path of fire

The Daily Grind: How early should an MMORPG’s hype cycle begin?

GIbiz put out an interesting piece this week looking 10 years into the past to see where the buzz was in the game industry back in 2008. It’s worth a read overall (that was the year some rando company called “Riot Games” snagged $7M in funding for something called “League of Legends” – pff, that’ll never go anywhere, amirite), but the segment I want to highlight this morning is the one about the industry hype cycle.

The long-ago author wonders just when the hype cycle for video games should begin, at least in terms of maximizing profits (and presumably not annoying consumers). He compares the Assassin’s Creed franchise to Prince of Persia, noting that the former’s hype cycle was twice as long as the latter’s – and performed significantly better. After all, we’re still talking about AC here in 2018!

It seems a fair topic for MMORPGs as well; for example, World of Warcraft expansion announcements and hype lulls, the difference in buzz lead-up between Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns and Path of Fire, and the seemingly interminable Kickstarter MMO dev/hype/funding cycles are perennial subjects here.

How early should an MMORPG’s hype cycle begin? How long before the planned launch of a game or an expansion – or even a Kickstarter – do you actually want to hear about it?

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Battle Bards Episode 123: Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire

With eagerness in their hearts, the Battle Bards rush toward another Guild Wars 2 soundtrack, ready to bask in the aural glory of this MMO that’s known for its incredible music. But hark! What is this Path of Fire? Join us for a listen through a soundtrack that one unnamed reviewer has termed “bland and generic.” If that isn’t a back-of-the-box quote, we don’t know what is!

Battle Bards is a bi-weekly podcast that alternates between examining a single MMO’s soundtrack and exploring music tracks revolving around a theme. MOP’s Justin co-hosts with bloggers Steff and Syl. The cast is available on iTunesGoogle PlayTuneInPocket CastsStitcher, and Player.FM.

Listen to Episode 123: Guild Wars 2’s Path of Fire (or download it) now:

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ArenaNet on Guild Wars 2’s living story, Heart of Thorns vs. Path of Fire, security, and momentum

Though ArenaNet was technically at E3 this year, the group representing Guild Wars 2 was chiefly a marketing and business one, so they carted our interview questions back to team members more suited to answer. ArenaNet Brand Manager (and former Massively columnist) Lis Cardy, Design Manager Crystal Reid, Systems Team Lead Irenio Calmon-Huang, and Game Director Mike Zadorojny weigh in on the living story, security, gaining “momentum,” and more, just in time for the launch of the next episode later today. Let’s dig in.

The ever-living story

While I haven’t personally played much GW2 since the arc about the fall Lion’s Arch, I’ve liked the concept of an ever-evolving story. It’s actually what got me into MMOs thanks to the Asheron’s Call series’ monthly updates. When I asked how the ArenaNet team felt players were reacting to the current living story, especially in terms of pacing, Mike Zadorojny said the studio has “seen players become more engaged with the releases.” Apparently, they’re happy to see the connections players making to the stories and characters they’ve developed and especially with the discussions across Reddit and the forums.
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Guild Wars 2’s next episode, Long Live the Lich, launches June 26 – here’s the trailer (finally!)

Who had June 26th for Guild Wars 2’s next big thing? Oh, everyone? Because we had gobs of time to speculate in the delay deadzone? Right right.

Yes, ArenaNet just announced that episode 3 of season 4, dubbed Long Live the Lich, will finally, finally roll out next week on June 26th. If you know even a little bit about Path of Fire, you really don’t need me to tell you which lich we’re talkin’ about here.

If you do need me to tell you, I’m still not gonna. It probably means you’ve not played the expansion, in which case, the big ol’ sale ANet just dropped is right up your alley; the game is half off right now.

Trailer incoming! It’s promising a new legendary warhorn, the Domain of Kourna map, a new roller beetle mount, and the new Deepstone fractal.

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Global Chat: The best of both worlds

If you have ever played more than one MMORPG, the thought has probably crossed your mind that you would love to see your favorite features from all of them put together. It hurts when one game has great housing and another has some of the best group content that you have experienced. Why can’t you just create the best of both worlds?

Zeriah spent some time wishing for exactly this as she drew up a list of features from both World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV that she’d love to see merged together.

