world of warcraft

Official Site: World of Warcraft
Studio: Blizzard Entertainment
Launch Date: November 23, 2014
Genre: Fantasy Themepark
Business Model: Subscription (Cash Shop)
Platform: PC

Hyperspace Beacon: Star Wars The Old Republic’s Uncle Owen problem

When Star Wars: The Old Republic first released, an old Star Wars Galaxies argument popped up, and the crux of that argument was this: “No one wants to be Uncle Owen.” If we say that SWG pre-NGE was the Uncle Owen game, where players could successfully play a simple moisture farmer, and compare it to SWTOR, where you can be a member of the Dark Council, then we would see that SWTOR is clearly the winner if we are talking about the sheer number of players. However, SWG was one of the founding MMOs; it helped kickstart the genre. There were just not that many people playing MMORPGs at that time, so comparing the raw numbers is a bit unfair.

The argument continues. If we look at the story in the upcoming Battlefront II game, we see a kind of Uncle Owen story. The main protagonist of the game is a Commander of a squadron of Imperial soldiers that we have never heard of until now. Her name is Iden Versio, and she is, for all intents, a faceless Stormtrooper. Star Wars fans are very excited about playing through this storyline. I’m one of them.

However, the biggest place where we see the Uncle Owen controversy is in the SWTOR roleplay community, and I believe that if we study their arguments for and against playing a powerful character, we will gain a greater understanding why some storylines work and others do not.

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Global Chat: What Asian MMOs can learn from the west

Usually when it comes to discussing world hemispheres of MMO game design, comments and observations are made about what western studios can learn from their eastern counterparts. MMO Bro, however, flipped that discussion recently to share four things that eastern MMOs can (and perhaps should) learn from western games.

“The problem, though, is that in most eastern games I’ve played, the story still feels like kind of a background element,” he writes. “There isn’t a lot of effort put into developing it or helping the player experience it in a dynamic way. It’s usually bland quest text. In the west, we’ve seen MMO games make great strides toward better storytelling in recent years.”

As we continue with our visits to MMO blogs, we’ll hear musings on Guild Wars 2’s direction, Standing Stone Games’ missteps, speed-leveling in World of Warcraft, and more!

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Massively OP Podcast Episode 130: Flame and Fire

On this week’s show, Justin and Bree dive into the Guild Wars 2 expansion reveal, the first steps into Mordor, an alt-friendly World of Warcraft, the problem with raiding in MMOs, and more!

It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.

Listen to the show right now:

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World of Warcraft saves an in-game tournament by disabling phasing

Players on Moon Guard have long hosted a week-long tournament event for all World of Warcraft roleplayers called the Tournament of Ages. It’s filled with races, jousts, card battles, D20 battles, and all of the things you’d expect from the phrase “week-long roleplaying tournament.” The problem is that it’s also filled with players, and given the phasing shard technology that Blizzard’s servers have been using for some time, that’s the game’s cue to split people off into small groups so that everyone has equal access to a zone. A fine theory for current expansion content, but less fine when players are trying to host a large-scale RP event.

Surprising everyone within World of Warcraft’s beleaguered RP community, the developers pushed forward a hotfix to disable sharding in Northrend for RP realms, thereby saving Christmas the community’s ability to hold and enjoy this tournament. It’s a nice push to allow players to enjoy some time together for something other than progression content, so one may wonder if similar changes are coming to more of the game beyond the areas where sharding is vital to handle expansion launches.

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The Daily Grind: What’s the best MMORPG for gamers who are sick of raiding?

In the middle of the conversation spawned by yesterday’s financial news that Guild Wars 2 had seen its worst revenue quarter since launch, several of our commenters sidetracked into discussion about raiding in Guild Wars 2 compared to the rest of the genre. One commenter suggested Guild Wars 2 treated non-raiders as second-class citizens (especially given that GW2 was originally sold as a game that eschewed traditional raiding). But the way I see it, pretty much every MMO with raiding treats non-raiders this way, and it’s a huge problem for that whole raid-centric segment of the genre. And Guild Wars 2 is no exception.

