If you haven’t been paying attention to the television market over the past few years, you might have missed the fact that we are in the middle of a revolution of how shows are made and broadcast. Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon, HBO, Disney, and CBS are greenlighting all sorts of fantastic shows with the hopes of strengthening their audience and luring them to these pay-to-watch platforms.
Game of Thrones, Westworld, The Walking Dead, The Defenders, Star Trek Discovery, and Stranger Things are a few examples of how these companies are getting acclaim and major viewership with ambitious projects. Large amounts of money are being thrown around on both the licensing and production of these shows, and companies are frantically looking around for the next big hit. So while Disney is boldly announcing a Star Wars live action TV series, Amazon went to the fantasy equivalent and nabbed a little thing called Lord of the Rings.
Yes indeed. The big news from this past week was that Amazon bought the rights to produce a multi-season Lord of the Rings series. While the exact cost of this deal wasn’t revealed, industry experts estimate that it was somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 to $250 million. No small po-tay-toes any way you look at it. But what will this series mean for our beloved MMORPG? I have a few thoughts about that.
I remember years ago when then-Massively-columnist Rubi Bayer let loose with a blistering rant on the state of faux beta MMOs. She helmed Betawatch back then, see, and she was fed up with (mostly imported) MMOs claiming to be in beta when in fact they’d soft-launched. A lot of readers didn’t understand her fury at the time, but boy have things changed, right? Now, every game’s in on that very old trick, only they call it early access now, while some are still pushing the boundaries, charging $1000 for pre-alpha.
MOP reader Pepperzine proposed a topic for this week’s Massively Overthinking that’s right on point. “I was thinking it would be interesting if we could discuss when people consider a game to be in alpha/beta versus a final launch as a topic,” he wrote to us.
“Back in the day, this was easy to determine. Selective testers were extended invites into beta who were experienced testers who had the computer hardware to handle the software. The primary purpose of being in the testing phase was exactly that, to test and bug report. When the game was made available to the public at a price, a game was considered launched. Now, players are granted access to pre-launch titles by ‘donating’ or purchasing access. For the most part, the primary purpose of participating in the pre-launch experience for these players is not testing or bug reporting but rather to experience and play the game. The division of purchasing a game and donating to test has become so blurred that it is no longer a valid way of determining if a title is at a state to where it is launch ready. These titles can stay in this pre-launch phase for as long as they deem necessary, easily deflecting criticisms by reiterating it is still in development. So when do you consider a game to be launched? Is it when the producers declare it is? Is it when there is no longer the possibility of wipes? Is it when cash shop monetization is implemented? Is it as soon as the company begins selling access?”
Where’s the line in 2017? Let’s dig in.
Console players eager to test out the next addition to The Division are finally getting the chance to do so… in small numbers. The game’s console test server has opened up, but while the PC server lets in anyone who wants to test, only a limited number of players are invited in for the console testing. If you’re not one of those lucky souls, well, you’re just out of luck and will have to wait for a full release to experience everything in patch 1.8.
You can, however, check out the patch notes for the test server on the official site either way. There are a lot more ways to get D-Tech now (even outside of the Dark Zone), bugs have been squashed, quality of life has been improved, new restock points have been added to the West Side Pier… you get the idea. There’s no assurance you’ll be able to test all of that on console, but it is coming.
Earlier this week, we wrote about Black Desert developer Pearl Abyss’ IPO and its grand plans for the future – among them, four additional MMOs. Sounds great, right? Except that the suspicion, at least in our comments, is that Pearl Abyss will just follow in the footsteps of Nexon, NCsoft, and Netmarble in that the games will mobile MMOs and not “real” MMORPGs at all. That may or may not be true; the games have fairly fast turnaround for a full-scale MMORPG, but then the company talked up the BDO engine for future games and expressed great ambition in the MMORPG market in the west and on console.
But the suspicion seems to turn off so many of us — the stigma is real. So for today’s Overthinking, I wanted to dig into that. Do you play mobile MMOs, especially any of the modern crop that are popular in East Asia and then ported here? What keeps you from playing mobile MMOs, and what would you want out of an MMO for a mobile device that would actually make you consider it a home MMORPG?
Let’s introduce you to Trab. Trab is a PC gamer who really enjoys shooting things, so he’s looking forward to some other shooter that recently released on consoles, with a PC release coming later. What is Trab going to do for this weekend? Perhaps he’s going to jump in and play The Division’s free weekend, which is happening this weekend from September 14th through the 17th. There’s lots of stuff to shoot there, and Trab won’t have to wait for a later PC release.
If you’re in the same boat as Trab or just want to try before you buy the game, you can start pre-loading the game now, so you’ll be all charged up when the free weekend kicks off. Your progress will be saved if you buy the game, and there’s even a 60% discount if you buy from Ubisoft directly during the free weekend. That seems like a pretty good deal for anyone with a need to shoot something on PC.
Have you ever really wanted to get ganked by the AI in a game? That’s what you’ll be getting with the two new areas in The Division arriving with patch 1.8. Players traversing the West Side Piers will find enemies dynamically spawning along the zone, and the designers are bragging that it’ll at least seem like the game is trying to take you out specifically. Which probably sounds either awesome or awful, depending on how you feel about enemies popping up to shoot you from diverse angles.
