Over the last year, we’ve seen a ramp-up of high-level chatter about bringing e-sports to the Olympics. Last summer the co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee told the AP that it was considering video gaming for the 2024 program in France. The International Olympic Committee then said “competitive e-sports could be considered as a sporting activity, and the players involved prepare and train with an intensity which may be comparable to athletes in traditional sports.” Most recently, the IOC held a forum on e-sports to gather “gaming executives, players, sponsors and event organizers with a goal of building relationships between Olympic leaders and the esports industry” in Lausanne, Switzerland.
That event was Saturday, and thanks to the Esports Observer, we have a good idea how the movement is coming along and how seriously some of the big online gaming companies are taking it. For example, during the World of Esports panel, Blizzard boss Mike Morhaime said that thanks to streaming, we’ve seen “exponential growth for the industry,” leading to a “real inflection point for esports.”
Regardless of who you believe had the right and wrong of the ArenaNet Twitter fiasco last week, game developers have expressed concern over the way it was handled and the potential impact on the greater industry. As Gamasutra noted, the International Game Developers Association has put out a blog post urging developers to demand that companies “clarify the guidelines and expectations around social media use, both in professional and personal accounts,” specifically referencing the recent Guild Wars 2 firings. Moreover, IGDA says, companies should be transparent about how they will “protect [their] talent from internet harassment mobs.”
“Game developers are also frequently targeted for harassment, particularly if they are members of under-represented communities,” IGDA Executive Director Jen MacLean writes. “Companies must plan for how they will support their staff members in the event of online harassment, and should clearly communicate the resources they will make available to their team to have safe, productive, and positive interactions online, especially if they are expected to do so in their roles.”
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!
The Nexon beast continues to grow, insatiable in its hunger to devour profitable studios and gaming properties. The relationship between publisher Nexon and developer Nat Games got even closer this month as the former acquired controlling interest in the latter.
It’s not a dumb move. Nat Games has been riding high on the international success of its mobile game Heroes of Incredible Tales, which has racked up over 25 million downloads in the past few years. Nexon helped to publish the game when it went live back in 2016.
Nexon increased its stake in Nat Games by 30% to a 48.3% majority to call the shots at the studio. This is all in time for Nat Games’ follow-up to HIT, creatively called Overhit. Nexon should be bringing Overhit to global markets later in 2018. Read more
Are you familiar with Geocaching? It’s a popular activity in which players hide and discover treasure caches all over the world (and is a favorite of Shroud of the Avatar’s Richard Garriott, who hid one on the International Space Station).
It turns out that Bungie is a fan of the game as well, as the studio team created its own special geocache hunt for fans to discover. Destiny 2 players discovered clues in the latest patch that eventually led to a secret message. This message contained GPS coordinates to a real-world location, which turned out to be a hidden cache on Sleeping Beauty Mountain in New York state.
The contents? A huge Valkyrie spear modeled after one of Destiny 2’s weapons and a note from the developers encouraging the finder to share his or her discovery with the community at large. The note was from Design Lead Rob Gallerani that thanked the community for its passion and hinted that more geocaches may be coming. Additionally, the team left a second, smaller container with gold coins for future hunters to take if they traveled to these coordinates.
As you probably have heard, there was a Bless influencer event this week, with a couple of media and a smattering of MMO streamers in attendance. The leak of the price points happened soon before we went in, but none of the people in attendance, devs or streamers, really seemed fazed by it. Most people seemed ready to have a good time.
For someone like me, who was initially blown away by Bless circa 2011, the game had fallen off my radar, especially after the game’s rocky trip to Russia and initial Korean release. The western build-up for me has felt like a big PR push, with the pricing model dangled like a feature that people actually should be excited about. Basic questions like, “How does endgame work?” were easier to find on Reddit, Steam, and fansites than any of the PR I was reading. I was concerned, to say the least, but things like “tame almost any mob!” and “100v100” battles intrigued me. Though nothing I saw is probably going to change any core fans’ mind, it may be useful to those on the fence.
So here’s something Guild Wars 2
doesn’t do much: special weekend bonus events. This one’s probably more about getting folks to buy harvesting tools and check out the new gathering upgrade system
than about getting players to forget about that whole spyware thing
that hit just before the weekend, but it works for both, yeah?
“[S]tarting on April 20, you can get neat bonuses by applying resource-gathering implements to rocks, trees, plant life, and your mortal enemies!” ArenaNet says. Through April 23rd, players will “gain a 33% chance of increased gathering yield when mining, logging, and harvesting” and snag double experience in open-world PvE and WvW when gathering.
In other Guild Wars 2 news, if you’re into tarot cards or just pretty art, check out the Tyrian Tarot deck project put together by a collective of Guild Wars 2 player artists. The Indiegogo campaign for the effort – which is sponsored and approved by ArenaNet, so don’t worry about that – has already almost doubled its original ask. Pledges are effectively preorders for everything from postcards and prints of the art to a full deck, all boasting GW2-flavored artwork. Aaaand the best part is that all of the profit goes to charity: the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Sick of the same old holidays
every year in MMOs? World of Tanks
is fond of plucking really good ones out of the void and finding a way to use them in-game. Today’s event is in honor of the International Day of Human Space Flight
, probably better known as Yuri’s Night
, the celebration of the first manned spaceflight by Yuri Gagarin on April 12th, 1961.
