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 Elsword, Ultima Online, Dreadnought, Overhit, Blade and Soul, Project Ex, Conquer Online, Wurm Online, MechWarrior Online, Pokemon Go, Skyforge, Paladins, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, and Miranda, all waiting for you after the break!
How cheap does a VR headset and motion controller have to be before you’ll consider purchasing it? Facebook is hoping the answer to that question is right around $400, it seems, as the company is dropping the price of the Oculus Rift and its associated motion controller to $400 for the moment. That makes this the cheapest VR headset on the market, at least for as long as the price cut lasts.
The price drop in question is officially just a temporary drop to see how the headset performs, but it may well become permanent if this is what finally motivates people to buy headsets in large numbers. The Oculus Rift previously cut prices back in March, so this is a rather quick turnaround on further drops; feel free to add your own doom-and-gloom explanation in the comments, if you like. Let’s not forget that Oculus lost a founder and has been embroiled in legal troubles for most of the year.
I have a love-hate relationship with VR. I’ve bought an Oculus Rift and the Touch, but don’t play it much these days. Part of it’s because my college stuff and Japanese stuff are crammed into a small space with my PC, so I can’t take advantage of certain features, but it’s also because the games aren’t very complete. VR can give you some really cool moments, but most of the time, the games are what you’d get on your PC or console, just in your face, and maybe with a few sides of motion sickness and virtual molestation.
Preta: Vendetta Rising is not revolutionary. It’s not even exclusively a VR title, being cross-platform from mobile to PC. The early animations and voice acting don’t emotionally resonate yet; most of what I saw would have been bland if it wasn’t for the fact that this was specifically a VR demo. That being said, developer Illion and game developer JJ Baek are incredibly sensitive to VR’s largest issues, from women in VR spaces to developing content based on consumer realities rather than developer dreams.
The founder of Oculus has officially left the building. Palmer Luckey, co-founder of the company, has left the company and Facebook (as the owner of Oculus) as of Friday. An official statement by the company wishes his the best of luck, but requests for clarification from the press over whether it was a voluntary departure or not have so far been met with silence. So feel free to develop your own conspiracy theories.
Luckey has already not had a particularly good year, with the high-profile personal and professional legal loss to ZeniMax over Oculus serving retroactively as his last major appearance for the company. It’s up to you whether you consider this departure to be a good or bad thing for VR as a whole, although it’s important to note that Luckey has been one of the most vociferous industry voices in support of the technology.
One round of the Oculus lawsuit may be over, but the saga isn’t going away.
Oculus CTO John Carmack is now suing ZeniMax Media for breaching his asset purchase agreement. He claims that in February, he notified ZeniMax that he sought to covert the $22 million balance still owed by the company to him into common stock shares, which he planned to sell back to ZeniMax to fully cash out. He alleges that ZeniMax has subsequently
“made it clear that the company would not voluntarily comply on a timely basis with the conversion notice. The content and tone of the letter also made it clear that ZeniMax was unlikely to comply with its obligations under the shareholders’ agreement by either buying the offered shares or notifying the other shareholders of their right to purchase them.”
Do you know people who would love to hook themselves up with VR headsets but balk a bit at the price? Oculus is making it a little cheaper to get in with its latest price drop. The Oculus Rift headset is dropping to $499 and the Touch controllers are going down to $99, placing a bundle of both at $598 and saving you $200 over the launch price. The official statement from the company is that the lowered price is still “sustainable” for the company, implying that the hardware is not being sold at a loss at this point.
Whether or not the lowered price will lead to more sales is likely to remain an open question for some time, but that’s clearly the intent. There are no announcements about a new generation of VR hardware, so it’s clear that the company is doubling down on having cheaper hardware to bring in more users. If the $200 drop makes it just rich enough for your blood, then you’ve got some purchase planning to do.
The best hope for VR headsets to move units is indisputably in the field of demonstrations. That’s really always been the hope that the technology has relied upon, that if you can get people to try out the technology they’ll want to buy it. Unfortunately for Oculus, it appears that demo stations haven’t been enough, as Best Buy locations are reportedly packing up and removing 200 of its 500 Oculus demo stations. Business Insider reports that this comes after several of the stations went days with no one even trying the station.
Obviously, this comes in the midst of a bad year for the VR headset outfit, following a number of other issues including a recent loss in court against Bethesda. The official statement from Oculus is that this is due to “seasonal changes,” but that seems like a rather transparent bit of damage control under the circumstances. Sales of the unit apparently tapered off sharply after the holidays, so it remains to be seen if the remaining demo stations might start moving enough units to justify their presence.
