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Perfect Ten: MMO missteps that didn’t have to happen

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.

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Perfect Ten: A dozen MOBAs that didn’t make it

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.

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The Stream Team: SMITE’s new adventure is adorable anime

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

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SMITE-spinoff online TCG Hand of the Gods is launching on February 20th

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!

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Da Ji and the Legend of the Foxes brings an anime adventure to SMITE

For a MOBA, SMITE sure doesn’t play by rules, or at least any rules we recognize. Hi-Rez seems to be constantly reinventing the game and its modes and toons, a pattern on display once again this week as the game rolls out its first adventure of the year: Anime Horde Mode.

Da Ji and the Legend of the Foxes transports players to a colorful realm, complete with anime inspired artwork, where they’ll defeat relentless waves of enemies. Lending her talents to this new experience is renowned voice actress Cristina Vee (Sailor Moon, Pokemon, and Hunter x Hunter), who stars as the Adventure’s main character Senpai Da Ji. […] Da Ji needs help defending the sacred fox from waves of various enemies. Surviving the ninja hordes will pit players against one of the epic bosses in an exciting battle. No two Adventure playthroughs will be the same as each bossfight is randomized, with more bosses being added each patch. With every victory, players will level up and earn in-game rewards to help their progress.”

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SMITE 5.1 is a virtual do-over for the Conquest map

SMITE’s massive 5.1 patch is live today on PC, complete with the heavily overhauled and graphically updated Conquest map. There’s a new tutorial for the map, remodeled characters, an expanded map size, better jungle layout, improved pacing – it’s a ground-up revamp. Do note that Hi-Rez has been hotfixing today (yes, that’s why Thoth was unplayable). Valentine’s day goodies and new skins abound as well.

Consolers, you’ll be waiting another week for your taste of 5.1. Check out the epic player-made infographic below for the full run-down!

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Hi-Rez apologizes for SMITE recruitment video that cracked Paragon jokes

Hi-Rez has apologized for a brief video that invites soon-to-be-homeless Paragon players and everyone else to come play SMITE that was apparently taken as an attack on Paragon and Epic Games.

“If you don’t know Isaiah and myself, we’re just a ‘PARA’ community managers for SMITE,” HiRezSt3alth jokes in the clip as the camera zooms his face for the emphasized word.

“Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s ‘GON’,” HiRezIsiah quips. “That’s why we’re happy to invite players from all walks of life, from all platforms and all communities, to join us for our fifth year and season of SMITE’s release.”

“Wow,” HiRezSt3alth replies. “Five years? That sounds like one ‘EPIC GAME.'”

Interestingly, the Paragon Reddit, or what’s left of it, isn’t really outraged over the video; the upset seems to have mild and come from SMITE players on Twitter who thought it in poor taste, along with a popular streamer who merely called it “embarrassing” and cringey while pointing out that Hi-Rez probably shouldn’t be bragging about longevity given the fate of Tribes: Ascend. (Or Global Agenda, for that matter.)

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SMITE promises improvements to the console experience for players in 2018

The nice thing about SMITE is that whether you prefer to play your games on consoles or on desktop computers, the game gives you the option to play there. The less-nice thing is that console versions of the game have had some persistent issues. But we’re right back to good news, as community manager HiRezIsaiah has posted to Reddit promising that the team is working hard to improve the console SMITE experience this year.

Among the features being developed for console players are more streamlined tools for player reporting when necessary and direct bug fix reports for the game’s console clients. There’s also reassurance to many players within the thread of the original posting to discuss known bugs and the process of isolating and fixing them, even though several of them remain elusive. So it’s not a miracle cure, but if you’ve felt like the console experience is too buggy and not stable enough, you can rest assured that it’s being address and improved.

Source: Reddit


SMITE unleashes the dog from hell

It’s not Hagrid’s dog from Harry Potter and it’s most certainly not the evil corporation from Mass Effect 2, but SMITE’s Cerebus brings both the bite and the bark of these entities to the MOBA.

