Toxic players, beware: Hi-Rez may not be talking to its Hand of the Gods
players, but it’s cracking way down on SMITE
miscreants. The studio apparently banned or suspended over 2000 people last week
“based on player reports and in-game behavior,” just a fraction of the number punished this season alone.
“Over 20,000 players have been suspended or banned in SMITE during Season 5 so far. However, this latest action today represents a ramp-up in our suspension activities, especially on Xbox and PS4, where our tools and processes have improved the most. One of our top priorities is making sure the player experience is positive and fun, and we’ve done major work recently to help us handle in game toxicity. We’ve been working hard to improve our machine learning tools to better identify players that have shown trends of negative behavior, as well as ramp up the efforts of our internal team at Hi-Rez that checks player reports and chat logs.”
The company stresses that this is all past of its “initiative to promote positive player behavior and handle negativity in game,” with more on the way. It also requests that players keep the reports coming.
Stretch your mind back to February 20th, when Hi-Rez’s SMITE-infused free-to-play online card game Hand of the Gods formally launched. The studio appeared to be actively supporting the game back then, with patches and tournaments and packs and Twitch promotions.
And then, just about three weeks ago, the information and update flow completely and dramatically stopped.
Reddit is freaking out. Discord is freaking out. The general consensus and concern is that the game is dead. One rumor floated in the game’s chat is that there’s now just one Hi-Rez dev on the game and he’s also working on another game, but we stress that’s just a rumor. Either way, the devs aren’t communicating with the public, players, and press about this launched live title; Hi-Rez’s Stewart Chisam, who recently told SMITE’s subreddit that he aimed to improve patch quality and communication between that game’s staff and players, has not responded to a public inquiry made by a prominent YouTuber. The playerbase is begging for information and simply getting nothing.
If you’ve ever felt like SMITE
has mined out a few pantheons for all the material that’s available, you’ll be happy to know that patch 5.8
doesn’t just mark the launch of the Slavic deity Chernobog. No, this is part of the new Divine Uprising event
, bringing out a wholly new balance to the game as well as three new pantheons getting added into the mix. And that’s just the start; after all, there is
the aforementioned Chernobog.
The patch also adjust balance for several existing gods and offers new skins, along with some tweaked item balance across the board. Of course, the patch isn’t perfect, and a thread of known issues has already been started; we can only hope that those are addressed sooner rather than later. Still, though, the promise of entirely new groups of myths to fight against? That has to be worth something.
Between the waves of MOBA and battle royale phenomenons, I’ve noticed an alternative monetization model that’s apparently proven quite successful in these games. Seasonal passes are popping up everywhere in games like SMITE and Fortnite, and I have to imagine that they’re pretty lucrative money-makers for studios.
The basic idea behind seasonal passes is to sell players a package that contains many rewards that must be unlocked with in-game activities before a certain time frame comes to an end. The sheer number of rewards makes these passes quite alluring, and the excitement of the next season keeps players coming back for more.
My question today is whether or not seasonal passes could work in MMORPGs. Could developers create packs like this and develop enough optional achievements as requirements to unlock rewards? Would the communities snap these up? Would they work? Would you be interested? Tell us what you think!
is going all in on e-sports, founding its own e-sports production outfit called Skillshot Media
and lending longtime COO Todd Harris to oversee it. According to GIbiz
, the fledgling company opens tomorrowday with 35 employees already.
“Our goal has always been to foster community through esports and video content,” Harris writes on the new website. “By organizing ourselves as a separate entity focused only on esports and content, we’re excited to bring even more dedicated esports attention to SMITE and Paladins, and to also explore partnerships with new games and additional game publishers and developers.”
Meanwhile, in the studio’s flagship MOBA SMITE itself, Chernobog, Lord of Darkness, cometh. Specifically, he’s live and playable on the PTS right now.
“He is the incarnation of the inevitable evil that persists in the world. He is Chernobog, Lord of Darkness. Learn the lore of our newest Slavic God entering the Battleground in Update 5.8!”
Still don’t think we should take e-sports seriously? Doesn’t even matter because it’s happening anyway. To wit:
Riot Games has partnered with UC Berkeley to boost esports in the California university system and launch an intramural e-sports league for League of Legends this fall. There are new scholarships for e-sports “student-athletes” too.
“The recently announced UC Berkeley esports community center will open in the campus’s Foothill complex in fall 2018. The University’s unique esports approach will provide support for educational and professional development programs for esports athletes and incorporates multiple aspects of the student experience, focusing on five overarching pillars: community, competition, social responsibility, wellness, and lifelong learning. Centering on inclusivity and community, a new Women in Gaming initiative will be headed by two female leaders among Cal’s student gamers.”
