Diablo IV – What We Know So Far

You all have phones, right? Thankfully, unless you’re reading this on one, you can set it down. To uproarious applause, Blizzard-Activision released a darker, grittier, more visceral update to the franchise in it’s long awaited fourth entry. Diablo IV was announced earlier this month at Blizzcon, with steady streams of information trickling out as the days have rolled on. With three panels to summon from, and a trove of information released through tertiary interviews, we can finally and safely talk about what to expect out of the darker return to Sanctuary.

The announcement kicked off famously at the company’s trade show in a BIG way. Featuring a ten-minute cinematic of some of the darkest, most gore-drenched detail Blizzard has ever displayed. Invoking an ancient rite in the pursuit of wealth and knowledge, three treasure hunters manage to birth Lilith, the demonic child of Mephisto and Daughter of Hatred, into the world. Unleashed upon a bleak world lost after the fall of Sanctuary, everything is ripe for a new age of hell to rise up from the dark depths.

It cannot be understated how much people have been looking forward to Diablo IV. Since an announcement during Diablo III’s season 14 production, alluding to multiple Diablo projects under work in, “Blizzard’s forges,” speculation has been rampant. This wasn’t teased well with the announcement of Diablo Immortal last year, as well as the PR mismanagement both during and long after Blizzcon 2018. It would later be discussed in a report by Jason Schreier of Kotaku that Blizzard had cancelled a Diablo IV announcement at the last possible moment, and further internal reports on it had been quashed company-wide. To say that applause at Blizzcon was deafening might be a mild understatement.

Diablo IV returns to it’s isometric routes as it has with previous installments in the RPG franchise. Instead of linear, chapter-based progression like previous installments, the team behind the dark dungeon despoiler instead promised an ‘open world.’ Following along the progression patterns of World of Warcraft: Legion, the game’s storylines can reportedly be completed in any order potential players desire. As seen in trailers, the open world can be traversed on foot, on horseback, and with friends.

While five classes are promised to ship with the base game, similar to the series’ previous entry. The barbarian returns from their rampage to save a defenseless Sanctuary in Diablo III, focusing on brutallistic melee combat. Relying on swirling steel and devastating power, his powers were showcased as ones returning fans will recognize; waves of damage from powerful blasts of his weapons. Roars of fury that increase his power and speed, even blazing runic armor to smite his foes.

Fresh from her adventures in Immortal, the Sorceress was the second announced class. With similar demoed playstyle to III’s Wizard, the Sorceress focuses on range and control to devastating effect. More tactical than her brutal brother, the Sorceress excels away from combat using elemental magic to deter and tactically destroy her opponents. From homing bolts of lightning to freezing icicle arrows and detonating fireballs.

Returning to the franchise with much fervor and cheers from Blizzcon attendees, the Druid was the final class to be announced at Blizzcon 2019. While sporting a more feral, ancient nordic design, his spell repertoire has been massively altered to fit the motif. Unlike his Diablo 2 counterpart, this Druid relies more on the feral and fearful aspects of nature. Doing away with elemental attacks, he instead relies on powerful shapeshifting magic. Showcased in the trailer with both a werewolf and werebear form, it’s more than likely this shapeshifting will become the central design point of the revamped class.

Together, these three will explore a far more open Sanctuary than ever before. Leaning heavier into its predecessors MMO-lite elements, Diablo IV will feature an always online persistent world. A constant internet connection will be required for it, though no solutions for a single-player or couch co-op experience have been detailed yet by Blizzard. While details are still vague, the company is intending to have the world littered with random player encounters, more in the vein of Dark Souls than World of Warcraft. As such, Blizzard has also confirmed Player vs. Player content for this new title after it being sorely missing from the previous entry. While details are still vague on the concept as a whole, the team confessed to restricting it to particular zones for players to slug it out.

What isn’t vague in Diablo IV is the confirmation of microtransactions. With each flagship Blizzard-Activision title currently including them in some form or another, it’s not surprising. In an interview with Quin69 lead game designer Joe Shely confirmed their inclusion. Initially trying to pass them off as additional expansions, he then confirmed, “you will also be able to acquire cosmetics in the game… It’s very early, but yes.”

But that really seems to be the theme to Diablo IV’s presentation at Blizzcon. It’s very early yet. Despite promises of cross-platform play between PS4, Xbox One and PC, Blizzard recanted to say that while it’s a goal its still VERY early yet. When questioned about a release date, the company promised quarterly updates in February 2020 but it was still too early yet to confirm anything solid. When asked about other features and classes the mantra became, “It’s very early yet.”

So what can we see for a projected launch window for Diablo IV? The answer, confusingly, is both ‘sooner,’ and ‘later.’

As most industry enthusiasts know: the next console generation IS coming. The Xbox Scorpio is well into its development cycle and leaks from Sony-America have cited a potential Holiday 2020 release window. In talking with indie developers at the Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo I was able to confirm that PS5 development kits are already being widely distributed to prop up the console’s launch. As we saw with Diablo III, however, Blizzard managed to launch their title for the Playstation 3, and later touched up a ‘Battlechest’ version for the PS4. It’s likely they could do the same again.

The best projection we have, currently, is an early 2021 launch. With rumors of Diablo IV having only been in moderate prototype status during its blockade of Blizzcon 2018, and now a limited announcement for 2019, an additional year-and-a-half window would be the optimal bare-minimum for the company. More than likely we’ll see Lilith return in March 2021, the start of the fiscal year and the year of Hatred in Sanctuary.

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WoW Wednesday: Recruit-A-Failure

Blizzard has had several large paradigm shifts in its business revenue schemes over the last few years. While some players attribute this to their buyout by Activision, Inc., and the subsequent change to Activision-Blizzard, Inc., others see it more as a change in this particular genre of our Video Game Industry. It’s hard to find an MMORPG that, whether or not it is a free-to-play MMO, has incorporated some level of what we now refer to as Microtransactions; costs outside of the base-game or expansion sets that players pay to unlock further content. Sometimes it’s as simple as a cosmetic mount, or skin. Other times it is indeed quite a large chunk of content.

The origins of Microtransactions in the Games Industry are hard to pin point. Some historians claim the idea bled off of Expansion Sets, extra developed content that now several games such as Warframe include in free updates. Others believe that, like the Free-To-Play game formula, were generated by the Mobile and Indie market to offer alternative revenue streams. Since its popularization, major game development studios and publishing branches, such as Gearbox Publishing and Gearbox Entertainment, have focused on targeting these microtransactions on the low percentile of its audience. Namely, customers with a high amount of capital, willing to invest more money into their favorite games. The popular term among industry executives for these individuals is the term, ‘Whales.’

