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Leaderboard: Do the HTC Vive’s and Oculus Rift’s price cuts change your opinion on VR pricing?

When Oculus dropped the price of the Oculus Rift down to $400 earlier this summer, supposedly temporarily (but not its first drop), analysts were torn over the decision, suggesting that Facebook’s rumored cheaper wireless Pacific device might be the impetus.

Now this week, HTC joined in the price-slashing parade, reducing the price of the Vive from $799 to $599, a fee analysts said back in January was still too pricey for the Oculus. However, the president of the Viveport marketplace rejected the idea that the new price was a response to the Rift’s panic-mode. “I think we are the leader in the market, and the plan was always that high-end VR be available to everyone,” he told Polygon. “So of course there are a couple of components that need to fall into place … in order to reach the mass market, you need to have a lower price point. That’s been the plan all along. I think it’s good that other players in the market are making similar moves.”

For this edition of Leaderboard, I thought it would be fun to take stock of our core audience’s view of the price of VR here in 2017 to see whether it differs significantly from the 2014 vs. 2016 report, which suggested that while initial high prices had shifted many gamers’ expectations for a higher price, an even greater number still wouldn’t pay over $300 for a device. To the pollmobile!

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Leaderboard: Did Guild Wars 2’s preview weekend convince you to buy Path of Fire?

This past weekend, the gaming segment of my Twitter feed was positively dominated by chatter about Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion free preview weekend. I even saw a few of my guildies dip back in, which shouldn’t have surprised me — quite a lot of our readers and friends told us in last week’s Leaderboard poll that they had plans to try the free weekend, many of them no doubt trying to decide whether to buy it and return to the game or even play it for the first time.

The question is, did it work? Did Guild Wars 2’s preview weekend convince you to buy Path of Fire? Let’s hit the polls and find out.

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Leaderboard: Will you be trying Guild Wars 2 for free this weekend?

As part of its marketing push ahead of Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire expansion launch in September, ArenaNet is plotting a freebie weekend for the game. The base game is already free-to-play, of course, but this weekend, all players will be treated to a preview of the paid and unlaunched Path of Fire content, even if you’ve never put a dime into the game. Existing players and newbies alike can basically tour the first zone (Amnoon Oasis) before deciding whether or not to pick up the expack. If you’re a total newbie, all you have to do is register a free account and you’re good to go starting Friday through Sunday. The weekend after that, the expansion’s elite specs will be available in PvP and WvW, so you’ll get to sample those too.

The question is — will this work? Are you actually going to give it a go? To the pollmobile!

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Leaderboard: Did you go back to LOTRO for Mordor?

Before we begin, let’s just get the trailer thing out of our systems. It was bad. Really bad. OK? Good. That’s done.

Lord of the Rings Online launched Mordor yesterday, its first major expansion since the transfer of the game from Turbine to Standing Stone Games last year.

And while Justin’s busy diving in and cooking up some impressions of the expansion for us, I thought I’d open it up to the readers in a poll: Was Mordor enough to make you go back LOTRO or even pick it up for the first time?

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Leaderboard: Is our future in virtual reality or augmented reality?

MOP reader Sally recently pointed us to a series of articles on virtual reality and augmented reality tech that when taken together make for an interesting discussion on two terms most laypeople seem to use interchangeably.

  • In January following this year’s CES, Yahoo tech columnist David Pogue rolled his eyes at “gushing” over VR and argued that augmented reality was far more interesting.
  • In April, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg gave a speech suggesting that the future of VR is bright but that the equipment was a hindrance to socializing — that augmented reality, with transparent glasses, is the future.
  • Electronic Arts said basically the same exact thing just four days ago — that VR is still years away from mass-market consumers but that the company is focusing on AR in the shorter term.
  • And finally AltspaceVR, a startup that was offering a social VR chat aimed at businesses, is closing up shop, having run out of funding. Its userbase was only 35,000 people monthly, and it’s not even the only VR company to close down this year.

I have to say that I see much more utility and promise in a Shadowrun-like tech future of augmented glasses than in cumbersome game devices, but am I wrong — and are the money men wrong? Is our future in virtual reality or augmented reality?

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Leaderboard: Do you play Star Wars Galaxies’ emulator?

Welp, here we are: Star Wars Galaxies would be turning 14 years old today, had it been allowed to live.

SWG is much beloved around here, among our staff and many of our commenters, and the good news is that the existing emulators for the game have seemed pretty safe from the wrath of the copyright gods, which means you can put your mouse where your heart is and still play. But do you? And if not, why not?

That’s what today’s Leaderboard poll is meant to find out. (You can choose multiple answers on this one.)

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Leaderboard: Is Steam Direct’s developer fee too high?

Back in February, Valve announced that it would be sunsetting Steam Greenlight and replacing it with a new platform called Steam Direct, which would require fees from developers in order to “decrease the noise in the submission pipeline.” At the time, fees from $100-$5000 were floated by the company, causing significant consternation among game developers concerned that indies, students, and developing countries would be shut out of the program.

Last week, Valve posted an update on the program, announcing that it will be sticking with the $100 fee and working on other ways to fix the submission process — namely, with an expanded curator system that continues to offload de facto vetting work onto volunteers.

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Leaderboard: What’s the most important part of MMORPG character customization?

