Some industry news this morning: James Ohlen announced that he’s retiring from BioWare after more than two decades at the company. MMORPG fans will recall he was at one time the creative director and lead designer for Star Wars The Old Republic, but of course he played a lead role in many other acclaimed BioWare franchises and was also attached to Anthem. He’s told fans he’s taking a break from the industry to work on RPG sourcebooks. SWTOR players are expressing their gratitude for his contributions over on Reddit.
Anyone notice how Hearthstone
seems to have the best art team and the biggest sense of humor of the entire Blizzard studio? It certainly doesn’t have restraints on its creativity or insanity, as evidenced by the announcement of its latest expansion pack, The Boomsday Project
Coming on August 7th, The Boomsday Project takes players on a tour of Dr. Boom’s mad science lab and his “irresponsible experiments.” The expansion contains 135 new cards, including nine additional legendary spells. Players will contend with new types of cards such as Projects, Magnetics, and Omegas.
Single-player lovers will be treated to the Puzzle Lab, a solo experience that reportedly (but don’t quote us on this) involves puzzles. There’s a $50 pre-purchase bundle that’s up right now that tosses in a gold legendary and card backing for those who drop a half-C on it.
Go on a mad science bender after the break!
Minion types in Hearthstone
don’t always matter, until they matter a whole lot
. That’s the motivation behind the new minion types being added to existing cards
, which already look and are named as if they do
have these types. Mountain Giant and Molten Giant, for example, are clearly elemental creatures… but at this point, they lack the Elemental minion type, which will be changed with the next patch. New options for decks focused on Elementals, and a more logical layout!
Other changes include making the North Sea Kraken into a Beast, the Witchwood Piper into a Demon, and the Jungle Moonkin into… not a Beast. (The other Moonkin in the game was not a Beast, and lore-wise they really shouldn’t be Beasts.) This likely won’t wildly change the game’s meta, but it should add new options for some decks and generally make things feel a wee bit more consistent.
Twitch is working overtime by going after big-name streamers who use inappropriate language in chat. The platform’s community policies have landed popular streamer Destiny with a 30-day ban after repeatedly referring to people as bundles of wood used for burning (note: not the exact wording used) and making some racist comments. Considering that he’s best known for streaming Hearthstone matches, it seems unlikely that these concepts would come up naturally over the course of gameplay anyhow.
Another popular streamer, MoE, received a ban as well for once more referring to people as bundles of wood used for burning (again, not the exact wording used) while trying to explain that it’s a term with “multiple meanings” (it has two meanings, and one is the aforementioned bundles of wood). It remains to be seen how much these new bans will actually affect toxic language and behavior on streams, but it should be a clear sign that the platform is not willing to let hate speech run rampant.
May 2018 was good to Fortnite, again, SuperData’s latest global revenue report shows, but its growth rate may be coming to a middle. “Fortnite hits a new high but growth is slowing down,” the research firm says in today’s report. “We estimate that Fortnite made $318 million across all platforms in May, up 7% from April. The majority of growth came from console, with mobile and PC both coming in flat compared to April.”
On the PC side, Dota 2 came out of nowhere to return to the list at #6, bumping World of Warcraft down a tick and Hearthstone off completely. League of Legends continues to rule the roost.
On the console side, Fortnite is still at the top; both Overwatch and Destiny 2 have returned to the top 10 as games like Far Cry 5 and Battlefield have fallen off.
And on mobile, Pokemon Go has resurged, as it always does in summer in the northern hemisphere, as it’s gathered up more players than ever. Fun side note: Remember Netease’s Knives Out, one of its two PUBG clones on mobile? It’s in 5th place globally on mobile, just behind POGO, so PUBG’s lawsuit isn’t so bonkers after all.
A job listing for a Blizzard dungeon artist
has the gaming community buzzing today, as this particular listing is for a “new and unannounced” Diablo
title. This confirmation of a Diablo
project undoubtedly comes as a relief to fans who might have feared that Blizzard had abandoned the franchise entirely.
“The minions of Hell are growing stronger,” the studio posted. “We’re working on a new, unannounced Diablo project. Are you a skilled dungeon artist? Come work with us, and together we will build something exceptional.”
Meanwhile, Diablo III is ramping up for Season 14, which will be the first season to revolve around a theme. In this case, it’ll be the theme of “greed,” so expect a lot more treasure goblins hopping around.
Fortnite had another record month of revenue in April, according to SuperData’s latest global revenue report. “Epic’s Battle Royale shooter made $296 million in April across Console, PC and Mobile, up from $223 million in March,” says the firm.
But the more interesting story is SuperData’s assertion that “Grand Theft Auto V is finally showing its age.”
“GTA V Online revenue declined 9% year-over-year, ending an impressive streak of 12 consecutive months with year-over-year growth. GTA V Online has declined sequentially every month since the start of the year, likely in part due to the continued rise of Fortnite as well as a dearth of significant content updates from Rockstar.”
