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Fortnite rolls out season 5 as Epic Games retroactively grants modders a bigger profit cut

Fortnite’s season 5 is live now with its all-new battle pass to turn your free-to-play experience into dress-up battle royale. We know that’s what you’re really all about. Epic is touting the new all-terrain go-kart, flintlock weapons, rift content for battle royale players, and the Challenge the Horde mode in on the PvE-oriented Save the World side of the game in today’s patch.

On the business side of things, Epic Games will be surprising contributors to the Unreal Engine Marketplace, as it’s changing up how much of a cut those player modders are receiving from their submissions. No, Epic isn’t taking money away; it’s actually increasing the player profit percentage from 70% to 88%, and it’s doing so retroactively, going back four years and paying modders the difference from those years. Now that’s a smart way to engender goodwill for one of the biggest games in the world.

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Overwatch League gets ESPN and Disney XD television contract

Count this as a huge victory for Blizzard’s attempt to legitimize and popularize its fledgling Overwatch League.

The studio announced this week that it has signed a deal with both ESPN and Disney XD to exclusively televise Overwatch League games for the next two years. The coverage began yesterday with the League’s first season playoffs and will continue through the grand finals later this month. In fact, Blizzard is touting the fact that Overwatch will be the first e-sports championship broadcast ever on ABC.

“We are pleased to partner with Activision Blizzard to bring Overwatch e-sports to our audience,” said Disney XD Senior Vice President Marc Buhaj. “The Blizzard team has created a genre-leading esport and a premium professional franchise system in the Overwatch League. We are kicking off the agreement by showcasing the inaugural season playoffs and Grand Finals live across our linear footprint. Together with our telecast partners at ESPN, we look forward to growing a legion of new Overwatch fans across the next two years.”

Source: Press release

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Former Guild Wars 2 developer criticizes ArenaNet boss for ‘solicitation of harassment’ and minimization of her work

Former ArenaNet developer Jessica Price has just made a string of new statements on Twitter discussing some of the issues surrounding the ongoing Guild Wars 2 PR nightmare, in which she and fellow developer Peter Fries were booted from ArenaNet following a Twitter altercation that mobilized a Reddit mob. Her primary complaint seems to be her allegation that ArenaNet – especially Mike O’Brien – “escalated” her (and Peter Fries’) firing, knowing what the mob’s response would be.

“The announcement was an escalation. The company could have chosen to say ‘their remarks don’t represent the company, we don’t agree with what they said, and they’re no longer with the company,'” she writes. “That’s not what they did. They framed an interaction on my personal social media in which I told a few individuals who (I thought) were being assholes that I wasn’t on the clock and wasn’t going to feign affection for people who are being assholes as ‘attacks on the community.'”

Consequently, she argues, O’Brien effectively provoked the mob, knowing what harassment would follow after she and Fries had been painted as “enemies of the community”; she calls it “active solicitation of harassment,” using the mob as punishment and then maintaining “silence in condemning the harassment,” which she says is “profoundly telling.”

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Interview: ArtCraft’s J. Todd Coleman on prepping Crowfall’s Artisan Engine for the broader industry

Yesterday, Crowfall studio ArtCraft announced it was spinning off a brand-new company dubbed ArtCraft Technologies that would basically turn Crowfall’s engine into a marketable product for other studios, “providing game developers with turnkey technology solutions for creating large-scale Massively Multiplayer Online games.” We had opportunity to chat with ArtCraft Creative Director J Todd Coleman about the move and what it means for the studio and genre. Read on!

Massively OP: So to start, we’re curious about the “why” behind the new studio. Is ArtCraft thinking of this venture as an extra revenue stream for the company? Or is it trying to encourage more MMORPGs – or maybe both?

J. Todd Coleman: This wasn’t originally part of our plan. In the last 12 months, we’ve had a few different studios contact us to see if we would consider licensing our technology. The more we looked into it, the more it made sense. The additional revenue stream is great, obviously, but that has to be balanced against the potential distraction. We wouldn’t have done this if we didn’t see it as a great strategic move for the company, and a chance to leverage what we’ve built into something much bigger.

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Perfect World updates its Arc client with new features

You may or may not use the Perfect World Entertainment Arc launcher to play games like Neverwinter and Champions Online. There are lots of ways to get into the games, after all. But the developers would certainly like it if you were using the branded launcher, and with the latest update to the client you’ll have even more reason to do so. The newest version updates the layout of the front page to be more readable and allow special displays for more news categories, making the launcher more useful for sorting out what’s new.

Players can also take advantage of the launcher’s improved chat system, which brings some of the bells and whistles of voice chat, friend lists, group chats and you know what, it’s another client adding in an interface that should hopefully remind people of just using Discord. But there’s also an improved overlay in the game, so that’s a good thing. It should give you a little more reason to use the Arc client, or at least more improvements for people already using it.

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Game Workers Unite condemns ArenaNet for Guild Wars 2 developer firings

Grassroots advocacy group Game Workers Unite posted a statement on Pricegate today, “emphatically denouncing” ArenaNet for firing Guild Wars 2’s Jessica Price and Peter Fries over last week’s Twitter/Reddit meltdown.

“Regardless of how one feels about Price’s actions and regardless of where one draws the line between rudeness and exasperation in Price’s tweets, the fact of the matter is that there is an entire spectrum of responses ArenaNet could have taken, but chose not to,” the statement said.

The group labeled Mike O’Brien as a “clearly inadequate” leader who “made the knee-jerk reaction” last week to fire the two developers.

“ArenaNet has signaled to the entire industry that our job security can be, and almost certainly will be, imperiled by the most vitriolic and volatile players,” the group wrote. “This event carries echoes of Gamergate, and will only embolden harassers further.”