Some gamers suggested games without raiding (like Trove), older games with NPC aid (like classic Guild Wars), games with solo raiding (RIFT), and games with difficulty sliders (like City of Heroes). Several commenters offered up MMOs like World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online and Final Fantasy XIV because they offer plenty of raiding (or raiding-adjacent) content for casuals, which is something GW2 still strangely doesn’t do.

So today’s Daily Grind is two-fold: What’s the best MMORPG for gamers who are sick of raiding period, and which MMORPG-that-has-raiding treats non-raiders the best?

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World of Warcraft gold tops the Venezuelan bolivar, Nexon breaks onto Nikkei 300 index

By now most of the world is aware of the massive political and economic crisis that’s happening in Venezuela, with rampant inflation destroying the value of the bolivar and the population experiencing massive shortages of food and medicine. It has gotten so bad, in fact, that the gold you’ve been accumulating in World of Warcraft is now worth more than the currency in that country.

According to Slashdot, “On the Venezuela’s black market — now the most-used method of currency exchange within Venezuela according to NPR — you can get $1 for 8,493.97 bolivars. Meanwhile, a WoW token, which can be bought for $20 from the in-game auction house, is worth 8,385 gold per dollar […] WoW gold is now worth even more than the bolivar.”

In other industry news, Nexon is celebrating its debut onto Japan’s Nikkei 300 Index this past week. The Index tracks the 300 largest companies on the Tokyo stock exchange, and Nexon has been doing especially well of late, raking in $677.5 million in Q1 2017. Around 70% of Nexon’s revenue has come from outside of Korea.

Source: Slashdot, Korean JoonAng Daily. Thanks Sally!

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The Daily Grind: What’s the most important feature of MMO inventory systems?

A couple of weeks ago, we ran a story on ARK Park that included the image above, which just cracked me up. I mean, I get that VR games have an extra challenge when it comes to how they’re going to display your inventory in a believable and immersive way, but I was figuring that would manifest as a bag you can virtually rifle through, or store shelves at the merchant. I didn’t figure on a 3-D view on a panel within your field of view — it seems like a step backward for immersion.

That got me thinking about what I want out of MMO inventories in general. I’m playing Guild Wars 2 right now, and I have to say that the basic inventory right out of the box with even just a few option tweaks is one of the best in the genre, full stop, thanks to good color coding, a wallet, sorting bags, a “one bag” feature, the automatic compact option, and above all else, that “deposit all materials” clicky. I have to use several mods in top-end MMOs like World of Warcraft or Elder Scrolls Online to get my character inventory to this level, and even then this is just slicker. And that’s before I get to the shared bank and crafting — for me, the ability to craft without hauling crap out of my bank or bag is the number one thing I look for when it comes to MMO inventories (and I’m so glad to see it becoming more and more common!).

How about you? What’s the most important feature of MMO inventory systems?

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Choose My Adventure: Get out of here, DC Universe Online

So this is an unusual situation for me: I’ve never actually played a game for Choose My Adventure that I’ve disliked this much.

Those of you who have followed my writing for a while know that I’ve played some games I didn’t much like before, but that’s different. Lord of the Rings Online and Black Desert, for example, are games that were not my cup of tea but still had obvious merits I could praise. I’ve played games that I dislike or ones that deserved more criticism than praise when I played them (Ryzom, TERA, the beta period of The Elder Scrolls Online), but still had positive sides. (And in the last case, ESO turned itself around quite well and earned plenty of kudos from me.) Heck, I played Scarlet Blade with as open a mind as I could possibly have.

But not so DC Universe Online. No, this game deserves a pretty thorough drubbing. I can understand why it has fans, but it’s still just not a good game. I can only hope it’s an outlier rather than the norm on Daybreak’s overall catalog, because… wow. This is not fun.

