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Paladins Strike admits to unwittingly using Overwatch art assets for promo

Someone done goofed up over at Hi-Rez.

Players noticed that background artwork for the studio’s mobile title Paladins Strike bears a striking resemblance to Overwatch’s Lijiang Tower. And when we say “striking resemblance,” we mean “it’s the exact same piece of art.”

According to the studio, this was the result of poor quality control and outsourcing: “Thank you for your diligence in pointing this out. This art was created by a overseas partner studio for Paladins Strike and had not much in the way of oversight in its content creation by anyone internally at Hi-Rez. We will be looking into this immediately.”

See the comparison for yourself after the break!

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Tencent gains majority stake in Path of Exile’s Grinding Gear Games

Path of Exiles has a new boss this week.

Grinding Gear Games announced that Chinese mega-publisher Tencent has purchased a majority stake in the studio. While this undoubtedly will raise concerns in Path of Exile’s community about the direction and control of the game, GGG spun the announcement as good news.

“We will remain an independent company and there won’t be any big changes to how we operate,” Grinding Gear said. “We want to reassure the community that this will not affect the development and operations of Path of Exile […] Tencent’s agenda is clear: to give us the resources to make Path of Exile as good as it can be.”

The studio reiterated that Tencent isn’t going to try to change the game, force pay-to-win aspects on it, or give the Chinese version priority. It also said that it will continue its rollout of four major releases per year and is developing the next expansions as well as version 4.0, which is coming sometime in 2020.

Source: Reddit. Cheers, Cyclone Jack, yoh_sl, and Tanek.

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Star Citizen: Around the Verse covers shopping as the community debates pay-to-win

This week’s episode of Star Citizen’s Around the Verse is all about shopping, and I mean the fun kind of shopping where you spend pretend money in a video game, not the kind where you spend real money on a video game. The episode deep-dives the in-game shopping kiosk, which has to feel immersive as the player is using it as well as informative without being information-overload. The team says base functionality is already there, as a branch of other types of kiosks, but of course, it’ll continue iterating the item kiosks into their own unique experience.

Meanwhile, Star Citizen fansite Relay has a provocative piece out on whether or not the game is pay-to-win. In recognizing the term’s definition isn’t widely agreed upon, author CommanderLlama settles for simply examining “how much wealth inequality from the real world are the developers allowing to leak into the game world” and whether “the real-money-paying player [is] in an advantaged position compared to the non-paying player.” Ultimately, he concludes, while Star Citizen isn “somewhere on the pay-to-win spectrum, it isn’t “an egregious example yet” in spite of the fact that the game would’ve been untenable without the ship funding model. “But the final structure is also non-existent, so we can’t exactly place it,” he concludes.

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No Man’s Sky is really truly getting ‘full’ multiplayer in July

MMO players have nice long memories, so I’m sure you’ll recall that way back in 2016, No Man’s Sky ticked everyone off and even was investigated for deceptive marketing practices, including suggestions of multiplayer that didn’t materialize at launch, though subsequent well-received (and free) updates have since made multiplayer closer to reality.

According to last night’s Inside Xbox livestream, Hello Games is going to double-down on the existing limited multiplayer with a “full multiplayer experience,” allowing players to game with a “bunch” of their friends in teams as well as bump into strangers – even “prey” on them, so it sounds like PvP will be a thing. Basebuilding and dogfighting and massive space battles were also mentioned. It’s incredibly ambitious.

The update will go live for existing PC players alongside the Xbox One launch on July 24th.

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Daybreak promises a patch for Just Survive – but it’s also ending lockbox sales

When Daybreak’s Columbus Nova fiasco and layoffs were hitting last month, most of the company’s MMORPGs resurfaced without missing a beat, reassuring their playerbases that the patches would continue and the titles would see ongoing support. That wasn’t the case for the survival half of the original H1Z1 known as Just Survive. The lack of communication and information had prompted many players to assume the game would be “Landmarked” – that is, finally released from early access/beta to earn a little launch money and then quietly sunsetted.

But late last night, Daybreak finally tossed its fans on Reddit a bone. Technical Director Mitch Evans apologized for the silence, saying that he still has a “small yet passionate team” working on the game.

“Right now, we are focused on making sure you continue to enjoy the game, so the majority of our resources are spent mostly on maintaining game stability, fixing game-breaking bugs, and improving anti-cheat methods,” he writes.

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It’s been three weeks since Hand of the Gods players have had any news from Hi-Rez

Stretch your mind back to February 20th, when Hi-Rez’s SMITE-infused free-to-play online card game Hand of the Gods formally launched. The studio appeared to be actively supporting the game back then, with patches and tournaments and packs and Twitch promotions.

And then, just about three weeks ago, the information and update flow completely and dramatically stopped.

Reddit is freaking out. Discord is freaking out. The general consensus and concern is that the game is dead. One rumor floated in the game’s chat is that there’s now just one Hi-Rez dev on the game and he’s also working on another game, but we stress that’s just a rumor. Either way, the devs aren’t communicating with the public, players, and press about this launched live title; Hi-Rez’s Stewart Chisam, who recently told SMITE’s subreddit that he aimed to improve patch quality and communication between that game’s staff and players, has not responded to a public inquiry made by a prominent YouTuber. The playerbase is begging for information and simply getting nothing.

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Elite Dangerous floats sweeping changes to make its Powerplay mode fully open PvP

Elite Dangerous is considering revamping its Powerplay mode, and it’s not going to make everyone happy, especially solo players.

Powerplay, you’ll recall, is sort of a factional territorial war in the game whereby players ally with powerful NPCs and their space and resources. Most of the proposal for tweaks will go unchallenged; Frontier wants to allow powers to dump systems, avoid internal sabotage, skirt stagnation, encourage conflict – all reasonable.

