“Fortnite is now the largest free-to-play console game of all time, in revenue generated and monthly active users,” SuperData has declared in its monthly revenue report for the gaming industry for March 2018. The game sits at the tippy-top of the console listing and has now breezed past both PUBG and World of Warcraft to sit at #5 on PC.
“Fortnite had quite a March. The game has overtaken the previous ‘king of battle royale,’ PUBG, in terms of revenue generated and monthly active users across all platforms. It also hit the #1 spot by revenue on iOS in the United States in its launch month, and has the highest conversion rate of any free-to-play PC game in March. […] There’s no other way to say it: the game is a phenomenon. Fortnite generated $223 million across all platforms (console, PC, Mobile) in March, up a whopping 73% from February.”
Hearthstone’s re-entry to the PC side has bumped Far Cry 5 out of the top 10 (though Far Cry 5 on console is at #2). Destiny 2 is now nowhere to be found, Monster Hunter World has sunk to #10 on the console side, and Sea of Thieves debuted at #7 for console revenue. Don’t get too excited about Sea of Thieves, though; the analytics firm says almost half of the game’s two million or so monthly active users were playing the free trial.
PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds isn’t giving up the fight against Fortnite for the market share of the battle royale crowd. The PvP shooter has a ton of content in the works, starting with a weapons balance patch that’s coming soon.
The team said that this patch should address imbalance in players’ selections: “According to our research, only a few specific types of weapons (ARs) are used in most situations. We believe the choice about which gun to use should be based on personal preference and its effectiveness in any given situation, rather than simply ‘which gun is strongest.’ Our goal is to make it so no one gun will feel objectively better than the others.”
The studio announced that it is hosting the first official PUBG e-sports tournament later this year in Berlin with a $2 million prize pool. Also, Xbox One players can rejoice that they will finally be getting the Miramar map only four or so months after it came out on PC.
And finally, PUBG Corp. is asking players to vote on one of five names for an abandoned resort that’s located on the Savage map.
Massively OP reader Steve wants us to revisit the Daily Grind on making death more meaningful without making it more annoying. His letter was long, so let me paraphrase a bit:
“It feels to me like underlying point was, ‘MMOs are too easy, so how do we make them harder?’ The question of video game difficulty is something that is seldom ever tackled head-on, as it tends to draw out a somewhat vocal minority. There are so many worthy topics about how people define difficulty, twitch skills vs. depth, easy vs. hard, difficulty vs. accessibility, easy vs. engaging, shallowness vs. depth, and so on. These are things I’d love to really see discussed more online, and very few sites will actually touch it. But I think that MOP’s community is overall mature enough to actually have some discussions about this without it devolving into a fist fight.”
I’m sure you’ll prove him right! Right, guys? Guys? So let’s talk about MMO difficulty in this week’s Massively Overthinking. What do we really mean when we talk about “difficulty” in MMORPGs? Are games easier than they used to be, and if so, is there something studios should do to change that?
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.
Are you surprised to be hearing about Bossland again? We’re surprised to be reporting on it. The German-based botmaker made headlines for the last few years thanks to ongoing litigation provoked by its sale of cheat, bot, and hack programs for multiple Blizzard games. Blizzard had pursued Bossland across multiple continents in an attempt to shut down the cheat programs, which Blizz argued violated its copyrights and cost it significant amounts of money to fight – money it was therefore not spending on its own games and customers. The drama finally culminated in 2017 with victories for Blizzard in a German Supreme Court ruling and a California federal court case that awarded Blizzard $8.5M in damages.
Though the German courts recently ruled not to enforce the US court’s decision (on the grounds that it considered the minimum statutory damages awarded to be excessive and punitive), Bossland ended sales for almost all of its hacks at the end of last year; as of today, the only ones remaining are for non-Blizzard games, specifically Final Fantasy XIV and Path of Exile, though according to the group’s latest newsletter, there’s a PUBG one tucked on the forums too.
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!
Last week, we wrote about how PUBG Corp is suing NetEase (and NetEase is threatening to sue everyone) over alleged copyright infringement in regard to the battle royale genre and the companies’ respective games, in particular PUBG itself. The litany of gameplay concepts PUBG Corp includes as original to PUBG baffled both us and our readers – it’s everything from loot acquisition and air drops to waiting areas and sound effects. It’s absurd. So how legal is it?
As gaming attorney Pete Lewin writes on Gamasutra today, generally what is copyrightable – in the US, where the lawsuit has been filed – is the expression of the game’s ideas rather than the ideas themselves. “For example, Nintendo owns Mario (the expression), but not the concept of a plumber collecting gold coins and rescuing princesses (the idea),” he explains. “As such, PUBG Corp will undoubtedly own PUBG’s unique code, art assets, audio files etc as these represent its particular expression of its game design choices.”
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.
On Friday, we covered PUBG Corp’s lawsuit against NetEase, which alleges that the Chinese company has infringed PUBG’s copyrights in its overt battle royale clones – there’s a whole itemized list of concepts the Bluehole subsidiary claims it has copyrighted, everything from incapping to airdrops, which in the aggregate seem reasonable but individually are absurd.
So why not add some more absurdity? As MMO Culture reports, NetEase has responded by threatening to sue… everybody but PUBG Corp. According to the publication’s translation, NetEase has stated it will sue companies that copied and “twisted” its own “creative features” in Rules of Survival and Knives Out, thereby wounding the “originality market.” It does not specifically mention PUBG Corp, but one might assume the company has retaliation and defense in mind.
Is it weird that it seems so long ago that DayZ was the “it” survival arena game for streamers? How quickly we’ve moved on, yet undoubtedly some of the game’s population remains. For those faithful, the team is preparing to transition the sandbox shooter to a completely new engine in what it is calling a “reboot” of the title.
Bohemia Lead Producer Eugen Harton told PCGamesN that the transition will take place in the coming month: “We’re releasing DayZ on a new engine in a couple of weeks on PC, and it’s gonna be coming to Game Preview on Xbox this year. That’s basically our aim. I would almost say it’s a reboot of DayZ on PC.”
Harton hedged on both comparing the game against the popularity of Fortnite and PUBG while remaining silent altogether on when or if the title will launch out of early access. Which, for those counting at home, DayZ has been dwelling for four freaking years now.