Desperate for some World of Warcraft Classic news now that the BlizzCon high has faded? Forbes has an interview up with Blizzard Executive Producer J. Allen Brack and Senior Game Designer Jeremy Feasel that at least touches on the challenges that lay ahead in bringing a legacy server to the gaming population.
The two don’t mince words about the technical challenge, but say that there is a plan to minimize the complexity of such a project and move forward. The studio said that “lots of decisions to make” and many things to do, such as to partner with the community and get feedback about the formation of Classic.
Brack emphasized that Blizzard wants to structure this so that it will not be managing two MMOs at the same time. He said that headaches aside, it’s a project worth pursuing: “We’re convinced, through the desire of those folks, the desire of our internal folks, and the desire to preserve what WoW was, that this is the right decision.”
Who says subscriptions are dead? Not Star Citizen. The alpha MMORPG has long taken a page out of the Pathfinder Online playbook by offering a subscription service for backers.
But PTU players were apparently sent an email blast this week with the “special announcement” that by “popular request, first-wave PTU access for all Subscribers is now a permanent perk for 2018,” meaning that if you want to be sure you get in to the early test server and get in early, you’ll have to pay for the privilege on a monthly basis, and the thousand bucks you’ve put in on ships doesn’t count.
It does not mean, note, that you can’t play the alpha without a sub; you’ll just get in during subsequent waves – and of course, you can still play the current stable release. Nevertheless, the word “paywall” has been kicked around as people express annoyance with the new status quo.
Stretch your brain allllll the way back to 2016, when Australian courts fined Valve $2.16 million US at the behest of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). That regulatory body had accused Valve of essentially insufficiently advertising and refunding Australian Steam customers for purchases on the platform, which ran afoul of the country’s consumer laws.
In agreeing with the ACCC’s complaint, the federal court found that Valve had not only broken consumer law but failed to properly conduct business in the country and therefore was subject to the maximum fine; the court also ordered Valve to set up special refund notices for Aussie customers and school its employees under a special “Australian Law Compliance Program.”
Valve has apparently spent the last year and change appealing the decision – and hey, they’ve been fighting this since 2014, so why stop now, right? And now, as Gamasutra reports, Valve has applied for “special leave” from the Australian High Court. As in the US, petitioners aren’t necessarily entitled to a hearing before the highest court in the land; members of that court decide whether or not to hear your final appeal once you’ve worked through all the other layers of the court system.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Wakfu, Fortnite, Astroneer, Old School RuneScape, Overwatch, Pokemon Go, Lineage 2 Revolution, PUBG, Defiance, Battlerite, and Path of Exile, all waiting for you after the break!
Forty million downloads. That’s the staggering number that Epic Games is tossing around concerning its incredibly successful Fortnite after a busy holiday season. That’s 10 million up from a month ago, by the way — and it’s only 100 days into the game’s live operation.
“Some of the folk around the office are saying hey, we could be the biggest battle royale game in the western world, which is crazy,” said Lead Systems Designer Eric Williamson. “Some people are saying we could be the biggest and best-played game in the western world.”
So what’s next for the game? The Map Update is coming to the Battle Royale mode with a city and new named areas to flesh out the landscape as well as more distinct biomes.
We named the sad death of Marvel Heroes the greatest MMO disappointment of 2017, and it appears it’s not even over yet. Redditors noticed that on January 4th, three creditors – Secret 6, Playchemy, and Caitlin Capes – filed claim against the assets of Gazillion, or rather, whatever is left to fight over following the company’s apparent collapse last year.
Secret 6 appears to be a multinational game dev studio known best for its art production (Ronald Schaffner is its president), while Playchemy is a mobile development studio. Caitlin Capes’ linkedin shows her as having been an associate producer on Marvel Heroes as well as on the multiplatform VR game Gazillion was reportedly working on. In total, MMO Fallout reports, the three are claiming nearly $700,000 in unpaid debt, the bulk of which is allegedly owed to Playchemy.
Were you thinking you’d escaped all impact from the Meltdown vulnerability afflicting Intel systems? Fortnite players should think again, even consolers, as Epic Games has posted that it’s working with providers to repair its affected backend.
“All of our cloud services are affected by updates required to mitigate the Meltdown vulnerability,” writes the studio. “We heavily rely on cloud services to run our back-end and we may experience further service issues due to ongoing updates.”
Meanwhile, there’s been movement on another of the lawsuits Epic Games lodged against various individuals it accused of disseminating cheating software in Fortnite (including a 14-year-old kid). The lawsuit against one of the defendants, Charles Vraspir, was settled last month. RPS reports that another, Artem Yakovenko, also settled his suit, with each side paying its own legal fees and Yakovenko permanently banned from even so much as helping someone else cheat at an Epic Games title.
