See: Riot Games

GDC 2018: Game developers push for unionization in Game Workers Unite

Back in 2016, we covered the voice actors guild strike against multiple game companies in its an attempt to secure better compensation and working conditions. The drawn-out saga renewed calls among game developers themselves to unionize. As we wrote about last fall, such a trade union would ideally protect developers from discrimination as well as game industry “crunch” and its concomitant 100-hour weeks and poor compensation – the kind that has literally caused game developers to drop dead (never mind makes them burn out or abandon the industry).

Apparently, such an organization is finally in the works. As Kotaku reports, Game Workers Unite is using this year’s GDC to raise awareness and collect accounts of labor exploitation.

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PUBG, TERA, and A:IR company Bluehole has gone on a shopping spree

South Korea’s Bluehole has been busy as the rise of PUBG has filled its coffers. It partnered with Tencent. It’s been hiring for TERA’s mobile port and even snapping up execs from Riot. It fended off rumors of a Microsoft buyout. It teamed up with Kakao for Project W. It built subsidiary PUBG Corp offices in four corners of the globe. And now, it’s picked up two more studios.

GIbiz reports that Bluehole and PUBG Corp have bought up MadGlory. We don’t know how much money changed hands, but we do know that the company is primarily focused on “custom matchmaking engines” and other multiplayer tools. The publication suggests that the newly dubbed PUBG MadGlory will be working on the PUBG Developer Portal coming out in April, which will basically allow community modders access to the API.

And MMO Culture has a brief piece out on Bluehole’s acqusition of Red Sahara Studio, a mobile studio that will be working on another TERA spinoff.

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Perfect Ten: A dozen MOBAs that didn’t make it

With the insane success — both in terms of popularity and finances — that Dota and League of Legends spawned, you can easily understand why game studios latched onto the multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) as a relatively quick cash grab. After all, with players providing the ongoing content (through PvP matches), developers were freed up to focus on balance tweaks and churning out new skins and characters to sell.

In a relatively short span of time, the market became flooded with many imitators that sought to grab that slice of the profitable pie. And while some, such as Hi-Rez’s SMITE, have endured, many games discovered the one key danger with this approach: If you could not generate and sustain a large, active playerbase, you were as good as dead. A critical mass was needed, and when it was not achieved, games started folding up left and right.

In today’s Perfect Ten, we’re going to look at a dozen MOBAs that tried and failed to make it. Perhaps they serve as cautionary lessons to other studios seeking to mimic League of Legends’ format, but we somehow doubt that the era of the MOBA is over just yet.

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MMO Business Roundup: EA Spouse 14 years later, PUBG poaching from Riot, and Funcom financials

Welcome back to another edition of our informal business roundup, where we wedge all the fun MMO industry tidbits that pile up in our newsroom.

Remember EA Spouse, the EA developer’s wife whose initially anonymous article busted open the doors on EA’s culture of abusive crunch back in 2004? Rolling Stone’s Glixel blog (via Gamasutra) has a 14-year retrospective and a sum-up of the state of “crunch culture” since then. Intriguingly, EA Spouse herself – Erin Hoffman-John – declined to comment much on how she got the ball rolling, but other developers gave Glixel conflicting accounts. Some believe that EA has made an attempt to change and is no “worse than anyone else,” while one producer scoffed at the pushback against crunch, calling it a “disruption.” According to him, hustle is just the patch to greatness.

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The MOP Up: Path of Exile reads your future in the cards (February 25, 2018)

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 Conqueror’s BladeMapleStory BlitzDarkfall: Rise of AgonSkyforgePath of ExileArmored Warfare AssaultAura Kingdom, and MechWarrior Online, all waiting for you after the break!

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Riot discloses the drop odds for League of Legends lootboxes

Mentioning lootboxes at this point is a good way to send players into paroxysms of rage regardless of how fair or unfair they are; any goodwill about the random crates has pretty well evaporated now. League of Legends seems to be aiming to ameliorate some of that rage with its Hextech boxes and upcoming Masterwork chests by fully disclosing the drop rates for everything within a given crate, so at least you can have a good idea of your actual odds before you pull the trigger on buying them.

Obviously, the rarest and best rewards are, well, fairly unlikely, but the crates at least allow you to reroll items that you already own at the moment. (The designers are looking into other ways to make “getting stuff you already have” feel like less of a letdown.) We can’t tell you if this will make you any less angry about lootboxes, but at least disclosing the odds is pretty decidedly a step in the right direction.

Source: Official Site via Kotaku; thanks to Pepperzine for the tip!


Sci-fi battle arena FeArea takes the MOBA to the future

Despite the recent rash of shutdowns, game developers haven’t quite given up on trying to crack into the MOBA market and siphon off that sweet, sweet revenue flow. To accomplish this, some studios try a different take on the MOBA, such as Muvgames’ FeArea.

Not a traditional League of Legends-style MOBA, FeArea styles itself as a battle arena that borrows elements from that gamestyle while adding in tanks, mechs, and high-powered weapons. The studio claims that there is no grinding or minion battling in these 5v5 bouts. It sounds more like a demolition derby than anything else: “You can crush and destroy any obstacle or even a building!”

FeArea is currently fighting its way through early access on Steam and can be purchased for 25% off at $4.49 through March 1st.

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Massively Overthinking: Why doesn’t video game marketing reflect our demographics?

This week’s Massively Overthinking topic comes to us from Steve, and it’s a frustration for our team as well, I promise.