All right. The Oculus/ZeniMax lawsuit ended, ZeniMax was awarded $500 million in Oculus money by the courts, and while the plaintiffs got less than what they had initially asked for, they did get the satisfaction of winning. That’s enough, right? We’re done with this story?
Oh, not even close. No, John Carmack, CTO of Oculus, yesterday made a public statement on Facebook claiming that everything ZeniMax argued in court was a series of lies designed to obfuscate the fact that he had never done anything wrong at all. You can read the whole response on his Facebook page, which does little to change the outcome of a trial that has already concluded and is now being waged purely in the court of public opinion.
ZeniMax issued a brief statement in response, which may be summarized in brief as, “We won, you lost, STFU noob.” As Oculus plans to appeal the ruling, the battle over public opinion is relevant, but the fact remains that both sides are still sniping at one another in a somewhat passive-aggressive fashion. Break out the popcorn; this ride isn’t over yet.
Back in 2014, ZeniMax Media filed a lawsuit accusing Palmer Luckey’s Oculus of essentially stealing trade secrets, code, and intellectual property in the development of the Oculus Rift VR platform. At the time, ZeniMax-turned-Oculus employee John Carmack rejected the vague allegations. “ZeniMax owns the code that I wrote,” he said, “but they don’t own VR.”
A motion to dismiss the suit was denied last August, but last week, ZeniMax revised its complaint to detail Carmack’s alleged wrongdoings specifically and add to the suit both Oculus CEO Brendan Iribe and Facebook, which famously bought Oculus in 2015 for two billion dollars. In fact, ZeniMax now accuses Carmack of making off with a USB drive stuffed with documents in his final days of employment there and of coming back later to yoink a “customized tool for developing VR Technology belonging to ZeniMax that itself is part of ZeniMax’s VR technology.”
Remember back when Studio WildCard split ARK into two stand-alone games, Survival Evolved and Survival of the Fittest? Well, ignore that. The studio is recombining the two back into one single game, which means the mod-turned-game-turned-mod/server will no longer be free-to-play. However, the Survivor Leagues where folks battle it out for cash prizes and the dedicated eSport ranking will continue in SotF.
Why the change? According to devs it’s to allow unlimited modding support. Jeremy Stieglitz, lead designer, programmer, and co-founder of Studio Wildcard, said that Steam Workshop support for SotF is “pretty much the most-requested feature for the game at the present time.” The reintegration will allow players to move assets from the main game and put them into Survival of the Fittest as well as give modders access to work with new content as soon as it comes out for either of the two versions. If you want to catch Survival of the Fittest in action, the July Survivor League Championship will stream on Saturday, August 6th, at 11 a.m. EDT. on the game’s official Twitch channel.
SotF isn’t the only thing returning to ARK: Survival Evolved, either. An early implementation of Oculus VR support is enabled again as of v245.94, and devs expect more improvements in the weeks ahead.
If you have your heart set on a Star Wars VR title, you’d better not hold your breath. Electronic Arts CFO Blake Jorgensen recently told GI.biz that his firm will wait and see how the virtual reality gaming market plays out before wading into the fray.
“As one of the largest software producers we have all of the manufacturers of equipment coming to us to try to sell us on their equipment and giving us development kits to try to build software for it,” he said. “So we’ll build software for various ones but we’ll really wait and see how big the market is going to be.”
Fans of the Oculus Rift might be disappointed to learn that judge Jorge Solis has rejected the motion to dismiss a lawsuit leveled against Oculus by Zenimax. The suit was filed last year on the basis that Oculus stole trade secrets when John Carmack moved to Oculus from the Zenimax-owned id software.
The core of Zenimax’s argument is that any hand Carmack may have had in the Oculus Rift’s development made use of trade secrets and is ultimately the property of Zenimax, not Oculus. A jury trial is set to begin a year from now in August of 2016.
Did you know that Linden Lab is hard at work on a sequel to its Second Life virtual world? Yep, it is, and Recode has published a lengthy piece that not only looks at Linden’s Project Sansar but also at a handful of other companies who hope to create some sort of metaverse in the vein of Stephenson’s Snow Crash over the next decade or two.
Original Second Life creator Philip Rosedale is also in the mix thanks to his firm High Fidelity which has raised $17.5 million in venture capital to date, as is a company called Altspace VR that has $15.6 million and counts evil cable empire Comcast and Chinese MMO publisher Tencent among its investors. Those are just a couple of the companies profiled, and then of course there’s Facebook which famously acquired Oculus Rift in 2014.