Valiance Online has a dev thread up this week asking backers and devs to propose hairstyles for the game’s characters, something that immediately yoinked my attention since I am notoriously picky about hair. As I’ve written before, I’m not against mohawks. Mohawks are cool. But when we open up a character creator and see 50 different types of mohawks and little else? Drives me bonkers. I’m exaggerating a little, but the variety in most MMOs isn’t so hot, and that’s partly down to clipping issues, I realize. Still, hair specifically is super important to me when I’m rolling a character. It’s definitely in my top three, probably right after gender.

How about you? What’s the most important part of MMORPG character customization to you? You can pick three!

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Leaderboard: Almost half of e-sports viewers don’t even play the games they’re spectating

It may sound crazy, but a huge number of people who pour eyeball time and money into e-sports don’t even play the games they’re watching. That’s according to gaming analytics firm Newzoo, which last week broke down its stats on the major e-sports franchises and who exactly is watching them in the U.S., Canada, Germany, U.K., France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Sweden. Key takeaways?

  • 70% of viewers stick to one game.
  • 69% of gamers play only League of Legends, CS:GO, or DOTA 2 (the overlap of all three is 8%).
  • 42% of e-sports watchers of the big three games do not play any of them
  • 191 million people will tune in to e-sports “frequently” this year; an additional 194 million will do so “occasionally.”

Howsabout you? Do you watch, play, both, or neither?

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Leaderboard: What do you do with your stuff when you quit an MMORPG?

On today’s podcast, Justin teased me for running a virtual yard sale as I attempt to clean out my house in Ultima Online. I’m not quitting the game, mind you, but I did feel the urge to purge my hoard a bit to give myself some options, since right now, I’m obligated to sub every few months to hang on to that digital house lest I lose everything in it. If I were going to leave for a longer period of time, as I’ve done before, I’d need to get rid of most of my loot in a hurry and figure out whom to bequeath my house — if anyone.

Totally coincidentally, this morning I ran across a post on the Marvel Heroes sub whose author says he’s quitting and was looking for a “tasteful” way of giving away all his stuff.

Both incidents prompted me to wonder what other people do — does it depend on the game? What do you do with your stuff when you quit an MMORPG?

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Leaderboard: Where do you draw the line between griefing and roleplaying?

On the Morrowind subreddit a few days ago, a player was recounting a particular roleplay-slash-griefing episode on a hardcore-roleplay Ultima Online emulator. The player explains that he spent months roleplaying as a bartender serving drinks to the adventurers he befriended. But he was actually planning something far more nefarious:

“For over a year I roleplayed with these people as a simple barman, pretended to be their friend and confidant, and then during a harvest festival where every player on our server was in attendance and I was [paid] to provide the food and drink… I poisoned every last morsel of food, every drop of drink, and after the [regent] delivered his speech and all of these fools raised their goblets for the toast and took that deadly sip, I stepped onto the stage and revealed what had happened. They [were] all going to die, and die they did. Now this was a permanent death server (hardcore RPers, mind you), and some had been playing those characters for 8 years, and there they all were, collapsed and dying. Soon they were all unconscious, as you could only die if you went unconscious three times in one day or if a certain psychotic bartender came and cut off your head… which I did to every player in our group of 38. They were all there, and unfortunately so was I.”

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Leaderboard: Are you part of SuperData’s cohort of ‘gaming video content viewers’?

SuperData released a report this week arguing that the video gaming video content business is booming, even “outpacing earnings from some traditional sports leagues.” The whole paper is a mere $2,499 if you want to read it all, but the summary includes everything from Twitch to YouTube and intriguingly suggests that the viewing audience is almost half female.

“Additionally, gaming live streams are replacing primetime TV viewing with 27% of live stream viewers watching most often during weekday evenings. The Gaming Video Content audience on YouTube and Amazon’s Twitch, 517 million and 185 million people in 2016 respectively, surpasses mainstream channels like ESPN and HBO, further shaking up the traditional media landscape.”

E-sports and stream viewers, the analysts claim, “watch more than four hours of content per week,” while almost half of US gaming video content viewers are hooked to “walkthroughs, trailers and humor videos,” meaning that both the casual and hardcore audiences are being served.

Are you among them? That’s what today’s Leaderboard means to find out.

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Leaderboard: Are you sick of MMORPG quests?

When World of Warcraft was in beta and I first gave it a go, I remember being absolutely captivated by questing. It wasn’t as if no MMORPGs before hadn’t included quests. Most of them had, in some way or another, be they Ultima Online’s escort quests, EverQuest’s epics, or Star Wars Galaxies’ missions. The thing that made all the games prior to Blizzard’s 2004 spectacle so different was that questing wasn’t the primary thing to do to advance your character to the cap — it wasn’t the core gameplay element at all. So those of us who were tired of grinding out mobs to level up welcomed a different paradigm, not quite realizing that we were seeing a huge shift in the way MMORPGs were going to be designed from then on out in terms of what players were expected to do — and what we would no longer be able to do at all.

Fast-forward to today: Now when an MMORPG is announced and looks to be primarily quest-driven, at least to the cap, players moan and groan about boring and tedious quest grinds. Just another themepark, people say. I’d rather log out than do one more pointless quest.

Are you also sick of MMORPG questing?

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