microtransaction

EVE Evolved: What's the deal with EVE's PLEX changes?

This week CCP Games announced that some big changes are on the way for PLEX in EVE Online. The PLEX or "30-day Pilot's License EXtension" is a virtual item that represents 30 days of subscription time and can be bought for cash and then sold to other players for in-game ISK. This simple mechanic has proven to be one of the most important innovations in the subscription MMO business model over the years, allowing players with lots of in-game wealth to effectively play for free while permitting cash-rich players to buy in-game currency without funding dodgy farming operations that can disrupt the game world. Dozens of games now support some kind of player-mediated currency roughly like PLEX.

The proposed changes are intended to simplify EVE's business model by merging PLEX with the microtransaction currency Aurum. Players will also be able to put their PLEX into invulnerable account-wide PLEX Vaults that are accessible at all times rather than having to move the valuable items manually by ship. There's been significant backlash from the EVE community over the newfound invulnerability of PLEX, plans to delete some microtransaction currency from the game without compensation, and the possibility that someone leaked the announcement to friends early in order to make a profit. So what's the deal with these PLEX changes, and why are some EVE players going nuts over them?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the upcoming changes to the safety of PLEX, the opportunities that more granular PLEX could have for EVE, and why players are up in arms over plans to delete Aurum from thousands of accounts.

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Why gacha is the 'gotcha' tactic of MMO sales

Making money in free-to-play games isn't as simple as pursuing a single revenue stream. Often studios are looking at multiple approaches to coax players to part with their money in exchange for various goods and services. Now we all know that psychological manipulation is a key part of monetization, which is why it behooves you to read this Gamasutra article on a specific type of microtransaction moneymaking called "gacha."

Gacha is derived from Japanese vending machines that people would pay for a random toy that is part of a set. The idea is, in both the physical and video game space, that by convincing customers to repeatedly buy objects for a chance to complete a set, the customer will often end up purchasing many repeats (and thus buy the same thing more than once). Gacha can be implemented in many interesting ways in video games, turning the process into a game in and of itself (that costs real money to play).

Is this method evil or entertaining? The article says that it leans toward the latter: "Gacha is a powerful game design technique that allows developers to successfully monetize on F2P market. It's worth to remember that gacha may be designed in numerous ways that don't exploit human addictions to gambling but entertain and monetize in a synergy."

Source: Gamasutra

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The Soapbox: Everyone's being dumb about Star Wars: The Old Republic's lightsaber

A couple of years ago, The Force Awakens introduced us to (among other things) a lightsaber that looks poorly made, like a little kid made it. So Star Wars: The Old Republic added a version of it to a lockbox, and everyone got pissy. Then it got added to direct sales, and everyone got pissy.

Including me! Except, in my case, not because I feel like one side or the other is being hard done by. No, it's that rare situation wherein I consider pretty much everyone involved to be whining about something that really requires not the slightest bit of whining. Yes, everyone here is being dumb and I am on absolutely no one's side here. Except for the side of tegu.

As such, I've compiled my thoughts briefly below, with sections dedicated to both "sides" of the debate and all of the people who are mad. I've also included a few pictures of big old lizards because I was told that I couldn't write an entire column about liking lizards and I can be petulant, too. So if you don't care about this debate, check out some lizard pictures. That'd be fun.

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The Repopulation will be playable Sunday, back on Steam later in March

The Repopulation is indeed on track to resume early access later this month as planned.

"Servers will be opening up to all current players on the 12th of this month," Idea Fabrik COO Sarrene' Grant told forumgoers this afternoon.

"All backers and current players of The Repopulation can enter the game starting at midnight EST on Sunday. Downloads are open, as some of you already know. Your game account login will be exactly the same. Nothing has changed there. We wanted to make sure that everyone that bought and supported the game had the same access as before. If you forgot your password you can use the link provided on the launcher to reset your password. If you have any problems logging in please feel free to post that up. A ticket system will be in place after the transfer is complete. We will be turning The Repopulation sales on at Steam between the 19th and the 26th of this month depending on how the servers hold up to the Alpha testing."

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Path of Exile is buffing the heck out of leaguestones

Path of Exile's 2.6 patch last week was a whopper, but it wasn't without issues, some of which are rectified in today's update. In addition to swatting a number of pesky bugs, Grinding Gear Games has made several much-welcomed changes to leaguestones in particular.

"The Leaguestone progress bar now appears red when the leaguestone has not activated because it is underleveled for the area that the player is in.
Added minimum generation levels to some mods on Leaguestones where they could drop before that content could spawn.
Perandus Leaguestones that drop after this patch will now have a 20% chance to spawn Cadiro in the next area.
Onslaught Leaguestones that drop after this patch will now have 20% increased Quantity of Items found in the next area.
The Aspect of Ruination unique monster from the Luring Rampage Leaguestone mod now does 20% less damage.
The Ancient Reliquary is now Normal difficulty."

Brodiro memes right here.

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Path of Exile creates the industry's first 'transparent' lockbox

We've all griped and grumbled about how MMO lockboxes are too much like gambling and tend to swindle players out of money for a chance at getting desired items. But what if an MMO came out with a lockbox that told you up front what your odds are of winning rare items, promised you an item of equal value or more to what you spend on it, and said that any of its offerings would be put up for sale on the store at a later date?

