virtual reality

MMO biz roundup: The voice actor strike, e-sports crime, CCP VR, Crowfall, and new acquisitions for Tencent, EA, and Nexon

Let’s end the week talking about money. What could go wrong?

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OrbusVR outlines its early access schedule for December

The production schedule for OrbusVR is speeding right along, and the game is just about ready to head into early access. For a given value of “just about,” anyhow; November is still going to be all about the closed beta starting on November 15th. But when that ends on December 8th, players can mark their calendars for the early access head start on December 13th, and from that point on the game is playing for keeps.

Yes, really; the game’s early access period will feature no more wipes or rollbacks, whether you’re part of the headstart or have to start on the general early access period on December 15th. That’s also when fans will be able to gift the game to others, incidentally. So if you’re excited for the game but don’t like playing MMOs when you know there will be progress wipes, get ready to dive in with a will in mid-December.

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EVE Evolved: EVE Online’s CCP Games is gambling with the livelihoods of employees

Last week we broke the story that EVE Online developer CCP Games is backing out of the virtual reality games market, closing its Altanta office and selling its VR-focused Newcastle studio. The long-held Atlanta office was acquired in the merger with White Wolf in 2006 and has been hit with several rounds of layoffs over the years, with a major hit in 2011 after the Monoclegate disaster and another 2014 when the World of Darkness MMO was cancelled. The Newcastle studio was the development house responsible for CCP’s VR dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie, and both Valkyrie and CCP’s new VR game Sparc will now be maintained by the London office.

Around 100 staff were laid off in the restructuring, roughly 30 of whom worked in CCP’s headquarters in Reykjavik, Iceland. Though we were informed at the time that these changes would not impact the development of EVE Online, it since became apparent that more than a few non-development staff were cut. In addition to the EVE PR staff and others that were stationed in Atlanta, all but two members of the EVE community team in Reykjavik have also been let go. There are reports that several GMs and the localisation manager for EVE have departed too, and the mood on twitter from staff in Reykjavik recently is best described as sombre and a little shaken.

In this extra edition of EVE Evolved, I dig into CCP Games’s history of taking risks with staff’s jobs, look at some of those affected by the layoffs, and ask whether there is more fallout to come.

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EVE Online expands its free-to-play offerings in the wake of studio instability

Good news, EVE Online fans! CCP is pretty happy with how the game’s Alpha clone system has worked out, all things considered. In fact, the studio is so happy with how it’s worked out that it’s giving Alpha clones a wider array of options in the game, starting with a new set of skills that these free players can train. No more faction restrictions, battlecruisers and battleships are now available, and both small and medium Tech II weapons will all be added to the Alpha training repertoire. So everyone get get in on the big space battles.

Those big space battles will be taking place in plain old two-dimensional displays, of course, as the developer recently shut down its VR division (and apparently gutted EVE’s community team – we’ll have a detailed report on that soon). This prompted several developers to chime in and assert that the VR game industry isn’t dead, although the cutting loose of CCP’s heavy investment in the field certainly doesn’t indicate a robust installed base or healthy growth. The developers chiming in do admit that it’s not a field in which there’s lots of money to be made at the moment, although all things considered that alone doesn’t seem to have made the decision for CCP.

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Black Desert publisher Kakao declares 550M registered users across all its games

Black Desert publisher and South Korean gaming giant Kakao announced this morning that it’s accumulated “over 550 million registered users across its games portfolio and services,” which includes everything from PC and mobile games to augmented and virtual reality games – over 1100 games in all. The press release stresses the company’s ambition to expand its daily players further and notes again that it will serve as the publisher for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds when it launches in South Korea next month.

This past summer, the corporation announced plans to consolidate its gaming services — its “cash cow” — into a single holding company, which it formally launched yesterday.

You’ll recall that during Pearl Abyss’ IPO conference in September, we learned that Black Desert specifically has brought in over $300M with almost 8M registered players and performs particularly well in the west. The studio also teased plans for four more MMOs.

Source: Press release

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Perfect Ten: 10 MMOs where you can live out your giant robot fantasies

Two years ago, NCsoft dealt a harsh blow to a certain subset of gaming fans when it canned the development of Project HON. This MMO was to be a glorious exercise in mecha combat, but scandals and a decision to reallocate development resources meant that it was never to be.

So where can that kid who grew up playing with giant robots go to get a Voltron, Transformers, or Macross fix these days? While many MMOs offer the occasional mech experience, there aren’t as many games that go all-in on that Pacific Rim experience.

But in the interests of a thought experiment and because I have fond memories of slapping five metal lions together to form the ultimate defender of the universe, here are 10 online games that offered or still do offer the thrill of high-tech mech and robot warfare.

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So here’s what’s going on with EVE Valkyrie now that CCP’s downsized

Yesterday, MOP’s Brendan reported on the startling news that CCP Games, long known for its flagship MMORPG sandbox EVE Online and more recently known for its persistent probe into the virtual reality space, is closing down two of its studios, letting over 100 employees go, and essentially putting the kibosh on its plans in the VR market in the short term.

One of the substudios affected, the Newcastle studio now being sold off, was specifically focused on EVE Valkyrie, the VR dogfighter spun out of the EVE universe. But it doesn’t appear that game, which last month launched on Steam with apparently lukewarm reception from the PC crowd, is over. In fact, CCP is calling it “the beginning of a new chapter.”

