kids

Belgium seeks to ban lockboxes as gambling, plus Hawaii and France weigh in

Capping off the Great Star Wars Battlefront II Fiasco of November, Belgium’s Gambling Commission and the Dutch Gaming Authority both began investigating lootboxes/lockboxes to determine whether they constitute gambling and necessitate appropriate regulation. Now, the former has issued its ruling, and unlike the gaming-industry bodies ESRB and PEGI, it didn’t add to the BS smokescreen.

Indeed, the Belgian Kanspel Committee has indeed ruled that the practice is a serious problem. “The mixing of money and addiction is gambling,” it declares. Belgian Minister of Justice Koen Greens told VTM that he aims to have gambling mechanics stricken from games entirely, banned outright, throughout Europe. “But that takes time.”

The US state of Hawaii has joined in the fray too, as state representatives have lambasted EA’s “predatory behavior,” calling the game a “Star Wars-themed online casino, designed to lure kids into spending money.” Is it just one state? Maybe not.

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Analyst blames EA’s Star Wars Battlefront 2 fiasco on the press, Reddit, and video game purists

KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren, who surely makes more money than you do, wants you to know that he’s a gamer too! And he assures you that you’re paying too little for games! In fact, KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren says the real problem with the whole Star Wars Battlefront 2 monetization fiasco – the one that apparently worried Disney enough into making EA turn off microtransactions – is actually the big scary powerful gaming press, some dudes on Reddit, and their “popular press narrative.”

“This saga has been a perfect storm for overreaction as it involves EA, Star Wars, Reddit, and certain purist gaming journalists/outlets who dislike microtransactions,” KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren insists. “Quantitative analysis shows that video game publishers are actually charging gamers at a relatively inexpensive rate, and should probably raise prices.” Indeed, KeyBanc Capital Markets financial analyst Evan Wingren estimates that you’re paying only 40 cents an hour for the average video game, compared to 60 cents for TV and 80 cents for a movie rental! Shit, guys, I’m going to go write EA a check right now.

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Former SWTOR dev talks about designing ethical lockboxes

An extensive Twitter thread from former Star Wars: The Old Republic lead systems designer Damion Schubert grappled with the timely and touchy topic of lockboxes and microtransactions from the perspective of one who designed them.

Schubert said that designers can make lockboxes that aren’t pure evil: “I’ve been working in free-to-play games for four years, and lootboxes are pretty crucial to that business model working. But it is possible to do them ethically, and they are super easy to f**k up.”

“Good [microtransactions] design is an art,” he continued. “It requires designers to be equal partners with product managers to come up with something that is perceived as fair and is celebrated […] MTX will fail if it doesn’t feel good to spend. It will fail if it creates a poisonous environment around the game instead of excitement.”

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Perfect Ten: What to expect when you play World of Warcraft Classic

Are you ready to play the most anticipated MMORPG from 2004? It turns out that, yes, many of you are. The frenzy over World of Warcraft Classic is probably nowhere near its zenith yet, as the announcement of the server has sparked enormous amounts of conversation among the community.

While we most likely have a while to go before Blizzard’s time travel machine is complete, it is not too soon to start thinking about the logistics and reality that a legacy server will entail. The existing emulator community and a look at the past development and operation of vanilla World of Warcraft can give us an idea of what WoW Classic will be like, although Blizzard’s vision may differ in format, business model, and features.

What will it be like to jump back to the first year or two of World of Warcraft and play that version of the game? It’s going to be a drastic shock to veteran and new players alike, especially those who might have forgotten how MMOs used to operate back in the day. Here are 10 things to expect when you log in to Classic for the first time.

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Wizard101 sends players to adventure at the heart of the Spiral with part one of Empyrea

At the center of the Spiral in Wizard101 sits Empyrea, which was made to keep the Chaos Heart safe. It accomplishes that goal by, well, keeping pretty much everyone out. But player characters are going to head there with the game’s latest update, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s tons of great stuff for players in Empyrea, starting with a level cap boost to 125. That means a new training point, new challenges, new gear to earn, and all sorts of new fun to be had in the zone.

Players can also expand their understanding of Shadow Magic within the new zone with new Shadow Magic spells, become a Revered Crafter, and generally enjoy all of the content that comes along with having three new premium zones in the game. Of course, this is just part one of the venture into Empyrea, so there’s going to be more in the future; players will just have plenty of stuff to do before that future comes to pass.

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The Game Archaeologist: Disney’s Toontown Online

The use of the word “toon” to describe MMORPG characters is a contentious one, with fans divided over its annoyance or acceptance. But when it came to one MMORPG, it was nothing but proper terminology to call all characters just this.

Toontown Online was one of those “kiddie MMOs” that you probably ignored unless you happen to fall within its demographical clutches back in the day. While it lasted for about a decade, the game’s operation would be notable for its repeated transformation and uncertain status.

With a silly, cartoon-like look and theme, this MMO attempted to bring a levity to a genre that was often marinating in deep fantasy lore and statistical theorycrafting. But when you wanted to eschew dragon fighting for slapstick pie throwing, there was no better game out there. Let’s take a look!

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LOTRO Legendarium: Reviewing the Mordor soundtrack

Here’s a weird thing to admit: I was actually concerned when I heard that Lord of the Rings Online brought back Chance Thomas to score this year’s Mordor expansion. It’s not that I dislike him or his music; on the contrary, I recognized that Thomas has created a large amount of terrific music for this MMO’s beloved score. And while SSG has done very well with its scoring in house (Gondor in particular), I would normally be ecstatic to see Thomas come back again.

