business model

Champions Online puts its lifetime subscription on sale for the price of its freeform slots

We still don’t know exactly what the plan is with Champions Online’s subscription. The plan to take subscriptions off the table entirely was postponed due to how subscriptions interact with freeform archetypes, but freeform archetypes are now cheaper. And now the lifetime subscription is on sale for a cool $120, which still sounds like a lot under the circumstances but is a 60% discount. Which may very well signal that the end of subscriptions is still on its way.

For those of you doing the math at home, that evens out to being six characters slots with freeform options for $120, the same as individually buying six freeform slots (it’s $60 for three), plus a whole bunch of other goodies on top as well as a monthly stipend in perpetuity. Is it worth it? That depends on you; it’s certainly an open question how much cool stuff you can expect to be added to the game in the future, if anything. But in terms of dollar-for-dollar value, it’s competitive with other things you can buy from the game.

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Make My MMO: Aria’s second closed beta, Star Citizen’s protest, and Crowfall’s engine on the market (July 15, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, we got our first hints of “emergent gameplay” in Star Citizen as a group of players took over a refueling hub and began blasting everyone who came near it out of the sky. Why? Oh, they’re not just griefers; they’re specifically protesting CIG’s backburnering of the Arena Commander mechanics. I suppose it got them some attention, but also now all the people whose alpha ships they blew up hate them rather than CIG.

Meanwhile, Legends of Aria launched its second closed beta, Pantheon unveiled its character creation system, Saga of Lucimia riled everybody up over its grouping stance, City of Titans posted an epic teaser, Shroud of the Avatar opened a new cash shop to fund the next season and began optional subs, and Fractured’s Kickstarter has leaped up to $88K of its $116K goal with 10 days to go.

Finally, Crowfall had a big week, as its studio, ArtCraft, announced a second studio to license Crowfall’s engine to other companies building MMOs; we chatted with the company’s J. Todd Coleman about it too. There’s a huge chunk of new guide videos out on the game now too.

Read on for more on what’s been up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and our roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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Shroud of the Avatar opens up optional ‘rewards’ subs, stretch goal cash shop to fund episode 2

With release 55 now behind it, Portalarium is focused on the future of Shroud of the Avatar. Specifically, that means episode 2, which is basically the second season of content for the game. To fund that content, the studio has opened up what it’s calling a “stretch goal store” tied to the episode.

“These are stretch goals with rewards that can be used in the game now (or at least very soon),” Portalarium says. “These rewards are completely unique. They will not be sold in the add-on store, in-game nor as a bundle item. Once the stretch-goal is met we will begin work on the functionality for Episode 2 and all the items purchased would gain some function related to the goal when Episode 2 launches. For instance the foal from the Mounts stretch goal would grow into a horse that you could then ride. Each goal will have a progress bar underneath tracking the progress. General philosophy is that these items cost slightly more than equivalent items because they are linked to stretch goals.” $42,500 was raised on the last stream alone.

The company has also kicked of a new rewards program, which looks like an optional subscription to us; for $9 monthly, players will be picking up a monthly currency stipend, vet titles, dyes, potions, and $5 credit toward month livestream stretch goals. We’ve tucked the game’s latest livestream below – the beginning is worth a look for the Antiques Roadshow spoof!

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Trion Worlds offers free MMO goodies for Marvel Heroes refugees

Ever since Trion Worlds announced that it had snapped up all of the remaining assets from Gazillion and Marvel Heroes, we have wondered what the studio was planning to do with them. Now we know at least in part, as Trion is handing out free MMO promotional packs to Marvel Heroes refugees as a way to welcome them to the fold.

This promotion is a “limited-time offer” and only applies to former Gazillion players who register to Trion Worlds with the same email address that they used for Marvel Heroes. If this applies to you, you can pick up a promo pack to one of the five games that Trion is running.

Pick Trove and you’ll get both a super starter pack and a square necessities pack. Go with ArcheAge, and you’ll enjoy 30 days of patron time, a mount, and other goodies. RIFT’s deal is pretty good, with a month of subscription time, all of the game’s souls, two more bag slots, and a mount. Alternatively, you may choose Atlas Reactor (and get all freelancers the game has and ever will make) or Defiance (which includes a legendary shield and chip).