Activision-Blizzard and Blizzard Entertainment have both experimented in this field several times before. Beginning with character services, such as recustomization or server transfers, it was relatively benign. Most (in)famously these days, the in-game shop which originated in Cataclysm is seen as the most egregious sin. While originally it contained pets and some mounts based on tested skeletons, these days the store updates itself with skins and creatures that are not obtainable by any means in game. Even if they use a previously released skeleton or model-rigging. The two most popular references to this are the newly released Sylvarian Dreamer mount and the Swift Windsteed mount introduced in Mists of Pandaria.

“[She] fell asleep on her brush, and dreamed of painting a beautiful feathered dragon. Her artwork lept from the page, and when she awoke, she found it sleeping gently beside her.” – Sylvarian Dreamer Mount Journal Entry

Unsurprisingly, microtransactions have become the main source of revenue for much of the Games Industry. Activision-Blizzard is no exception to this rule, as several insiders reported to multiple YouTuber Reporters such as Bellular and Taelisan and Evital that microtransactions are the company’s main revenue stream. Subscriptions overall have gone down over the years, even with the release of WoW Classic which has broken several records both in terms of subscriptions and internet interest. With the overall unsuccessful post-launch of Battle for Azeroth and multiple leaks in the Warcraft community about a future expansion, the hype is real for the next step in the story of Azeroth. It makes sense to want to increase subscriber numbers prior to the announcement of a new expansion, which could happen as early as Blizzcon 2019 in hopes of retaining those players with the promise of new things on the horizon.

Enter the Recruit-a-Friend program. World of Warcraft veterans will remember this program’s inception during Wrath of the Lich King as Blizzard’s response to dwindling subscription numbers. Designed to incentivize players to bring their friends into Azeroth, the RaF and Scroll of Resurrection programs gave players a referable link to send to their friends. Journeying together, players initially had the ability to summon their friends to their location, grant each other levels between 1 and 60, as well as have a 200% experience bonus. After their recruited friend had purchased three months of game time, the recruiting player could then choose one of several cosmetic rewards, either a mount or a pet. Over the years this collection grew further and further, and each time the RaF program dwindled in interest, Blizzard reworked it and relaunched.

This, all in all, was a good idea even after some well needed nerfs to the experience boost. I myself have coerced several of my friends to tour Azeroth with me when I was younger and reaped the rewards from it. The freedom to pick and choose what rewards you would like, such as the Emerald Hippogryph or the Cindermane Charger, gave the program something that felt optional and fun. These days I’ve also participated in the RaF program for convenience sake; having had to make my main account on the EU servers for personal reasons, I cannot purchase WoW tokens or engage in some character services with my Physical Canadian Address. As such, I can ‘recruit’ a new account, do as I wish, and reap the rewards afterwards. Other people I’ve recruited, such as younger friends, don’t feel indebted to stay for my rewards if they don’t get attached to the game after hitting max level and experiencing the content.

You can’t get much higher than the Cindermane Charger…

On June 11, 2019, Activision-Blizzard announced that the current incarnation of the Recruit-a-Friend program would come to an end. It’s hard to imagine why; after all, have you really even thought of this system before reading the headline of this article?

Yesterday, Blizzard announced its return. It was, if you look outside of the WoWhead forums, not received very well.

“I just hate how WoW is the only MMORPG that doesn’t seem to give a c*** about their veteran players.” – Nox-Executus(US)

Reintroducing several old systems, such as the experience increase of 50% when in a group and the Friend-to-Friend Summoning, this new system allows you to link your account with up to 10 friends. It also reintroduced aspects of the Scroll of Resurrection system, allowing you to recruit veteran players who haven’t had game time on their account for two years. This, on the surface, is an excellent idea when you couple it with World of Warcraft’s upcoming Party Sync feature. Using party sync, everyone becomes aligned to the same quest state, phase and level. Maximum level players who are down-leveled can earn rewards that scale up to their current level while playing with their newer friends.

I don’t think I really need to capitulate on how good of an idea this is on the surface. Say, as a veteran player, I recruit a friend who has never been through Azeroth. I, however, don’t feel like making a level one character to grind to maximum level, but with the new Heritage Armor system introduced with Allied Races, I could make a Highmountain Tauren Druid, Party Sync to my friend’s level and location, and play with them until we both reach maximum level. They get to experience Azeroth, I get to earn my own extra rewards and there is incentivized participation for everybody.

Then we come to the crux of the problem with this new Recruit-a-Friend system. As before, there are rewards to be had for bringing players into Azeroth. As a bonus, these rewards are cumulative, meaning that the more players I bring in, the more their overall game-time counts towards them. If Friend One only purchases one month before giving up, Friend Two may buy two more and get me that reward I want. The problem however, much like the current endgame, falls ultimately to a lack of player choice.

All of the rewards you see through the program’s new media presentation are attainable. However, they are only obtainable in a linear fashion, much like the current Player vs. Player Honor System.

Say Friend One buys a month of game time every month. Here’s what the breakdown looks like.

“The more friends you invite, the faster you’ll earn the rewards…” – Official Post

You are not misreading that. Every month or so you get a new reward, but it might most certainly not be the reward you want. Whereas in the previous system players got a free month of game time after Friend One purchased his first month, we don’t even get that much now. If we wanted a particular mount or pet, we also don’t get that now. While there are two mounts to get, you’ll be waiting three and six months for your two-person ground mount and two person flying mount respectively. If you wanted the cosmetic rewards for your character’s transmog you’ll be visiting the Ethereal Transmogrifiers at six, seven, ten and twelve months respectively. Even the system’s new title, and perhaps least appealing thing in the whole partition, is a four-month waiting period.

Now, to be fair, this is a cumulative system. You could either retain one friend for twelve months to unlock everything (including four free months of game time), or you could invite twelve friends who only have to pay for one month each. Each three months after the initial twelve your friends pay for you also get an additional month of free game time. The rewards just keep on giving!

If you are a veteran of Warcraft, or even just an adult player, you may have noticed a fundamental problem here. Most of us have either already recruited all of our real-life friends, or our friends simply do not have the time for Warcraft. I myself have fallen into a hole in that regard; even writing this weekly column takes up more of my time than I’d like! Working a job, pursuing other needs, or even just enjoying other hobbies stops us from getting more people into Azeroth. That’s simply a fundamental fact of life.

Now, what if, perhaps we wanted to look at doing what we did with the old RAF system? As I said above, on top of purchasing microtranscations from Activision-Blizzard in the past, I’ve also self-purchased the RaF program for other uses. Plenty of people multi-box their retail copies, others like to have two windows for multiple characters. If we calculate the total cost at the cheapest subscription rates that’s approximately $156 USD. Now, of course, in saying that, that isn’t all up front either; you can no longer purchase year-long subscriptions and instead can only buy 6-month recurring subscriptions. That means that even if you had the money up front, you’d still need to wait six months to claim ALL of your rewards if you only wanted to use ONE alt account.