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The ESA claims crunch issues in the industry have been declining over the past decade

Crunch – the act of putting in way too much overtime to get a video game completed and out the door – is a sensative topic in the industry and one that players often ignore as long as they get their games. But Waypoint made an effort to reach out to over a dozen studios at this past June’s E3 to ask how they are dealing with crunch these days.

Both Microsoft and Nintendo said that they were looking out for employees and their work-life balance as games near the crunch period. The Division 2’s PR handler stepped in to stop the line of questioning on crunch, even while Creative Director Julian Gerighty was praising the Swedish work ethic and the balance that he had struck with his work and home life.

And ESA President Michael Gallagher claimed that crunch issues have lessened over the past decade. “I hear more and more publishers saying—and they’re doing this for competitive reasons, for culture reasons, they’re rejecting crunch, and saying ‘That’s not how we operate.'” he said. “And that is an attraction for the best and the brightest to see those opportunities and make those individual choices, to go to those companies.”

Source: Waypoint

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LawBreakers helped kill The Amazing Eternals during testing

The death of The Amazing Eternals partway through its testing was a shock for numerous fans, all of whom were looking forward to the first post-Warframe title from Digital Extremes. But there were good reasons for stopping the title there, and according to publishing VP Meridith Braun, one of the big reasons was LawBreakers:

The competitive landscape at that time was pretty hefty. We just saw LawBreakers not do so great, and it was a fantastic game, so that was sad. That happened right when we were starting our closed beta for [The] Amazing Eternals.

Braun also noted that the game was “the right game at the wrong time,” while also attributing the unexpected resources required to make Warframe’s Plains of Eidolon update as good as it could be. It was a perfect storm of forces arrayed against the title, in other words; the one saving grace for fans is that the company would still like to revisit it at some point (though considering the big updates approaching for Warframe, it shan’t be soon).

Source: PCGamesN via VG24/7

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IGDA calls for transparent guidelines on game studio social media and harassment following Guild Wars 2 dust-up

Regardless of who you believe had the right and wrong of the ArenaNet Twitter fiasco last week, game developers have expressed concern over the way it was handled and the potential impact on the greater industry. As Gamasutra noted, the International Game Developers Association has put out a blog post urging developers to demand that companies “clarify the guidelines and expectations around social media use, both in professional and personal accounts,” specifically referencing the recent Guild Wars 2 firings. Moreover, IGDA says, companies should be transparent about how they will “protect [their] talent from internet harassment mobs.”

“Game developers are also frequently targeted for harassment, particularly if they are members of under-represented communities,” IGDA Executive Director Jen MacLean writes. “Companies must plan for how they will support their staff members in the event of online harassment, and should clearly communicate the resources they will make available to their team to have safe, productive, and positive interactions online, especially if they are expected to do so in their roles.”

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Crowfall studio ArtCraft spins off new company to license its MMORPG-oriented Artisan Engine

Well now things just got interesting over in the land of Kickstarted Crowfall. ArtCraft announced this morning that it’s spinning off a “new division” called ArtCraft Technologies and specifically positioned for “providing game developers with turnkey technology solutions for creating large-scale Massively Multiplayer Online games” – all based on Crowfall’s underlying tech.

“This technology stack, the Artisan Engine, will include a robust feature set for solving the full spectrum of challenges that emerge when supporting thousands-upon-thousands of concurrent players in a virtual world: networking, persistence, physics, procedural world generation, dynamic world editing and seamless worlds up to 5,120 meters by 5,120 meters in size. In addition, it includes an exhaustive, fully-featured RPG layer, including characters, inventory, equipment, monsters, AI, harvesting, races, classes, sub-classes, powers, banking, secure trading, skills, leveling and more.”

The new division will be headed up by Josef Hall, whom you might remember from his work on Shadowbane as well as the KingsIsle titles (similar to ArtCraft’s J. Todd Coleman’s pedigree). Anybody thinking “SpatialOS competitor”? Because we sure are.

Source: Press release

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Overwatch players raised almost $13M to fight breast cancer in ‘Pink Mercy’ campaign

Remember last spring when Blizzard ran that big “Pink Mercy” charity campaign in Overwatch? The company’s run the numbers, and it turns out Overwatch players are really generous, really pissed off about cancer, or really like pink. My guess is it’s all three.

“Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of the Overwatch community during the Pink Mercy charity campaign, we’ve raised more than $12.7 million (USD) to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. This is the largest donation by a corporate partner within one year in BCRF’s 25-year history, and it’s all because of you.”

Naturally, there’s a video of the pink Mercy skin contributors have snagged!

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Titanfall Online is over before it had even begun

Korean website Game Focus is reporting today that Titanfall Online has effectively been canceled.

As Kotaku notes, EA and Nexon have been working on the project for several years, though it just announced the team-up and its plans to launch for Asia last year. But now it appears the companies have taken stock of the changing winds of the games market, finding that player testing wasn’t going well.

“It is true that Nexon and EA have agreed to cancel Titanfall Online under a business decision. […] After much deliberation, it was decided that reallocating development resources to another project was better for the company.”

Our condolences to fans and developers.

Source: Game Focus via Kotaku

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The Daily Grind: Which MMORPG deserves way more hype than it gets?

According to Friday’s Daily Grind on hype cycles, a lot of folks think they begin way too early for most games. But what about games with the opposite problem – hype that just isn’t loud enough?

I’m thinking of games like Project Gorgon here. It saw a flurry of activity when it crowdfunded, and again when it went into early access on Steam, but because it’s such a small studio, it doesn’t really generate much hype on its own, being reliant on word of mouth. It’s a wondrous little game with really unusual and unique ideas, but it mostly flies under the radar.

Which MMORPG deserves way more hype than it gets?

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