Source: Trion Worlds

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EVE Evolved: Improving EVE Online’s organisational tools

Throughout most of EVE Online‘s lifetime, players have developed their own third-party applications (and yes, spreadsheets) to help organise and enhance their gameplay. We’ve got skill training calculators, websites for keeping track of structure fuel, databases full of information on items, and advanced industry and market tools that look like they belong to real world stock brokers. Most large alliances also now use Slack or Discord to organise out of game, have their own dedicated voice comms servers, and use tools like Jabber to notify members of important events.

CCP Games itself has added some brilliant in-game tools over the years that help players organise too. We now have a great in-game Calendar and event system, a customisable notification popup tool, corporation bookmarks, and an official smartphone app. We even have the ability to simulate and share ship fittings, and a new Agency panel that helps new players find content near them. These are all extremely useful productivity tools, but with a few improvements I think they could be even better!

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I discuss a few improvements I’d love to see for EVE Online‘s calendar, Agency interface, and official mobile app that would help players organise and work together more easily.

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Make My MMO: Camelot Unchained’s crash rate is coming down (July 7, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, the Kickstarter MMO crowd held its breath to find out whether or not Camelot Unchained would indeed make its July 4th beta test date as planned. Thanks to an annoying crash bug, it didn’t, but the studio is crunching to sort it out and isn’t anticipating more than a few weeks of delay, which isn’t going to seem like much to people who have already been waiting years.

“Still going through the logs. We’ve eliminated a lot of the crashes. Andrew’s working on another fix that should help things as well,” CSE’s Mark Jacobs told backers last night. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to talk about [the date] on Monday. […] Still no long-term change, no short-term change, no change whatsoever in what our original estimate was. We’re getting really close.” He reiterates that the crash rate has gone down, but they really need human testers testing, so get in there if you can.

Meanwhile, Richard Garriott rebutted claims that Shroud of the Avatar is a flop, some troll faked a former Star Citizen developer’s Glassdoor review of the studio, Temtem fully funded, and Fractured has passed 500 backers and half of its Kickstarter goal.

Read on for more on what’s been up with MMO crowdfunding over the last week and our roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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Pokemon Go’s second anniversary report card sees high marks for content and innovation

Today is Pokemon Go’s second-year anniversary. Last year’s report card had to grapple with things like the game’s rapid rise and fall as a fad, its severe lack of promised content even with its first major update, crimes associated with the game, and being somewhat anti-social – and that was before the disaster known as Pokemon Go fest 2017. It was probably the worst way to start off a new year for your game, and it’s probably no surprise that our coverage of the game waned after the fallout.

But something happened. Whether it was because series Director/Producer Junichi Masuda was there to witness the horror or because some internal change in Niantic’s process changed, we’ll probably never know. But change came. Generation 3 became Pokemon Go’s One Tamriel. Suggestions I’d made previously happened and are still happening. The numbers are showing that the improvements are paying off, as the game’s playerbase is at the highest it’s been since its 2016 peak, after having gone through a brutal 80% dropoff. I thought I was being overly optimistic with my 2018 predictions for the game, but so far, so very good!
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France’s gambling authority condemns but does not ban lockboxes

The international community is becoming aware of the problems of lootboxes, and that means that laws are being formed in response to the business model. But there is another approach to dealing with them: you can kick the can down the road by condemning them and doing nothing else, which is the route the French gambling authority Autorité de regulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) took. Upon review, the organization condemned lootboxes and noted that they were bad, but stopped well short of actually putting any laws in place to prevent lootboxes.

This is significant, as classifying lootboxes as gambling would change the laws under which they are controlled… but the authority stops shy of doing that, even as it mentioned that lootboxes are definitely like gambling and certainly promote gambling behaviors. But they’re not considered technically gambling and thus remain in a legally nebulous zone, with the official recommendation to vote on more conclusive statements later. So the resolution is to resolve things later. Proactive!

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Make My MMO: Fractured and TemTem work Kickstarter as Elite, SOTA, and Aria post big updates (July 1, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding is one of the biggest ever for this little subgenre, make no mistake. TemTem is about to fund. Fractured’s Kickstarter went live. Legends of Aria posted a huge graphics overhaul. Elite Dangerous launched Beyond: Chapter 2. Shroud of the Avatar’s latest patch effectively revamped housing ownership. Even Saga of Lucimia pushed out a big pre-alpha update, and Star Citizen stamped “done” on its 3.2 alpha. Plus, there’s a solid chance that Camelot Unchained’s beta makes its due date this week.

