business model

Star Wars: The Old Republic asks players about subscriber rewards

Are you subscribed to Star Wars: The Old Republic? Do you want rewards for continuing to subscribe to the game? Because the good news is that the developers totally agree that you should get rewards for subscribing. But what should those rewards be? Well, that’s where your opinions on the matter come into play. That’s also the good news.

Community manager Eric Musco explains that the developers have been going back and forth on the best ways to reward players for their subscription time, but the best way to find out what players want is, well, to ask players what they want. A short survey is linked on the forum post with a variety of options for what players would like to receive for added subscription value. It seems like a straightforward way to figure out what players want as a whole, although “personal Death Star” as a reward might have some balance issues.

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Perfect Ten: How playing MMOs can make you a better person

I like to think that I’m a better person now than I was when I first loaded up Final Fantasy XI. That’s how long I’ve been playing MMOs: I loaded up that game on the day it launched, started playing, and have looked back many times since. It’s nearly a third of my life, and I’ve gone from being just some guy to being… still just some guy, but some guy who has a career analyzing and writing about these games. And in the process, I think and hope I’ve become a better person.

Do I credit all of that to online games? Of course not. That’d be ridiculous. But I do think that playing MMOs can make you a better person. Not should, and not necessarily will, but I think that with time and experience, the possibility is there that they can. And I think that when taken in the right spirit, these lessons can help you be a better person in your day-to-day life. No, not by trying to get stronger by wandering out and smacking random wildlife with a sharp bit of metal but by applying lessons elsewhere.

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Not So Massively: BlizzCon 2015 (November 9, 2015)

Online gaming and e-sports are getting bigger by the day, and there are literally hundreds of popular online games out there that don’t really fit into the MMO category. Join me each week for Not So Massively, where I gather together the top stories from the biggest MOBAs, competitive card games, first person shooters, and other popular online games in one place.

BlizzCon 2015 took center stage this weekend, producing a ton of news for Heroes of the Storm, Diablo III, Overwatch, and Hearthstone. Heroes of the Storm held its first ever world championship tournament, Overwatch the rejected free-to-play business model, and we learned that Blizzard is hiring a developer to bring oldschool Diablo II back to life.

Meanwhile, impressive one-to-one scale space game Infinity: Battlescape has just 12 days left to raise around $70,000 on Kickstarter, Destiny players have raised money for charity in a livestreaming event, and Path of Exile hinted that an expansion announcement is on the way. We also read an insightful article on systemic sexism in SMITE‘s e-sports scene, looked at League of Legends‘ new social tools and controversial Dynamic Queue, and discovered that Star Citizen‘s Alpha 2.0 release may be about to land.

If there’s a game or story you’d like to see covered in next week’s Not So Massively, please drop us a tip and let us know.

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Make My MMO: Infinity gets a Star Citizen assist (November 7, 2015)

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Infinity: Battlescape kept motoring toward its $300,000 funding goal. As of press time, the seamless sci-fi shooter had amassed over $223,000 with 12 days remaining. Infinity likely got a boost from Star Citizen frontman Chris Roberts, who posted glowingly about I-Novae’s project on the front page of Star Citizen’s website.

The rest of this week’s news roundup is just past the break.

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WoW Factor: What WoW Legion needs from BlizzCon

It’s go time tomorrow: BlizzCon is almost here, and I’m going to be liveblogging my way through most of the event. And boy, it’s coming at an interesting time, what with the game officially declaring that it will no longer announce subscription numbers in the same year that the game has lost about 45% of its subscriber base.

I could write a whole column on that, sure, but it would mostly be 1200 words about the simple fact that the Powers That Be realizing how bad the news looks even when the financial falloff isn’t as bad as it may appear. But to be quite honest, what’s far more interesting to me is what needs to happen over the next couple of days, and I’m penning this now so we can all argue about whether or not BlizzCon delivered after it’s all over. So what do we need to see about Legion to serve as a much-needed boost to World of Warcraft player morale?

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NCsoft’s Q3 2015 report: Guild Wars 2, WildStar, all sales dip downward [Updated]

The bad news for the most recent NCsoft financial report is that once again, profits from WildStar were down slightly from the previous quarter — but this round, even Guild Wars 2‘s profits were down a bit. In fact, sales dipped for all of NCsoft’s big games, and profit for the company was down on the whole, quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, so the takeway isn’t that specific games are underperforming relative to the others but that NCsoft had a bad quarter overall. Decreased profits are attributed to a lack of in-game promotions with the company’s highest-earning titles.

Of note is that the third quarter report stretches only to the end of September, thus predating both WildStar‘s shift in business model and Guild Wars 2‘s first expansion release. During the conference call, NCsoft said it has been focused on cost-efficiency and expects fourth quarter revenues to improve, referencing Guild Wars 2 specifically. Fans of the aforementioned games should keep their eyes peeled for next quarter’s results.

Update: We’ve included transcripts of excerpts from the translated conference call below.

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STO is giving away stuff to celebrate the new Star Trek show

The Star Trek franchise is getting a new television show, according to an announcement on the brand’s official website. Details are scarce, other than that the series will debut in January 2017 and will only be available on CBS’ digital video subscription service.