The new RAF UI to manage your friends, invites and rewards.

What about using WoW Tokens? Now with the WoW Tokens, players can simply purchase their game-time by spending gold on the Auction House. Weighing out the prices on this aren’t too much better either; players who want to skip the time will be paying anywhere from 50,000 to 300,000 per month for game time. The average cost for a whole year through this system is 1.7 million gold, and that’s a conservative estimate. EU Players on average would need to spend 2.2 million to make the difference for their higher server economies.

For obvious reasons, this isn’t an overall positive system if you were recruiting friends or self-purchasing. Even if we wanted to skirt the obvious terrible additions (I’m looking at you, monkey), and touch the first tangible and ‘new’ reward, a reward not based on any other rigging in-game, the Stinging Sands will take you six months. And THAT is not even assured to be an entirely new effect as several of Battle for Azeroth’s effects have used assets from as early as Cataclysm. Even if we don’t account for that, it means you’ll be waiting ten months for a BACKPACK.

‘Why’ is perhaps the easiest question to ask when it comes to this new system. With its heavy lean to the Archaeology and Exploring themes among the various rewards, why weren’t some of these ideas incumbent to Warcraft’s most under-utilized profession, Archaeology? Ever since initial high-level rewards were attached to powerful end-game items in Cataclysm, interest in the profession has been dreadfully low. Why not introduce these rewards into a massive time-sink system, and come up with new rewards?

“Look the part of a grizzled outdoorsperson with this rugged appearance.” – Renowned Explorer’s Attire Description

In a segue to that notion, why not attack the Recruit-a-Friend system to the In-Game Store? Each month you can simply choose a reward from the in-game store. This incentivizes both those who want to recruit friends as well as those who use RaF for personal use; a subscription is certainly far less than a store mount. While the store is negatively perceived overall throughout the community, it would have encouraged some of the rewards through the storefront while allowing those who selectively wanted to purchase them another method of getting them. It wouldn’t even be the first time in recent memory they’ve done such a thing, including their 15th anniversary Collector’s-Only mounts, the Alabaster Thunderwing and Stormtalon.

Consequently, why not a cross-over promotion with one of Blizzard’s other titles? It’s occurred several times before with the launch of Hearthstone, the release of Diablo III, and a still-ongoing promotion with Heroes of the Storm rewarding a battle-pet for reaching level 25 in the company’s slowly suiciding MOBA. With the largely ignored launch of its card-game’s newest expansion Saviors of Uldum, an adventure featuring several tomb-delving members of the Explorer’s League, this was a prime opportunity to include some of these items in an event to generate interest.

The real question we should be asking, is who does this hurt? Clearly, on a surface level, reintroducing such an unfriendly version of the Recruit-a-Friend system doesn’t really injure anyone currently playing. At least anyone who hasn’t been playing for a serious amount of time. Directly, this impacts anyone who joined from June 11th, until whenever the new system is introduced. While there are small outliers who will feel the effects, such as spouses and siblings, this will disproportionally affect players returning for Classic.

With the intent of a subscription carrying both the ability to play the Live and Classic versions of World of Warcraft, every single player who resubbed to play the Vanilla callback can no longer participate in the program. As veteran accounts can only be recruited if they are dormant for two years, every current Classic player who rejoined to experiment with their friends is, quite frankly, dang out of luck. Even if five percent of total viewers on Twitch’s record-breaking release were already subscribed or resubscribed to play, that’s 305,000 players disqualified from the program.

Imagine being a player in this line and still getting screwed by not waiting long enough.

This also negatively effects Blizzard’s own internal design teams and concepts. While this has been a point long argued about the storefront’s premium models, this now transcends to older design concepts that were scrapped. In the press-release for Warlords of Draenor, it was teased that players would receive class-specific appearance items. These would be equippable like the Relics from Vanilla of yore, minus the additional stats. This system was quietly shuffled away and thought to be cancelled, which as the new Renowned Explorer’s Rucksack shows, is confirmed. After all, if it’s just a transmog for your cloak, why would we need a new cosmetic system?

Ironically, or not so ironically, we now have to also talk about another group that most main-game players do not often think about. This system’s rewards also negatively effect Roleplayers, who have popularly asked for several of these items for a number of years. Despite how often this community is overlooked and how often several systems, including sharding and War Mode, have divided and split them apart again and again, they did get one small win with the last expansion. The Wardrobe and Ensemble features carried over from popular addons such as MogIt, centralized transmogrification appearances and introduced new equipment sets for players to achieve with another gameplay outside the main endgame. While this was universally lauded, the roleplay community, who often rely on props and cosmetic tools for their enjoyment, took to it like a swarm. Gating cosmetic content, even if it’s purely cosmetic, restricts their ability to enjoy their specific edge of the gameplay.

It’s clear that the timing on the new Recruit-a-Friend is targeted. Avoiding the game’s major uptick with the release of Classic by such a wide margin of time, nearly a month, is a clear deliberate tactic. In their attempt to maximize sales figures and revenue, Activision-Blizzard has continued to inconvenience a wider portion of their player base. At this point, its hard to be surprised with the company. From Overwatch’s lootboxes, to Heroes of the Storm’s cancelled e-sport circuit, to even the horrible treadmill of Warcraft’s current end game and entire expansion, the writing’s been on the wall for months.

If there’s a cheap and easy way to make extra money, even if it challenges the loyalty of their player base, Activision-Blizzard will take it. Perhaps we need to start Recruiting-a-Friend to look at other, greener pastures in the industry.

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MMO Money: A Week of Lawsuits and Nintendo Being Awesome

Lawsuits abound this week in the online gaming world with both Activision Blizzard and Epic Games the focus of new lawsuits. Meanwhile, Nintendo gives us a much-needed breath of fresh air with how they treat gamers and their employees. Bidding for Nexon is set to begin in April with the list of bidders reduced to just 5. Find all of this and more in this week’s MMO Money.


Nexon Shortlists Five Bidders for the Company

There has been quite a lot of interest in Nexon recently from major companies around the world including Disney, EA, Comcast, Tencent, and many others. But, Nexon has now lowered that list to just 5 bidders. Those five include Tencent and Kakao Corp. along with three private equity firms, Bain Capital, MBK Partners, and an unidentified firm. Quite significantly Netmarble isn’t included in this list. Netmarble had been putting together a consortium of Korean firms to bid together, believing that selling to an overseas company will damage the local games industry. In fact, this may be why we don’t see any Western-based interests in the shortlist. Bidding for the 98.64% share of Nexon that is expected to be worth as much as $13.3 billion is expected to begin in early April.