Who’s ready for some news about Blizzard? Because boy, there’s a lot of it! Want some new World of Warcraft lore about Jaina? There’s a new comic out to explain why she is the way she is (this expansion, anyhow, because how the writers want her to act changes with the weather). Those of you who would like a more magic-happy version of Jaina, though, should just hop on over to Hearthstone… after checking out the newest balance changes incoming to the game.
Meanwhile, Heroes of the Storm has a new patch out which brings with it a brand-new event, Nexomania! (It’s a luchadore reference, for those unclear.) And Overwatch is going further in the toy field than we even considered, with upcoming LEGO sets featuring minifigures of several well-known characters. So you can play with them all the time!
Oh, and Diablo III is about ready to end its thirteenth season. Yes, that’s the Diablo life these days.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
Maybe you’ll discover a new game in this space — or be reminded of an old favorite! This week we have stories and videos from Hellion, Reign of Guilds, Skyforge, Old School RuneScape, War of Rights, Lineage M, Heroes and Generals, Aurcus Online, ARK Park, Dark and Light, Wild Terra, Citadel: Forged With Fire, and Hearthstone, all waiting for you after the break!
In a game like Hearthstone
, the job of balancing cards will never, ever be done. So if you like titles with stability and permanence, don’t play digital card games is what we’re saying. With this in mind, Blizzard revealed the next round of “balance changes”
that will be coming in a future patch.
The studio calls it balance, but the reality is that all of these changes are either nerfs to a card’s ability or an increase in the cost of the cards to better match the effect that it causes. Cards like Naga Sea Witch, Spiteful Summoner, Possessed Lackey, and Call to Arms are all going to cost more (a lot more in the case of the Witch), while Dark Pact is going to restore less health and The Caverns Below will create weaker minions.
Adjust your builds and meta outlook accordingly.
No, your eyes do not deceive you: Noblegarden is coming back
a month after its run in World of Warcraft
. This time around, Hearthstone
is giving bunny snuggles to its players with plenty of eggcelent rewards.
Merely by logging on between May 9th and 13th, players will receive both a Golden Eggnapper and a Golden Devilsaur Egg as a gift. Beyond that, there’s a themed tavern brawl for those clinging on to spring as long as they can.
“In this egg-citing tavern brawl you’ll gather with other Hearthstone players to celebrate the season by dyeing eggs,” Blizzard explained. “One egg will spawn for you each turn, and you’ll get to use a deck of colorful dyes and special Noblegarden cards (plus 10 random class cards) to decorate it. Each dye applies a different buff, and at the start of your next turn your eggs will hatch into something cute. Or a bunny, if you didn’t use any dye (which is still pretty adorable).”
Reporting on Activision-Blizzard’s endless piles of money is about as much fun as reporting on how fifty-bajillion-zillion people are playing fork knife. No, I said that wrong; it’s about as much fun as taking a fork and a knife to my own eyeballs. But hey, it’s tradition, so here goes: Bobby Kotick and the gang have announced new records, measured in said piles of money; the company acknowledges it was a quarter “without large content releases” that nevertheless produced enough piles of money to surpass its own guidance, leading it to raise its outlook for more piles of money for the year.
“For the quarter ended March 31, 2018, Activision Blizzard’s net revenues presented in accordance with GAAP were a Q1 record $1.97 billion, as compared with $1.73 billion for the first quarter of 2017. GAAP net revenues from digital channels were an all-time quarterly record $1.46 billion. GAAP operating margin was 30%. GAAP earnings per share were an all-time quarterly record $0.65, as compared with $0.56 for the first quarter of 2017. […] Activision Blizzard’s operating margin was 39% and earnings per diluted share were an all-time quarterly record $0.78, as compared with $0.72 for the first quarter of 2017. […] Operating cash flow was a Q1 record $529 million, up 29% year-over-year.”
“Fortnite is now the largest free-to-play console game of all time, in revenue generated and monthly active users,” SuperData has declared in its monthly revenue report for the gaming industry for March 2018. The game sits at the tippy-top of the console listing and has now breezed past both PUBG and World of Warcraft to sit at #5 on PC.
“Fortnite had quite a March. The game has overtaken the previous ‘king of battle royale,’ PUBG, in terms of revenue generated and monthly active users across all platforms. It also hit the #1 spot by revenue on iOS in the United States in its launch month, and has the highest conversion rate of any free-to-play PC game in March. […] There’s no other way to say it: the game is a phenomenon. Fortnite generated $223 million across all platforms (console, PC, Mobile) in March, up a whopping 73% from February.”
Hearthstone’s re-entry to the PC side has bumped Far Cry 5 out of the top 10 (though Far Cry 5 on console is at #2). Destiny 2 is now nowhere to be found, Monster Hunter World has sunk to #10 on the console side, and Sea of Thieves debuted at #7 for console revenue. Don’t get too excited about Sea of Thieves, though; the analytics firm says almost half of the game’s two million or so monthly active users were playing the free trial.