As I type this, my husband is sitting in an Overwatch queue grumbling over “unexpected server error occurred”: Yep, it’s a Blizzard patch day!
Assuming you folks can defeat the login server boss, you’ll eventually be treated to the long-awaited and wonderfully goofy BlizzardWorld map (access it straight off by playing in arcade mode). As originally teased at BlizzCon 2017, the map is effectively a themepark stuffed full of artifacts and settings from Blizzard’s multiple franchises – in fact, it pretty much looks like a partial replica of Stormwind with rollercoasters. May as well re-use those assets, right?
Blizz is also touting “over 100 new items” and a mech-ton of legendary and epic skins, including Black Cat D.Va. I will never see my husband again. Sizzle reel inc!
Has the pace of news moved so quickly that we’ve already forgotten about Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene’s statement that video games lack any IP copyright protection? Because that was really ridiculous. Especially since what he was referring to was not actually even remotely related to copyright, but covered something that would be handled via patent. And even that wouldn’t have worked!
Of course, you can’t really blame him. By which I mean you can totally blame him, but it’s a common misconception that turns up time and again. People talk about copyright, trademark, and patent issues in the same general melange of “this company owns this,” and the thing is that they’re related terms and concepts that nevertheless mean very, very different things.
The MOP comment crew was understandably creeped out by last week’s news that Tencent was going after PlayerUnknown’s Battleground cheaters by working with the Chinese police, leading to the arrest of 120 people in 30 cases. But Tencent isn’t alone; Blizzard is also getting in on the law enforcement fun, most recently in Korea, where its Korean wing has referred 13 people to Seoul’s National Policy Agency cyber crime unit for arrest in Overwatch hacking and cheating crimes.
As Dot Esports and Blizzard Watch report, this isn’t a first for South Korea; at least one teen has already been charged under the so-called “Game Industry Promotion Law,” which permits two years of prison time and up to $18,000 in fines for those convicted.
Here’s Blizzard Korea’s message to its players, as translated by Unikrn:
E-sports is continuing its rise in respectability: ESPN reports that Riot Games has partnered with the Peach Belt Conference, known to “real” sports fans as a creditable NCAA division II lineup. Teams from the dozen universities in the conference will compete in to play in the Peach Belt League of Legends championship in March and ultimately the League of Legends College Championship in June. You’ll recall that schools from multiple division II conferences do already participate in the latter championship, but those conferences aren’t full partners with Riot.
While you’re still reeling from ESPN covering e-sports, this Overwatch League bit will pop your eyebrows up again. Dallas Fuel player Félix “xQc” Lengyel got into an internet spat with the Houston Outlaws’ Austin “Muma” Wilmot during which the former made a homophobic remark to the latter (who is in fact openly gay). Though the pair made up on Twitter, Blizzard suspended Lengyel for four matches and fined him $2000, while his team will bench him for additional matches and reportedly give him additional support and training. We’re assuming that’s training on how to shut the fudge up son as you will not be screwing this bajillion-dollar thing Acti-Blizz has going with your trash mouth. Yes, this is real life.
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!
Haven’t you ever wished that you could bring your favorite Overwatch characters on a grand tour of every Blizzard game? Because… well, you sort of can in the upcoming Blizzard World map when it launches on January 23rd, but you’ll mostly be dealing with actual map objectives. Sadly, there is no game mode where you can place an order for food at Snaxxramas, which should be a sign that Overwatch has failed us all in development.
You can also dress up your favorite Overwatch characters as other Blizzard characters, some of whom can fight alongside these same characters in other games. None of those skins includes a serpent eating its own tail, but we’re sure it’s just a matter of time. (Seriously, that isn’t a Nova costume for Widowmaker. That’s just Nova. It’s just straight-up Nova.)
The first week of the Overwatch League also apparently drew over 10 million viewers, which means that technically you could consider playing the game yourself to be like a touch football game in the backyard. Check out the skins and the old trailer for Blizzard World just below.
No matter what you’re seeing up on the screen in this inaugural season of the Overwatch League, chances are really good that the people controlling (and almost all of the casters, it seems) are guys. This is because the League’s teams are completely male, a situation that none of them can really seem to address when asked point-blank about it.
Case in point: Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon is widely seen as one of the best players in the competitive scene… and she has yet to be signed on to any of the competing teams, as Kotaku points out in its long piece this week (though apparently Geguri herself believes it’s not sexism keeping her off teams – thanks Loopy). You probably remember her from back in 2016 when gamers and pro players were harassing her and claiming she wasn’t real/was a cheater until she shut them down with a video of herself kicking ass.
