microtransaction

Massively Overthinking: The best and worst MMO developer quotes of 2017

Think of all the wacky things devs have said in public in front of gamers and journalists this year.

Now imagine what gets said behind closed doors!

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked our staff to select the best (and worst) developer quotes from the year and reflect on what we’ve learned from them. Let’s dig in – we’ve got some whoppers.

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Tera M is not friendly to free players in its Korean version

Eager to have all of the gameplay of TERA in the palm of your hand with TERA M? You might want to be a little more cautious with that excitement. Steparu has been checking the game out and has concluded that however much fun the game may be, it relies very aggressively on pursuing microtransactions, to the point that level 40 on up is largely a paywall. You’ll be in a bad place if you haven’t bought anything, and that’ll make the game difficult if not impossible to keep playing.

Comparisons are made to the gameplay of Lineage 2 Revolution, and it is of course altogether possible that the business model will be tweaked or revised before the game launches in the west. Still, while we’ve embedded some videos past the break, this may serve to temper your enthusiasm slightly. Or it might instill with you the joy of knowing you shall be an ultra-whale. We’re not going to judge.

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Warframe on how studios should ‘learn to fight superficial microtransaction integration’

Warframe has become aggressively popular according to Digital Extremes’ own metrics, and our own readers back that up. Part of the reason is the game’s business model, which as DE VP of Publishing Meridith Braun tells GIbiz this week that the studio has been working hard on its monetization over the last several years since the game soft launched open beta. (Yes, it’s still technically in open beta.)

“[Players] say they are blown away by the fact that we aren’t a full retail game with paid DLC, and that the monetization we have integrated is more than fair. We’re looking to redefine what free-to-play means to gamers,” Braun argues. That means making almost everything in the game earnable inside the game, downing content progression walls, allowing players to freely trade within the microtransaction system, and respecting the new reality that “a games service is always on and needs constant attention.”

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Guild Chat: The best way to deal with MMO burnout

Welcome along to another advice-filled edition of Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively OP commenters can help solve the guild drama of their fellow readers while also reading my take on the scenario at hand. This time, reader B is wondering how best to deal with burnout and the usual peer pressure to keep playing his MMO of choice. While he used to absolutely enjoy playing and has not needed to take a break before, recently B has been reluctant to log in and the daily grind is becoming more of a chore than a hobby, To complicate matters, B fills a vital role in the content his guild plays and is worried that taking a break — or perhaps leaving the game entirely — will mean his friends have to stop playing too.

Read below for B’s full submission and my response to his situation below, and don’t forget to leave him your personal advice in the comments section.

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The Soapbox: Evaluating gaming monetization through the lens of Nintendo’s mobile history

Bloggers and journalists throughout the online gaming industry have been talking about monetization a lot lately. It’s not just lockbox/gachapon scandals, or their relationship with gambling, but basic monetization and what we want from it. Games, after all, don’t make themselves; we have to pay for something to make that happen. But some gamers seem to view free-to-play games as a game that should be free, not one to be supported if it earns respect. And on the flipside of that, far too few game studios give off a vibe not of experimenting with monetization but of maximizing profits above all else while barely veiling their greed.

However, outside the MMO world, there is a company that’s been doing it “right” for a long time: Nintendo. The AAA developer/publisher is known for both innovation and hesitance, following in others’ footsteps with great trepidation, trying to figure out the ins and outs while entering the mobile market long after it’s been established. The company recently released a new mobile title, but what’s interesting is that it and the company’s last four games are all different genres with different monetization strategies. Exploring these titles and their relationship to their monetization plans will not only highlight the potential success of the models but hint at why they work and how they can be curbed into models gamers and lawmakers can better accept.

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EA caught in lie over Star Wars Battlefront II customization, brings lootbox madness to UFC 3

Among the controversy of EA’s pay-to-win lockboxes in Star Wars Battlefront II emerges a rather reasonable question: Why didn’t the studio create and use cosmetic rewards in these lockboxes rather than selling progression through them?

An EA spokesperson claimed that the company was concerned about “violating the canon of Star Wars” with pink-skinned Darth Vaders and the like, but it turns out that such cosmetic customization was in the works all along. Fans have found a hidden customization menu for characters tucked away in the game’s coding that wasn’t activated for release, hinting that the team had originally envisioned allowing players to adopt and use all sorts of cosmetic skins.

Meanwhile, another one of EA’s upcoming titles is falling under increased scrutiny with its microtransactions model. UFC 3 recently went into beta testing, during which players discovered that “the more a player invests into their account the better their performance will be in game.” Yes, it’s loot crates all over again becoming the gatekeeper to progression, holding access to “every single technique, fighter, and stat roll.”

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Superdata’s October 2017 revenue report: Destiny 2’s and PUBG’s dominance

Destiny 2 may be fudging up left and right, but it still sold a truckton of copies.

That’s according to Superdata, whose most recent revenue report shows Bungie’s new baby holding the #4 spot for PC and #3 spot for console in terms of global revenue for the month of October. “High attach rates for deluxe editions drove the average selling price up,” says the analysis firm, while digital games’ growth across the board “was underpinned by a 28% jump in premium PC thanks to Destiny 2’s successful BattleNet launch, and the continued blockbuster hit of PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.”

Indeed, PUBG blew past D2 on PC to claim the #2 spot, right behind League of Legends. The real competitor for PUBG, however, is Epic’s Fortnite, which startled the PvE playerbase it had cultivated with a quality battle royale mode earlier this fall.