“If I could take a bit from each game and combine it into one, I think I’d be in heaven,” she said. “FFXIV has some of the most amazing outfits I have ever seen in a game and while it has transmog system but I feel it would be made truly amazing by the addition of the armor journal WoW has brought in.”

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Grab Guild Wars 2’s expansions for 30% off this week – Bless refugees, they’re talkin’ to you

You might think that it’s a little weird to assume folks who bought Bless and refunded it have never tried Guild Wars 2, but that isn’t stopping the Guild Wars 2 community from trying to attract those fleeing what we’ve been calling the Bless Mess.

According to MMOBomb, which covered the hoopla earlier this week, the campaign is partly thanks to YouTuber TheLazyPeon, whose recent videos slam Bless and praise GW2. In fact, some Redditors are calling Bless Online the best marketing campaign Guild Wars 2 has had in a long time, which isn’t really a compliment to anyone, but we doubt Anet minds too much. Other players have set up camp at the newbie spawn to welcome new players.

We suspect the big sale might also have something to do with it; according to Dulfy, using the code WelcomeToGW2 through the official store will get you Path of Fire and Heart of Thorns for 30% off. In fact, if you use our affiliate link, we get a tiny commission if you buy something. If you’d prefer not to do that, here’s the link straight to Anet. Cheers!

If you’re coming back to the game, why not check out our own Flameseeker Chronicles column?

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Revenues for all NCsoft MMORPGs are down in Q1 2018 except… Aion?

NCsoft’s first quarter 2018 financial results are in, and it’s… kinda OK? Guild Wars 2 saw a big drop-off, though that’s to be expected since the previous quarter saw revenues from Path of Fire. “GW2 sales dropped 32% QOQ but increased 66% YOY, as some of the 2nd expansion pack effect was included,” NCsoft notes.

Blade & Soul continues to perform well QOQ, though it’s lost a quarter of its revenue YOY, and Aion revenues surged, NCsoft says, “fueled by the change in the monetization scheme.” Lineage itself at one time seemed to drive the company all by itself, but it’s down QOQ and YOY too. So is the company’s mobile games branch, which was riding high on Lineage M last year but is now “stabilizing” at what one might assume is a more realistic number (which is still higher than the five big MMORPGs combined).

As MMO Culture reports, the investor call itself admitted that Blade & Soul II for mobile has already been delayed into 2019 as it “didn’t meet expectations.” It’s apparently gotten a new team and new redesign, which is basically what happened to Lineage Eternal way back when, you’ll recall. And speaking of that: Project TL is supposedly still on schedule, with a launch still on track for next year.

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PAX East 2018: Guild Wars 2 game director Mike Zadorojny on Path of Fire, monetization, and more

It’s not every day that you walk into a building dominated by an enormous griffon, the enormous statue replicating the mount in Guild Wars 2: Path of Fire. You could, of course, argue that the griffon is functionally an upgraded version of the glider from Heart of Thorns, but that just brings you back to the idea that Path of Fire is closer to what people wanted from Heart of Thorns in the first place. It’s a bigger expansion for people not interested in the rather narrow focus of the jungle.

Which makes sense, since according to the game director, Mike Zadorojny, the focus of what the expansion was meant to be about was radically different between the two expansions, and Path of Fire was closer to an expansion of the base game.

I had the chance to sit with Zadorojny and chat about various issues of both current development ant future direction, although we did not have that chat on the back of the griffon. (There were people waiting in line.) But considering the nature of the griffon and the talk, it might have been appropriate.

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Global Chat: RIFT Prime numbers

RIFT’s new Prime progression server certainly has recaptured or recruited many MMO bloggers to the game as of late, and it is all anyone seems to be talking about. So how’s the word out on the web?

Nerdy Bookahs observed that Trion “chose a perfect time” to release the progression server. The Ancient Gaming Noob initially felt conflicted but soon fell into a groove: “There was the feeling of life in the game, with lots of people around and public groups to join and things just happening everywhere.” And GamingSF said that he’s “coming along swimmingly” on the shard.

It wasn’t all kudos and praise. Endgame Variable hedged his outlook by saying that RIFT Prime was “fun, but I don’t think it will last very long.” Inventory Full felt disillusioned with the way the original game was handled and said, “RIFT simply doesn’t have the depth or breadth of content of either of the EverQuest games, nor the nostalgia factor.”

