niantic

Pokemon Go adds monthly community events, summons giant (pokemon) whale

Still playing Pokemon Go? Wish you were, but couldn’t find a group to raid with? Or maybe you are in a group but want to fill out the roster a bit more? Good news! Niantic will begin doing monthly community events for the game starting January 20th. The plan is for Niantic to host a monthly event “starring a special Pokémon, which will appear frequently around the world for just a few hours.”

While that sounds like a good way to distribute regionals more, the kicker is that the Pokemon caught during the monthly event also will have an exclusive move. Naturally, the first Pokemon is Surfing Pikachu, but before you wander off to join the rest of us waiting for Squirtle Squad Squirtle, you should know that other bonuses will also be in play, such as increased XP or Stardust, plus Lure Modules activated during the event will last for three hours. It’s probably not going to help build communities as well as in-app social media communication option, but it’s a start.

The timing’s quite nice, as Niantic recently released a new Legendary whale, Kyogre, who (like Groudon) has Mewtwo-esque stats for those of you still pining away for EX Raid passes, but has been difficult for many trainers to catch.

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Pokemon Go will end support for pre-iOS 11 Apple devices by March

Mobile users are probably used to the eventual demise of their phones and the nonfunctionality of apps they bought long ago, no matter which manufacturer or operating system is behind their daily driver. Obsolesence is a way of life. But that reality won’t be of any comfort to Pokemon Go players on older iPhones, who’ve been told this week that their time has come.

“In an upcoming update to Pokémon GO, we will end support for Apple devices not capable of upgrading to iOS 11, such as iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c models,” Niantic announced. “This change is a result of improvements to Pokémon GO that push the application beyond the capabilities of the operating systems on such devices.”

So in a nutshell, come the end of February, you’re going to need a newer phone than one from 2012/2013 to play POGO, else everything you’ve paid for in the game will begin collecting dust and you will be playing other games. It’s not currently clear which other devices are destined for the chopping block in the near future, but it does appear that Niantic’s plan is to drop you rather than create a low-load version of the app to keep dedicated customers on older devices, just as it was Niantic’s plan to block all rooted/jailbroken devices rather than sort out actual cheaters.

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Massively Overthinking: Our MMO hopes and wishes for 2018

One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It’s way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.

But all the same, for tonight’s Massively Overthinking, we’d like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2018 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.

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The most popular Massively OP MMO articles of 2017

One of my favorite things to do every year is drill down the top articles on the site for our readers. I don’t mean the most controversial, the most fun, the most important, or the most commented-on; I mean the single articles that actually brought in the most hits. And what I find most interesting is that most “popular” aren’t always the ones we expect! As we’ve noted before, a well-timed link from a major website – Reddit, Fark, or a game dev – can elevate an entire month. (That’s why we’re so grateful when our fans share our work across social networks!)

Just remember that the list favors posts made early in the year (and in some cases, evergreen articles from earlier years) as later pieces haven’t had as much time to percolate, so when you do see big articles from December on a list like this, that means a popular post indeed!

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Pokemon Go is getting an immersive AR+ augmented reality mode for Christmas

It’s an exciting time to be a Pokemon Go player! It’s been only about a week since the introduction of generation 3 Pokemon and a literal game-changing weather addition, but data miners at Silph Road have already noticed something new. While the recent holiday event announcement confirmed the sale of the new star piece item among other goods, 20 new water and ice Pokemon, increased ice type spawns, and free single-use incubators from December 22-25, we also received news of a huge AR update in league with what we’ve seen for the upcoming AR game Walking Dead: Our World. While data miners think it may work with Android’s ARCore, Niantic’s press release only talks about accessibility for Apple’s ARKit on devices running iOS 11.

Admittedly, this means that AR+ is a feature that only a fraction of the player base will be able to experience. The fact that using this mode also gives players additional experience points and stardust (the game’s rarer currency for leveling Pokemon) is disappointing for those left out, but it makes sense as the new catching method seems rather involved.

