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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Gamers talk a big talk about horse armor DLC and pay-to-win and the evils of cash shops, but y’all keep buying anyway.
That’s according to gaming research analysis firm SuperData, which today released an excerpt from its pricey report on digital console revenue for 2017. More than half of all digital console revenue this year, the firm says, will come from “additional content” like DLC and cash-shop microtransactions. That number is half again as high for the top-earning console games from the last few years.
Fully “39% of first-year additional content revenue for all titles is made in the first 3-to-6 months, leaving game publishers with a tight time frame to release new content,” argues SuperData. “Digital console consumers are hungry for more content as soon as they are done with the core gameplay. Most single player games have a gameplay timeframe between 10-to-40 hours within their single-player mode. It is not hard to see why over a third of console players believe that publishers should release content every 3-to-6 months. Over a fourth of them believe additional content should be released at least once a month. Publishers are warned to be wary of releasing content too close to the release date, since consumers see that tactic as profiting off content that should otherwise have been released with the full game.”
MMORPG players just love it when somebody declares the MMORPG dead, right? All those games you’re playing, all the games we’re writing about and sustaining us? Zombie games! You’re imagining it all! Thanks, mainstreamers!
Today’s somebody, admittedly, is Ramin Shokrizade, an economist and author well-known for his career and expertise in gaming monetization specifically, and he doesn’t mean literally dead in today’s piece on Gamasutra, in spite of its title. “What Killed the MMOG?” is an excerpt of an unpublished paper he penned in 2009 on RMT: real-money trading/transfer and gold farming, a problem developers told him “had no solution.”
Shokrizade describes the “industrialization” of RMT in factories run by massive organizations in China dedicated to making black market botter cash off the burgeoning MMO market in the 2000s. “Since the accounts are optimized for profitability, they tend to bring in perhaps ten times as much coin per hour as a maximum level account played for entertainment purposes, and hundreds of times as much as an account at half the level cap or less,” he wrote. Consequently, paying for in-game cash from RMT companies was just a logical move for buyers.
For a very long time, selling gold in World of Warcraft was a path to making money. It was unethical and against the terms of service, but it was still eminently doable. The addition of an “official” option in the form of the WoW Token changed that, and an article on Cracked talks with a former gold farmer about the path toward moving on with your life after you’ve spent time exploiting that virtual economy. It might not make you feel sympathetic for gold farming, but it’s still an interesting perspective.
Of course, if you’re farming gold, you’re probably not all that worried about playing the actual game (as the article even says), but people who are playing the game will be happy with the latest round of hotfixes, which clean up issues with the Chromie quest line, fix various balance issues, and fixes a few bugs here and there. None of them actually relates to gold, though, unless you consider a glyph recipe not dropping to be about gold. Which it sort of is, arguably.
This week CCP Games
announced that some big changes are on the way for PLEX
in EVE Online
. The PLEX or “30-day Pilot’s License EXtension” is a virtual item that represents 30 days of subscription time and can be bought for cash and then sold to other players for in-game ISK. This simple mechanic has proven to be one of the most important innovations in the subscription MMO business model over the years, allowing players with lots of in-game wealth to effectively play for free while permitting cash-rich players to buy in-game currency without funding dodgy farming operations that can disrupt the game world. Dozens of games now support some kind of player-mediated currency roughly like PLEX
The proposed changes are intended to simplify EVE‘s business model by merging PLEX with the microtransaction currency Aurum. Players will also be able to put their PLEX into invulnerable account-wide PLEX Vaults that are accessible at all times rather than having to move the valuable items manually by ship. There’s been significant backlash from the EVE community over the newfound invulnerability of PLEX, plans to delete some microtransaction currency from the game without compensation, and the possibility that someone leaked the announcement to friends early in order to make a profit. So what’s the deal with these PLEX changes, and why are some EVE players going nuts over them?
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at the upcoming changes to the safety of PLEX, the opportunities that more granular PLEX could have for EVE, and why players are up in arms over plans to delete Aurum from thousands of accounts.
There’s always a disclaimer for patches and expansions on test servers that things can and will change over the course of their stay there. This is proving true for World of Warcraft’s Patch 7.2 this week, as the devs have decided to get rid of an order hall upgrade that would award relics with bonus traits.
“In the next PTR build, you’ll see that we’ve replaced the final order hall research (which caused relics to gain a second trait at random) with one that grants a chance for artifact power rewards from world quests to be doubled,” the team said. “We’re doing this for a few reasons, the largest of which being that we simply weren’t satisfied with the current state of the system.”
The build has several other adjustments to the formation of 7.2, including another pass at the new Nethershards currency system, tweaks to artifact traits, and a few buffs and nerfs for class skills. The devs will be focusing their efforts on play testing the arena over this next week and invited the community to join in with them.
The Elysium World of Warcraft private server community is in total meltdown, so popcorn at the ready.
Most MMORPG players would probably have never heard of Elysium but for Nostalrius, the WoW emulator that was C&D’d by Blizzard last year and then went on to agitate for official vanilla servers, blowing its momentum after BlizzCon by handing its source code and characters over to Elysium to run from the Ukraine, only to then change its mind last month and ask for the code back.
Elysium agreed to Nostalrius’ requests, but things have gone south for its own game this past week when an emu YouTuber and concomitant agitators accused the top echelons of the Elysium team of everything from manipulating loot tables and unbanning hackers for under-the-table cash to participating in Chinese gold selling and botting schemes and being shadow-run by (former) network partner Crestfall. They probably also did Watergate, I don’t know.
(Incidentally, Crestfall has already cut ties with Elysium as of this afternoon, citing “strong evidence of corruption in high-ranking members of [Elysium’s] staff.”)
In a new interview with Glixel, World of Warcraft Game Director Ion Hazzikostas opened up about the creation and use of WoW Tokens in the Blizzard ecosystem, especially in light of last week’s expansion of the tokens’ functionality. Hazzikostas said that the demise of Diablo III’s RMT auction house paved the path for WoW Tokens.
“One of the original purposes for the token, and something that it’s served very well, is undercutting the illegal gold selling market that exists within the game,” he noted. “The way that gold is acquired is by compromising the accounts and using various methods that are harmful to players. Anything we can do to make those things harder is a net gain for us.”
Hazzikostas said that only a small segment of World of Warcraft players actually buy or sell tokens: “We were very satisfied with the fact that it was harmless, that it was not having any negative external effects on the economy or the game, and was just making people happier.”