You can check out all of that in the latest developer stream, archived just past the break. The new areas will also make Division Tech (previously available only in the Dark Zone) accessible to players within these wholly PvE regions, which should be welcome for those who don’t wish to have even the threat of actual ganking. Check out everything just below if you’re curious to see what it’s like by the harbor in the next patch.
Curious where you might travel to next in The Division’s post-apocalyptic New York City? Since the whole game is “tourists with guns” anyway, why not visit the aircraft carrier Intrepid, which is now a floating museum-slash-video game level?
Ubisoft revealed the details behind its upcoming Resistance update today, informing players that they will be visiting a new zone called West Side Pier. It’s here where the Intrepid is docked, but don’t expect to be standing around goggling and taking pictures! The enemy factions are starting to band together against the Division forces, and players will engage in the new Resistance PvE mode to counter their threat.
If that’s not enough, Update 1.8 is also going to add a 4v4 deathmatch skirmish mode for Division players who can’t get along. What kind of example are we giving to the enemy by doing this, anyway?
Check out the reveal trailer below!
At its pre-Gamescom press conference this Sunday, Microsoft revealed more about its upcoming Xbox One X and its glorious 4K gaming capabilities. As part of the conference, the company listed several games that would benefit from the enhanced performance and power of the console when it arrives this November.
MMO players should take note, because this list contains many games in our sphere of interest. The select enhanced titles include BioWare’s Anthem, ARK: Survival Evolved, Astroneer, Black Desert, Conan Exiles, Dark and Light, Diablo III, Elite: Dangerous, Path of Exile, Portal Knights, Roblox, Sea of Thieves, SMITE, State of Decay 2, The Crew 2, Elder Scrolls Online, The Division, Warframe, and World of Tanks.
The Xbox One X boasts six teraflops of processing power, 4K Ultra Blu-Ray, and 12GB GDDR5 graphics memory, and will retail for $500. Interested players can pre-order the Project Scropio edition right now for as long as supplies last.
The Division has this week patched up with Update 1.7, a whopper of a patch that introduces an epic new time-limited global event system, new commendations and patches, face masks, facial customization, new gear sets, account-wide sharing of bits and bobs like blueprints, a weapon rebalance, skill tweaks, the works. Oh, and new lockboxes dubbed “encrypted caches” from the Premium Vendor. Yes, they require dropped or cash-shop-bought keys, and yes, they “contain unique appearance items, emotes and skins.”
Ubisoft is opening up last winter’s Survival DLC to a free-play event starting this Friday and running through Sunday as part of its promotion of the patch. “Experience a completely new way to play The Division: cold, stripped of gear, and beset by a brutal snowstorm, you must survive until extracting safely in the Dark Zone,” Ubisoft teases newbies. “Finding warm clothes and survival equipment will be vital to your success.”
The trailers for both the update and the older DLC are down below!
Gamasutra has an unusual piece from an Ubisoft developer this week arguing that co-op gameplay is the industry’s rising midcore trend, one that he believes will ultimately outstrip team competitive games. “It’s all about all the big data and stats that are finally available and can be mined,” author Andrii Goncharuk says, “and no surprise that it’s showing that players who played co-op mode have much more play hours, and players who played co-op with friends have even more play hours.”
He may be right, though first you’d have to believe co-op ever went anywhere to begin with (and console players would probably tell you nope!). But as I read the article, I couldn’t help but see MMOs in most of the arguments he’s making about what makes co-op games sticky, and yet MMOs are being edged out all the same. And while I don’t like to think of the MMO genre’s space in the industry as a zero-sum situation, the reality is that when people tire of MMORPG baggage but still want social play, co-op is exactly the sort of game they retreat to.
For this week’s Massively Overthinking, I asked our writers to reflect on the rise of co-op PvE games outside the MMO label. Do we play them? Do we prefer them, and when? How can we learn from them? Is the popularity of smaller-scale co-op hurting MMORPGs?
After some ups and downs this afternoon — everybody loves the “try again later” message, right? — Valve’s summer Steam sale is finally underway and stable. Here’s what we’re looking at in our corner of the gaming world.
Ever since the Destiny 2 reveal, everyone seems to be freaking out about this follow-up MMO shooter. Will it be the new hotness or a repainted product that’s being sold again to the same audience?
The reveal made Dragonchasers change his mind: “I guess I have to applaud Bungie for trying something new. They freely admit that they’re trying to do something about the frequently toxic environments brought about by matchmaking.”
“I have to say I am not disappointed in the least,” Tales of the Aggronaut enthuses. “In fact at this very moment I am feeling inordinate amounts of Destiny love. There were a few things that were released that gave me all the feels.”
That doesn’t mean everyone’s fully on board yet. “I appreciate the changes the game is making, but I had expected a proper sequel to Destiny to actually be a bigger game with actual new stuff to do, stuff that couldn’t be done in the first game,” said Virtual Bastion.
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, Ingress, War Thunder, World of Tanks, Wakfu, League of Legends, SMITE, GTA Online, Elsword Online, Wurm Online, Darkfall: Rise of Agon, Worlds Adrift, Counter-Strike, SEAL Online, and Warspear Online, all waiting for you after the break!