The former head of SOE and Daybreak. Affectionately known to gamers as “Smed.”
Chargebacks were a big deal in 2016: Black Desert, ArcheAge, and No Man Sky were all embroiled in community drama thanks to perceived chargeback abuse. PayPal even ended its chargeback protection for crowdfunding donations, making it harder for gamers who hand over cash to abuse the credit card system to get that money back.
But some games are offering you your money back and you're still not taking it.
Hero's Song, for example, recently went under, but John Smedley pledged to refund any Steam and Indiegogo purchasers who asked for their money returned. Yet there are folks in our comments who said they wouldn't take him up on that -- they feel they got their money's worth or don't feel it's right to take back what was intended as a gift, risks fully understood. That reminded me of when Glitch sunsetted after a couple years in operation and Stewart Butterfield offered everyone all of their money back from years of play and a lot of players said no way.
How about you? Do you claim refunds on games when available? How often do you do it?
This week in MMO crowdfunding news, refunds continue for Hero's Song, which was canceled the day after Christmas with the promise to reimburse all those who backed the game through Indiegogo or on Steam early access. A new Indiegogo announcement from John Smedley yesterday says that Pixelmage has finished processing all pending requests -- manually -- and will soon begin mailing checks. "On the PayPal front we're awaiting having our PayPal account authorized to do this," he writes, suggesting that will be resolved early next week.
Meanwhile, take note, future MMO devs: If our readers are any indication, Kickstarter is probably not going to be your ticket to cash in 2017.
Read on for more on what's up with MMO crowdfunding over the last few weeks and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we've got our eye on!
The number of games our wee little Stream Team covers in the span of a year is staggering. If you ever wanted to know what an MMORPG looks like and how it plays before you shell out money or download a mega-client, the Stream Team is your best bet.
We’ve put together some of our favorite streams from the year, from launches to first-looks and beta deep-dives and even a series of SMITE charity streams we did with the help of our viewers. Enjoy!
As Hero's Song transitions into Hero's Swan Song following this week's announcement of the game and studio shutdown, John Smedley and Pixelmage Games are encouraging backers to take advantage of the open refund policy.
The studio said that it will start processing refunds early next week and give players their money back via check or PayPal. Due to Pixelmage shutting down, the studio would like backers to file sooner rather than later. The last date you will be able to do this is on March 31st, 2017.
John Smedley told fans not to be bashful and refuse the refund: "I've seen a lot of emails saying, 'Keep my money, thank you for your hard work.' You have no idea how good that makes us feel, but we actually feel the opposite. PLEASE TAKE YOUR MONEY BACK. We took your money in good faith and it is with that same good faith that we want to give it back to you."
Pixelmage Games, the indie studio headed up by MMO veteran John Smedley, announced today that it is folding up, which means Hero's Song is coming to an end.
"It's with a heavy heart that I have to report that Pixelmage Games is going to be shutting down and we have ceased development on Hero's Song. For the last year, our team has worked tirelessly to make the game we've dreamed about making, and with your support, and the support of our investors, we were able to get the game into Early Access. Unfortunately sales fell short of what we needed to continue development. We knew going in that most startups don't make it, and as an indie game studio we hoped we would be the exception to that rule, but as it turned out we weren't."
Notably, the team says that anyone who purchased the game is entitled to claim a refund -- through Steam the old-fashioned way or by email if you're an Indiegogo contributor.
This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Shards Online announced it'll kick off its alpha early in the new year, on January 13th. "Based on the feedback we've received from our current playerbase, there are a few things that need to happen before we can consider ourselves ready for Steam," says Citadel's Derek Brinkmann -- and those include a bigger world map, tamed mounts, the archery skill, modding, and dev tools.
And last night, Star Citizen dropped 2.6 Star Marine for backers, along with the surprise announcement that it's been using Amazon Lumberyard for over a year now.
- Former City of Heroes community member Je Saist has set up a GoFundMe to help him pay off medical bills accruing as a result of his early onset glaucoma diagnosis.
- John Smedley told Redditors that "money is tight" for Hero's Song.
- Project Gorgon pulled in over $17,000 from its Indiegogo campaign.
- Grim Dawn rolled out its 126.96.36.199 patch, which includes a massive outdoor "Aetherial roguelike" dungeon.
- Elite: Dangerous raised £46,813 during its recent charity livestream.