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The MOP Up: Wakfu climbs the Mineral Tower (December 17, 2017)

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 Outer Stories of WulinArcheAge Begins, The Black Death, WakfuDark Age of CamelotRuneScape, Pokemon Go, SMITEHeroes of the StormOverwatchBattleriteRagnarok Rush, Wild BustersFinal Fantasy XI, and Twin Saga, all waiting for you after the break!

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Massively Overthinking: Our favorite MMORPG articles of 2017

For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to do something most of them hate: brag! We’ve tried to isolate our favorite personal work from the year and talk about why we think it matters, then identify our favorite work from somebody else on the site this year and do the same. I always tell them it’s easy, but it never is!

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Raining outside? Sidewalks covered in snow? Better run out and play… Pokemon Go!

It’s an interesting time to be a Pokemon Go player. Niantic’s put out two events that greatly reduced the game’s grind and setting community goals, granting regional ‘mon back-to-back. But the company still seems susceptible to weird missteps in its progress, and the latest news only reinforces that reality. Not only is the company slowly releasing new Pokemon later this week, but it’s rolling out changes that ensure real-life weather affects the game.

While Niantic (wisely) didn’t mention whether fires, sandstorms, or lightning are included in the new mechanics, effects like sun, rain, and snow are, which still might seem like a bad idea if you live in a place that has seriously bad weather. Depending on the weather, you may see more Pokemon that fit in with the environment (and you’ll snag some bonus stardust) while you’ll also find that relevant move types increase in damage. In other words, Niantic is incentivizing you to play Pokemon Go in terrible climate conditions. Even fog is included, and while I’d love to see more mysterious Pokemon spawning in my fog-heaven-hometown, maybe enticing out-of-towners who aren’t used to driving in it at 3 a.m. with rewards isn’t the best idea Niantic’s ever had.

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Niantic will reboot Ingress into Ingress Prime next year

Niantic is delivering a massive upgrade for Ingress next year. “Reboot” might even be a more appropriate term.

The company most people know for its bumbling stewardship of Pokemon Go actually launched Ingress in 2012 as a Google venture but then was spun off into its own company. Prior to POGO, Ingress was surely the biggest player in the alternate reality mobile MMO genre, pitting gamers against each other in a massive cyber war overlaid on the real one and causing my husband to drive out of our way to that pancake house in Sacramento to “capture” the node at its infamous bear statue more than once.

So if you are an Ingress player who’s been feeling like the proverbial red-headed stepchild while POGO got all the love and Harry Potter joins the fray, the announcement of what Niantic is calling Ingress Prime ought to fill you with glee. The reboot will boast retooled graphics and an improved UI as it moves to POGO’s more modern tech platform to make the game more appealing to newbies and also crack down on cheating. Critically, Niantic says the game will be “fully staffed,” contrary to the studio’s olden days when it had to shut down player node submissions because it lacked staff to approve them.

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Pokemon Go’s EX Raid invite system still baffles core players

Niantic’s recent Pokemon Go event succeeded where the Pokemon Company failed, with POGO players catching over 3 billion Pokemon well before the end of the event. I felt pride for my community and had begun thinking that despite the other event being for an enhanced version of a proper Pokemon game released last year, maybe Niantic was starting to better understand its audience.

Maybe that’s still true. However, it may also be that its game developers’ goals don’t align with players’. Just last week, POGO players were told that big changes had hit the game without the need for a client-side update. Our rewards were sweeter, cherished ‘mon returned to the raid boss list, and best of all, the exclusive, automated, invite-only EX Raids granting the only current way to obtain the strongest Pokemon, Mewtwo, would be granted to players who raid frequently and had ground-out reputation. This would replace the seemingly random system we’d been dealing with since the release of EX raids.

Apparently, though, the EX Raid changes either aren’t live or Niantic’s statements about how they would work were inaccurate.

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Milwaukee settles lawsuit over Pokemon Go-inspired park ordinance

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.”

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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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