europe

Video game industry groups across the globe reject WHO’s ‘gaming disorder’ classification

As we noted yesterday, the World Health Organization has gone ahead with the inclusion of “gaming disorder” in the publication of its most recent edition of its disease classification manual, in spite of heavy criticism from independent academics as well as admittedly biased trade organizations. In fact, a group of those organizations – representing the video game publishing industry in the USA, South Africa, Canada, South Korea, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, and 10 countries in western and northern Europe – submitted their own statement on WHO’s decision, once again noting the potential for “moral panic” and “abuse of diagnosis” following the unjustified classification. The most compelling argument remains the scientific one:

“There is strong disagreement among experts on the inclusion of video gaming in the ICD-11 list, and the issue has been heavily debated since 2016 when 36 internationally renowned and respected mental health experts, leading social scientists and academics from research centers and universities – including Oxford University, Johns Hopkins University, Stockholm University and The University of Sydney – opposed the inclusion in an Open Debate paper,” the group writes, pointing out that in the intervening two years, WHO’s second proposal all but ignored those researchers, prompting a second paper from academics that “alerts on the weak evidence base, stressing that the ‘burden of evidence and the clinical utility should be extremely high, because there is a genuine risk of abuse of diagnoses.'”

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ArcheAge’s fresh start servers snag the ‘Conquer’ update next week

Trion’s pretty sure MMORPG gamers cannot get enough of starting over in ArcheAge, which is why it’s whipping up yet another phase for the ArcheAge: Legends Return fresh start servers next week on June 13th, complete with new housing, dailies, bosses, dungeons, and raids.

“In the Conquer Phase, a host of new dungeons, raids, and upgrades are now at your fingertips. Venture forth to Golden Ruins in order to claim additional housing in Auroria, or embark on new daily quests and high level creatures to secure your route to level 50! […] Additionally, the Serpentis raid is open for enterprising adventurers, as well as Sea of Drowned Love and Sea of Drowned Love’s weekend version. Other changes include changes to the Dream Ring, which can now be progressed to an Epic version, an expansion of the Dream Ring quests on Fresh Start, allowing you to take your Ring to its maximum level, and the introduction of T1 Cars, and the Farm Hauler upgrade.”

The pair of fresh start progression servers have been running in NA and Europe since April, doing their happy progression server thing with vanilla content unlocking over time. Phase two rolled out last month after a brief delay.

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Happy birthday to WildStar, Crossout, and World War 2 Online

The beginning of informal summer is a favorite time for MMO launches, which also means it’s prime time for birthdays and anniversaries. WildStar, for example, has a birthday I’ll always remember, as it rather inconsiderately released while I was in the hospital having a baby. She and it are both four this year, although she isn’t getting a month of presents and events as WildStar players are. There’s a special anniversary pack in the cash shop right now too.

“Throughout the whole month we’re running a series of WildStar’s most lucrative bonus events on a weekly rotation, offering you out-of-this-world benefits from four different events back-to-back. But that’s not all! With Starfall there will also be a unique reward pack delivered to your Account Inventory just for logging in each week! Make sure you transmat to Nexus every week in June to claim your rewards and take full advantage of the bonus events.”

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ZeniMax apologizes for Elder Scrolls Online spyware, says it was ‘erroneously added’ and will be removed [Updated]

Hey who here loves – nay, adores – officially sanctioned spyware? Lots of hands staying in laps, we see. You all sure? You aren’t secretly clamoring for studios to monitor your every action? Not even you Guild Wars 2 players?

Well, Elder Scrolls Online players aren’t too pleased at the discovery that ZeniMax is using a program called Red Shell to track where its players live and what they are doing as part of the game’s marketing effort. There’s a concerted effort on the forums to find the best way to either block or opt out of the spyware software for privacy reasons. The program also raises issues concerning Europe’s new GDPR laws, as players are not given the explicit option to opt in or out of the program, though that might be covered by the game’s privacy policy.

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Mobile MMO roundup: MapleStory M, Jurassic World Alive, Crossfire Legends, TERA M, and Icarus Mobile

Welcome back to another mobile MMO roundup, those MMOs that obviously don’t count because they are played on a small screen instead of a massive screen, and we all know that’s what the M stands for, am I right?

First up is MapleStory M, the mobile edition of MapleStory, which soft launched in multiple regions over the holiday weekend; Canadians and Aussies can hop in, but those of us in the US and Europe are still waiting. Nexon is calling it a “real” MMORPG on mobile, and did I mention it’s cute as a button?

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Camelot Unchained conforms to GDPR regs, shows off new visual effects

Europe’s new GDPR regulations are creating a lot of busy work for many MMORPG studios including City State Entertainment, which had to spend over 350 hours updating Camelot Unchained’s privacy policy and making other changes to conform to the law.

“We have made a number of changes to our privacy policy based upon the GDPR,” CSE said. “The good news is that ALL of our backers will now have extra protection, rights, and options than they had before. The bad news is that you have to read through a lot of words.”

The studio once again confirmed that it was still on track for July’s Beta 1 test. Some of its recent projects included adding more features for plots, setting up the new forums, adding dynamic updating of the skill bar, laying out the home islands, prepping cross-server scenarios, and more.