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Blizzard promises account-wide unlocks for World of Warcraft 7.3, is working on ‘multiple’ new IPs

Not to be cowed by the other news and announcements this week, Blizzard stepped up to the microphone to deliver a few doozies. Game Director Ion Hazzikostas sat down for another hour-long Q&A session, this one focused on players’ journeys through World of Warcraft’s Patch 7.3.

The good news is that unlocks earned by progressing through the new Argus storyline will be account-wide, which will be a great boon for alts. It’s also going to be a lot easier to catch up on artifact progression, with the game automatically advancing artifact knowledge on a weekly basis.

Outside of the World of Warcraft floor, Blizzard apparently has a lot more cooking in its secret chambers. Studio Co-Founder Allen Adham has been leading up a team working on special projects, including “incubation teams” that are developing new IPs. Of course, this being Blizzard, it’s a long shot whether any of these will see the light of day or a full release, but it’s interesting to know that the studio isn’t settling for its current successful roster.

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Activision-Blizzard Q2 2017 financials: Destiny 2 outperforms Destiny, WoW ‘time spent’ improves over 2016

We could practically copypasta last quarter’s Activision-Blizzard report to this one and nobody would notice. That’s because once again, it’s the Blizzard segment of the company driving the revenue flow; Blizz’s incomes rose 4% year-over-year to account for 42% of the revenue (with King and Activision itself trailing behind).

“Blizzard had the biggest quarterly online player community in its history with a record 46 million MAUsB, up 38% year-over-year. The Overwatch community continued to grow more than a year after launch, setting another all-time MAUB record with the release of two seasonal events in the quarter. Hearthstone MAUsB grew year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter to an all-time record, driven by its expansion, Journey to Un’Goro.”

Blizz is also talking up its “time spent” metric and claiming that it’s increased in World of Warcraft year-over-year, which should shock absolutely no one given Legion:

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SuperData’s mid-2017 report reflects a wildly expanding gaming industry

Gaming analysis firm SuperData is touting a new report for marketers today, shedding some light on the shape of the industry so far in 2017 — for everyone. Yep, today’s report is free, as long as you’re willing to hand over a mailing address, so let’s run down the highlights:

  • 46% of US gamers are now women.
  • 665 million people glue their eyeballs to gaming videos and streams — more than HBO, Netflix, ESPN, and Hulu combined.
  • “The global market for games and interactive media will grow 12% this year,” for the first time crossing the $100B threshold.
  • A streadily increasing percentage of that dough is coming from digital console revenue.
  • By 2020, SuperData argues, “players will spend $4.5B on immersive gaming — more than 20 times what they do today.”
  • Rocket League shows that console gamers are willing to spend on optional cosmetic items in multiplayer games.” Stop buying lockboxes, people.

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Perfect Ten: The circles of MMORPG combat hell

And so it was as I traveled across the many spheres and realms of MMOs, I came to realize one simple truth: War is hell. But it is a hell of many sorts, and as MMOs almost always include some form of combat, it can be said that little forms of this hell approach as you descend through levels. Combat becomes difficult to follow, unclear, perhaps even oblique. The game stops caring what you’re doing.

So it became clear to me that these different circles of combat hell should be documented. For while there are games where fighting things may be taken as a joy (and this will vary for each person, yes), there are also many games where combat is a tedious chore you have to get through, not because the combat is difficult or not to your taste because it actually doesn’t work. And so you may use this guide to determine which circle you are trapped within rather than just saying combat is “bad.”

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Check out World of Warcraft’s 7.3 scenario in full video format

Along with everything else coming to World of Warcraft in patch 7.3, players will also have a new scenario to introduce the lore explanation for taking the fight to the Burning Legion directly. Not that you exactly need the explanation, considering that every single resident has ample reason to take the fight to the Legion, but it still exists. And you can watch the whole thing in the video down below if you’re curious.

Needless to say, there are spoilers in there. That’s, like, the entire point.

As you can imagine, it involves more drama between Azeroth herself, Magni, and the various Burning Legion avatars that players have faced off against through the years. If you can’t wait for the actual patch to see all of the lore, check it out for yourself down below.

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