When asked about why she (and other women) hasn’t been snapped up, in spite of her participation in other leagues, several teams hemmed and hawed over the fact. It would be funny to read all of these responses if it wasn’t so disheartening. Our favorite? Having to fuss with co-ed player housing.
A comment on Reddit about the current size and viability of Kritika Online got me thinking about MMO playerbases in general lately. We all know that there’s a stigma attached to little games; the big games with big servers and millions of players feel safer, and nowadays people just assume a small MMO has one foot in the grave. But it isn’t always true. We could also rattle off some smaller MMOs that seem to be moving along just fine, with bills paid. Sure, they’d like to be bigger, but they’re holding steady and know how to work the playerbase they do have rather than constantly alienate their current customers in search of new customers. And some MMO gamers actually prefer those sorts of titles. After all, if the game has just a few thousand people, it’s much easier to get to know a large slice of them, plus have your voice heard by the developers and actually influence the gameworld.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writers to reflect on the smallest MMOs they have played, and then consider how big an MMO has to be in terms of playerbase that they’d consider playing it now. What’s the smallest MMO you’re willing to play, and why?
The next iteration for Blizzard’s launch application is here, and no, it doesn’t include yet another name change.
The changes mostly come in the form of quality-of-life improvements to the Battle.net application, such as being able to launch Blizzard games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch straight from the task bar or dock. Unnamed bug fixes are come part and parcel of this update.
Players who use the Blizzard app for its social features will be pleased to hear that groups are now easier for admins to handle. Also, both groups and chats now benefit from improvements and an “updated experience.”
Mercy just can’t catch a break.
The Overwatch healer is due for another round of brutal nerfs, the latest in a long, long line of downward adjustments to the character by Blizzard. This time, her resurrect has been changed from an instant cast and no longer gives a bonus charge, in addition to a nerf to the speed boost from her Guardian Angel ability.
Blizzard explained this latest Mercy nerf, saying, “Mercy’s recent Resurrect changes have helped in allowing enemies to have more counter play in dealing with her, but she was able to use Resurrect through Valkyrie enough to largely mitigate the impact of the previous changes. Additionally, we’re toning back the amount of mobility Valkyrie provides through Guardian Angel and reducing its duration to overall reduce the power of this ability.”
You know the lockbox thing is reaching saturation when there are so many things to cover we have to resort to a roundup. Nevertheless, for those of you who want to stay on top of developments and arguments, here we go.
Polygon has an explainer piece up on Destiny 2’s Eververse fallout and why everyone is still rioting over the game’s monetization. Of note for this discussion is the publication’s note that if Destiny 2 is hell-bent on having lootboxes, it ought to adopt Overwatch’s lootboxes, as they’re relatively tame and haven’t produced a Reddit in full meltdown.
Gamasutra has a roundup of MMO developer quotes from studios that believe they’re doing lockboxes “elegantly,” including Trion (for Defiance), PWE (for Star Trek Online), Wargaming (for World of Warships). In this particularly case, that means either being easily accessible through in-game play (not just in the cash shop), making lockbox drops tradeable to other players, creating systems of accruing lockbox rewards, or offering a choice of lootbox type.
Overwatch Game Director Jeff Kaplan barely has recovered from his marathon chair-sitting session over the holidays, but the scruffy-looking nerfherder is back in front of the camera to talk about what’s coming to the team shooter in 2018.
In addition to the start of the Overwatch League and the introduction of league skins to the game, Kaplan confirmed the release of the Blizzard World map “very soon” with tons of Easter eggs for players to find. He also teased new heroes, with the next one being “very needed” and in internal testing.
Additional maps are in the works, he said, and the team will be focused on improving competitive play over the course of the year. Story buffs will be pleased to hear that Blizzard is hoping to further the lore of the game through animated comics and shorts. Finally, the “Year of the Dog” event, the anniversary, and the return of Uprising are on their way.
Overwatch made a bid for players’ attention this busy holiday weekend, and in some ways, it succeeded. For starters, Blizzard decided to gift all players with five free lootboxes (worth about $5 total). All you have to do to get yours is to log into the game by January 1st.
But that wasn’t what had everyone talking over Christmas. No, it was the fact that Game Director Jeff Kaplan decided to stream himself sitting in front of a fireplace for 10 hours doing… very, very little. That didn’t stop Twitch and Twitter from going nuts, as around 40,000 people tuned in to see this spectacle (which was probably inspired by similar Christmas fireplace stunts).
Of course, you don’t have to watch all 10 hours of His Royal Kaplancy. Someone took the trouble to compile all of the truly exciting moments of the stream, and someone else (that’s us) took the trouble to copy and paste that video here below!