Visual effects are coming along nicely, and you can look at a few of these after the break!

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Revelation Online merges Western and Russian dev teams, unifies client build

Change is coming to Revelation Online, even if it’s largely under the hood for the moment. You folks might recall that the My.com MMO got a new producer and vision back in January. Now it appears yet another a new captain has taken the helm, as newly installed Global Producer Petr Lagun pens in a dev blog today.

“The company has decided to change its operation strategy and in an effort to close the gaps between the West (Europe and North America) and Russian operation teams there will be a single producer for the Western and Russian markets – and that’s me,” he writes.

So how does that affect Revelation Online itself?

“For Revelation Online, it means that there will be less differences between the Russian versions and Western version of the game as we are hoping to unify the same client build, our current aim is to do this with our first unified build which is currently under the name ‘New Sulan.’ While we are working on this update, the team is preparing exciting and interesting events for PvP and PvE players.”

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Players are running a Secret World Legends PvP event today

Get your PvP on in Secret World Legends, as the player community has put together a weekend Shambala event to see who is the best of the best.

Players in both North America and Europe are encouraged to queue up for the Shambala arena. Winners of the matches are supposed to take screenshots and enter them in to a drawing for fierce glyphs, outfits, and other items donated by Funcom.

There are four categories for this player event: top damage dealt, top damage taken, top healing, and overall score. Good luck!

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Black Desert studio Pearl Abyss had a record first quarter thanks to mobile

Pearl Abyss’ financial report for the first quarter of 2018 is good news for both the Black Desert franchise and the company. PA, which went public last year, recorded a hefty increase in revenues and profits, thanks largely to the release of Black Desert Mobile in South Korea. The report mentions the console release still slated for this summer, the continuing PvP revamp, and plans for two new characters and “Ramones battle field”. The company is also still working on two new games: MMOFPS Project K and casual mobile MMO Project V.

The investor documents for the previous fiscal year on the whole tout the expansion of the franchise around the globe and into new markets, particularly the mobile sector. North America and Europe continue to dominate sales of the original Black Desert MMORPG in particular, accounting for 56% of the game’s sales (contrast that with NCsoft’s regional report yesterday).

During the call, the executives also noted that Black Desert Mobile is expected to roll out to Taiwan and then South East Asia by fall. Don’t get too excited, though; the game won’t reach western shores until next year.

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TERA collaborates to make an Attack on Titan crossover

The European, Russian, and eastern versions of TERA are in for a special treat, as the game is incorporating a crossover with the popular anime series Attack on Titan. The crossover, which was made in conjunction with Kodansha, adds time-limited costumes and special “BAMs” to fight.

The costumes will require some luck (and probably a lot of money) to get, as they are only available through the gacha system. The event is currently running with no word whether or not it will make its way over to the North American servers.

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Ragnarok Online shuts down in Europe due to new regulations [Update: US servers blocking EU access]

Update: This story was a miscommunication in the media. It turns out that while the servers are staying up, Ragnarok Online’s North American servers are blocking IP addresses from Europe due to these regulations. The European servers will be unaffected. Thanks, Kelekelio!

One of the MMO industry’s long-time institutions is finally calling it a day in Europe.

Ragnarok Online announced this week that it is shutting down all of its servers on the continent as of May 25th. The odd part about this story is that this sunset is happening not because of declining population or revenue but because of a new law that the game’s operator was not able to circumvent. Operation in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States will not be affected.

The move comes because of the rollout of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation on May 25th, a law which addresses exporting personal data outside of the EU. WarpPortal apparently decided that it wasn’t worth the cost to upgrade storage security to meet the new regulations and chose to shut down the game instead.

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NetEase’s Age of Exploration MMO Ocean Legend sets sail for mobile

Multiple new-to-us games calling themselves MMORPGs seem to land on mobile devices every week these days. On our radar today is Ocean Legend. Live on iOS and Android in some soft launch beta hybrid mode, it’s a swashbuckling “Age of Exploration” MMO that’s a mix of Sea of Thieves and Pirates of the Burning Sea and Sword of the New World. Here’s NetEase’s pitch:

“Players take part in the growing naval empires of 15th and 16th century Europe. Choose between four different characters and five separate countries for your own oceanic adventure in the Age of Exploration! In single player mode, join Columbus and his shipmates on their third expedition, battle against pirates, then set out on your own to make a name for yourself as commander of your own fleet.”

Exploration is accomplished through “Cards of Discovery” – History, Theology, Architecture, Art, Biology, and Geography – each of which “opens up a new world of knowledge for players, and an opportunity to travel more and face new challenges, like difficult weather conditions, real navigation, and even other players in multi-player mode.”

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TERA Europe to merge down to four servers

TERA’s had a busy month, what with the console launch and its Godsfall update. May is going to try its hardest to keep this pace of interesting developments, especially over in Europe, where server merges are in the works.

At the start of the month, six of the region’s servers will be merged down to three, with a fourth international server remaining untouched. The studio concentrated on merging servers of the same language types to keep French, English, and German-speaking players together and happy.

“It is our aim to always bring you the best possible gaming experience. We know that it is very important for you to be able to find other players for group content quickly and easily at all times,” the team said. “We really hope the merge will help you enjoy the game even more!”

Source: TERA EU

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