That's exactly what Path of Exile is doing with its new classic mystery box. "We've taken a look at how our mystery boxes are designed, and have revamped our systems to be more ethical, transparent and provide more value than ever before," the studio said. "We've flattened out the odds of possible outcomes to make it more likely to receive the most valuable microtransactions than in previous boxes."

The odds are no secret; players have a 20% chance of winning a rare item, 35% chance of an uncommon, and 45% chance of a common in each box. Additionally, while the boxes won't tell you what's inside, they will post the price up front of the value of each box's contents so that you can make a more informed purchase.

Check out what some of the offerings look like in the classic mystery box after the break!

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Paladins bumps up Essence gains significantly for players

The Paladins community was not terribly happy with the changes made to the game's microtransaction model for, let's face it, entirely understandable reasons. Introducing Legendary cards, swapping things out for Essence, and then making Essence accumulate at such a slow rate as to be irrelevant? The good news is that the developers have heard the complaints and are rolling out fixes to make Essence easier to acquire from all sources.

Players will need 12,000 Essence rather than 18,000 to purchase Legendary cards, while duplicate Common cards will offer 250 Essence rather than 60. Players can also earn 1000 Essence per achievement, and Mastery bonuses achieved before the chest rewards were put into place will retroactively award a large amount of Essence rather than retroactive chests. That doesn't necessarily mean that players will be totally all right with the changes made so far, but it's a step in the direction of correcting course.

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Digital game sales took off in 2016

Don't look now, but we're putting the cap on "the biggest year in digital games and playable media ever," according to SuperData Research.

Thanks to digital PC, mobile, and console game sales, the industry cleared a staggering $91 billion in revenue, demonstrating a far wider audience than ever before. Out of that, $6.6 billion was spent on downloading games to consoles, while $34 billion was spent on PC games and free-to-play microtransactions.

E-sports is becoming more and more the focus of studios and advertisers, so don't expect that to go away any time soon. The report did hit a cautious note, saying that the first year of virtual reality media was "sobering" due to high prices for the equipment and a lack of a strong field of games.

Source: SuperData

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Massively OP's Best of 2016 Awards: Worst MMORPG Business Model of 2016

Massively Overpowered's end-of-the-year 2016 awards continue today with our award for Worst MMORPG Business Model of 2016, which is another new consideration for us this year thanks to a proposal from readers strangesands and Roke. As a counterpart to yesterday's award for the best business model of the year, this "award" is intended to recognize a live MMORPG of any age that has demonstrated a particularly awful business model specifically in 2016, regardless of its past performance. 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 Worst MMORPG Business Model of 2016 is...

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Player drops $1M of stolen money on a free-to-play game

If you could spend someone else's money on a free-to-play game without shame, how much would you blow on microtransactions and other in-game advantages?

For one California man, the answer to that question was, "One million dollars of stolen money." The title in question was the F2P mobile title Game of War, and the player a 45-year-old man named Kevin Lee Co.

Co confessed in a guilty plea of embezzling $4.8 million from his company over the span of seven years. Among the other crazy things he purchased, a fifth of the stolen funds was spent on a single game, which probably makes him one of the biggest F2P whales of all time.

Co faces up to 20 years in prison for his crime. Perhaps he should have used the "Kate Upton made me do it" defense.

Source: Ars Technica. Thanks Anon!

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Mech_Con 2016: MWO skill trees, game modes, and MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries

As one might hope for from a convention, Mech_Con 2016 was a time to not only hang out with other fans and meet the devs but get exciting announcements for MechWarrior Online. And Piranha Games didn't disappoint. From the new game modes to the new skill trees, there was definitely new content revealed and showcased. Then there was the surprise announcement of the single-player MechWarrior 5: Mercenaries, which brought the audience to its feet.

Beyond the staged announcements, I also had the chance to sit down with Piranha Games President Russ Bullock to talk a bit about the future of MechWarrior Online. Here's a run-down of the news that came from the game's first convention, as well as a peek in pictures of the other 'Mech related activities -- like watching the first world championship play out, play testing Catalyst Games' upcoming BattleTech board game, and hearing more about the Hairbrained Scheme's BattleTech turn-based game in development.

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Path of Exile: Breach is launching today - right now, actually

Going live today -- right as this post is published, in fact, if all goes well -- is the latest content addition to MMOARPG Path of Exile. Dubbed Path of Exile: Breach, 2.5.0 is set to introduce the Breach League and Direct X 11/64 bit rendering.

MOP's MJ Guthrie got an extended look at the new update back in November, Grinding Gear Games Producer Chris Wilson, who told us that Breach is even bigger than Atlas of Worlds' Essence league and is expected to push the game through the holidays with content and new gear for both hardcores and casuals. Let us know if you're playing!

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Conan Exiles answers questions about its upcoming early access launch

With Conan Exiles' early access launch just around the corner, you can better believe that the community has a mountain of questions about the survival sandbox. Funcom's Joel Bylos stepped into the Xbox One Reddit yesterday to tackle many of these, although some, like queries about pricing, he declined to answer (Conan Exiles won't have microtransactions or a sub, however).

Bylos said that the primary inspiration for the game comes straight from Robert E. Howard's books. "Conan Exiles has a tighter focus on melee combat, a world that can be explored to find lore and stories, a religion system that allows access to magic and god avatars, a thrall system that allows you to enslave and turn your enemies into allies," Bylos said. "Oh and no flying mounts, because those tend to make the world too small."

Players will have a wide range of rulesets from which to choose, with each server hosting up to 70 players apiece during the early access period.

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