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 Wulin, ArcheAge Begins, The Black Death, Wakfu, Dark Age of Camelot, RuneScape, Pokemon Go, SMITE, Heroes of the Storm, Overwatch, Battlerite, Ragnarok Rush, Wild Busters, Final Fantasy XI, and Twin Saga, all waiting for you after the break!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Last weekend, Brendan wrote a great column on how to stay safe from gankers in EVE Online, noting that the newbies are commonly given what he considers bad advice to just stay in high-sec; indeed, he smartly quoted Shedd: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
The article prompted a discussion in our work chat about risk-taking in MMORPGs. “After every one of Brendan’s (excellent!) tips, I keep mentally adding, ‘or alternatively, don’t play EVE,'” Eliot joked. And they’re both right. If you’re dead-set on being a “ship” in the risky gameworld of New Eden, staying in “harbor” defeats the purpose of playing EVE. But this is a real world where you don’t have to be a ship – you don’t have to play EVE. You don’t have to risk it all just for some pixel gratification.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I’ve asked the writing staff to dish on risk-taking, in EVE or elsewhere. Are they into it? What kinds of risks are they willing to take, PvE or PvP? What do they think about risk-vs.-reward in MMOs?
One thing you can say for the MMO industry: It never ceases to surprise all of us. No matter what predictions we may make at the beginning of a year, by December we will all be proven fools who lack vision and foresight.
Although 2017 isn’t quite over yet, we here at Massively Overpowered wanted to count down the biggest news stories that crossed over into our neck of the woods so far this year. We witnessed controversies and delights, shockers and sadness. We saw launches and shutdowns, expansions and bugs.
So before we move into 2018, let’s take a look at the year that was and remember the biggest stories that dominated headlines.
Welcome back to another mobile MMO roundup!
First up: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which has yet to actually formally launch on PC, is already getting a mobile game. Tencent and Bluehole will combine forces to deliver the mini version and promise more details soon, though as GIbiz points out, expect some tweaking to fit the Chinese political space. And this is all in addition to Tencent’s other debuting battle royal game, Europa, which is not a mobile game.
Niantic is teasing the addition of Ho-Oh in Pokemon Go’s raid battles for the next two weeks. Rural players continue to be annoyed by the way these new toys are being doled out and the way raids are being adjusted.
Pokemon Go developer Niantic just got enough money to build a second pool in which to put all that money to roll around in. Venture capitalists have poured another $200M into the company through a Series B funding campaign following the reveal of Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, its upcoming wizarding world MMOARG. As Android Central points out, Niantic raised just $30M in 2015 following its Pokemon Go announcement, so this is a hefty increase that demonstrates continuing confidence in the power of Harry Potter, MMOARPGs, or both.
Meanwhile, researchers from Purdue University have produced a paper documenting the real cost of Pokemon Go in property damage and human life in a single county in Indiana, which won’t surprise anyone who recalls the parade of articles about crashes and deaths and vandalization last year when POGO first released.
If you’ve followed any of MOP’s Andrew Ross’ coverage of Pokemon Go over the last year, you know that he’s been critical of the MMOARG’s “exclusive raids,” which have been a buggy mess since at least this past summer. Good news, though: Niantic says it’s been listening to feedback and is working on the mode.
Specifically, the company says it will swap EX raid battles to gyms in parks and sponsored locations, prioritize local trainers and frequent raiders for invites, focus the battles around logical local timeslots, and notify and compensate participants for cancellations.
“When the feature first entered field-testing, the system randomly selected a set of Trainers who were eligible for the EX Raid Battle,” writes Niantic. “By taking Gym Badge level and total Raid Battles completed into account, we’re able to give Trainers who actively engage with the Gym where the EX Raid Battle is taking place and those who have invested more time into the Raid Battle feature a better chance of being invited to participate.”
Stately resting between the gaudy purple and orange of Halloween and merry red and green of Christmas is the earth tone-saturated Thanksgiving. While no one’s favorite color scheme, Thanksgiving does give us a nice in-between holiday with family meals, an awkward dance around politics, a work day for football teams, and the occasional MMORPG holiday event.
While not every online game has decided to embrace the American holiday, enough pop up every year that need corralling. And since we just got turkey certified here at Massively OP, we’re going to lay out all of this week’s event options for you on a platter. So enjoy the festivities and dressing up like a Pilgrim for two days maximum before deeply questioning that fashion sense. Now jingly sleigh bells, size XXXL red suits, and reindeer antlers, that’s a smart look indeed!