Convenience and cosmetics. These are the foundational pillars of Guild Wars 2’s
microtransactions, and back at GDC earlier this year, Game Director Crystin Cox opened up about how ArenaNet monetized its game
using these pillars along with the free market and lootboxes.
“Expressing yourself, relating to other people, showing off, making a visual representation of who you are, is hugely important to a lot of MMO players, so that was always very high on our list,” she said. As for convenience items, Cox emphasized how the studio “respected people’s time” and wanted to make items that could trade time and money if so desired.
As for the dual currency system, Cox said that it has turned out quite well for the MMO: “I think we’ve done incredibly well with the free market because it accurately represents the value of the things that people are purchasing.”
Ever since Standing Stone Games started ramping up the prominence of Lord of the Rings Online’s
lockboxes following last year’s Mordor
expansion, the microtransactions have proved to be extremely controversial and divisive in the community.
And while LOTRO isn’t going to be ditching lockboxes any time soon, SSG is working on being more transparent about the system. On April 25th’s livestream, CM Jerry Snook answered a player concern about the topic.
“I have been working on a page in recent days that’s going to provide more transparency on both Hobbit presents and the seal-bound Gorgoroth lootboxes,” he said. “It’s going to talk about what you can get from these things, what’s considered rare, what’s considered common, what’s super-rare.”
Snook said that the page will come out in the next couple of weeks after it has been localized.
It’s safe to say that Path of Exile
will live or die based on its cosmetic shop, as the title famously does not charge for any content. Grinding Gear Games has decided to give the shop a visual facelift in an upcoming patch that will also allow for easier changes down the road.
Players will notice a “larger, clearer” user interface for the shop that also includes better navigation and categories for searches. They’ll also be able to search for certain items by key words.
“We have more plans for future improvements, which we will roll out as they are ready,” GGG said. “One of our most impactful plans is a tagging system that allows you to refine your searches by theme and use tags to cross reference themes or microtransaction type. We would also like to add a setting that allows you to hide microtransactions that you already own.”
As all eyes in Elder Scrolls Online
turn to the future expansion heading to the game next month, testing has begun in earnest on Summerset
. Version 4.0 of the MMO is now on the test servers, and the team is focusing on the starting area, the jewelry system, and the Psijic Order skill line.
Consider this permission to gorge yourself on information. Not only are the patch notes available for this build, but players have datamined several of the crown store microtransactions that are heading into the game. Once you’re done with that, learn where this expansion came from and check out two of our hands-on experiences playing it.
Finally whether you’re testing it out or not, you can get an early look at Summerset’s new crown store offerings, motifs, and housing options after the break!
Everybody loves to dump on EA for wrecking companies like BioWare and escalating microtransactions and lockboxes to ludicrous heights, but is it warranted? Kotaku recently spoke to former BioWare studio boss Aaryn Flynn for the skinny.
“I think there’s this perspective among gamers – angry gamers – that EA comes along and buys studios and ruins them, or EA is forcing microtransactions,” Kotaku suggests. But Flynn isn’t having any.
“I think they are a great company to be a part of because they care very much about the creative process – they care about that – so they want you to be successful, and they will do whatever they can to help you be successful. Every company’s got constraints […] but they are excellent at giving creative freedom for sure.”
It’s springtime in regular flavor RuneScape, and that means the Spring Fayre has returned. You might remember the event from last year, when the playerbase rioted over the frankly ridiculous microtransactions involved in the event. Jagex appears to have learned from that debacle as it’s now a free-to-play episode.
“This time it works a little differently: the Fayre will no longer need entry tokens for participation meaning you can have all of the fun for free! The Spring Fayre will pack up on April 23rd so make sure to take advantage of the attractions available to you!”
Those attractions include fortune telling, scavenger hunts, carnie games, cotton candy, Easter eggs, and all the other traditional midway shenanigans.
Are you pumped for the release of Path of Exile
3.2.0 and the Bestiary League
Friday? Grinding Gear
has been trucking out info to get players prepped on what to expect, including what kind of loot to expect: new crafting recipes, as well as exclusive microtransaction rewards, like the new helmet, wings, portal, and hideout decor. But not everything is being revealed early.
“We have decided not to announce the challenges before the league starts, so that the team have freedom to keep adjusting the challenges as final testing continues,” explains the studio. “This league’s challenges follow a similar format to the ones you’re familiar with, so there should be no unexpected surprises there.”