Source: Games Industry


Nintendo Asks Mobile Partners to Stop Players From Spending So Much

In a time when it seems like all game companies are after is your money Nintendo comes out and gives you a little bit of faith in the industry once more. The company is concerned with its self-image and has asked some of its mobile game development partners to adjust the microtransactions in their games so players are less likely to overspend. A source at CyberAgent, who owns the developers of Dragalia Lost told the Wall Street Journal, “Nintendo is not interested in making a large amount of revenue from a single smartphone game. If we managed the game alone, we would have made a lot more.”

This also comes less than a week after a recruitment page for Nintendo shed some light on what it’s like working for the company. The average salary is ¥9.03 million, that’s $80,000, employees can potentially get bonuses in June and December plus a pay increase every April. The average workday at Nintendo is seven hours and forty-five minutes long. As if all of that doesn’t already sound amazing full-time employees stay at the company for an average of 13.5 years. Anyone familiar with the games industry in the West will know that developers tend not to stay in one company for very long. If you’re interested in knowing more about that check out this article from Polygon.

From a personal point of view both of these pieces of news make me more likely to look at Nintendo games and support what they’re doing. Their views and the way they treat their employees is a breath of fresh air in the games industry today.


Source: Wall Street Journal, Games Industry



Vivendi Sells Remaining Ubisoft Shares

Ubisoft Joins Forces With Horror Movie Studio

Its been almost a year since Vivendi announced it was going to stop trying to acquire Ubisoft and finally the remaining shares it had in the company have been sold. The remaining shares it had was about 5% of the company, €429 million.

At one point in time, Vivendi owned a 27.3% stake in the company and though its attempts to own the company completely failed they did bring in about €2 billion, a capital gain of €1.2 billion. Though they failed to achieve their original goal you can hardly call the entire thing a failure. I’d love to fail my way to €2 billion, that’s about $2.2 billion USD. Vivendi has stated that they will honor their agreement and not buy shares in Ubisoft for at least 5 years.

Vivendi had previously owned Activision Blizzard but it sold the company to an investment group led by Bobby Kotick and Brian Kelly for $8.2 billion. That deal pushed Vivendi out of the games industry for 3 years until it bought its way back in with a hostile takeover of Gameloft.


Source: Games Industry


A New Law firm is Encouraging Shareholders to Sue Activision Blizzard Over Bungie Split

Another law firm is inviting shareholders to join in a class action lawsuit against Activision Blizzard, accusing the company of misleading shareholders over the end of its partnership with Bungie. The firm’s loss submission form makes the following claims:

Activision failed to disclose that “the termination of Activision Blizzard and Bungie’s partnership… was imminent”

That this termination “would foreseeably have a significant negative impact on Activision Blizzard’s revenues.”

And as a result “Activision Blizzard’s public statements were materially false and misleading at all times.”

Activision Blizzard previously said that the split from Bungie was because Destiny 2 failed to meet financial expectations. But in a recent SEC filing, the company recognized $164 million in revenue from Destiny for 2018 as a result of the split.

This comes at a time when shareholders for Activision Blizzard aren’t too happy with the company. They’ve had to warn investors that cutting hundreds of jobs (800 in total) may damage the company. They even went so far as to say there can be “no assurance that our business will be more efficient or effective” than it was before this new strategy.

Why can’t you be more like Nintendo?


Source: Games Industry


Man Sues Epic Games Over Predatory Loot Boxes

While we’re on the topic of lawsuits we should mention that Epic Games is being sued, yet again. This time though it isn’t because they used a dance in their game, instead it’s over allegations that Epic Games has engaged in predatory schemes with loot boxes in Fortnite. They allege that Epic intentionally designed Save the World to hinder player’s progress if they didn’t spend real money. They also say that Epic has “made a fortune on in-game purchases, preying in large part on minors who are especially susceptible to such predatory tactics.” The lawsuit accuses Epic of violating California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, and Unfair Competition Law.

What the lawsuit doesn’t mention though is that since January Epic Games now shows the contents of loot llamas in Save the World before they’re purchased with V-Bucks. So it is possible that the lawsuit won’t go anywhere since they’ve already made changes to the areas that the lawsuit covers.


Source: Games Industry

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Apex Legends Beats Fortnite Viewership Record on Twitch

If you’ve been paying any attention to the gaming world for the last week you know that Apex Legends is the hot new thing. Well, when Apex Legends beats Fortnite for single-day viewership on Twitch then you know it’s worth taking a look at. This is exactly what happened on February 12th during the Twitch Rivals event. On that day Apex Legends was watched for 8.28 million hours. This beats Fortnite’s highest record by 1.2 million! Keep in mind, this happened just 8 days after Apex Legends launched.

To say that Apex Legends is a success would be a huge understatement. It only took the game 8 hours to get its first million unique players. By 72 hours old the game had more than 1 million concurrent players and 10 million lifetime players.

Apex Legends happened to come at exactly the right time. We’ve seen that Fortnite has been slowing down the last few months. There hasn’t been much growth month on month and there has been a lot of talk of boredom amongst players. So Apex Legends was a great place for those who weren’t entirely happy with Fortnite anymore. But, there is, of course, the question of if this kind of growth is sustainable or not. It’s all well and good to have 10 million lifetime players in the first week, but what is that number going to look like in a month? Two months? We’ll just have to wait and see.

In fact, since Apex Legends’ Valentine’s Day update which introduced some costly cosmetics, there have been a lot of voices of concern in the player base. Some of the weapon cosmetic items cost $10 which is quite high, too high for many people. Conversations are taking place across Twitter and Reddit expressing concern over the future of the game if cosmetics are going to continue to be so expensive. As a free to play game Apex Legends needs those sales, but they won’t get them if the price is too high. There’s also concern that ultimately Apex Legends is an EA game and EA doesn’t have a fantastic track record when it comes to monetization. For now, we can only hope that they realize the mistake quickly and fix it before it starts to damage the bottom line.


Source: Gamasutra, Kotaku

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Anthem Interview: Taking Flight with the Development of Anthem

The wide world of Anthem has long since been in the works by Bioware’s ambitious Edmonton, Canada studio. Boasting a wide open reactive world, engaging gunplay and a story true to the grandeur of Bioware titles past, Anthem is a game destined for greatness. Despite this, however, information on the world of Bastion and its Freelancer defenders has been incredibly scarce, and questions from players have long since gone unanswered. I got the opportunity to travel to EA’s California offices and sit down with Scylla Costa, one of the Producers working on Anthem to talk about its development, player co-operation and the road map for launch and beyond.


With Bioware we have seen a bit of a change when it comes to Anthem in it being an always-online live service game, where as we’ve had strict multiplayer modes with other games like Mass Effect: Andromeda and Dragon Age: Inquisition. Why the transition to a live service game?