- Descent: Underground announced its Avalanche update and GOG launch.
- Wild Terra updated with its Christmas event this very weekend.
Read on for more on what's up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and the regular roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we've got our eye on!
With 2016 drawing to a close and 2017 rushing up to meet us, the Massively OP team has regrouped for another round of bold and goofy predictions for the year ahead. What's in store for the MMO genre next year? Here's what we think.
December's many article roundups and awards always remind us that it's hard to remember what happened last month, let alone what happened way back at the beginning, so this year (as last year), we decided to poke through our MMO coverage, month by month, to hit the highlights and frame our journey before we launch into 2017.
January 2016 was dominated by the launch of NCsoft's Blade & Soul in the west, but we also got our first teases of Guild Wars 2's gliding, mourned The Repopulation's engine switch, watched Firefall continue to unravel, peeked into Black Desert's beta, and saw Smed announce Hero's Song only to abruptly cancel the Kickstarter not long afterward.
Read on for the whole list!
We've had several tips this week from players concerned about Hero's Song. One, for example, suggested that several employees had left Pixelmage Games and noted that the testing and community staff had abruptly ceased interacting with the public at the beginning of December following the launch of a patch. Others floated the rumor that the game's early access showing on Steam predicted the shutdown of the company.
While neither confirming nor denying the rumors, Pixelmage's John Smedley did tell Reddit that money is an issue in a post earlier this afternoon.
"Sorry for the lack of news or updates. To put it bluntly here part of being a startup means money is tight and funding is a major part of what we have to do as a startup. We're working through some things and I appreciate your patience. Sorry for not being more transparent on this particular issue but the simple truth is sometimes there isn't much that we can say. More info soon."
We have reached out to Pixelmage for more information, but the studio does not currently have a statement it's willing to share.
Massively Overpowered's end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for Biggest MMORPG Story of 2016, which was awarded to the SOE/Daybreak formation drama last year. This isn't an award based on popularity as measured by hits or comments, and it's not for a single article; it's an award for an ongoing narrative or event of deep importance and significance for the genre in 2016. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end!
The Massively OP staff pick for Biggest MMORPG Story of 2016 is...
Last week, we reported on the news that Daybreak President Russell Shanks, who had been the President of the company ever since John Smedley resigned last year, apparently left back in October, being replaced at least in part by Columbus Nova exec Ji Ham, whose Linkedin suggested he's been a Co-President of Daybreak since July of 2015 and now is apparently Acting President. As of this evening, we now have confirmation of those facts -- and little more.
"Daybreak Games confirms that Russ Shanks has recently stepped down from his position at Daybreak to pursue other interests," a representative for Daybreak told us tonight. "Ji Ham will continue as acting president of the company."
Columbus Nova is the investment company that picked up Sony's unwanted SOE branch last year when the studio was spun off and rebranded as Daybreak. In light of the "acting" terminology, it remains unclear whether Ji Ham is a permanent installation or a new president will be selected to replace Shanks in the future.
Wilhelm over at The Ancient Gaming Noob has dug up what appears to be juicy Daybreak news. According to entries on Linkedin and Wikipedia, Russell Shanks, who had been the President of the company ever since John Smedley resigned last year, apparently left back in October, being replaced at least in part by Columbus Nova exec Ji Ham, who's now listed as having been a Co-President of Daybreak since July of 2015 and now is apparently Acting President.
You might remember Shanks from such gems as "Daybreak is discontinuing development of EverQuest Next" because "we found that it wasn't fun."
Columbus Nova, on the other hand, is the investment company that picked up Sony's unwanted SOE branch last year when the studio got the Daybreak rebrand.
We've reached out to Daybreak for more information on the studio's leadership structure. Nice work, TAGN. We say at least 8 points (and don't forget Jack Emmert).
Following an intense alpha weekend test, Hero's Song is going into early access on Steam today as planned. The title is scheduled to go live at 11:00 a.m. EST.
"It needs more time and love, but I'm confident it's going to get that since it's our sole focus," John Smedley wrote on Facebook. "It's releasing earlier than we would like, but our commitment to updating it at a constant pace and to the vision that has always been there for what we are trying to make will keep us making it better and better for a long time to come!"
During the alpha test, the team released a couple of updates, including a patch that added a way for Steam friends to join the same worlds while the game was offline.