riot games

One of the most important game studios in the world and purveyor of League of Legends.

The Daily Grind: What makes an MMO community toxic?

I sincerely do not envy the task of MMO studios and community managers when it comes to wrangling their crowd of diverse, fickle, and often very loud-spoken players. Trying to communicate and guide passionate fans is a neverending task, with the accomplishments of one day being instantly erased at a perceived slight the next.

(As an aside, I love it when a dev refers to the community as “passionate,” because it’s almost always code for “more hot-tempered and irrational than a badger in a paint shaker.”)

Lately I’ve been thinking about how some studios seem to do a better job encouraging their playerbase to be civil and friendly (comparatively), while others seem to reign over a prison riot full of flaming posts, incomprehensible swears, and sheer contempt for fellow gamers.

We all can think of a game that seems to fall into the latter category, so my question is, what makes an MMO community toxic? Are there certain types of games that seem to attract malcontents? Is it a failure on the part of the CM team? What do you think?

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Leaderboard: Almost half of e-sports viewers don’t even play the games they’re spectating

It may sound crazy, but a huge number of people who pour eyeball time and money into e-sports don’t even play the games they’re watching. That’s according to gaming analytics firm Newzoo, which last week broke down its stats on the major e-sports franchises and who exactly is watching them in the U.S., Canada, Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden. Key takeaways?

  • 70% of viewers stick to one game.
  • 69% of gamers play only League of Legends, CS:GO, or DOTA 2 (the overlap of all three is 8%).
  • 42% of e-sports watchers of the big three games do not play any of them
  • 191 million people will tune in to e-sports “frequently” this year; an additional 194 million will do so “occasionally.”

Howsabout you? Do you watch, play, both, or neither?

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Wild West Online announced for later this year, Kickstarter coming soon

If you’ve been wishing for horses and western MMORPGs, then saddle up par’dner — we’re about to ride off into a glorious sunrise.

PC Gamer got the exclusive scoop on a brand-new MMO in development called Wild West Online, which is slated for a late 2017 release. In a nutshell, WWO is Red Dead Redemption made massively multiplayer, a project tackled by devs who were frustrated that this sort of game hadn’t happened yet. It will be an open-world PvP title with lawmen, bandits, gambling, prospecting, bounty hunting, and bank heists.

The game is being developed by a brand-new studio, 612 Games, which contains veterans from League of Legends and Crysis. So far, only broad strokes are being used to describe the game and its features, as some parts (like how progression will be handled) haven’t been decided yet. It does sound as though Wild West Online will be far more PvP-oriented and not a cookie-cutter MMO, lacking elements like fights against NPCs and any announced questing system.

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Russian Pokemon Go player sentenced over blasphemy law

The 22-year-old Russian vlogger convicted of playing Pokemon Go inside a church has been hit with a 3.5-year suspended sentence.

Ruslan Sokolovsky was found “guilty of inciting hatred, violating religious feelings and illegal possession of special technical means – a pen with a video camera” for recording himself playing Pokemon Go on his phone in the Church of All Saints in Yekaterinburg last summer while carrying a piece of crap pencam from whatever the Russian equivalent of SharperImage is. He was detained and charged by authorities when the video of his mundane prank went viral.

“I believe that there is no reason to exempt the defendant from liability,” the Russian prosecutor said last month. “There is also no reason to sentence him to a fine … I request that the court sentence him to three-and-a-half years in a penal colony.” The judge apparently agreed to the max sentence, but ordered it suspended. Sokolovsky has already been sitting in prison for seven months.

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The MOP Up: SMITE’s console mea culpa (May 7, 2017)

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!

This week we have stories and videos from Skyforge, EVE Online, IngressWar ThunderWorld of TanksWakfuLeague of LegendsSMITEGTA OnlineElsword OnlineWurm OnlineDarkfall: Rise of AgonWorlds AdriftCounter-Strike, SEAL Online, and Warspear Online, all waiting for you after the break!

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Analyst suggests Tencent’s new global games service will compete with Steam

If you’re not a big fan of Steam’s dominance of gaming trends in the west, maybe you think a competitor will do the service some good — and a competitor does indeed to appear to be on the way.

A tweet lobbed by Niko Partners games industry analyst Daniel Ahmad on Easter sent games journalist scurrying to cover his claim that Tencent is planning a relaunch of its existing games platform as a global Steam-competitor dubbed WeGame. The existing service, Tencent Games Platform, already has 200 million users in China, but when relaunched, it’ll service the west too, beginning with a release of 100 games from primarily western developers. Gamasutra reports that Stardew Valley and Don’t Starve are already on the platform, the latter having sold a million copies there in its first month.

Tencent is already the largest gaming company in the world and according to Bloomberg is currently the 10th largest publicly traded company on the planet. Massively OP readers know it best as the company that owns League of Legends studio Riot Games.

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Greg Street discusses balancing League of Legends for all skill levels

How do you balance a video game? It’s kind of an ongoing question, but it’s also one that Greg Street (aka Ghostcrawler) has been answering for years with work on both World of Warcraft and League of Legends. He gave a panel on exactly that topic for League of Legends at this year’s GDC, and you can now watch that hour-long talk in the video just past the break. And it’s a worthwhile topic from the start because he’s talking about balancing not for the best players or the worst, but for everyone.

