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APB weathers (another) GTA V launch

I feel kinda bad for APB Reloaded given that it’s had to weather not one but two launches of GTA V, first on consoles in 2013 and more recently last month as Rockstar brought the number one selling video game of all time to the PC.

Perhaps I shouldn’t feel bad, though, since GamersFirst’s latest blog post claims that a “slew of new players found APB during this heightened interest in urban city combat.” The post also features a development roadmap which runs through August of 2015 and which includes everything from an engine revamp to new matchmaking to the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One launches. GamersFirst qualifies that last bit with a nod to the onerous process of obtaining approval from Microsoft and Sony before going live.

“As soon as the formal launch date has been finalized, our publisher will be sharing that information through their channels,” the post explains.

[Source: Blog post. Thanks Byron!]



Elite’s Mac client launches May 12, Powerplay beta on May 20

This week’s Elite: Dangerous newsletter covers quite a bit of ground. Firstly, the game’s Mac client will launch on May 12th. Mac and PC players can play together seamlessly, and both groups will share the same galaxy and GalNet feed, Frontier says.

The newsletter also says that the Powerplay update’s beta test version will release on May 20th, and it shows off a sneak peek at Powerplay’s galaxy map which in turn shows each power’s control over human space. Finally, this week’s update mentions a couple of meatspace E:D meetups in both the US and the UK, as well as a reminder about executive producer Michael Brookes‘ recent forum post concerning cheaters.

[Source: Newsletter 74]


Daybreak’s John Smedley: ‘Modders getting paid is an awesome idea’

Where do you come down on the subject of paying for game mods? While the reality of the issue might be off the table right now thanks to Valve pulling its paid Skyrim mods program, it’s definitely poured out a big bucket of discussion in the game community.

As for Daybreak President John Smedley, he’s firmly of the opinion that paid game mods are great, if done right: “Look at the Valve mod payment thing, for example; it’s a great example of — of course they’re smart for doing that. Modders getting paid is an awesome idea and I wish they’d stick to their guns, but sometimes you think you have a solid plan and it gets in front of the players and they’re like, ‘Yeah, we don’t like this,’ so it changes.”

Smedley also praised Valve for listening to its customers in this instance, something that he says is a priority for Daybreak as well.

[Source: PC Gamer]


Ubisoft Annecy joins the many teams working on The Division

You remember The Division, right? We sort of do. It was supposed to be released… eventually. Was it supposed to be now? Meh, doesn’t matter, it’s not here yet. But another team has taken on some of the duties of bringing it to life, as Ubisoft Annecy has joined Massive Entertainment, Red Storm, and Reflections in the network of studios collaborating on this one game.

Ubisoft Annecy is likely most familiar to players from Assassin’s Creed multiplayer portions, up to and including Assassin’s Creed Unity. Of course, The Division is supposed to be multiplayer by its very nature, so it’s not yet clear exactly what Annecy will be doing in the game. We’ll just have to wait and see.

[Source: Ubisoft blog]


Talking with Trion about the future of Trove

If you dismissed Trove early on as an insignificant game or a thinly veiled Minecraft clone, then it might be time to take a second look. Trion Worlds’ colorful sandbox has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past year, incorporating new features such as sailing as well as hundreds of player-submitted designs. The result is a vibrant, silly, and creative world that’s starting to develop some strong word-of-mouth from its fans.

We sat down to talk about the future of Trove with Trion, asking about the game’s launch status, marketing, and how player creativity has helped the game’s potential explode.

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The Daily Grind: Does WoW’s dramatic sub dip worry you?

So World of Warcraft lost three million subs in the wake of Warlords of Draenor, bringing it back down to right about where it was before it began the Draenor ramp up — not quite to its published low point after Mists of Pandaria, but damn close. I suppose it’s not a surprise; Blizzard’s languorous content pace since the expansion hasn’t restored much faith that the studio learned anything from the drought that drove MoP so low just a year ago. But it’s not a pretty graph after the big spike up for Draenor. It’s the steepest, fastest decline for the game ever.

One of my amusing guildies summed it up like this:

Gather round, my disciples, for I have seen THE FUTURE! 2040: Hearthstone, Blizzard’s flagship MMO, has finally integrated the “World of Warcraft” as an amusing retro mini-game you can play between matches. And lo, the rivers shall run purple with the discarded gear of the unbelievers, and the wails of the hardcore raiders shall be swallowed by the sound of a billion decks being shuffled.

Hyperbole, I know, but who isn’t at least thinking this? WoW’s still the biggest subscription MMORPG in town, yes. It’s not hurting for money. But it bothers me that Blizzard doesn’t seem to care much about such a massive game or the genre anymore and that it’s driving off not just expansion tourists now but hardcore loyalists who don’t want to pay a sub to play Garrisons Online: With Selfies But Not Flight after all. The implications for the genre always worry me. How about you — does WoW’s dramatic sub dip worry you?

