ve crowdfunded owe you something? Or are you content knowing you donated toward a vision of a better genre?
There are dangerous things in deep space when you play Elite: Dangerous. More dangerous than system failures, or pirates, or interstellar phenomena. The Thargoids are arriving on September 26th, the culmination of many teasing moments in which players have been forced to realize that they are not, in fact, alone in the galaxy. Now they’re coming, and players are going to have to deal with a danger that is far more mysterious than anything found up to now.
While patch 2.4 is coming out on the 26th, it marks the beginning of narrative content which will be rolled out in the weeks and months following the initial patch. If you’re eager to get a taste of what’s coming next, though, check out the cinematic trailer just below. It’s possible to override the shutdown pulse that these mysterious entities generate, yes… but there’s more to it than just the first pulse.
I will admit that I’ve been craving a good space exploration sim lately — the burn to “explore strange new worlds” is rising inside of me. Should Elite Dangerous be my course? Reader Andrew makes a compelling case with this week’s headliner.
“I recently took an exploration adventure in Elite Dangerous to the ghost ship Zurara on the edge of the galaxy in the Formadine Rift and put together an album of screenshots that I took along the way,” he sent in. “Here I am enjoying the sunset before I leave the Bubble Nebula and head out to the next and final stop on my journey.”
At its pre-Gamescom press conference this Sunday, Microsoft revealed more about its upcoming Xbox One X and its glorious 4K gaming capabilities. As part of the conference, the company listed several games that would benefit from the enhanced performance and power of the console when it arrives this November.
MMO players should take note, because this list contains many games in our sphere of interest. The select enhanced titles include BioWare’s Anthem, ARK: Survival Evolved, Astroneer, Black Desert, Conan Exiles, Dark and Light, Diablo III, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile, Portal Knights, Roblox, Sea of Thieves, SMITE, State of Decay 2, The Crew 2, Elder Scrolls Online, The Division, Warframe, and World of Tanks.
The Xbox One X boasts six teraflops of processing power, 4K Ultra Blu-Ray, and 12GB GDDR5 graphics memory, and will retail for $500. Interested players can pre-order the Project Scropio edition right now for as long as supplies last.
Good news for the Elite: Dangerous crew; according to the Frontier Developments Twitter account, Elite: Dangerous and the Horizons expansion have passed a grand total of 2.75 million sales. The phrasing is slightly ambiguous, as it could mean the combined total of each one’s individual sales is 2.75 million or that the game has sold 2.75 million copies altogether. Both are impressive, certainly, especially as the last sales data we had was from January 2016 when the base game had sold 1.4 million copies.
If you’re part of the crowd and plan to be out for PAX West in the near future, you can take part in the studio’s planned Frontier meet-up for fans and community on August 31st, 2017. The event is first-come-first-served and does have limited capacity, so you should make your plans soon, but it’s there if you want to go. The rest of us can sit back and relish the days when 825,000 sales was a major milestone.
Tencent is sprinkling more money around: Yicai Global
are reporting that the Chinese conglom has invested money into South Korea’s Bluehole Studio
. It’s not currently clear how much money; according to Yicai, Bluehole refused a total buyout offer.
We’re presuming that Tencent’s interest is chiefly in Bluehole’s development and publishing of the increasingly popular and obnoxiously named Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds.
But to MMORPG players, Bluehole is probably best known as the Korean studio behind TERA, as well as Devilian (in the East), Project W, and a number of mobile games, including one based on TERA.
Most recently, Tencent was spotted pouring $23M into Elite Dangerous dev house Frontier Development to acquire 9% of the studio.
Despite the name, Elite: Dangerous has never required a particularly elite home computer to run. But it will be getting just a little bit more elite with its next patch, as 2.4 is removing support for the game’s 32-bit client. Players who wish to play the 2.4 test version will need a 64-bit version of the game; according to the official announcement, this change will affect a tiny portion of the game’s overall userbase.