That’s a very good question. If you look at the history of Bioware you can see that we have been trying different stuff for a long time. We had Baldur’s Gate which was an isometric game that you could play in multiplayer if you had a LAN. Then we went to Neverwinter Nights which also had multiplayer but also had the mod aspect with user generated content. Then we jumped into the console with say Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire. Then from there we went to the Mass Effect and Dragon Age series, so we had a sci-fi cover shooter and a fantasy RPG with very different styles. Then finally Star Wars: The Old Republic which is an MMO for PC. So actually, if you look around you can see that we have been always trying something different and doing different things.

Anthem, maybe if you just look back one game or two, it may look like a big change but we have been changing [over time]. And the reason is also every time we’re creating a new [intellectual property] we need to look into the future. A new IP doesn’t get made in one year it takes maybe five years or more. When we finished Mass Effect 3 we started to think about Anthem and what was going to be Anthem and what kind of game we were going to do in five years. Just to remember now, five years ago we didn’t have Fortnite, Twitch wasn’t what it is today, so the way the players and consumers consumer their entertainment has changed a lot. Even Netflix has changed a lot! So you kind of have to try and project in that time-frame of five years, what kind of game do we want to make, what kind of game do we need to be playing in five years?

We wanted, going back to your question, to make a game that was an open world, that was also easy for me to jump in and out of so a seamless co-op experience with my friends, I could play by myself if I wanted to and we wanted to tell a story that wasn’t science nor fantasy but kind of sci-fantasy. We wanted to have a world that you could go outside and see a jungle and you go, “Oh, yeah, that looks like Earth!” But suddenly you have a Shaper ruin and there’s Ursics in your face trying to kill you and you go, “Woah this is NOT Earth! Where am I? What is that ruin? What activates these relics? What mysteries are hidden out there in the world?” Specifically, for the game of Anthem, we wanted to create also an antagonist, so we have The Monitor who leads the Dominion coming in from the north. That’s the enemy you need to protect humanity from.

What has Bioware, as a studio, faced in terms of difficulties and challenges in developing a live-service game like this?

Well first of all it’s a new IP. Creating a new IP is always hard because you don’t know the right answer or the wrong answer. If you’re doing a sequel, like we did with Mass Effect for example or Dragon Age, you can reach out to your consumer base; you can ask what they like, you can see the interviews, see the reviews of the game and try to build on the strengths you have while fixing the weaknesses. In our case, with a new IP, there is no right or wrong answer and that’s the biggest challenge. How do we create a new world that is fantastic and at the same time you want to explore but it’s super dangerous? How do you make people want to be there? How do we make people feel when they have a Javelin that they’re controlling they have all those super powers that make you feel very different from any other game? All the verticality that we have in the game as well, that’s something we tried really hard to make so that when you fly it simply feels really good to fly. We wanted you to have fun just traversing and exploring the world as well.


With [Anthem] being a multiplayer game, there are certain features that players expect going into it. One of them, which was confirmed by a tweet from one of the Executive Producers several weeks ago, was that [item] trading was not going to be available at launch. Was this an oversight or was this more due to focusing on single-player aspects of the game?

It was a design decision not having trade at launch. We wanted to make sure that progression wasn’t going to be short-cut. Let’s say that I’m playing with you and another two friends and you give me a super powerful Masterwork weapon. Let’s say I’m level 2 and you’re level 30 and suddenly I’ve got a level 30 weapon, it’s really going to short-cut everything. We’ve seen that happen with other games and we wanted to avoid that problem. We wanted to make sure that everybody would have meaningful loot every time they play. So, if I’m a Level 2 and you’re playing with me as a Level 30 every time I go out I’m going to find loot that is reasonable for my level just as you will find loot that is reasonable for yours. You can still help me level up and you’re still going to find stuff that is reasonable for you, even on the same mission.


With that ability to drop in and drop out, with people of different levels, is that more of the loot is set at that that player’s particular level?

Yes, it’s set based off of the player’s Pilot Level.

So character power isn’t dynamically scaled in such a sense?

Well, we scale the game in many different ways. If you’re playing together, we try to scale the [encounter] based on how many players are in your group, so you can play it alone if you want. The number of enemies you’d expect to be different if you were playing with a four player group, otherwise it would simply be too easy for the four player group. We can scale the waves of enemies, how tough they are, the types of enemies; so a group of four may see an Elite where as a [solo player] may not. We can also play around with the dynamic of the world as well, with how depending on the area of the world and the weather we can change what kind of creatures can spawn. If you’re playing in a group you may come across a bigger enemy like an Ash Titan for example, but if you’re playing alone we’re not going to make you fight that Ash Titan by yourself. We can play with many different variables so as to always make a challenge for you without making it completely punishing.


With a lot of live service games, especially with the introduction of the Steam Early Access model and development continuing post launch, there are some concerns among consumers that Anthem will be light on some features at launch, particularly with character customization and agency. What will players have access to personalize their character and immerse themselves into the world?

Let’s go first to personalization. For us, that is changing the materials of everything that you have [to customize your Javelin]. You can change the type of material which will give you a different look, the color of those materials, you can apply vinyls over them. You can also have different pieces of armor, for example different shoulders, helmets, legs. For the Storm you can have a different cape. There are many different things you can change about your character, even the animations you can use in the world or as a victory pose animation. We give you all of those personalization options and they are all cosmetic. You can acquire all of them just by playing the game and using the in-game currency. The more you play, the more you get, and you can spend it on whatever you want.

You also have player agency in terms of the equipment loadouts. You can have the same Javelin, say a Colossus for example, that can work as a tank. You can pull aggro, pull enemies to you, use your shield have a flamethrower. But you can also, because you want to, have a loadout that has a Sniper Rifle with an artillery gear slot that can fire from really far away to act as a support for your group. So we’re really giving the player the agency to choose how does he want to play with whatever Javelin suit he has.


Now let’s jump tracks for a moment and talk about the economy in Anthem. Now one of the Executive Producers, Mark Darrah, has said that the economy that players are going to see in the public demo for Anthem is going to be vastly different than what we’ll see in the final game. What are players going to see in that final release in February?

So for Anthem in terms of the economy, the demo was created quite a few weeks ago and therefore while it is a slice of the final game, we have been tweaking and iterating on the economy since then. We did find out that we need to make some changes in regards to the curve in which you gain experience. We also made changes to the amount of in-game currency you get, the prices of items in the store. We had to balance those out so that we could have a better experience overall. We always have the philosophy that we want to be fair to the consumer, to the player, making sure that, as long as they play, they always feel rewarded by playing because you’re going to have enough coins to get that cosmetic you wanted to buy. It’s not going to be like, “You’ve gotta play forever to buy that one thing.” We wanted to make sure it’s always fair for the player to do so. Of course there are different items, with different rarities and different prices but we have been tweaking a lot. That’s what Mark Darrah meant when he said the economy from the demo is different, because we’ve been tweaking it a lot over the last few weeks.

Right now we are aware of the fact there is a premium currency in Anthem. Are we going to see any other potential revenue streams introduced into Anthem post-launch?