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Blizzard still succeeding despite World of Warcraft slide

There’s no doubt that Blizzard took a mighty hit this past quarter as it lost three million World of Warcraft subscribers in the post-expansion, post-holiday period. And while that definitely impacted the company’s bank account, the good news is that success in other areas is softening the blow.

Picking up the slack for the sub loss are Blizzard’s other titles, most notably Hearthstone and Diablo III. Hearthstone recently crossed the 30 million player threshold, while Diablo III recently began its Chinese beta and has already netted over a million in sales from that market.

By diversifying, Blizzard is pulling away from relying as strongly on World of Warcraft as its primary money-maker. Non-World of Warcraft titles accounted for 40% of the studio’s revenue in 2014, a number that is expected to rise to 50% for this year.

[Source: Eurogamer]


Star Wars: The Old Republic cracks down on RMT ring

In the MMO community, shady websites selling game currency for real currency are considered especially heinous. In Star Wars: The Old Republic, these operations are shut down by an elite squad known as the Creditseller Destroyers. OK, not really; we don’t know what it’s called. We just know that it’s been active because we’ve been informed that it just busted up a nice big credit-selling ring.

It might not even be a squad at all, but that doesn’t play into a Law & Order joke.

A post on the official SWTOR forums reveals that the team had been watching a large ring that spanned hundreds of accounts and took action to shut the whole thing down at once. The net result was hundreds of accounts banned and over nine billion credits removed from the circle. You can probably make your own jokes about whether or not the sellers in question would have made the Hutts proud.

[Source: Official forums; thanks to Tibi and Khalith for the tip!]


Entropia Universe angles to enter the VR market

Is virtual reality just a fad that happens to come around every once in a while? Entropia Universe is banking that it’s here to stay this time, as its studio is laying out plans to support and integrate VR in its virtual worlds.

Entropia Universe AB announced yesterday that it will be fully supporting several virtual reality devices, including Oculus Rift and SteamVR. The company also said that it’ll be helping developers dabbling in VR to figure out ways to successfully monetize these efforts.

Head of Business Development David Simmons says that the days of thinking of VR as a fad are officially over: “Virtual reality is on the threshold of becoming the great entertainment medium of the new millennium.”

[Source: PR Newswire]


WoW lost nearly three million subs in three months

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Blizzard behemoth World of Warcraft loses a bunch of subscribers, the internet loses its mind, and we lose a lot of sleep policing the comments of the corresponding news article.

Activision-Blizzard’s latest earnings report says that WoW is down to 7.1 million subscribers, which is 2.9 million less than the 10 million reported at the end of 2014. Activision-Blizzard also reports downturns in net revenue and net income for the quarter ending March 31st, 2015 when compared to the same quarter in 2014.

On the plus side, net revenue from digital channels clocked in at a record $538 million, which accounts for 76 percent of total revenue.

[Source: Gamespot]


Massively Opinionated: Hearthstone vs Neverwinter vs LoL

On this week’s edition of Massively Opinionated, we’re talking about one of the biggest controversies to hit the western MMO market in the last few years: free-to-play. We asked our panelists which game has the best F2P model, what turns the western market off from F2P, and which F2P ad is the worst they have seen. We also ask them to build their own F2P MMO.

The rules are simple: Our host, Larry Everett, asks our expert panelists four questions prior to the show on our topic of the week. They come to the show prepared to defend their answers… to the death. Whoever has the best argument wins a point for each question, and the panelist with the most points at the end wins the internet.

Our panelists today are some of the best reporters on F2P games: From MMO Bomb, it’s Editor Jason Winter; from BioBreak and the Massively OP Podcast, Justin Olivetti joins us; and our own Tina Lauro from Predestination jumps on the panel once again!

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Daybreak’s John Smedley: EverQuest Next isn’t ‘vaporware’

Even though the big SOE-to-Daybreak transformation happened three months ago, the entire ordeal still feels fresh to many fans. An air of uncertainty permeates speculation about the studio’s future, and questions still swirl around regarding the fate of both the older games and those in development. Change is never particularly easy, even when it’s good, so to help put players’ minds at ease, President John Smedley was joined by Laura Naviaux, Senior Vice President of Global Sales & Marketing, to chat about the changes at a press conference call earlier this week, touching on the new logo, the Columbus Nova partnership, early access, and EverQuest Next vaporware worries. Read on for the run-down.

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The Daily Grind: What would the MMO world look like without WoW?

Here’s a fun question from an anonymous Kickstarter donor to kick off the morning:

What do you think the MMO world would look like if Blizzard had made Warcraft 4 as an RTS instead of World of Warcraft? (I think it would affect more than MMOs, myself — RTS titles and MOBAs too!)

Personally, I think that prior to WoW, we were already trending toward larger and larger MMOs that pulled from both the themepark and sandbox ends of the design spectrum. In fact, on yesterday’s podcast, I called it the magic zone, that period of really standout MMORPGs made in the 2003-2005 time block. Without WoW, we might not have made such a sharp left turn into themepark-ville for as long as we have, and I think our genre might have had a much slower — and more sustainable — growth period without the spike and the crashes and burns that followed in WoW’s wake.

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