Every year brings a lot of patches for SMITE
. A new official post on the game’s subreddit penned by Hi-Rez President Stewart Chisam puts the game at patching roughly 48 weeks in a year
, which is pretty substantial. But it doesn’t matter all that much if the patches aren’t working right, and the post is essentially admitting that that has been the case more often than not lately; patches have beenreleased too early and without enough testing, making all of that speed mean less than nothing.
“Our current quality is not at all where it should be, and we strongly believe our quality can and should be better,” Chisam says. “We’ve been saying that for a while, and things have gotten better — but not good enough. So I think bigger changes are needed. We can’t keep doing things the same way and expecting different results.”
So the team is working on changing that, starting with a beefed up internal Q&A team.
Even the gods like a good party every now and then. Actually, pretty much all of the time, if you read some of the old stories. It’s kind of why they got into trouble so often.
SMITE’s Patch 5.5 strikes up a party atmosphere in this MOBA, starting with eight new god skins, adjustments to the matchmaking system, and improvements to the new player experience. Beginners will enjoy better level up rewards than ever before, including a free god, a free voice pack, and plenty of other goodies.
The devs at Hi-Rez are also using this patch for significant balance tweaks: “As the Season continues, we have gotten to a point where players are starting to really understand the map and how to gain a lead from it. Even so, players are struggling to find opportunities to end the game; with Phoenix sieges being very difficult even with a substantial lead. Comeback potential is important, but it shouldn’t feel like the lead built up through the game is unimportant.”
It’s been four years since SMITE
sped onto the scene; that’s four years of gods smashing other gods on the battleground. It’s been a pretty fun ride for Massively OP’s MJ since she climbed aboard, especially with all the adventures! Tonight is all about just hanging out and celebrating the game. Who knows, she might even finally brave the new 5v5 conquest map! Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. and wish the MOBA a happy birthday.
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EDT on Monday, March 26th, 2018
Around the time I started working at Massively-that-was, there was an article that I quite liked talking about how four high-profile MMO failures were not necessary. It was a product of its time, but the point was made that these games didn’t have to wind up in the state they were in. The mistakes that were made were not unexpected problems, but entirely predictable ones that anyone could have seen. Heck, some people did see them and pointed them out, but nothing was changed.
I think about that a lot when I think about other MMOs and online games because there are a lot of titles that, even if not entirely failed, are in states they never needed to be in. These stories are, at the very least, stories of some failures where the failure was not an inevitable end state, nor are they messes that had to be made. The writing was on the wall, the warnings were given, and someone just kept on keeping on and ignored all of the signs. And here we are.
With the insane success — both in terms of popularity and finances — that Dota and League of Legends spawned, you can easily understand why game studios latched onto the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) as a relatively quick cash grab. After all, with players providing the ongoing content (through PvP matches), developers were freed up to focus on balance tweaks and churning out new skins and characters to sell.
In a relatively short span of time, the market became flooded with many imitators that sought to grab that slice of the profitable pie. And while some, such as Hi-Rez’s SMITE, have endured, many games discovered the one key danger with this approach: If you could not generate and sustain a large, active playerbase, you were as good as dead. A critical mass was needed, and when it was not achieved, games started folding up left and right.
In today’s Perfect Ten, we’re going to look at a dozen MOBAs that tried and failed to make it. Perhaps they serve as cautionary lessons to other studios seeking to mimic League of Legends’ format, but we somehow doubt that the era of the MOBA is over just yet.
When you think of raging gods battling it out, do you think adorable
? Well, now you do. SMITE’s
new adventure ups the cuteness meter significantly, and Massively OP’s MJ is powerless to resist. What better way to spend Valentine’s Day, right? She’s heading in to check out the new mode and is ready to coo at the adorableness of it all. Tune in live at 9:00 p.m. for the anime-inspired adventure.
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 9:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
Hi-Rez’s online card game Hand of the Gods: SMITE Tactics is getting a real launch set for February 20th on both PC and console. The game is the studio’s fifth game to make it to this stage (though as we’ve previously written, the studio has quite a lot more in production).
Like SMITE, HOTG will ostensibly be free-to-play, but players will need to buy cards to stay competitive. Hi-Rez says to expect a core bundle plus three pantheon packs to start, with a combined fee of around $45 to nab all the existing cards – more than 300 – at launch.
“Owners of the Founder’s Pack of Venus Competitors Pack will receive the Core Set Bundle for free. In addition, anyone already playing Hand of the Gods will keep their card collection, and will also have any previously spent runes returned to their account. Players can still play for free and acquire cards over time like a traditional CCG. Players can also get a quick start at the game by purchasing just one Pantheon Core Set.”
Check out our most recent stream of the game!