At launch we’re just gonna have the cosmetic stuff. Post-launch it will really depend on the feedback we get from our consumers and from the players. We have a team in Austin that has been working on an MMO the last six years, Star Wars: The Old Republic. We developed Anthem with Bioware Edmonton and Bioware Austin. Bioware Austin is going to be responsible for taking the live service further, so I’m very comfortable about that, I’m very happy about that. I know they have the experience to listen to the feedback and change the plans according to that feedback. So according to what the players want to see in the game, we may have different stuff.

What’s the road-map for Anthem looking like post-launch?

There are a lot of things coming post-launch. We have many different teams who have been working on that stuff for a few weeks already, so you can see different cosmetic items, different creatures, maybe a new region to explore! You’ll have different events, different weather states. Anthem is a dynamic world; if you have rain right now it applies to your jets you can fly for longer as it cools down your jets. You can use electricity and therefore create larger effects. Try to imagine that we can create different weather states and apply that so not only are new parts of the world going to behave differently, but old parts of the world as well. If it’s day or if it’s night some creatures may show up or may be more powerful. We can play with all of these variables and create a new narrative for the game.

There was a lot of disappointment in the potential playerbase when it was announced that Anthem would not contain any Player vs. Player content at launch. Is that something that’s going to be incorporated into the game post-launch?

Like you said, PvP is not available for launch but it’s going to depend on the feedback that we get from the playerbase.


Bosses in Anthem don’t have a set loot table. When it comes to endgame player progression, particularly in gearing up your Javelin, is there a method for players to target specific pieces of equipment they are looking for?

Yes. In Anthem, specifically for the endgame, we want to give players the ability to craft their own weapons and gear. The way that we do that is you have Challenges, which will give you the blueprints for those Masterwork items. Now you can craft those masterwork items and in order to craft them you’re going to have to collect those resources through missions or freeplay, which will give you more resources. Once you have those items you can go back, craft your Masterwork items and now that you’re more powerful you can go into those missions and get even more powerful rewards.

There’s been discussion about Pilot Skill Trees and further progression after the end-game. Can you explain that a little bit and what impact that will have in terms of player power at the end of the game?

This is a very good question, but honestly I would prefer to keep that one for live. There are some things we want to do in live, exactly for the end-game and how we want Pilot Skills to show up. So we’re gonna keep that one for live for now.


Many thanks to Scylla Costa for sitting down with us to talk about Anthem and its development cycle beyond its upcoming release on February 22nd.

The post Anthem Interview: Taking Flight with the Development of Anthem appeared first on MMOGames.com.

Guild Wars 2 Gems Cannot be Bought by Belgian Players

While it’s not clear whether this is associated with the country’s recent stance on loot boxes or not, what is clear is that Guild Wars 2 Gems apparently cannot be bought by Belgian players in an unannounced change to the MMO’s monetization scheme.

guild wars 2 gems

The issue was first reported by players on the game’s forums this past Friday, but a Reddit post expanded on the issue, stating that the issues have been occurring since this past Wednesday, September 19th.

Belgian players who connect to Guild Wars 2 via VPN and try to buy Gems that way have experienced no such restrictions. In addition, the country has been completely removed from the list of billing locations from the game’s storefront on its website. All of this seems to lend weight to the idea that the country is blocking the transactions as a result of their heightened awareness of loot boxes and their relation to the country’s gambling laws.

At the time of this writing, there’s no official word from ArenaNet about the issue, but we’ll be sure to update this story if there’s any confirmation or other official announcement.

Our Thoughts

While we still agree with the many moves being made against loot boxes, we do have to wonder what this means for Belgian players and for Guild Wars 2 in the country. Presumably, there will be some new form of monetization arriving to those players so they can continue to offer their monetary support to the MMO. Details are likely to come later.

Source: PCGamesN

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MMO Money: Huge Disappointment for Tencent

Seed has raised more than 8 million dollars for development of the unique MMO, while Niantic has acquired another game studio. Fortnite is still making more money than anyone could ever count, but a massive mobile game from China has turned into a huge disappointment for Tencent. Plus, we have more lootbox news, which includes some very interesting statistics that show most players don’t care about them at all.


Klang Raises $8.75 million for space MMO Seed

Space colony MMO Seed has an extra $8.75 million to work with for the development of the game thanks to recent fundraising efforts. This brings the total the studio has raised for the game up to $13.95 million, thanks to a previous funding round in March. Speaking about the latest funding Klang’s CEO Mundi Vondi said: “We’re truly humbled to have secured the Series A for the development of Seed, a project that we believe will play an integral role in the next generation of social simulations. We are honored to share our vision with Northzone, and are more excited than ever to tackle this very ambitious project.”


Fornite Earned $1 Billion From In-Game Purchases Alone

Yes, Fortnite has become one those topics we’re covering every week and starting next week we’re going to lump all the Fortnite news into one section. This week thankfully we only have one thing to talk about, and that is that Fortnite has earned 1 billion dollars just from in-game purchases. Monthly revenue for the game has done nothing but climb since October as shown by the graph above. In May viewers watched almost 700 million hours of battle royale content, 83% of that was Fortnite. More on Fortnite coming soon…


“Coming Soon” No Longer Allowed in German Preorders

star citizen like eve online

A recent court ruling in Germany may have a ripple effect around the world as it was declared that using vague terms like “coming soon” in preorders isn’t allowed. Part of the ruling said: “in the view of the judges, this information was too vague to comply with the statutory information obligation of the providers. According to this, potential customers should know before the end of the ordering process how long the delivery time will be at the maximum.” Exactly what this means for the future of gaming isn’t clear yet but it could possibly put an end to vague release dates, Kickstarter claims, and much more.


Video Game Kickstarters Equal Almost $10 million So Far in 2018

ICO Partners have put out their regular report on Kickstarter campaigns for video games which shows that video game Kickstarters have brought in $9.82 million so far this year. That’s up just $400,000 from the same period last year. This was in fact done with fewer Kickstarter campaigns than in previous years, just 723, the lowest first half of the year since 2012. Kickstarter is generally seeing a bit of a slowdown when it comes to video games, as people are learning how difficult it is to put a successful campaign together.


Niantic Acquires Seismic Games

Just last week we were talking about Pokemon Go creators Niantic acquiring a company and now here we are with another, their fourth acquisition in recent months. This time they have acquired Seismic Games, the makers of Marvel Strikeforce and VR experience Blade Runner: Revelations. John Hanke, the CEO said this in a statement: “We recently gave a peek under the hood of the Niantic Real World Platform, and we see the addition of Seismic Games as a significant accelerant for realising our vision of an operating system that bridges the digital and the physical worlds. At Niantic, we’re committed to our mission of motivating people to exercise, be social, and discover new places. We’re confident that Seismic Games will help us deliver on that mission – faster, and better.” All of these acquisitions are putting Niantic in position for a lot of awesome in the future which makes you wonder, what are they coming up with next?


