If you had expected the Netherlands to be leading the fight against lootboxes, you may be more clairvoyant than the rest of the population. After investigating 10 games, the Dutch Gaming Authority has found that four of the games tested feature lootboxes that violate the Better Gaming Act. That may not sound too serious until you consider that the offending games have eight weeks to make changes to the lootboxes to comply with the law.
Failure to do so can result in fines or just straight-up forbidding the games from being sold in the Netherlands. That’s a pretty big deal.
While the DGA did not specifically name games, the Dutch paper reporting on the situation cites FIFA ’18, Dota 2, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Rocket League as the offending titles. The remaining six titles are not in violation of the law but were still sharply criticized for the lootbox implementation, which is said to target younger players and encourage gambling. It’s also worth noting that each of these violations specifically pertains to tradeable items for real money, which just squeaks in as a gambling option.
Mappety map map maps. Soon you can pick your own map in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds and won’t be stuck in Miramar.
According to PUBG Corp, people have been begging for the feature for half of forever, but a number of issues stood in the way. The studio says matchmaking was its biggest concern: “We analyzed tens of millions of matches and sorted the data by server, mode, and time to make sure map selection wouldn’t break the game for anyone. We wanted to make sure that we could create a solution that worked for every region’s players, even the ones with a naturally low server population.” On top of that, it wanted to take into account the supposedly different preferences and playstatles of different regions.
“Ultimately, we created a version of map selection that we think is unlikely to cause issues for matchmaking” as maps are added in the future, PUBG Corp writes.
Brendan “PlayerUnknown” Greene does not have kind words for people who dislike the red zone in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds. In his own words, people who die to the red zone are just not good players, and thus deserve to die in the red zone until they get better, because it’s so obvious that it’s arriving. His statements were unambiguously in favor of the red zone working in the way it did at the time he made those statements.
So, naturally, the most recent patch for the game shrinks the size of the red zone and its duration.
The patch also contains three new areas on the map for players to fight over, along with faster grenade spawns and an assortment of bug fixes. There’s also more testing going on for the game’s Codename: Savage, if you’re curious to see how that new map is coming along. All good things for the future of the game.
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 Seal Online, Trove, Pokemon Go, Sea of Thieves, Tales of Gaia, Battlerite, War of Rights, PUBG, World of Warcraft, City of Heroes, Will to Live Online, and Prosperous Universe, all waiting for you after the break!
So where will battle royale games be in another five years? We don’t know just yet, but from a purely business standpoint we can extrapolate some ideas. GamesIndustry.biz has an analysis up suggesting that we can look to the last overnight genre explosion in the form of MOBAs as a good indicator of what will happen with future battle royale entries, scrambling to pick up the scraps not already picked up by Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds.
Why? Well, the entrenched playerbase has already been established in those games, which means that slight tweaks to the formulas are unlikely to cause player shifts, and by the time these competitors are released most players will already be committed. In short, it’s many of the points we raised in a piece about trend-chasing on Wednesday, just applied more specifically to this genre. So if you’re hoping that the next battle royale game will be the one to dethrone the ruling powers, you might not want to bet too heavily on that.
Video games have always been a remarkably insular field; that’s the nature of development. Someone produces Super Mario Bros, and a few years later Sonic the Hedgehog sounds like a really good idea for some reason. But then you have games like The Great Giana Sisters, games that don’t try to just copy parts of what made the inspiration good but just copy the whole thing with one or two changes.
For normal video games, this can work out decently; a game that just doesn’t get much traction still sells some copies, hopefully. Just because Croc wasn’t Spyro didn’t mean that no one bought the former. But for online games, these trend-chasing games are almost always dramatic failures that litter the landscape. Why is that? Well, there are pretty good reasons, and today seems like a good time to talk about that.
Let the battle royale lawsuits begin! TorrentFreak caught wind of a new lawsuit in California that ought to set all the cloners on edge: PUBG Corporation is suing NetEase for ripping off PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, specifically alleging copyright infringement, trade dress infringement, and unfair business competition. (The Korean PUBG Corp and Chinese NetEase both operate businesses in the US, hence the justification for the venue.)
Given how old this particular genre is, and how PUBG was far from the first to run with it, you might be skeptical about the company’s claims. PUBG Corp believes it has copyrighted the concept of a pre-game lobby where you can test out weapons, among multiple other concepts, including the dynamic air-drop spawning system, the map, the boost bar and consumables, “starting with nothing” and being forced to compete for resources, realistic gear, character paper doll, shrinking gameplay, down-but-not-out incapping, butt-covering frying pan… it goes on like that for a while. Maybe we’ll give them the frying pan. Honestly the screenshots are more convincing than the list. 154 pages of this.