“We can confidently confirm that EVE: Valkyrie – Warzone is not going away,” writes the company. “We love the game just as much as we love our players, so you can rest assured that we’ll continue to support the product into the future. The development team at the Newcastle studio will remain intact and complete work on the upcoming Winter Update for EVE: Valkyrie – Warzone. So don’t panic! You’ll still receive in-game support for custom matches, tournament tools and a spectator mode before the end of this year.”

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CCP Games ceases VR development, closes two studios – no negative impact on EVE Online

Icelandic business website mbl.is has just reported that EVE Online developer CCP Games is planning to close two of its offices and cease all VR game development. The move affects over 100 staff worldwide, with the Atlanta office in the United States being closed and the Newcastle studio being sold off. The Newcastle office was the development house responsible for the VR dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie, which released as a bundled launch title for the Oculus Rift and has since been released on PlayStation VR and as a non-VR PC title.

The move will see CCP pull out of the VR market for the time being, focusing instead on PC and mobile development. The studio secured a $30 million US investment specifically for VR games back in 2015, and CEO Hilmar Pétursson revealed back in March of this year that the company had only recently broken even on that investment. Despite having some success with Valkyrie, Gunjack, and its recently released VR sports title Sparc, CCP acknowledged the limited opportunities and growth it sees in VR as a platform over the next several years.

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Former Blizzard executive Rob Pardo thinks we’re a long way off from VR MMOs

Rob Pardo is no longer with Blizzard, but he can still count World of Warcraft‘s success as a big feather in his cap. So it seems natural that after a recent speech at View Conference in Italy someone would ask him when we could expect VR to start hosting MMOs in the future. Pardo isn’t enthusiastic, at least in the short term; he stated that we’re a long way off from seeing VR tech supporting a full-fledged MMO experience.

I just think it’s going to be a really long time until we see something as complex as an MMORPG in VR. But one day, I’m sure one day we’ll see the Holodeck – I just don’t think it’s any time soon.

He elaborated by explaining that for such a title to really work, you need the technology to be fair lighter and more accessible, advanced to the point where it’s not going to make people sick, and also develop input devices that really work well for navigating an MMO within that space. And all of those hurdles come before you start designing a fun game. It’s an interesting point of view to consider, especially when we’ve already got a VR MMO on the way.

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OrbusVR prepares for its wild zones and endgame dungeons for beta 3

It might seem a little early in OrbusVR’s life cycle to be super invested in the endgame, but the release of the game’s third closed beta on Friday marks a shift in its development pattern. The game is no longer just about making things work, but about letting people know what the game is all about. So it’s probably for the best that the game is talking about its endgame content like the Wild Zones, dangerous areas with deadly beasts, powerful crafting items, and limited open PvP (you can’t loot items like equipped gear, and you’ll be marked as a bandit for attacking unprovoked, but you can steal crafting items).

Not your sort of endgame? That’s fine; the game also has endgame dungeons to drop powerful gear, so you can avoid that PvP if you’d rather. There’s the basic Tradua Mines dungeon to explore, and beyond that you can collect Essence Shards to turn even leveling dungeons into more powerful challenges that will force you to fight your way through. So you have a few options for what sort of endgame you wish to explore.

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Facebook announces $199 Oculus Go, drops core Oculus bundle to $399 permanently

Facebook has announced that it’s once again dropping the price of the Oculus Rift: The device-with-headset bundle will fall from $499 to $399, making permanent the “temporary” price reduction seen this past summer and following another large drop down from $600 in March, a price tag analysts pegged at the time as way too high.

But in perhaps even more intriguing news, Facebook’s announced the Oculus Go, a new headset supposedly in the “sweet spot” between the existing Rift and competitors like Samsung’s Gear VR. Shipping in November, it’ll run just under 200 bucks.

“We want to get a billion people in virtual reality,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says.

Source: Gamasutra, Slashdot. Thanks, Sally!

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EVE Evolved: What to expect from EVE Vegas 2017

CCP Games’ annual EVE Vegas event kicks off in less than a week on October 6th, and once again MassivelyOP will be on the ground to get the latest on the future of EVE Online, EVE: Valkyrie, Sparc, and more. This year’s event is shaping up to be the biggest one yet, having sold out weeks in advance despite moving to a larger venue in The Linq Hotel and Casino. EVE Vegas is the largest community event for players in North America and serves almost as a mini-Fanfest for those who may not be able to make it to Iceland.

While the event is mostly a social gathering and an excuse to get drunk, it will also give CCP an opportunity to get critical feedback ahead of EVE Online‘s Lifeblood expansion on October 24th. We’ll hear more about the upcoming Resource Wars dynamic PvE gameplay, get an update on the development roadmap for EVE, and see a variety of player talks and presentations. We’ve also been told to expect some cool surprises this year, and we may get an opportunity to follow up on the recent record-breaking heist and betrayal that happened in-game.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at what we can expect from next week’s EVE Vegas 2017. If you have any questions you’d like me to ask players or developers, post them in the comments!

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The MOP Up: PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds hits record concurrency (October 1, 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!

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 Elsword, Ultima Online, Dreadnought, Overhit, Blade and Soul, Project Ex, Conquer Online, Wurm OnlineMechWarrior OnlinePokemon GoSkyforge, PaladinsPlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Miranda, all waiting for you after the break!

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