My concern stemmed from the source material. Mordor is evil, through and through, and I knew that this would call for an oppressively dark soundtrack. I felt that no matter who scored it, it wasn’t going to be an eminently listenable album, and I worried that Thomas’ efforts would be hamstrung by this setting.

After receiving an advance copy of the score (which will go on sale digitally November 1st), I found my concern borne out. Mordor’s OST is very competent and does a great job helping to sell the corrupted, death-strewn nation — but it’s not anywhere near as fun to listen to as, say, Thomas’ adventurous Riders of Rohan or his classic Shadows of Angmar work. That said, there are a couple of standout pieces and some very interesting elements going on with these tunes, so let’s go through it track by track to grok this latest chapter in the LOTRO musical archive.

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The Daily Grind: Which MMO delivers players the best ‘tricks?’

“Trick or treat!”

Kids say this over and over every October 31st, but let’s be honest: They’re only looking for the treats. If an adult was to come to the door and shoot confetti from an air cannon yelling “Trick!” then there would probably be some tears and parental confrontation soon thereafter.

But MMORPGs aren’t always treats; sometimes they are tricksy, quite tricksy indeed. Maybe there’s a game that psyched you out in a glorious, memorable way. Maybe an MMO gave you some really fun toys to play tricks on others during the Halloween season. And maybe you enjoy running spooky content not knowing if the game is going to spring a trick on you or pay out a trap.

Which MMO brings you the best “tricks?” Bonus points for keeping your cynicism at bay in your reply!

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The Stream Team: Giving away creepy clown Halloween bundles in Wizard101

Halloween is all about collecting goodies, and Massively OP’s MJ has some Wizard101 goodies to give away! Special for the season, she has a handful of the new Spooky Carnival Bundles to pass out while enjoying the holiday content. Who wouldn’t want special Halloween treats like a new outfit, a new mount, and a creepy carousel housing item? And what’s scarier than clowns? The pack includes:

  • Scarousel Housing Item
  • Creepy Clown Car Mount (4-Player + 50% Speed Boost)
  • Booloon Pet
  • Spooky Carnival Outfit
  • Spooky Throwing Knife Weapon
  • 1 Month or 5,000 Crowns

Celebrate Halloween the scary way! Grab your squirting flower and red nose and join us live at 8:00 p.m. for your chance win one of these bundles

What: Wizard101
Who: MJ Guthrie
When: 8:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

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Trion Worlds entices players to support Extra Life charity with in-game rewards

If you haven’t heard already, tomorrow marks the start of a massive gaming marathon called Extra Life that will help raise much-needed funds to aid sick kids at the Children’s Miracle Network hospital. Among those forming teams and playing titles for this charity is Trion Worlds, which is encouraging its community to rally around this worthy cause.

Trion’s Extra Life marathon begins tomorrow afternoon, during which the dev team will stream non-stop for 24 hours. To encourage and entice players to join the team in this fundraising effort, Trion is offering a bounty of virtual goods based on the amount of money raised.

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Boat mounts, Halloween, and Billy the Kid blast into Wizard101 and Pirate101

As Pirate101 celebrates its fifth birthday this month, there is no shortage of things to keep budding buccaneers occupied in this strategy MMO. New boat mounts, a practice PvP mode, emojis, more quests, a team-up ledger, and automatic companions have all arrived thanks to the latest update. Additionally, Billy the Kid — a cowboy goat, get it? — has joined the roster of companions that players can collect.

Over in Wizard101, Halloween is more pronounced as Spooky Bob and his crew return for another creeptastic event. “Dworgyn and Jack Hallow will again offer their spooky quests to wizards new and old. You may even catch the ink-hungry Vampire Squid in Cyclops Lane if you’re lucky,” the team cackled.

Additionally, KingsIsle has signed up to be part of this year’s Extra Life charity gaming marathon. Players can help out by joining the KI team and raising funds for local hospitals.

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Free Realms ‘Sunrise’ emulator prepares for second alpha test

Last year, almost three years after SOE shut down Free Realms for good, a group of players announced that it was resurrecting the title in emulator form. Last March’s alpha test came and went, and now a second test is on the way, expected to include character creation and customization, NPCs, female toons, and a new spawn location. The player devs are also celebrating 5000 members organizing on Discord.

“This Discord server has reunited a decent portion of the community that was nearly lost after the game closed. The continued support from both the FRS staff team who work as volunteers, and the community makes it apparent that the sunset of Free Realms was not left ignored. All the community support for the revival of Free Realms really motivates us as a team to keep moving forward! Things have been a bit quiet lately, but don’t fret. We are still hard at work preparing Alpha 2, and once that happens, we’ll open the game up to a lot more people! We would like to thank everyone here who is supporting this project and being patient with us while we continue to develop the game.”

It doesn’t appear Daybreak has given its legal blessing on the project, but the studio has traditionally turned a blind eye to emulators for all of its games and indeed has endorsed one for the EverQuest franchise.

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The Daily Grind: Do dinosaurs help or hurt your immersion in MMOs?

My kids, being of a younger age, tend to find dinosaurs pretty darn awesome. They went bananas the other day when they saw a dino mount in Neverwinter and screamed at me for not getting it (“cash shop ploy” does not mean much to them).

Not every MMORPG tosses in dinosaurs, but they get slipped into fantasy worlds more often than you would think. From World of Warcraft’s Un’goro Crater to Trove’s Jurassic biome, there seems to be this thought that dinosaurs can punch up a title and pander to that young, impressionable kid in all of us (and I won’t even get started on the whole ARK phenomenon).

It might be a frivolous topic, but do you think dinos help or hurt MMOs? Are they just too immersion-breaking and bizarre to toss into most fantasy worlds? Does their scale hamper their inclusion? What do you say?

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