Mobile Game Spending Up in the First Half of 2018

Mobile game revenue is up 19% in the first half of 2018 in the App Store and Google Play. App Store spending was about $6 billion higher than Google Play. Combined, the estimate is that global spending on the two platforms was at $26.6 billion. That’s a 19.1% increase year on year. One thing that may have an impact on Google Play’s revenue is that it isn’t available in China, at all. Also, many Android apps are available in third-party stores which isn’t the case for iOS. The top grossing games across both stores were Honor of Kings, Monster Strike, and Fate/Grand Order. But, PUBG mobile was the most downloaded. All of this just goes to show that mobile gaming is here to stay and there’s a lot of money to be had.


Arena of Valor Revenue Passes $3 million in 7 Months

Arena of Valor

Its only been 7 months since Arena of Valor launched in the west and in that time they’ve brought in $3 million. For any other game that would be fantastic, but Arena of Valor is Tencent’s Honor of Kings, one of the most successful mobile games at the moment. The Chinese version of the game has 200 million players and in 2017 brought in $1.9 billion in revenue. The founder of Sensor Tower, the intelligence firm who released this information spoke about the launch of the game and why they think it’s underperforming. “Arena of Valor launched in the US just as the battle royale craze was beginning to heat up, with Fortnite hitting mobile three months later-and subsequently dominating the time and wallets of the very users Tencent’s MOBA is gunning for. Undeterred, the publisher has continued to build out the game in the West, adding new modes, content, and characters, most recently the eagerly anticipated debut of Batman as a playable hero.” All fair points…also, Batman will be playable? Where do I sign up?



A patch was introduced to CS:GO for Dutch and Belgian players that locks containers, making it so you can’t open lootboxes in those countries. In June, Valve disabled item trading in the Netherlands in response to the threat of prosecution from the Dutch Gaming Authority. At the time they also said they hoped to fight it, now it seems that item trading is back but lootboxes may be gone for good.

A survey of gamers from the UK, France, Germany, and Spain has revealed that the majority of gamers are either unaware of lootboxes or largely indifferent to them. According to the survey, only 27% of gamers in these countries are aware of lootboxes. When it comes to general consumers that number drops to 17%. When asked if lootboxes are a positive influence on the games industry, 29% had no opinion while only 25% thought they don’t. In question after question, the respondents showed they had very little opinion on lootboxes at all. It would seem that those talking about them and thinking about them often are in the vocal minority.

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Microtransactions Data Before You Buy: Microtransaction.zone

These days it can be harder than ever to know how much a game might cost. The box price doesn’t always let you know what else might be out there, what hidden transactions are laying in wait to snare you and this can make it hard to know if you’re getting your money’s worth.

Of course, where possible, MMOGames will mention what we can, but two industrious people by the names of Simon and Taylor have set out to make it easier still to work out what you might possibly want to know about a game.

Leveraging the Giant Bomb API and some other third party tools, Simon and Taylor have created MICROSTRANSACTION.ZONE for giving people all the microtransaction information they can. Or as the lads themselves put it, “how badly various video games are sticking their dick in it when it comes to monetization.”

Microtransactions Data Before You Buy: Microtransaction.zone

Each game that is on the site comes with a very clear guide beneath showing which of the ten categories they have created apply to a given game.

You get this at-a-glance view telling you what you need to know quickly:

  • Spotless (No Monetized Content)
  • Free to Play (No Cost of Entry)
  • Expansive Expansions (Expansion Packs)
  • Horse Armor (Cosmetic/Frivolous DLC)
  • It’s Not Gambling, We Swear (Loot Boxes & Other Randomized DLC)
  • Infinite Money Hole (No Spending Cap)
  • It’s Not Just Cosmetic (Gameplay-Altering DLC)
  • Time Is Money (Pay-To-Skip)
  • But First, You’ll Need a Contract (Subscriptions)
  • Batteries Not Included
  • Table for One (Standalone Single Player)

Picking a game at random, we’ll go with Guild Wars 2 where they have it tagged for the Free to Play through Time Is Money options, which really does encapsulate Guild Wars 2. There’s no subscription which is the norm in MMOs these days but for a new player it might be nice to know at a glance, and there’s no single player.

The Batteries Not Included category is something you’ll typically see used where games have toy interactions like with the Nintendo Amiibo. Then again, I would gleefully buy any Skritt statues in person that might somehow delete all Quaggan from the world of Tyria but that might not be for everyone.

Taking another MMO, let’s try Black Desert Online.

Horse Armor, It’s Not Gambling, We Swear, Infinite Money Hole, and It’s not Just Cosmetic all apply to Black Desert and the categories fit well. It does beg the question whether their MMO selection would benefit from a buy to play tag for the at a glance viewing, but in reality, no Free to Play tag should tell you that you will need to put money down. Spot an MMO you like without Free to Play or But First, You’ll Need a Contract and you know you have a single purchase game like Black Desert Online on your hands.

If you want a good example of a game that they rate Spotless, i.e. “You buy the game, you own the game—full stop.” You need look no further than Stardew Valley which is everything in one game at one price, including the new multiplayer mode we have reviewed for you.

Personally, I have a lot of time for this tool and the efforts of the MICROTRANSACTIONS.ZONE team. Partially because I love the quick reference guide and efforts that have been put in to make it quick and clear to get a handle on it, and partially because I am amused that it’s always supposed to be referred to in all caps like LEGO. That and it reminds me of the sorts of sites that used to grow up around MMOs with little to no prompting. We have here two people putting their coding skills to use and trying to make other peoples lives just a little easier. In fact, if you are interested in their efforts, they have been laying out things on their blog regarding accessibility, security and the thinking around what tags they do and do not use.

The Game Awards 2016

In an ideal world, this sort of website would not be necessary. As it is, you may see review sites start to work with them or adapt their categories to try and better inform consumers. These days there is a constant issue with DLC making its way into games that should otherwise be complete experiences like with the Star Wars Battlefront 2 debacle or you have other games like Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery going in heavy on microtransactions and handicapping their gameplay in the hopes of getting people to shell out.

If things continue down this line, and to be honest they don’t look like they’re stopping really despite what EA claims about Anthem in our future, MICROTRANSACTION.ZONE and other tools aimed more at consumer advocacy will be invaluable.

Ideally, DLC would only ever be in the Horse Armor category. A nice addition or skin that does nothing but let you look a little different or do something silly. Failing that, it could be like the recent Mercy skin with proceeds going to charity. Ideally, in some gamer utopia, DLC would only ever be a little added spice. Instead, it is now a pervasive part of the gaming landscape, and hugely lucrative at that.