“While Fortnite has seen a higher out-of-the-gate active user base thanks to its F2P status, the game’s long-term success vs. its major and earlier-released rival is uncertain,” writes SuperData.”

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Red Dead Redemption publisher president defends lockboxes

Not everyone in the video game industry is shying away from lockboxes or denouncing them outright. Take-Two Interactive President Karl Slatoff took the side of the ESA by saying that he doesn’t consider lockboxes gambling and that the Red Dead Redemption 2 studio will continue using microtransactions going forward.

“The whole gambling regulator thing, we don’t view that sort of thing as gambling. Our view of it is the same as the ESA statement for the most part,” Slatoff said during a recent confererence. “That’s going to play its course, but in terms of the consumer and the noise you hear in the market right now, it’s all about content […] You can’t force the consumer to do anything. You try to do your best to create the best experience you possibly can to drive engagement. And driving engagement creates value in entertainment. That’s just how it’s always been and always will be.”

As the conversation over lockboxes continues to ramp up, a story of one teen who got caught up in online gambling and spent over $10,000 on video game microtransactions is drawing the attention of many — as is this scathing piece at Polygon taking EA’s poor apologies over Star Wars Battlefront 2 to task.

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Saga of Lucimia secures independent funding to hire contractors

Fiercely independent and minimap-free Saga of Lucimia is publicly sticking to its guns in an attempt to fund and make this fantasy MMORPG, eschewing contracts with publishers who wanted the title to adopt microtransactions and a free-to-play model.

Stormhaven Studios announced today that it has secured independent funding to hire necessary contractors to help complete the game. While the 12-member development team vows not to draw a salary until the game launches, contractors require money up front.

“After a couple of months of talks, we are extremely pleased to announce that we have secured the required funding, paving the way for us to achieve our goals,” the studio said. “In January of 2018, we will be announcing several key positions that we will be filling for the calendar year on a contract basis.”

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Guild Wars 2 defends new mount price, Zadorojny stays on as Game Director, S4 plans brisk cadence

There’s a bit of a kerfuffle over Guild Wars 2’s new mount, which is a gorgeous peacock reskin of the raptor. ArenaNet has put it up for 2000 gems ($25) – a direct-buy, mind you, instead of repeating its lockbox mount fiasco from earlier this month. That hasn’t stopped some players from arguing it’s too expensive, however, compared to the expansion itself, which cost only $30.

ArenaNet’s Mike O’Brien actually answered one player’s Reddit thread on the topic, arguing that even if you don’t want to buy a thing or it’s not aesthetically pleasing, metrics point the way for the studio, and we should be happy if cosmetics like the peacock can manage to support development.

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EA lockbox debacle wipes out billions in stock as SuperData forecasts regulation

It looks as though the rebels may have defeated the empire — or at least struck a mighty blow to give the latter pause.

CNBC is reporting that the fallout from EA’s Star Wars Battlefront II and its lockboxes has done serious damage to the company’s bottom line. EA’s stock price dove 8.5% following the uproar over Battlefront’s egregious lockboxes, the resulting decision to (temporarily) remove them from the business model, and weaker than expected sales. This means that $3.1 billion of shareholder value has now vanished. That’s no small potatoes.

Wall Street Analyst Doug Creutz said that this may be the catalyst that sets some serious changes in motion for the video game industry: “We think the time has come for the industry to collectively establish a set of standards for MTX implementation, both to repair damaged player perceptions and avoid the threat of regulation.”

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Clicker Heroes dev on abandoning the free-to-play model for the sequel

If you’ve never played Clicker Heroes, you can pick it up for your phone or on Steam right now; it’s a lightweight little idle game like Cookie Clicker, except with MMORPG-inspired classes, leveling, and zones. It’s pretty great. And it has a sequel in development, Clicker Heroes 2, which is not going to be free and use a microtransaction model. That’s kind of a swerve in the other direction, and the developers have taken the time to explain why a studio with a successful free-to-play game would develop a pay-to-play sequel.

The letter explains that while the free-to-play model always worked, it also led to some people spending thousands of dollars on the game, which led to concerns about people spending money they couldn’t afford to spend on the game. It also meant that no changes could be made to invalidate real-money purchases, which meant sometimes awkward patches on the game’s systems over time. While no changes will be made to the original, Clicker Heroes 2 will have a box price that the studio hopes can also support mods and enjoyable gameplay.

Source: Official Site via PC Gamer; thanks to Castagere for the tip!

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Choose My Adventure: Challenging currency in Secret World Legends

Here’s the thing that I love to point to whenever I talk about this portion of Secret World Legends: New England is really kind of just like this.

The thing about Kingsmouth is that you can’t really appreciate Kingsmouth unless you’ve actually been to places that feel pretty much like Kingsmouth with a lick of paint. Change the street layouts and call it Vineyard Haven, and I wouldn’t really notice the difference. There’s a degree of verisimilitude there you don’t get with games, which are usually either concerned with the bustle of cities or fanciful lands drawn from cultural theme parks.

Not so on Solomon Island. Yes, it’s in Maine rather than my personal stomping grounds of southern New England, but there’s a real sense that you’re actually dealing with a real place, modeled after real New England seaside communities, complete with a large number of people who don’t seem to be taking it as all that much of a deviation from the norm. When I tell people that this is pretty much true to reality, most of them think I’m joking; I am not.

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