Star Trek Online is looking to capitalize on the buzz by offering a couple of promotions. The first is a free Enterprise Era Bundle Pack which includes the NX Enterprise starter ship, standard and mirror variant uniforms, and the T’Pol jumpsuit. You can get it as a free account unlock through Wednesday, November 4th. The game will also feature double XP through Monday, November 9th.

In case you want to spend money in the game’s cash shop, the devs have announced three new tier six starships. They are the Valiant Class Tactical Escort, the Kor Bird-of-Prey, and the Malem Light Warbird. Each comes standard with a warhead module universal console loaded with six torpedoes. Each ship also features the withering barrage starship trait, provided that starship mastery is advanced to level five.

Source: Announcement

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Make My MMO: Updates, reveals, and more (October 31, 2015)

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, the usual suspects kept us abreast of their progress with developer blogs, class reveals, status updates, and the like. Camelot Unchained revealed its Scout archetypes, Star Citizen made major changes to its flight model, and Elite: Dangerous showed off planetary combat.

That’s not all that went on, of course, and the rest of it is just past the break.

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Darkfall hosts a Halloween event, a free weekend, and a subscription sale

There are many different sorts of fear. There’s the sort of fear that comes from being absolutely certain that something horrible is lurking around the corner, for example. Then there’s the sort of fear that comes from the knowledge that someone could teleport behind your character and throw so many fireballs at you that you’d swear it was a meteor shower. Darkfall is offering everyone a chance to jump in on that sort of fear with its free weekend event, running from October 30th to November 1st.

If you like what you see, you can also take advantage of the game’s subscription sale; during the weekend, all subscriptions will be 33% off. There’s also a new Halloween event running in the game during the weekend, complete with jack-o-lanterns and flying broomsticks. If that’s exactly your speed, you should probably get ready to jump in on Friday.

Source: Official Site; thanks to Kinya for the tip!

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Hyperspace Beacon: Spoiler-filled impressions of SWTOR Knights of the Fallen Empire

By now, everyone who was in early access for Knights of the Fallen Empire has played through the story at least once. If not, what are you waiting for? Don’t you know how amazing it is? But I was highly surprised at how much there was to do beyond the main storyline. Star Wars: The Old Republic started to feel like an MMO again to me, which was the exact opposite of what I expected given the single-player nature of the primary content.

This week, I will be giving you my impressions again of the expansion, but this time, I’m not going to avoid spoilers. There are many things that I like and dislike about the expansion. There are items that BioWare could have improved on, and there are some that it truly knocked out of the park. Be warned: I will not put any spoiler tags on anything after the cut. Just assume that everything is a spoiler, and read this next week when you’ve played all the way through. However, if you’ve not picked up the game and need more convincing, then read on. I might not be able to sway you one way or the other, but at least you will have a better idea of what this expansion really has in store.

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Nexus Telegraph: The problem with WildStar’s paths – and how to fix them

When the path system was first revealed close to WildStar’s initial announcement, it was presented as a major tentpole of the game to set it apart from the rest of the MMO pack. Somewhat loosely based on Bartle’s gaming types, paths were to add a customized dimension to a person’s play experience.

Originally, you weren’t going to be just a class but a class and a path said in the same breathless sentence. “I am a Warrior-Explorer” and the like. It was an intriguing hook that showed that the developers wanted the game to mold itself somewhat to the player instead of strictly vice-versa.

Yet something went wrong with paths along the way, even before WildStar released. Today it’s quite rare to hear players discussing paths or getting excited about them. Even Carbine mentions them only reluctantly as part of a feature list on occasion before putting them back in the corner with Baby.

But now that the Reloaded patch is out, I think it’s time that we look to fixing this system and raising it up to its true potential. Who’s with me?

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Perfect Ten: The most innovative RuneScape experiments

RuneScape seems to be an MMO that’s incredibly easy to dismiss by the wider MMO community for being “too kiddy” or being a little too outside the boundaries of standard big-budget MMOs. Yet ignoring or belittling it would be a mistake: RuneScape has accumulated a massive audience over the years and been innovating and experimenting with ideas that other MMOs are too chicken to touch.

While it’s not a perfect game, RuneScape and its developer Jagex have shown a willingness to adapt to the community’s needs and try different things to see if they’ll take hold and work. Instead of coasting along into its elder years, RuneScape has been working hard to earn the continued patronage of its playerbase, and I think that should go noticed today.

In that spirit, we’re going to take a trip through 10 of the most innovative or interesting experiments that RuneScape has performed over its 15 years of operation.

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One of the Darkfall reboots answers fan questions

Believe it or not, there are two current attempts to secure the classic Darkfall license from Aventurine and reboot the game to its pre-Unholy Wars state. Yesterday we reported on how Big Picture Games is progressing toward an alpha test, and today we turn our attention over to Ub3rgames and its plans for Darkfall: New Dawn.

Ub3rgames posted a series of responses to community questions and concerns about the project, including why there won’t be a skill cap, what the team will do about macroers and hackers, and the eternal issue of griefing.

The team also said that it will not be going with crowdfunding to finance the title; it will be selling the game plus a subscription as soon as it can open up the store: “Whatever you pay us will translate into an actual service. You are buying a product with every customer laws protecting you. We do not want donations or investment, and it is partly why we did not go down the Kickstarter route. It is important for us that the player base sees their purchase as a safe expenditure rather than a gamble.”

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