Cerebus, this week’s new playable character, challenges players to control a three-headed dog from hell with a bad temper. Its tail can spit venom, its breath damages everyone in front of it, and Cerebus can even summon up the souls of the damned to damage and pull enemies. He’s probably not the type to do all this and then roll over for a good ol’ fashioned belly rub afterward, however.

SMITE Patch 4.25 adds a few new god skins, including Sweet Tooth Sol and Brimstone Beast Camazotz, and throws in some more Ragnarok event quests. Get a quick overview of the patch below, and check out our in-depth look at the game’s other improvements!

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Hi-Rez Expo 2018: Erez Goren, 10 more games, 400 employees, and Global Agenda’s City of Heroes roots

It is true that the Hi-Rez Expo has wrapped up for 2018, and we’ll need to wait another 12 months to attend the next one. (Folks should be over the effects of the after party by then!) There’s just something awesome about getting to gather with tons of fans in one place as well speaking with devs face-to-face. Every year has been cool, but this year has something a little extra: Founder and CEO Erez Goren attended and mingled, answering questions and sharing his love for gaming. 

Goren hasn’t given many public interviews in years, but between the dev roundtable with President Stew Chisam and bumping into him on the show floor and chatting with him individually, I got to learn a number of fun facts about the philosophy and workings of the studio from the tip top man himself. And it is true, everything did come from Global Agenda!

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Hi-Rez Expo 2018: Diving deeper into SMITE’s new map, new pantheons, fog, and more

Although the studio makes other games and each has a presence at Hi-Rez Expo 2018, there’s no denying that SMITE was the star of the show. Fans were excited for the big world championship tournament as well as announcements about the MOBA’s development.

And the expo delivered on both counts. EUnited brought the SMITE trophy back the the US for the first time in years, while devs shared some info about the upcoming Season 5.

I sat down with Executive Producer Chris Larson and Lead Designer A.J. Walker to get more details on the new conquest map, the new pantheons, community feedback, and the next adventure mode.

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Hi-Rez Expo 2018: Hi-Rez’s new game Bot Smashers isn’t an MMO, but it’s fun

After a few days of playing Bot Smashers at Hi-Rez Expo 2018 this past weekend, I sat down and talked shop with Rory Newbrough, Bot Smashers Design Director, to get a few more details on the upcoming game. I discovered where the idea came from, and learned more about what to expect in its released form.

What I didn’t learn was that the newly announced game had an MMO version hiding in the wings. Yes, I said that. I think I would totally live in a gaming world of the bots from here. They all have such personality, and they are pretty pleasing to the eye. One of them already has a cloak! The idea just oozes fun. I could see the gruff Topsy trying to maintain order, while the ever-flailing Smashbot runs panicked from life’s crazy stuff. And those Rangerbots? They’ll band together like little green army men to get stuff done. Sadly for me, the mobile game is not an MMO – only a 1v1 battle arena. Maybe someday it could be. (Hey, leave me with my unlikely hopes!) Until that pipe dream can find a thread of reality, here’s what you can expect from the actual mobile game.

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Hi-Rez Expo 2018: Our hands-on with Hi-Rez’s new game Bot Smashers

Hi-Rez Expo 2018 ended this weekend, which means my opportunity to play the studio’s new 1v1 mobile game Bot Smashers has also ended. And that makes me sad. Like last year’s SMITE Rivals (RIP) that I loved so much, the only place to play was the expo show floor. No expo floor means no playing. Now I must wait for a general release to battle some more bots — and right now there is no set time.

What exactly is Bot Smashers, you ask, and why did it enchant me so much? Well that’s exactly what I am going to share with you. Then we can wait on the game together! Hopefully the wait won’t be too terribly long; Rory Newbrough, Bot Smashers GM and design director, noted that the studio hopes to get testing for the game started in the spring, then follow with a soft launch soon after.

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