This is important; balancing for new and inexperienced players only produces a game that doesn’t have the depth needed for long-term play, while balancing solely for veterans creates a game that’s impenetrable for newcomers. So how do you make a game that’s fun for people getting into the genre for the first time as well as people who eat, sleep, jungle, and repeat? Check out the video below (courtesy of Gamasutra) for one possible answer.

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SuperData CEO discusses the money problem of e-sports

Whether you’re a big fan of the e-sports scene or you would be quite happy never hearing about it ever again, you are no doubt aware that a lot of companies are sinking quite a bit of money into it. It’s not just limited to existing e-sports darlings like League of Legends, either, as Blizzard is very clearly targeting the field with Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch, and it’s pretty obvious that Guild Wars 2 wanted a slice of that pie. But a new piece by Joost van Dreunen, CEO of Superdata, brings up a relevant point that is often getting overlooked: With all of these companies investing in the field, where is actual business model to make money off of e-sports?

Van Dreunen points out that the long-term impact of e-sports, both in terms of viability and engagement, has yet to be understood in anything more than the broadest terms and may in fact be part of a shifting of culture. The current emphasis on a very narrow appeal isn’t helping drive long-term engagement, and it raises questions about whether the long-term goal of e-sports is to serve as a business model unto itself or if the goal is basically to use these events as an advertisement for the games in question. It’s well worth reading even if you’re not a fan of the field, as it brings up some interesting points about where the idea of competitive video games will go in the next few years.

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One Shots: Avenging angel

When you push a player too far, commit too many crimes, and flaunt your evil with one of those tacky pre-battle speeches, you’re going to get a face full of avenging angel.

Tyler, take it away! “No matter how many of The Secret World’s world bosses I fight (and I have fought a lot; I may have a problem), I never get tired of seeing the swarms of players that rush in to take them down, the riot of different outfits and ability effects, the massive bosses withering away under the combined fire, the sheer epic mayhem of it all. Add the spectacular effects from ultimate abilities, and you have an endless source of amazing screenshot fodder.”

Welcome to an all-email submissions edition of One Shots! Remember kids, when you email a screenshot and a story, you get to cut to the front of the line!

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SuperData February 2017: World of Tanks perks up, Hearthstone is sinking

Happy SuperData day! That’s the monthly holiday when we pore over the market analysis report, freak out over something doing well, freak over something doing poorly, and then fight over definitions, the evils of trusting paywalled science, and why more MMOs aren’t on the current list. This round, there’s lots to bicker over — but also some bits to celebrate in the February 2017 charts of top-grossing game titles.

On PC, while League of Legends, Crossfire, and Dungeon Fighter Online continue their top-three dominance, the rest of the roster has seen a bit of a shake-up, as Overwatch has fallen from #4 to #6 and World of Tanks has pushed past it as well as World of Warcraft. WoW’s status is a tad confusing; last month, SuperData began reporting Western and Eastern WoW separately, even though it does not appear to be doing that for any other game. This month, it’s omitted the West/East tags but still has two entries for WoW, so we’re left to assume to top one is still West as it was last month.

On console, ARK: Survival Evolved has fallen from its #4 spot to #6. As always, we point out that ARK: Survival Evolved has yet to formally launch, and it’s absurd that it’s on this list at all, but fools and their money and all that.

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League of Legends’ Ghostcrawler on diversity vs. politics in gaming

Don’t think politics belong in games? Maybe your problem is a mangled understanding of what politics is. That’s the gist of a blog piece out yesterday from Greg “Ghostcrawler” Street, whom many MMO players will likely remember from his long stint as World of Warcraft’s lead systems designer, though now he’s lead game designer over on League of Legends next door.

Street was responding to a gamer worried about his belief that “Liberal politics is forcing [its] way into games.” “I just want to enjoy a fun experience, or take part of someone’s artistic vision,” the player wrote, seeking validation for his worries.

Street agreed that he would be annoyed if League of Legends “tried to sneak in lessons on how taxes should be structured, or opinions on health care, or state versus federal power” as that would be too political. But the mere presence or acknowledgement of diversity? That’s not politics, he argues — that’s reality.

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League of Legends on LGBT representation and pro team mistreatment allegations

League of Legends will probably introduce non-straight characters eventually, a new interview on Polygon with Riot Games’ Greg Street suggests. The publication asked Street questions about LGBT representation during GDC 2017, noting that Blizzard’s Overwatch (particularly Tracer) has proven that it’s a hot topic and something millions of gamers want to see. League of Legends currently has over 130 characters to Overwatch’s 24, but Street says that Riot has to be careful what it adds lest one region or another blockade the game.

“We owe it to the players and, I think, to the world to do something like that. […] What I don’t want to do is be like, ‘Okay, team, next character, whatever you do, has to be lesbian.’ I don’t think we’ll end up with something good there…. From the beginning, it has to be the character’s identity. I’m sure we’ll do it at some point. I don’t know which character or when it will happen.”

If and when it does happen, Street says, it’ll likely be in “storytelling outside the game.”

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