Read on for the MMO blogosphere’s thoughts on other topics, including inventory woes in Guild Wars 2, the classic multiplayer dogfight sim Air Warrior, and the early access release of Project Gorgon.

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NCsoft has hired 1000 employees in the past few years, considers VR and ARG titles

Everybody saw NCsoft’s financials last month, I’m sure – Guild Wars 2 bouncing back thanks to Path of Fire, Lineage M driving revenue, and Blade & Soul outperforming almost everything, pretty good news all around.

What we didn’t cover was the associated conference call and Q&A, which has only recently been fully transcribed in English and has a few nuggets worth highlighting

  • CFO Jae-Soo Yoon told listeners the company is working on 13 new titles, of which the largest are Blade & Soul II, Aion Tempest, and Lineage II Mobile, all mobile titles, and Project TL for PC.
  • To make those happen, the company’s hired “around 1000” new employees over the last two years. One analyst was skeptical about those numbers, suggesting that NCsoft is overspending on labor compared to an unnamed smaller company launching far more games; Yoon counters with some polite shade by suggesting NCsoft is going to for quality over quantity.

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Flameseeker Chronicles: First impressions of Guild Wars 2’s A Bug in the System

Today is the day we’ve been waiting for: After a short delay, episode 2 of Guild Wars 2‘s fourth Living World season, A Bug in the System, is finally ready to release. It feels as though Daybreak was a lifetime ago after being spoiled for so long with super-fast episodic content drops throughout the Path of Fire story, so I’m delighted to finally get to grips with some new story now. I had a little glimpse at the action two weeks ago in a dev-guided preview and was honestly left jaw-dropped, so it’s been exceptionally difficult waiting for its release to talk about my impressions. The episode is dangerous, political, and impactful, and I am just about hanging onto my seat as I get to see more today.

In this episode of Flameseeker Chronicles, I’ll recap on Daybreak’s content for those who haven’t quite caught up before launching into my first impressions of A Bug in the System. I played for around 45 minutes with some key developers and have only had a glimpse at the content, so this article will be a nice teaser for today without spoiling too much more than the trailer does. Having said that, if you would prefer to go in fresh, give this one a skip to avoid potential spoilers until you’ve played yourself.

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Analysts see ‘potential for earnings growth’ in NCsoft’s trio of upcoming titles

If you walked away confused by NCsoft’s most recent quarterly financial report, Mirae Asset Daewoo Co. might be able to sort it out for you.

The Seoul-based analyst firm suggests that the Lineage series, which appeared strong at first glance, actually turned in weaker than expected revenue, in spite of the fact that Lineage M was the top-grossing game on Android and iOS. “The biggest surprise was marketing spend, which jumped 10% QoQ and 69% YoY, despite the absence of any new major titles,” the firm notes. “We believe this suggests the company spent as much on promoting Lineage M’s massive updates as it typically does on promoting new titles.”

That said, the firm still calls the company a buy: “We see little reason for concern in terms of profit and valuation in 1H18 and see potential for earnings growth and a re-rating in 2H18, driven by new releases.” What new releases would those be? Blade & Soul II (first half of the year) and Aion Tempest and Lineage II M (last half of the year).

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NCsoft Q4 2017: Guild Wars resurges as Blade & Soul and Lineage M drive profits

NCsoft has money to cheer about this past financial quarter, as it posted another year of solid growth. Revenue and operating profit were up 87% and 86% respectively year-over-year, though of course the quarter doesn’t quite compare to the blockbuster that was Q3 last year when Lineage M hit Asia.

Lineage M continued to drive good mobile sales for the company even after its shine wore off, accompanied by Aion, Lineage, and Lineage II, which are down YOY for the quarter and the year. Blade and Soul is outperforming everything but mobile at this point and this quarter held even YOY, at least globally.

And as for Guild Wars 2? Well, no surprise there: The Path of Fire expansion was quite a boon, more than doubling the game’s quarterly revenue YOY and pushing total revenue past 2016’s (though not past 2015’s, when Heart of Thorns launched at a price two-thirds higher). (Recall that SuperData just included GW2 on its top 10 list of premium PC games by revenue [at an annual figure slightly higher than what’s represented here] and that Q2 last year was the game’s worst quarter ever, so this is a comfortable comeback.)

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