“This double occasion inspired Wargaming and the International Space Station to create a project called Stellar Bonus,” says Wargaming. “On April 12, the ISS will beam holiday boosters full of goodies down to earth. To get your piece of the pie, log into World of Tanks and play one battle during the event.” Loot includes a stack of XP and credit boosters, usable even after the event is over tomorrow morning.
We’ll be streaming the game today at 3 p.m. EDT on OPTV in honor of the game’s anniversary, so check back this afternoon to see how far the game has come!
At the tail end of last year, we caught wind that the World Health Organization is planning on classifying gaming addiction as a “gaming disorder” its update of the International Classification of Diseases, which caused multiple academics, self-regulatory bodies, and education advocates to preemptively reject the plan, pointing out both the lack of research to justify the classification as well as the potential for harm.
“We do not support WHO in this classification scheme in the strongest possible terms,” the Higher Education Video Game Alliance (HEVGA) wrote earlier this week, arguing the WHO is “jumping to premature conclusions” that will scapegoat and stigmatize gaming. The ESA flat-out called it reckless. An academic in games research whom we’ve consulted with in the past suggested to us that the news came off as “moral panic-y.”
But WHO appears to be sticking to its guns. GamesIndustry.biz spoke to a representative for WHO, who reportedly claimed to the publication that “there is increasing and well-documented evidence of clinical relevance of these conditions and increasing demand for treatment in different parts of the world.”
Good news, Ascent: Infinite Realm! The future of Kakao’s international plans and possible acquisition of western development studios hinges upon your success! Not that the publisher behind Black Desert is hurting for cash or anything; no, it’s a simple matter of seeing whether or not lightning can strike twice. The international success of the latter title was considered a surprise, but if A:IR exceeds expectations, a recent interview with CEO Min Kim suggests that the publisher may look into more western development studios to purchase.
Of course, this is not something that the company expects to know for some time, as A:IR is not expected to have a full release until 2019, but the suggestion of the future is still there. The current belief is that quality sells internationally, compared to the prevailing Korean notion that breaking into other markets is difficult at best. If you’d like to see more products bankrolled by Kakao, then, you may want to keep a close eye on A:IR’s performance as it moves into beta testing.
Is gaming addiction a thing worthy of its own classification? The World Health Organization is thinking about saying yes in its update of the International Classification of Diseases. The Electronic Software Association, predictably, says heck no. Now, the Higher Education Video Game Alliance has weighed in with a big no too, expressing “dismay” at the WHO’s stated intentions and suggesting that the classification won’t actually “combat cases of abuse rooted in individual behavior” but will “stigmatize a pastime that billions of players enjoy without issue around the world” and “warp continued research.”
“We do not support WHO in this classification scheme in the strongest possible terms,” the group’s press release says, suggesting classifications amount to “jumping to premature conclusions” and willful “scapegoating.”
“We’ve watched as games are repeatedly blamed in today’s world for violence, childhood obesity, failures in educational policy, and a host of other contemporary issues, despite both a lack of evidence and careful consideration of other, often far more powerful, systemic forces that contribute to societal behavior. Games are commonly referred to as ‘addictive’ despite numerous conflicting studies and a clear lack of consensus from the scientific and medical communities.”
Add two more to the sunset list: Perfect World announced last month that it will sunset the international versions of six-year-old War of the Immortals and Battle of the Immortals next week.
“It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the shutdown of all War of the Immortals (WOI) server on January 9th, 2018. On that day, your WOI character will no longer be accessible. All WOI payments from September 1st, 2017 through December 14th, 2017 @ 11 AM PT will be converted into Arc credit and allocated to your account. These credits can be used in any of the other PWE games. Arc Points between this same time period will also be refunded to your account. Your Arc credit and Arc points will be distributed before the end of next week. Thank you for your loyalty to War of the Immortals over the last six years.”
The Battle of the Immortals site has a similar message in regard to the closure and compensation. Neither gives an explanation for the cease in game operation.
. With thanks to Nicholas.
No one will be surprised by Riot Games’ latest e-sports video. Riot Games really likes e-sports. Indeed, Riot Games believes e-sports are real sports.
“Not just a sport. Our sport,” reads the tagline.
All the skeptical mainstream media quoted in the video can’t change the fact that Riot’s position is fast becoming the norm. You’ll recall that the International Olympic Committee has formally stated that it may consider e-sports a sporting activity, and the co-president of the Paris Olympic bid committee told the AP that the organization was considering bringing video gaming on board for the 2024 program in France. The 2022 Asian Games also announced e-sports as a medal event, citing the inclusion of e-sports at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games.