Leaderboard: Do you speculate on WoW Tokens or other legal MMO RMT currency?

Is Call of Duty the next Activision franchise to migrate to Battlenet? Very likely. As Eurogamer broke earlier this month, players are now able to link their Call of Duty accounts to Battle.net – no doubt in anticipation for Black Ops 4.

I bring this up to MMO players because of the potential impact on World of Warcraft – specifically, token prices – as WoW players buy and sell their tokens to spend down their Blizzard balance to buy up the new CoD title (or cash in on the flurry). Redditors are current speculating about the incoming speculation, arguing that tokens prices have been relatively stable over the past few months, spiking for the Battle for Azeroth hoopla but ultimately settling back down. In fact, just covering the potential for a spike can cause a spike, one poster points out. Gamers will recall a similar situation last year when Destiny 2 landed on Battlenet, sending the token to record heights.

And that leads us to some Leaderboard fun. Do you speculate on WoW Tokens or other legal MMO RMT currency (like PLEX, C.R.E.D.D, etc.), or do you stay the heck away from that noise? Multiple responses are allowed!

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Shroud of the Avatar’s housing is expensive, but not impossible to acquire without RMT

When we covered Shroud of the Avatar’s newsletter yesterday, one of the tidbits we mentioned was the plan for craftable housing. In response to a question from a player, Starr Long essentially announced that in the launch patch next week, Portalarium is planning to tweak that system, which has long provoked claims of pay-to-win.

“Yes we are going to be expanding the number of craftable houses soon. In R52 in fact we are adding a craftable inn.”

So what exactly does housing entail? A helpful Redditor linked to a helpful thread on the official site just a few weeks ago breaking down how exactly you can buy property without handing over your credit card because you definitely can – that’s the good news. If you’re not a crafter yourself, you just need a specific currency, Crowns of the Obsidians, which you can buy with gold.

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EVE Evolved: Solving EVE Online’s botting problem

Practically every MMO on the market today has had to contend with botting and the range of issues that come with it, and EVE Online has always been a favoured target for bots. EVE‘s slow pace of gameplay and predictable PvE activities make it ideal for automation, and the nature of a persistent sandbox is that more time spent farming resources and currency will always be better. The issue seems to have escalated in recent months since the free-to-play upgrades expanded the range of ships and modules available to free users, and the community has been pushing CCP heavily for progress.

A team of bot-hunting players made the news last month when they took down eight ridiculously expensive supercarriers being controlled by bots, exposing just how big the scale of the problem is. The EVE security team responded with a ban wave hitting over 1,800 bot accounts in January and promises that they are “coming for the bots,” but one expert admitted in a recent interview that the war on bots may never be won. So just how difficult is it to tackle botting in EVE Online, and what could CCP do to improve things?

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the difficulties in detecting and shutting down botters, how extensive botting may be in nullsec, and some things developers might have to do in order to solve the problem.

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The Daily Grind: What do you think about ‘buying runs’ in MMORPGs?

Long ago in classic Guild Wars, I used to be fond of buying runs – probably the earliest was the Beacon’s Perch to Droknar’s Forge run. You’d take your alt to Beacon’s, pay the runner a few plat, then sit back as the runner warped the party along an extremely dangerous route past the majority of the game to the zone where you could craft good-looking, max-level armor, then you’d port back and keep playing and not need to worry about tedious armor upgrades along the way. It was actually a lot of fun to watch the specialized runner “work” and to chit-chat with other folks in the running party. And yep, it was all legal gameplay. Other games have similar mechanics in spite of not having party warping; you’ve probably heard of gamers in themeparks like World of Warcraft buying a “spot” on a raid that will essentially carry them and give them the loot they’re after.

In Guild Wars 2, however, you’d probably best watch out if you’re into that type of gameplay: ArenaNet clarified last week that it’s OK with people buying runs in-game, but the studio says a lot of people in the running business are actually involved in third-party RMT, which the company considers illegal, so you buy runs at the risk of account bans if you transact with the wrong group.

What do you think about “buying runs” in MMORPGs?

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Magic: The Gathering Arena’s business model stands on a ‘simple idea’ of universal access

“We want everyone to be able to experience Magic: The Gathering.”

Upon this “simple idea” Wizards of the Coast is building Magic: The Gathering Arena’s business model, which could quickly be summed up as free-to-play that gives players a choice of time or money as a way to progress. By earning gold (in-game currency) or purchasing gems (RMT currency), players can purchase card packs, access events, and open up “The Vault,” a special treasure trove with secret rewards.

Wizards said that it is structuring the game’s economy based on a few principles: “Make our players’ valuable time as fun as possible; players need a variety of cards to have the most fun, so reward them with as many as possible; and make sure players can get the specific cards they want.”

Magic: The Gathering Arena went into beta testing last month with the eventual goal of releasing an online card game that will mirror the physical set releases and be more accessible to the general gaming public.


CCP addresses EVE Online botter problem, saying it’s at the ‘top of the list’

Last week, we reported on a situation brewing on the EVE Online subreddit, where player after player spoke out about the game’s botting problem, exacerbated by a recent post about a specific botter corp leaving expensive capital ships where other players could easily take them out.

Seeking a statement on the botting situation, we reached out to CCP, whose CCP Falcon posted a response to our article on Reddit.

“[Botting is] to the detriment of the game and it needs to be stamped out,” he says. “It’s garbage behavior, it’s against the rules, and it’s something that has a magnified effect in EVE because of the single shard nature of the game, the economy, and the fact that everything on the market is player built or sourced.” Specifically, he dismissed the idea that CCP generates revenue from botters. That said, he also believes CCP has more work to do on the problem.