Those players who will be affected will also be directly contacted by the team to make sure that everyone is aware of the change and what can be done to prepare. Odds are low this will affect you, but it’s still worth noting and being ready for. On the bright side, this marks another milestone towards ensuring that the 2038 problem doesn’t hit the world with a fury of a thousand suns, so we can commend Frontier Developments for looking ahead.
Anyone a little excited about Guild Wars 2 these days? Probably not, but on the off-chance that there’s a glimmer of hype and hope alive, here’s a reminder that there’s some stuff that was put out for the game and other stuff that’s coming for the game. Deserty-stuff.
“I don’t want to spoil much about the latest Guild Wars 2 episode, so here is just a shot from inside of Divinity’s Reach palace temple, where it begins!” Miol submitted.
I wish I could un-spoil myself from that screenshot, because now I know the game’s design plans for the next seven years, all from the subtle clues that are contained in those stained glass windows. How I wish I could erase that knowledge and experience it as a wide-eyed child would!
Earlier this summer I wrote that Elite Dangerous‘ community events were something the MMO community should watch. Watch. I never said play, and I never ended up pushing the “purchase” button when I saw it on sale. I’m not really a flight sim person. Heck, I’ve even mentioned several times that I prefer kart-racers to realistic racing games.
However, I recently snagged a review key for Elite Dangerous to try it out on the PlayStation 4. I even streamed my first experiences with the game. It was a rocky session to say the least, but I decided to stick with it for a few more hours after getting some support from viewers. I really wanted to be able to recommend the game as something to pick up, but honestly, I’m still in the “watch” category.
Two MMO forces are now bound together in will and purpose — or at least in stocks and finances.
Tencent, the world’s biggest games publisher by revenue, recently purchased 9% of Frontier Development’s stock in a transaction that topped $23 million. The Elite: Dangerous developer said that the sale of the 3.37 million shares will be used to invest in growth and increase its cash reserves.
So what’s Tencent’s next move in world domination? The Chinese company is heavily revising its popular mobile MOBA, Honour of Kings, in order to appeal more to western sensibilities and giving it a new name, currently Arena of Valor. Additionally, the company has signed a deal with DC Comics to bring in (why not) Batman and the Joker as playable characters.
The MOBA has drawn the ire of the Chinese government, but even so, it’s amassed 55 million daily players and looks poised for global success.
Do you have a deep and abiding love for Planet Coaster? Probably not. How about Elite: Dangerous? Yes, that’s good, many more hands are being raised. How would you like to attend a convention for both of them in October? Frontier Developments announced the upcoming Frontier Expo 2017 in London’s Olympic Park, a one-day convention on October 7th devoted to both of the studio’s games and what comes next for the titles.
It is not immediately clear how much overlap there may between the fandoms for the two games, but that may be part of the entertainment.
Elite: Dangerous fans will be able to learn more about the game’s upcoming plans and features and attend panels about the real-world science behind the game, as well as collecting various exclusive digital and physical merchandise at the convention. If you’re going to be in the area and have a powerful need to be in on the ground floor (or would consider flying out to London for a one-day convention), tickets go on sale in about two days.
We are on a roll with the epic questions for Overthinking lately! “The recent article about monetization got me thinking about just how much most modern MMOs are still trying to replicate real-world capitalist economies,” MOP Patron Avaera begins.
“Virtual currency is usually earned proportional to various measures of virtual effort that are intended to be wealth-generating activities – selling loot earned from skillful PvE hunting, selling crafted goods made from resources gathered over time, owning items or land that generates tradeable material over time. However, virtual effort doesn’t have the quite the same limitations, scarcity, and creativity as real-world effort, and these systems seem prone to exploitation by users/bots that can easily outmatch casual players in terms of how much virtual effort and time they can expend, leading to various RMT problems and artificially distorted economies. How would you go about avoiding this problem, if you had the god-like powers of a game designer? Is there a way to set up a virtual economy so that it isn’t prone to exploitation by bots or gold-farmers, and will we ever see a virtual game currency that can truly be exchanged with a real one?”
I posed Avaera’s question to our staff to mull over.