There is, of course, a reason for developers to try and monetize games. Bills sadly do not pay themselves, but there is occasionally a blatant gulf between some developers getting paid for their hard work and some publishers shaking down customers for cash. Until we can find the happy middle ground, a type of game development and game consumption that could almost be called sustainable gaming, we will have to keep on being vigilant.

If you have the money to burn and don’t care, enjoy the fine Infinite Money Holes on offer throughout gaming. If you’re worried about a great title possibly hiding costs behind the glossy case or slick YouTube trailer then, for now, MICROTRANSACTION.ZONE will be invaluable to you. Of course, you could always take some of that money you have saved on an ill-advised purchase and donate to the developers via their page here.

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Should Developers Be More Upfront About MMO Costs?

There is a sort of shared common knowledge about the free-to-play market for massively multiplayer games. It is one of those things passed around as “everyone knows”. Specifically, it is the fact that a small core of players in any given free-to-play title are supporting the rest.
There will be no judgment of that fact here. Not of the players who do not spend nor of the players who throw around large amounts on in-game items and stores. There’s enough going on in the microtransaction space to keep various YouTube stars and columnists in business for a while. In a way, those microtransactions, bought or not, are paying for content for you to enjoy.
MMO Costs
We’re going to focus on a recent Twitter thread by a game developer that highlighted the fact that only around 2% of a free-to-play gamers pay for items in the store when looked at en masse. That 2% enables the other 98% to play. Personally, I think that’s amazing. Not to the point where I would myself laud the spenders as somehow above the other players, but I do think it’s fantastic that there is a threshold. A point at which enough players buying the skins or boosts or convenience items ensures that the game continues.

The thing is, I wonder why we haven’t seen an MMO try to make the leap from a “social game” to almost a socialist one. This isn’t politics 101 so we won’t get caught up on which label applies best. Why isn’t there a game out there that is upfront (let’s call it upfront rather than honest as I do not want to imply dishonesty on the part of those games we enjoy) about the costs.
MMOs are not cheap propositions, neither in development nor in execution. The various MMOs that have popped up on Kickstarter all have, as they should for different projects, different funding goals. However, this leaves us, the armchair developers, woefully unable to judge exactly how much it takes to make a game and get it out in front of people. How much of the development of City of Titans is paid for, for example, and how much of it is an ongoing labor of love in spare moments here and there? How can Star Citizen, which has gathered a small mountain of cash, not yet have a game ready and out the door?
MMO Costs
We can’t know ourselves without some experts chiming in because for all the new tools making games development cheaper, easier, more welcoming to indies and hobbyists, we can’t know what figures are needed to get a game off the ground until we try. Nor am I suggesting that fans start a habit of directly funding the development and paychecks of people for a brand new game that may, due to the vagaries of the industry, never see the light of day.
In a way, I suppose I could be accused of slightly, and I do mean slightly, pining for the days of subscription fees. However, we all know from experience that those fees have kept some of our friends out from games before. Sometimes it’s enough of an ordeal to get a buy-to-play game and swallow the box price to test a game that you may not even enjoy.
Free trials and weekends do a lot to mitigate that, and I think the industry has a good handle on how to bring in new players and make the taste test as palatable as possible.
MMO Costs
I would like to see a game though that I could play, enjoy and then know absolutely how they were doing. Have enough of us bought the latest skin pack to keep things afloat? Are we all paid up on server costs? Developers and studios do have bills to pay, and sometimes it is the hit or miss of that new hero skin or silly seasonal weapon that impacts those funds. Maybe I am taking too simple a view of the transaction, the flow from my pocket to theirs. I know that for any given $10 I would spend in a game it will be fractions of a cent to each person in a large studio.
I just wonder if it would help. If it would heal some of the rift between player and developer. Or if it would aid in demystifying marketing and business. Of course, there’s the risk of anyone so honest having a barometer out there to show how well the game isn’t doing, just as it might show how well it is if people are buying and pitching in.
I don’t think that the answer is a return to the days of subscription fees but neither do I think it’s a good idea to have developers relying on the player base like it was a Patreon account. How many people are still throwing in their $5 and how many have gotten bored? Do we have enough to continue developing the next great expansion and/or game, or should we focus on more loot boxes because we need to pay the mounting costs?
MMO Costs
It may all just be a pipe dream or perhaps something that evolves out of public access to free game engines and super cheap computers. Who knows, maybe we will all one day be playing the next Minecraft looking MMO hit that is just too endearing and engaging to complain about how it looks. Maybe we’ll be playing on small servers made of clustered Pi computers: all tiny but greater than the sum of the parts. Maybe one day the tip jar will go on the website for this game, not as an additional thank you, but with a little goalpost. This is what the student needs to keep her little social space going for another month. This is what the weekend developer needs to ensure the lights stay on in his original world.
Maybe we’ll never get there. Maybe we will. I can tell you one thing about that game though, whatever it ends up being or wherever it ends up being hosted. We’ll get back to the spirit of the genre, of what attracted people in. We won’t be competing, we’ll be cooperating.

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Wall Street Analyst: ‘Gamers Are Undercharged’ and ‘Overreacting’

Oh look, someone has opened their mouth and decided to defend microtransactions. Specifically, a market analyst from a Wall Street firm has decided to offer their opinion on Battlefront 2 microtransactions and how gamers are “overreacting” to the handling of the matter by EA.

battlefront 2 microtransactions

The analyst in question is Evan Wingren of KeyBanc Capital Markets. According to a note written by Wingren, video games are the cheapest form of entertainment available and posits that gamers are being undercharged while also creating “a perfect storm for overreaction as it involves EA, Star Wars, Reddit, and certain purist gaming journalists/outlets who dislike MTX”.

According to Wingren, a gamer who spends $60 for a game and an additional $20 a month for loot boxes, then plays that game for 2.5 hours a day for one year, is getting 40 cents per hour of entertainment. By comparison, TV programs offer 60-65 cents per hour, movie rentals 80 cents per hour, and watching a theatrical release offers $3 an hour.

“Quantitative analysis shows that video game publishers are actually charging gamers at a relatively inexpensive rate, and should probably raise prices,” says Wingren. “Despite its inconvenience to the popular press narrative, if you like Star Wars and play video games at an average rate, you’re far better off skipping the movie and playing the game to get the most bang for your buck.”

Our Thoughts

In this writer’s specific opinion, what Mr. Wingren fails to understand isn’t that microtransactions or DLC practices are the problem so much as the way in which they’re applied is. If your game requires people to pay for a random crate to get ahead, then your game is built for the express purpose of fleecing players. If I like the base game, then I’ll spend money on DLCs or other things like that.

Or – and perhaps I’m just extending an inconvenient narrative – maybe publishers should release full titles instead of plucking pieces away for DLC exploitation later.

Source: CNBC via VG247

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