Please never let anybody tell you that Kickstarter MMOs are all failures. That’s bullshit. We’ve got a whole list of them that prove the meme wrong, every week right here in Make My MMO! So read on for more on what’s been up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and our roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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Perfect Ten: The best MMO debuts by year, 1997-2006

By now, many of you probably know that I’m the curator of the MMO Timeline on my personal blog. On this page, I’ve attempted to catalog the launches, expansions, business model shifts, reboots, platform transitions, and sunsets of MMOs by year. It certainly helps me to get a high-level overview of certain eras of online gaming history as well as to trace the development of certain titles.

For fun, because that’s a lot of what Perfect Ten is about, I wanted to start with the year that MMORPGs really took off and select one title per year over the next two decades that I felt had the best debut and was the most exciting title to launch that year. Some years it’s going to be really easy to pick, while others… man, I am setting myself up for some hate mail, aren’t I?

Let’s turn our time machine back to 1997 and get this show on the road!

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Ultima Online is getting shared bank storage after 20 years, making F2P play more viable

There’s exciting news for the 20-year-old Ultima Online this week, as the game’s latest newsletter announced an account-wide bank storage system.

“Between Publish 100 and 101 we will be introducing a new item in the Ultima Store that many of you have seen – the Vault. A vault provides storage of 125 items which is shared across all characters on a server. The vault will be available on non-abyss ruleset shards only, so Endless Journey accounts on Siege & Mugen will have their bank box limit raised to 75. We are putting the finishing touches on this new storage option so be sure to keep an eye on UO.com for when we release the vaults for testing and eventual release.”

If this works the way it sounds like it’ll work, it’ll be a huge boon for free-to-play players, who cannot own houses, meaning they have no way to swap loot between their characters without risking an old-fashioned and risky quick-swap on the floor of an inn. A shared vault (as well as a bigger vault) will basically make “living out of your bank” much more possible, and therefore improve the overall viability of playing without the subscription (although of course you’ll still have to buy it in the cash shop).

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Dark Age of Camelot delays its free-to-play shift to 2019

While we reported in December 2017 that Broadsword was aiming for a free-to-play option for Dark Age of Camelot, we haven’t seen a lot of movement on that front — until now. A recent producer’s letter informed the community that the Endless Crusade update with its business model shift has been delayed to the first part of 2019.

“Once patch 1.125 has released, we’ll be shifting our development resources towards the Endless Conquest update,” the team said. “As mentioned in some previous grab bags this option will now be made available to returning and new accounts rather than just newly created ones. This change does increase the scope of the Endless Conquest update considerably but we strongly believe it’s the right way forward for Dark Age of Camelot!”

In addition to working on the F2P version, Broadsword is busy focusing on this summer’s Patch 1.125 (which includes RvR currency, RvR reward streamlining, and two new class/race combos per realm), a new fall harvest event, and a new website.

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Make My MMO: SOTA sees layoffs, Crowfall sees delay, Star Citizen sees shade, and Camelot Unchained sees beta on the horizon (June 23, 2018)

This week in MMO crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained is in the home stretch before open beta. Yes, really, open beta. This is happening, people! Clear your 4th of July!

As for live Kickstarters, TemTem is up to $320K and counting, far past its original goal with still a week left to go. Most recently, donors unlocked Nintendo Switch play and the replay system. Clubs (guilds) are set to unlock at $400K. And yes, the game is now registered on Steam.

The Flower of Knighthood, on the other hand, abandoned its Kickstarter in its final hours, seeing it would not complete. The devs haven’t commented on their next move just yet.

Meanwhile, Shroud of the Avatar was hit with layoffs, EVE Online got its revenge on Star CitizenChronicles of Elyria posted lore, Albion Online rolled out a small update, and Crowfall admitted it’s delaying soft launch into 2019 but showed off its procedural world generation. Finally, Fractured prepped for Kickstarter – get ready to see that name a lot in this column!

Read on for more on what’s been up with MMO crowdfunding over the last couple of weeks and our roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’re following.

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