But the studio also wants to force players in the mode into open PvP and make it impossible for solo players and private groups to profit from the mode (while avoiding both ganking and being ganked).

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Blade & Soul Korea teases pair of new classes

Late last week, NCsoft’s Korean-language website for Blade & Soul began popping a “new update” tease for players: a silhouette of a fighter-type character wielding one hell of a sword emblazoned with a dragon.

The English-language subreddit is rife with speculation; the current consensus is that it’s a Warrior archetype coming in June; according to datamining claims, it’s destined for the Jin and Gon races (alas, your Lyn won’t be running around with a sword thrice her size). Interestingly, while the site teases only the Warrior, the datamined files seem to suggest an Archer coming for the Jin and Lyn. The biggest point of contention seems to be that June date, so maybe consider that part rumor, and in any case, since we don’t know when it might drop for the west, it probably doesn’t matter much yet.

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Nexon posts strong Q1 2018 results, Final Fantasy XI mobile screens leaked

Nexon posted a strong first quarter in 2018, with its earnings call reporting that the game publisher raked in $827M in revenue (a 21% year-over-year increase). The company did most of its business on PC (84%), although mobile (16%) continues to be a significant factor in its success.

Most of Nexon’s focus continues to remain in the east, as both China (67%) and Korea (22%) pull in a vast majority of its earnings. The company singled out the the performance of Dungeon and Fighter, MapleStory, and Durango: Wild Lands for praise.

Coming down the pipeline in North America this year and beyond is MapleStory 2, Durango, MapleStory M, and Final Fantasy XI Mobile. Speaking of the mobile version of FFXI, purported screens were leaked on Reddit that showed this still-beautiful game in action.

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Hands-on with Bless Reborn at Neowiz’s San Francisco media reveal

As you probably have heard, there was a Bless influencer event this week, with a couple of media and a smattering of MMO streamers in attendance. The leak of the price points happened soon before we went in, but none of the people in attendance, devs or streamers, really seemed fazed by it. Most people seemed ready to have a good time.

For someone like me, who was initially blown away by Bless circa 2011, the game had fallen off my radar, especially after the game’s rocky trip to Russia and initial Korean release. The western build-up for me has felt like a big PR push, with the pricing model dangled like a feature that people actually should be excited about. Basic questions like, “How does endgame work?” were easier to find on Reddit, Steam, and fansites than any of the PR I was reading. I was concerned, to say the least, but things like “tame almost any mob!” and “100v100” battles intrigued me. Though nothing I saw is probably going to change any core fans’ mind, it may be useful to those on the fence.

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The Daily Grind: Do your MMORPG characters primarily wear in-game armor or cash-shop cosmetics?

Take a look at your main character in your main MMORPG right now. What is he or she wearing? And did you get it through play or from the cash shop?

This topic came to me as I was surfing the Guild Wars 2 Reddit earlier this week; a Redditor was polling players on whether they thought there was a good balance of cash-shop cosmetics vs. cosmetic gear acquired through actually playing the game. It’s a tiny bit hard to answer this one for Guild Wars 2, as multiple people pointed out, as you can convert the gold you get while playing legitimately into gems to buy cash-shop cosmetics (or just buy lockbox skins with gold from the gamblers). Plus, GW2 isn’t called Fashion Wars for nothing. But still: Almost all of my characters are running around in cash-shop cosmetics there. I may complain about the lack of new skins and the overabundance of buttcapes, but I like to spend money on games I want to support, and cosmetics are one of the least objectionable ways to do it. And GW2’s are still slick (vs. a lot of the in-game armor, which is grindy or group-centric).

In Trove, which is another of my favorite games lately, most of my characters are running around wearing at least core outfits from ancient Steam pack sales.

Do your MMORPG characters primarily wear in-game armor of cash-shop cosmetics? And do you see that as a problem, one way or another?

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Bless fansite leaks founder pack info and partial subscription plan ahead of today’s stream, and people aren’t happy

This story has been heavily updated post-stream – keep on scrollin’!

An apparent leak on a Bless fansite – which was hastily scrubbed but nevertheless preserved by players and Redditors – has the community watching the game ablaze today. The leak revolves around the game’s plan for founder packs, set to be revealed today; according to the rumor, Neowiz aims to charge $40 for the standard edition of the game, on up to $200 for the collector’s edition. All of the packages include headstart, with differing chunks of premium membership time chunked together.

Neowiz has previously said it leaned toward a buy-to-play model in order to avoid pay-to-win pitfalls, but the premium membership time mentioned makes players think the game is more a hybrid model with an optional subscription.

The official stream is set to begin at 3 p.m. EDT, and then we’ll know for sure whether the rumors are bunk or not.

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Villagers and Heroes AMA makes a case for why it’s the best mobile MMO on the market

With Villagers and Heroes handing over unprecedented control of its village design and decoration to players with next week’s Wellspring expansion, there’s a lot to absorb in a short amount of time. To get players on board with the big changes coming on May 14th, Mad Otter Games showed up for a Reddit AMA yesterday to talk about the game in general.

A case was made for why Villagers and Heroes is the best mobile MMO: “Compared to most mobile MMOs, it definitely features much more actual content — zones to explore, quests to complete, items to find, etc. — so if you enjoy exploring it may be right up your alley. It’s also not very competitive (PvE only) which may fit a casual playstyle well.”

The team also pointed out that the game avoids a lot of the pay-to-win issues and paywalls found in other mobile titles. Other topics discussed included gamepad support, combat pets, flying mounts, guild population limits, and how village stacking will work in Wellspring.

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