f2p

‘Free-to-play’ is a term that refers to games that do not have box or download fees associated with them and do not incur a mandatory subscription. Some have optional subscriptions and are more properly referred to as hybrid F2P. Most have cash shops and microtransactions.

Path of Exile may have suffered a user data breach

Path of Exile may have suffered a data breach in March. We say "may" because even Grinding Gear Games isn't entirely sure what was taken, if anything.

GGG's Chris Wilson tells forumgoers that on March 23rd, his team realized an "external intruder" was illegally accessing the company network and "several" of its machines.

"While we have no evidence that private user information was taken, we cannot rule this out," he writes. Among the user information the company stores are email addresses, salted and hashed passwords, IP addresses, and in some cases, names and addresses.

"We believe that the time period that the attacker had access to this information was the ten days from March 13 to March 23 (NZT). We do not store any payment information like credit card numbers. It is stored at the external payment processors we use. There is no way that credit card information could have been accessed."

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Jukebox Heroes: Your favorite MMO themes, #12-7

It's starting to get serious now.

As we well know, people are highly opinionated about everything, but when it comes to music, there seems to be a (pardon the pun) higher pitch to the passion of those arguments. I've been doing an MMO music podcast for over three years now, and believe me when I say that there have been countless times when myself and my cohosts were aghast when someone hated a tune we liked and vice-versa, even though we shouldn't have been surprised.

So as we head into the top 10 of the best MMO theme songs, as voted on by the Massively OP community, expect a lot of opinions and controversies. You may not like the picks, the order, or the comments, but hopefully one or two of these will make you happy (and there's always room to be pleasantly surprised by a track you never heard before!). Suck it up and jump with me!

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Warframe broke its concurrency record, again, with Octavia's Anthem

Remember back in November when Warframe pushed out The War Within and broke its concurrency record? Last week's techno-bard-themed Octavia's Anthem did it again. According to Digital Extremes, the game

"broke a new record on Steam with 69,526 peak concurrent players over the weekend. The Saturday-Sunday, March 25-26 weekend also marked Warframe’s four-year anniversary and its 20th consecutive record-breaking major update. Boasting more than 30 million registered users worldwide since its launch in March 2013, Warframe broke into the top three most played games on Steam (Top Games By Current Players category) during the same weekend."

Massively OP's MJ Guthrie took a peek at the new update on Friday. Enjoy!

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The Stream Team: Taking an anniversary stroll in RuneScape

What do you do when a game you've always intended to check out has an anniversary? Massively OP's MJ dives in to play -- in front of an audience! RuneScape turns 13 years old today (counting from its official launch renamed RuneScape 2, not the beta release on January 4th, 2001 ), and MJ wants to help celebrate the occasion. She's heading in as a brand-new newbie to experience what many others have spent years enjoying. Join us live at 3:00 p.m. to help her navigate this new landscape.

What: RuneScape
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 3:00 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

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Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic will finally allow us to switch factions

Long-time players of Star Wars: The Old Republic: In the next update 5.2: The War for Iokath, you will finally be able to switch factions. Insert disco horn here.

That's right: If you are a Republic character, you will finally be able to fight alongside the best people in the universe: the Sith Empire. And if you're a traitor to the Empress, you can fight alongside the Galactic Republic.

I also wanted to amplify another announcement about a couple of long-awaited companions. Republic Troopers, you will finally get your love interest Elara Dorne back, and Sith Warriors, you will finally be able to Force choke Malavai Quinn again, just as you always wanted.

I'll explain the details, my opinion, and show a teaser video on the matter below in this edition of Hyperspace Beacon.

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Star Trek Online announces Season 13: Escalation, coming April 25 on PC

PWE has just announced Star Trek Online's next season: Escalation. It lands on April 25th for PC players and continues the ongoing Tzenkethi plotline. "Season 13 – Escalation takes the player on a journey to discover where the previously isolationist Lukari came from. Once they begin to understand their previous place in the galaxy, a Tzenkethi fleet arrives, presenting an immediate threat," says the studio.

Intriguingly, players are getting more than just story with the update; there's also a new gameplay system on the way.

"In addition to these exciting events, players will also be able to participate in the War Games system. This new type of queue allows two five-person teams to battle head-to-head in competitive PvE scenarios. To keep players on an even playing field, a new Player Potential system has been introduced that will match players of similar skill in the same matches. The War Game system will also have a new reputation tied to it, including for the first time ever, class specific-ship and captain gear. Captains can mix and match new gear they earn from any class and also have the option to specialize. To support the new War Games system, a full rebalance pass has been made to ground and space combat to ensure that no matter what choice captains make when outfitting their skills or ship, it isn’t a wrong one."

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RIFT's Forged in Flame update today will treat endgamers to new content, LFR tools

MMORPG players can use some happy news today, yeah? How about this: RIFT's Forged in Flame patch is officially live.

The core of the update is Tartaric Depths, a 10-man raid, as well as the new Life Fortress Siege dubbed Xarth's Skull and level 70 reworks for Rise of the Phoenix and Gyel Fortress. How will you access the raid if you don't have a giant mass of friends? Why, with the brand-new looking-for-raid tool, of course.