It’s no surprise that Ready Player One was constantly being referenced at GDC 2018, especially in VR, AR, and MMO panels. It’s not just because of the movie’s release but because the tech involved is seeing a surge of interest. That doesn’t mean we’re on the cusp, in my opinion, but it may be a thing we should start talking about.
And talking about it we did. As Bill Roper of Improbable and SpatialOS recently told me, “The next generation of online games isn’t going to behave like current-generation MMOs. […] We don’t know what a billion-person game might look like, but it’s likely to include a wide variety of playstyles, to reflect the diversity of its playerbase.” Even if you’re a cynic and don’t think SpatialOS will play any part of this future, Roper’s very much on the mark: Billion-person gaming isn’t going to be like our current MMOs.
Can you believe that it’s been a year since PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds first launched into early access? Probably. There’s a video to celebrate the anniversary just below, talking about the early days of the game when players started (and died) in a warehouse instead of starting on a plane (before dying in a warehouse). If you want a thank you and a trip down memory lane, feel free to hop down to watch the video.
The game is also introducing weapon skins with its next update; the new cosmetics will be included in the game’s next set of lockboxes, which should surprise absolutely no one. Skins will only be applied when a gun is picked up by someone who has that skin unlocked and selected; that means that if someone has the gun and gets shot, you can use the gun with the skin. So there’s even more incentive to shoot the guy with the nice gun.
Some calls from players urging the PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds studio to region-lock Chinese players into their own segregated area are being resisted by the game’s creator. The stated reason for this is alleged cheating and the high ping issues that are dragging down the game experience for everyone else.
Brendan Greene said that region-locking will cause more problems than those it solves. “I mean, everyone that [suggests] region locking [is forgetting about] VPN. It just doesn’t work,” he said. Greene also revealed that the studio is focusing on ping-based matchmaking to keep latency from being an issue.
As the battle royale shooter is being overtaken in market share by Fortnite, it shouldn’t be surprising to see PUBG announce that it will be offering limited-time modes in much the same way that its competitor does.
So, how are you doing with shooting folks in PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile? Better than you’d expect, given the fact that it’s a mobile device and you might not normally win a whole lot? There may be a good reason for that. A report from a couple of days ago states that the game is designed to feature a large number of bots early on in your career, with a slow increase to having more actual competition as you play the game more extensively.
The presence of (unutterably stupid) bots is not actually listed as a feature of the mobile game, but no shortage of players are taking it as a face of existence based on seeing multiple opponents in the same outfits making the same stupid plays. So don’t crow too much about your early victories in the mobile version, because they may be victories only in the broadest sense of the term. Or perhaps there’s a squad of really bad players out there too ashamed to admit it. We can’t tell you.
The name that put Battle Royale on the map is going to fight hard to keep that throne. PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds released its 2018 roadmap this week with a promise that major releases would be rolled out every two months from here on out.
This year, PUBG players will see an experimental test server, a new 4x4km island map, the emote system, new game modes, new vehicles, an achievement system, an in-game friends list, squad voice chat, improved animation, a parachute overhaul, more client stability, better sound design, a custom game system, developer API, and limb and bullet penetration.
The team said that it is working hard to establish PUBG’s e-sports scene: “Seriously, we are not there yet, but we will be. Thanks to the amazing feedback coming from the player community and professional scene we believe we’re moving in the right direction. We truly want to build a great foundation for Battle Royale e-sports, and while we have seen some great events already using our game, we have much work to do, especially with the observing side of things.”
Who saw this one coming? Fortnite has officially pushed past PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds in terms of games that get the most playtime on Twitch. That’s according to SullyGnome, which tracks streamtime for big online games. Fortnite is now topping PUBG in number of streams, number of channels streaming, time streamed, and number of daily viewers as Fortnite continues its climb – and PUBG falls.
Worth pointing out, however, is that the Fortnite community is somewhat skeptical about the sudden boom. As Polygon explored yesterday, some streamers and watchers argue that multiple Fortnite-centric channels are seeing a spike in Twitch Prime subs from “compromised accounts and bots” thanks to Epic’s current skin promotion, through which Twitch offers an exclusive. It’s possible the spike in viewers and viewtime for the game are related.
In other Fortnite news, Epic says it’s “working on bringing parity to the control schemes” between the PvP battle royale and PvE Save the World modes.