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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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Leaderboard: How much did your family support gaming as a hobby when you were a kid?

I was chatting with my mom this morning when I was surprised to hear her say that she was impressed with how good my five-year-old son has gotten with video games. I wasn’t surprised because it’s not true; he’s phenomenal, and letting him play games, including MMOs (in moderation and under supervision!), has improved his reading skills, focus, coordination, and puzzle-solving. I’ve watched it happen!

What surprised me is that I wouldn’t have imagined adults saying that when I was a teenager, never mind when I was a kindergartner. Oh sure, we had a few consoles growing up, but PC gaming, especially the online sort, got side-eyes. Now I have a nephew whose tech-savvy parents send him to video game design camp. It’s a different world now!

Or is it? For today’s Leaderboard, I want to hear from you: How much did your family support or enable gaming as a hobby when you were growing up?

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Leaderboard: The Elder Scrolls Online Morrowind ‘chapter vs. DLC’ fee debate

In the comments of a Daily Grind last week, a few commenters tangented into debate about The Elder Scrolls Online: Morrowind pricing.

See, the original “ESO Plus” deal for ESO subscription holders granted them full access to all future downloadable content (DLC) forever and ever, as long as they were subscribed to the game. Morrowind, however, has been marketed not as DLC but as a “chapter,” meaning it will not be subject to the Plus promises, and so everyone will have to pay for it. Grumbling ensued.

“Suppose I paid BMW a monthly fee to drive [BMW] cars,” commenter Odin wrote. “I could drive whatever I want as long as I paid. They announce a great new car I want to drive. I cant wait, but they tell me, “This isnt a car; it’s an automobile. You have to pay extra.'”

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Leaderboard: Will WildStar’s free max character influence you to play?

Eyebrows flew up earlier this week when Carbine announced it would be granting free max-level WildStar characters to players who log into the game with the patch launch today.

In way, the decision makes sense, since the game has long touted its endgame and Power of the Primal Matrix introduces horizontal advancement best explored at the level cap.

On the other hand, MOP’s Justin and I have a longstanding debate on whether advanced characters are a boon to MMOs — do they crush your fun or just help you skip unrelated grind? Are they a net positive for a game or just a Hail Mary?

For today’s impromptu Leaderboard, let’s see how the free toon is working out for you.

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Leaderboard: Will The Secret World’s relaunch entice you to play?

Last week, the MMO world was startled to learn that instead of getting an expansion, The Secret World is getting a complete relaunch as part of a big Funcom push of the game. At this point, there’s been plenty of time to speculate (and not a lot of info from the studio forthcoming, and yes, we’ve asked!). From the investor call, we know that the game is due for a newbie experience overhaul, a combat overhaul, daily login rewards, and a new business model that makes story content freely accessible, which suggests a lean away from buy-to-play.

So do you think we are looking at a game-crushing NGE — or a Final Fantasy XIV-style GOTY-quality do-over? And more importantly, do these sound like the kinds of adjustments that might entice you to return to The Secret World or play for the first time? Let’s find out in this week’s Leaderboard.

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Leaderboard: If you solo in MMORPGs, why?

Solo players in MMORPGs are a strange case, chiefly because they are treated like an outlier when they aren’t. The fact is that almost everyone solos at one time or another — yes, even in classic MMORPGs — and the vast majority of people apparently prefer to solo more than not solo, even if they also want to group. Or at least one might draw that conclusion from the last dozen years of MMOs!

I thought for today’s Leaderboard, we could drill down some of the reasons people solo. Pick as many as apply!

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