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Secret World Legends allows players to convert Funcom points into Aurum

If you were sitting on a Scrooge McDuck pile of Funcom Points back when The Secret World announced its switchover to Secret World Legends and were steamed at all of that wasted money, don’t fret. As of today, you’ll be able to convert the premium currency from TSW into SWL.

By using the Aurum exchange, players can make a one-time conversion of Funcom Points into Aurum at a 12:10 ratio. Yes, it’s summer, so let the website handle all of that math for you.

Naturally, there are all sorts of restrictions and requirements, one of the biggest of which is that “bonus” points — the ones given to subscribers every month — aren’t eligible to be carried over to the newer game.


Albion Online offers proof that it is still being DDOSed by RMT blackmailers

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Albion Online.

As we’ve been reporting, the newbie sandbox has been absolutely plagued by a long series of nasty DDOS attacks since at least early last weekend, causing repeated server outages and extreme frustrations that have continued into today. Developer Sandbox Interactive has characterized the outages as the “result of a concerted effort to bring Albion Online down with a distributed denial of service attack (DDOS),” which the developers believe is retaliation for their actions against goldsellers who swarmed the game at launch. The RMT company or companies also reportedly served the studio ransom demands, but the studio declared it will not give into blackmail.

In the meantime, the servers are still up and down like a seesaw; the latest DDOS began less than an hour ago, and while Sandbox has already apologized (repeatedly) and told its fans it’s consulting with experts and working on defensive infrastructure, players have begun questioning the developers’ ability to solve the problems – some even questioned the DDOS and blackmail attempts themselves.

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Hacker claims to have made a living cheating in MMOs for two decades

Motherboard has a fun-slash-depressing piece out this week on an unnamed hacker who claims he’s been cheating at MMORPGs to make a living for almost two decades.

Prior to his recent Def Con hacking conference talk, the hacker dubbed “Manfred” seemingly demoed via video a hack performed in WildStar, one he used to help him accrue nearly 400 trillion gold, which he then allegedly sold to players through various black markets. He argues he wasn’t hacking — he was providing a service by “finding unintended features in the protocol.”

At least some of his claims don’t even seem particularly outlandish, especially if you’ve been around in MMORPGs for a long time and have an understanding of how rampant duping and RMT markets have been over the last 20 years. Manfred claims he got his start in Ultima Online illegally deleting other players’ houses and selling his own on Ebay, funding his days in college. Since then, Motherboard says, he cheated and duped his way through the “wild west” of Lineage 2, Shadowbane, Final Fantasy XI, Dark Age of Camelot, Lord of The Rings Online, RIFT, Age of Conan, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Guild Wars 2.

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Pokemon Go is being sued over the disastrous Chicago live event

If you live in the midwest and are out only a ticket and a tank of gas for your trip to the botched Pokemon Go event a week and change ago, you were probably mollified by Niantic’s vow to reimburse your ticket fee and grant you some free in-game currency. If you spent hundreds or even thousands of dollars to travel to the event from far away, however, $100 in Pokemon Go cash is not going to cut it. That’s the impetus behind a new class-action lawsuit being filed on behalf of “20 or 30” people who say that Niantic failed to keep its promises and should reimburse their travel.

“We’re not seeking any relief with respect to the failure to get legendary Pokémon, because Niantic is offering that,” the attorney representing the plaintiffs, Thomas Zimmerman, explained to Polygon. “But Niantic is not offering to refund people’s travel expenses for coming to Chicago. Most of the people came from out of state, many people from other countries — I talked to someone who flew in from Japan.”

Given just how much money Niantic made from RMT during a single day of the event, we figure the studio’s probably good to reimburse some overseas guests for travel, but in light of how hard the studio has fought to avoid legal culpability for its actions in the past, we doubt it’ll be that simple.

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No, exploitative gacha mechanics are not a good idea for western devs

We’ve been talking about exploitative gacha games and related business models on Massively OP for a long time, most recently and notably in depth earlier this year when we covered how Japan, Korea, China, and Singapore have all passed laws to take the model down a peg. In fact, China’s newest anti-gacha laws have since been used to target MMOs, card games, and even Overwatch’s skins. So given all the crackdowns, you’d think that the trend would be to avoid it, right? That industry analysts and watchers on this side of the pond would be wary?

But no. Bizarrely, there’s a new GamesIndustry.biz article this week in which AppLovin Managing Director Johannes Heinze advocates that western developers start including gachapon mechanics, even citing Pokemon Go as a good example of how well it works. He argues that gacha requires:

  • A large, varied set of content
  • A strong desire from the player to collect as many items as possible
  • A game where gacha content is necessary for players to progress
  • An effective mechanic for duplicate content (to prevent player churn from pulling too many duplicates)

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Massively Overthinking: Building a better MMORPG economy

We are on a roll with the epic questions for Overthinking lately! “The recent article about monetization got me thinking about just how much most modern MMOs are still trying to replicate real-world capitalist economies,” MOP Patron Avaera begins.

“Virtual currency is usually earned proportional to various measures of virtual effort that are intended to be wealth-generating activities – selling loot earned from skillful PvE hunting, selling crafted goods made from resources gathered over time, owning items or land that generates tradeable material over time. However, virtual effort doesn’t have the quite the same limitations, scarcity, and creativity as real-world effort, and these systems seem prone to exploitation by users/bots that can easily outmatch casual players in terms of how much virtual effort and time they can expend, leading to various RMT problems and artificially distorted economies. How would you go about avoiding this problem, if you had the god-like powers of a game designer? Is there a way to set up a virtual economy so that it isn’t prone to exploitation by bots or gold-farmers, and will we ever see a virtual game currency that can truly be exchanged with a real one?”

I posed Avaera’s question to our staff to mull over.

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