Former NCsoft Vice President and Blade & Soul lead producer Bae Jae Hyu has landed in legal hot water thanks to an ongoing insider trading inquiry.
The investigation began last summer when investors seemingly short-sold almost 200,000 shares in the company, a record that saw NCsoft’s stock values fall significantly. Swirling in the background were rumors that Lineage M would launch sans auction hall, which authorities believed might have provoked the move. Bae Jae-hyun, who sold 8000 shares in the company, immediately fell under suspicion, though NCsoft denied the allegations.
But last week, Korea’s Financial Services Commission formally turned the case over to prosecutors.
Insider trading scandals are nothing new to MMORPG gamers; you’ll recall that former Funcom executives were involved in a similar insider trading case following the original launch of The Secret World. The perpetrators in that case were convicted by the Norwegian courts last year.
The bombshell of December 2017 was the news that Crytek was suing Cloud Imperium Games and Roberts Space Industries, the companies behind the sprawling and controversial crowdfunded MMO Star Citizen, alleging that CIG infringed its copyrights by using CryEngine to develop non-Star Citizen game assets in the form of Squadron 42 while misusing Crytek’s logo in marketing materials and Crytek’s CryEngine in the form of Star Engine. In its initial filing, Crytek demanded a huge pile of direct damages, lost profits, and punitive damages, as well as a permanent injunction against CIG’s use of CryEngine.
At the time, CIG told Massively OP that it was aware of the complaint but that the lawsuit was “meritless” as CIG hadn’t used CryEngine since it switched to Amazon’s Lumberyard. And now we see its promised “vigorous defense” action, as CIG has issued a volley of its own in the form of a motion to dismiss the entire suit.
In all our many roundups at the turn of the year, we’ve never done one on the legal dramas that have affected the MMO genre. That changes today!
Of note, there’s…
- the lockbox scuffle as various countries turn their watchful gaze on the industry and self-regulation collapses in a puddle of shrugs;
- the Crytek lawsuit against Star Citizen studio Cloud Imperium;
- the potential for dead online games to skirt DMCA laws;
- multiple Pokemon Go-inspired lawsuits and criminal trials;
- the end of the Warner Bros. and Tolkien estate lawsuit;
- the continuation of the Oculus/ZeniMax Media lawsuit;
- the cease-and-desist filed against Asheron’s Call emulators;
- and a whole ton of Blizzard lawsuits, including the capsizing of the Bossland cheaters following multiple Blizz victories.
My favorite, however, is Andrew’s research into whether lockboxes legally constitute gambling – from last January. Enjoy!
Update: We’ve updated with CIG’s official statement to us below.
Crytek is suing Cloud Imperium Games and Roberts Space Industries, the companies behind the sprawling and controversial crowdfunded MMO Star Citizen.
In documents filed with the California Central District Court yesterday, Crytek alleges that CIG infringed its copyrights by using CryEngine to develop non-Star Citizen game assets – specifically, Squadron 42.
“Crytek has not been compensated for Defendants’ unlicensed use of Crytek technology in the Squadron 42 game, and has been substantially harmed by being deprived of that compensation, which would ordinarily include a substantial up-front payment as well as a substantial royalty on game sales,” plaintiffs argue.
If you’d forgotten, Fortnite wound up bringing a lawsuit against two people for cheating software being used in the game. One such suit hit a wrinkle when it turned out that the defendant was a minor, which has yet to be resolved. The other suit is all done and over with, though, as the developer has reportedly agreed to an out-of-court settlement regarding the lawsuit against Charles Vraspir.
The terms of the settlement forbid Vraspir from taking any actions similar to his prior ones, with a $5,000 penalty if he is found in breach of the agreement. The bright side for him is that he won’t have to pay a fine at all so long as he sticks to the terms of his agreement, so we can only hope for his own sake that he does so. It’s a somewhat anticlimactic ending to that particular matter, but probably the best one for all concerned parties.
The Milwaukee lawsuit sparked by Pokemon Go is finally over.
Back in February, Milwaukee County in Wisconsin issued an ordinance requiring video game developers like Niantic to obtain park permits before using those parks as MMOARG destinations, as Pokemon Go does. That was because the influx of visitors Niantic effectively sent to the parks caused thousands of dollars in damage, and taxpayers had had enough. The ordinance required ARG devs to follow the same rules as geocachers when developing game nodes within the park: purchase a permit and carry $1,000,000 in liability insurance for damages resulting from its players’ park use.
But a few months later, developer Candy Lab AR filed a lawsuit against the county, alleging that the ordinance violated and restricted the company’s “right to free speech” via regulation, that it was “unconstitutionally vague,” and that it held companies legally and financially responsible for the actions of players on park lands, the last of which Candy Lab said would be “financially prohibitive.”