"Similar to Looking for Group in dungeons, the Looking for Raid (LFR) system gives players the opportunity to quickly and easily join up with others and take down epic bosses where they are rewarded with gear that will help them progress into normal raids. Players are rewarded individually through the Individual Reward System."

Trion's promised to talk more about the update in its weekly Stream on Friday; in the meantime, the patch launch trailer and new screenies are tucked down below. Anybody giving it a go?

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Exclusive Interview: Funcom on the Secret World Legends reboot and the end of updates for The Secret World

Don't miss this morning's explainer piece on The Secret World's reboot as Secret World Legends, now a "shared world action RPG."
You wanted answers, we've got answers! As soon as Funcom sent us the press release and the FAQ about the launch of Secret World Legends and its effect on The Secret World, we fired off some questions to get more details and some clarification. Game Director Romain Amiel has now expounded on different aspects of both games for us, including the use of the Ability Wheel, changes to progression, Grandmaster status in both games, future development, and more. Here's what he had to say.

(Bad news spoiler: Your hopes of having continued content in The Secret World or a new graphics engine have the same lifespan as an Orochi agent.)

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The Daily Grind: What anticipated MMO expansion turned out to be a disappointment?

It's with a heavy heart that I have to admit that RIFT: Starfall Prophecy kind of let me down. I was really, genuinely looking forward to playing this expansion last fall, especially since I would get in on the ground floor at release. And while there were some great aspects of the release, such as the concept and some of the quest lines, the overall product felt half-baked and the combat became such a slog that I gave up three zones into it.

I'm sure this has happened to all of us at some point. We get really hyped and excited for an MMO expansion, drinking in all of the promise that the devs feed us... and then that anticipation is deflated by the actual release. It just doesn't live up to our standards or it has some major issues. You look at it and say, "Son, I am disappoint."

When you look back at your MMO gaming career, what expansion turned out to be a disappointment to you? What could have been done better by the dev team?

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Skyforge's PlayStation 4 version is now playable in early access

Skyforge's PlayStation 4 version has officially launched today -- without much hoopla -- into an early access (head start) period for those who picked up the $14.99 pre-register package. If you don't want to shell out for it, you'll be waiting until April 11th for the full freebie experience.

Redditors are wading through the server-up process, finding frustration in realizing PS4 is region-locked, struggling with MMO concepts like class unlock fees, and debating whether the PS4 edition should be considered a standalone game. Happy launch day!

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SuperData February 2017: World of Tanks perks up, Hearthstone is sinking

Happy SuperData day! That's the monthly holiday when we pore over the market analysis report, freak out over something doing well, freak over something doing poorly, and then fight over definitions, the evils of trusting paywalled science, and why more MMOs aren't on the current list. This round, there's lots to bicker over -- but also some bits to celebrate in the February 2017 charts of top-grossing game titles.

On PC, while League of Legends, Crossfire, and Dungeon Fighter Online continue their top-three dominance, the rest of the roster has seen a bit of a shake-up, as Overwatch has fallen from #4 to #6 and World of Tanks has pushed past it as well as World of Warcraft. WoW's status is a tad confusing; last month, SuperData began reporting Western and Eastern WoW separately, even though it does not appear to be doing that for any other game. This month, it's omitted the West/East tags but still has two entries for WoW, so we're left to assume to top one is still West as it was last month.

On console, ARK: Survival Evolved has fallen from its #4 spot to #6. As always, we point out that ARK: Survival Evolved has yet to formally launch, and it's absurd that it's on this list at all, but fools and their money and all that.

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League of Legends' Ghostcrawler on diversity vs. politics in gaming

Don't think politics belong in games? Maybe your problem is a mangled understanding of what politics is. That's the gist of a blog piece out yesterday from Greg "Ghostcrawler" Street, whom many MMO players will likely remember from his long stint as World of Warcraft's lead systems designer, though now he's lead game designer over on League of Legends next door.

Street was responding to a gamer worried about his belief that "Liberal politics is forcing [its] way into games." "I just want to enjoy a fun experience, or take part of someone’s artistic vision," the player wrote, seeking validation for his worries.

Street agreed that he would be annoyed if League of Legends "tried to sneak in lessons on how taxes should be structured, or opinions on health care, or state versus federal power" as that would be too political. But the mere presence or acknowledgement of diversity? That's not politics, he argues -- that's reality.

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Path of Exile teases Nazi-inspired Oriath expansion baddies

Pumped for Path of Exile's upcoming Fall of Oriath expansion? Grinding Gear Games must be too, given the parade of videos it's slipping out. Today's entry is a look at the baddies who will be falling to your weapons and spells -- both in-game animations and concept art slides. The dudes at 19 and 44 seconds probably score the most points for creepiness, and I think you'll find the inspirations of some of the baddies more than obvious.

In fact, there's a bit of player forum controversy over whether some of the villains make sense in PoE's world, though other players are taking it in the spirit in which it was probably intended. "Can't wait to **** up some Nazis and evil donkey creatures from hell," wrote one gamer.

Check it out below, then peek back at last week's music and environments reveals.

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