“If the following statistics industry execs and analysts put out are true – that online multiplayer games are most profitable, that the average age of gamers is 35, that over 40% of gamers are female, and that ‘women’ and ‘over 35’ are two of the fastest growing demographic segments – why are virtually all major online multiplayer games designed primarily (in fact, almost exclusively) for males aged 15 to 35? I can’t speak for women, because as a straight, white male, I am aware 97% of the world exists to obey my whims and desires. However, as someone in my 40s, I notice that video games increasingly tend to be the exception, and it’s pissing me off more daily. So I can only imagine how frustrating it must be for women (40% of gamers, but just one Overwatch pro, for example, has to be infuriating). For an industry that wants every cent it can get its hands on, ignoring these groups (particularly the affluent 35+ age group) seems like a massive oversight.”

Yep! Let’s dig in.

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The MOP Up: Aion makes a date with the Divine Fortress (January 28, 2018)

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 League of LegendsPath of ExileWarframeBlack DesertFortniteArmored WarfarePerfect World InternationalAionMonster Hunter WorldPUBGFinal Fantasy XIVOverwatchMechWarrior OnlineTree of Life, and Crossout, all waiting for you after the break!

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SuperData December 2017: Fortnite and PUBG kick butt, while Destiny 2 slumps

SuperData’s December 2017 global revenue chart is out, and it’s good news for the industry on the whole, as holiday spending was up by almost a fifth over 2016.

On the PC side, we’re seeing quite a shakeup over the last couple of months. Dungeon Fighter Online has surged back into the #2 spot behind League of Legends after tumbling last fall thanks to PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which itself has fallen several slots on the PC side (though faring better on console). Fortnite is now on the top 10 list right behind PUBG; World of Warcraft and Roblox are hanging in there; and Overwatch has even returned to the PC list at #10.

What’s not on the PC list at all? Destiny 2. It’s in the middle of the pack on the console top list right now, but it’s been overshadowed on PC. Why? “Destiny 2’s new DLC release, Curse of Osiris, failed to make a significant impact on the game,” SuperData declares. “[Monthly active users] and digital revenue were generally flat month-over-month.”

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Riot partners with the Peach Belt Conference, Blizzard takes OWL toxicity seriously with suspension and fine

E-sports is continuing its rise in respectability: ESPN reports that Riot Games has partnered with the Peach Belt Conference, known to “real” sports fans as a creditable NCAA division II lineup. Teams from the dozen universities in the conference will compete in to play in the Peach Belt League of Legends championship in March and ultimately the League of Legends College Championship in June. You’ll recall that schools from multiple division II conferences do already participate in the latter championship, but those conferences aren’t full partners with Riot.

While you’re still reeling from ESPN covering e-sports, this Overwatch League bit will pop your eyebrows up again. Dallas Fuel player Félix “xQc” Lengyel got into an internet spat with the Houston Outlaws’ Austin “Muma” Wilmot during which the former made a homophobic remark to the latter (who is in fact openly gay). Though the pair made up on Twitter, Blizzard suspended Lengyel for four matches and fined him $2000, while his team will bench him for additional matches and reportedly give him additional support and training. We’re assuming that’s training on how to shut the fudge up son as you will not be screwing this bajillion-dollar thing Acti-Blizz has going with your trash mouth. Yes, this is real life.

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ASUS throws its weight behind League of Legends in China

Battle royale? Team shooters? League of Legends scoffs at these pretenders to the online throne, sitting on top of an e-sports empire that spans the globe. A big part of this empire is in Asia, where e-sports are blowing up huge in China.

Encouraging the spread of this is computer hardware company ASUS, which just dropped $16 million to help build and open an e-sports headquarters in the country. ASUS is a strong participant in the League of Legends professional community, sponsoring a new pro team called the Rogue Warriors that founded this past December.

ASUS recently developed and released a laptop in India specifically designed to cater to e-sports players. The ROG Strix SCAR Edition was put out under ASUS’s Republic of Gamers brand.

“E-sports is gaining tremendous popularity in the country especially game titles like Dota 2 and Counter Strike,” noted National Business Development Manager Arnold Su. “The number of gamers switching from casual gaming to professional is increasing every year at an exponential level.”

Source: MMO Culture


League of Legends unbans ‘reformed’ toxic player called a ‘humunculus’ by fired employee

Among last year’s toxicity-in-gaming stories was the one that taught the internet an important lesson: how to spell homunculus. No, that wasn’t it. It was “don’t be a game dev who insults and jokes about your toxic players’ deaths,” or at least, don’t get caught, because at the end of it all, the toxic players will still be playing and you’ll be out of a lucrative job.

We’re talking here, of course, about Tyler1, who was banned by Riot Games from League of Legends back in 2016 for toxicity – in his case, specifically verbal abuse, harassment, and outright cheating. Even though he kept streaming, you probably forgot all about him until October 2017, when Riot’s Lead Experience Designer apparently drank a little bit too much joy and then called him a “humunculus” in public, remaking that it’d be “gucci” if Tyler1 were to “die from a coke overdose or testicular cancer from all the steroids.” Though Tyler1 (wisely) stated he wasn’t upset and had no hard feelings over the insults, Riot still fired the employee.

And while the whole ordeal did cause a noticeable spike in google searches for the word homunculus, which continues to amuse me, it may have also influenced Riot’s decision to unban him, news that he announced on his twitter account yesterday and which appears to have been confirmed obliquely by Riot.

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