GGG has also piped up on the balance fixes coming in the update; of note, mods that debuff monster damage will “now actually work properly,” key farming mobs (like Oni-Goroshi) won’t pop as often and will kick your butt when he does, normal mobs will drop fewer items, and sextant spam/blocking/abuse should no longer be a factor in league play.
Patch notes are up now; the trailers are below!
Up until now, the political grumblings about video game gambleboxes has been mostly limited to state governments, specifically Hawaii’s Chris Lee, who submitted four regulatory bills this week, and Washington state’s Kevin Ranker, whose January provisional bill would require an investigation of whether the mechanic constitutes gambling under state laws.
But they’re getting a higher-ranking ally today. As Rolling Stone reports, New Hampshire Senator – that’s the US senate, not the state senate – Maggie Hassan has apparently joined the fray. She sits on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and used a recent committee hearing to ask FTC nominees their opinion on gaming addiction and lockboxes. (All four apparently said the issue is something they will address.)
Hassan also penned a letter to the ESRB asking it to “review the completeness of the board’s ratings process and policies as they relate to loot boxes, and to take into account the potential harm these types of micro-transactions may have on children.”
In Sea of Thieves, your character is a pirate roaming the high seas for boxes of treasure, but in real life you won’t need to exchange your own treasures for random in-game treasures. Design director Mike Chapman has stated that microtransactions are possible for the game post-launch, but loot boxes are definitely out of the question for future development. So you might drop a little coin to get a nice skin or cosmetic gear or whatever, but you won’t be looking at lootboxes no matter what.
Of course, if your computer can’t handle the game you probably won’t be looking at anything whatsoever, so you might want to check out the game’s system requirements before eagerly declaring that it’s a sailor’s life for you. The bare minimum specs still require a Windows 10 machine, so if you’ve stuck by an older operating system we’re sorry to inform you that Windows ME is no longer going to keep you in the game. Check out the chart to see if you need to upgrade, and if you refer to buying new hardware as “trimming up the mainsail” in the checkout line, the employees at the store likely won’t care.
Such dog, very mount, many lunar new year, WoW. Yes, World of Warcraft has introduced a new mount for the Year of the Dog, and it is… a dog. It’s just a big old dog. Why is Shu-zen, the Divine Sentinel available for purchase? Because you can get him over in the Chinese version of the game for buying a large amount of game time, and the rest of us want to be able to fly around on a good dog too.
Obviously, the dog in question can fly, because of course it can. It also features all of the usual elements of a cash shop mount, unlocking on all of your characters for one purchase price of $25. If this addresses a pressing need in your life to have a flying dog in the game, it’s available now; if you can’t understand why someone would drop $25 on a flying dog mount, feel free to mutter “heck” and move on.
With revenues and net bookings up, Activision Blizzard is riding high going into 2018. CEO Bobby Kotick introduced the Q4 2017 report by saying that it was “a record quarter to cap off a record year for Activision Blizzard.”
The studio’s net revenues shot up 6% to $7.02 billion and its revenues were up 1%, bringing in $2.04 billion during the quarter. The company’s stock price took a dip that it attributes to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, however. More than $4 billion of that net revenue came from in-game microtransactions, half of which came from the company’s PC and console titles.
Destiny 2 and Overwatch did its part to push earnings, with the former being the second-highest-grossing console game for 2017 in North America. Overwatch has witnessed “higher engagement” since its Overwatch League began. And while Blizzard continues to not report on the population of any given game, the studio said that it had 40 million monthly active users during the quarter.
Here is some nightmare fuel for gamers imagining the future of the industry. How about an artificial intelligence that deliberately manipulates and messes with players in games to drive revenue growth?
Back in January, a leaked and unconfirmed (and possibly fake) slide show from Data Broker LLC outlined a draft of something called “online game revenue models with AI.” In it, an AI was described that manipulated players’ gameplay experience to drive them toward more microtransactions. Even worse, it uses real-world information about you to drive this process.
“We have proven that allowing the AI to alter a player’s game as a whole (social engineering),” the slide show appears to say, “and alter the player’s individual gameplay experience (psychological manipulation tactics) causes a consistent and dramatic increase recurrent revenue streams.”
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 EVE Online, CSGO, Fortnite, EverQuest II, Star Wars Battlefront II, Black Desert, War of Rights, Armored Warfare, Dota 2, Hellion, Elder Scrolls Online, Overwatch, Fortnite, Final Fantasy XI, and Pokemon Go, all waiting for you after the break!