MU Origin 2 Closed Beta Announced

It seems like just yesterday we were talking about Webzen’s MU Origin and now here we are on the cusp of the MU Origin 2 closed beta for North America and Latin America talking about it. The closed beta starts today and will run for 10 days, until April 7th. It’s only available for Android users though there will be an iOS version when the game launches later this year. Though the game will also be releasing in Europe players located there won’t be able to take part in the closed beta.

MU Origin 2 is, as the name implies, the second spinoff from Webzen’s massively popular Korean MMORPG MU Online. Players will be able to pick from three distinct classes; Dark Knight, Dark Wizard, and Elf. The press release boasts that the game will include classical MU elements and gameplay on a mobile device with a huge selection of quests, dungeons, modes, pets, items and more.

All closed beta participants who reach level 150 and submit a short survey about their experiences in the beta will get an exclusive title when the game launches. It should be stated, however, that characters from this closed beta will be wiped. According to comments made on Facebook Webzen currently hopes to launch the game for everyone in May or June.

If you’re looking for a new mobile game to play then it looks like MU Origin 2 will be a great option for you going into the summer. Check out the trailer below and for more information head over to the official site.

Source: Press Release

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New Online Games Announced at Tencent Up 2019

Over the weekend Chinese gamers weren’t looking to GDC to find out about the latest and greatest games, they were watching Tencent Up 2019 where new online games were announced along with some familiar Western games being released in China.

Brawl Stars and Stardew Valley were just two of the titles we’ve been playing for a while now that China will finally have access to. At the end of 2017, it was reported that Stardew Valley had sold 3.7 million copies, this was just a couple of months after the game released on Nintendo Switch. Since then it has released on PS Vita, iOS, and Android. Now the game will be available to the biggest gaming market in the world.

While it is awesome that Tencent is taking more Western games to China, the real appeal of Tencent Up is when they announce new titles. There were four titles announced and we’re going to break them down below.

 

Codename LN, Land Next

It looks as though Tencent is getting in on the Battle Royale action with their very own game, LN. It is a PC game that brings together two things you don’t often see together; Steampunk and Ancient China. According to local media, movement looks similar to Apex Legends. It’s being made by Tianmei Studio, an internal Tencent team who worked on one of the PUBG mobile games as well as Call of Duty Mobile. There is no timescale or release date for this game yet and no word on if it will be released in the West. But, based simply on the setting, we don’t hold out a lot of hope for a Western release.

 

Codename SOC

Codename SOC is a mobile zombie survival game that has been in development for two years now. Lightspeed & Quantum Studios are the minds behind the game. Previously they’ve made a PUBG Mobile game and worked on more than a dozen titles since 2008. The game is powered by Unreal Engine 4 and boasts a seamless open world. Also, the trailer looks kind of badass so be sure to check it out. No word on a release date for this game or a Western release. But, we’re pretty hopeful about this one. Sure, zombie survival games have been done to death, but this game looks amazing and the fact that its open world leaves us wondering what we don’t know about the game.

 

Ace Force

Ace Force is an Anime style team shooter similar to Overwatch, except that it’s a mobile game. The game has a large variety of characters, each with their own unique abilities. There are several game modes and maps to play on. One interesting thing it also features is the ability to switch characters during play. While this game has seen a few small test phases in the past it is going into a larger beta phase next month in China. It’s possible that this game will see a Western release in the future, but it’s equally possible that we will never see the game. Our personal opinion here in the office is that it will largely depend on how well the game performs in China.

 

The Outcast Mobile

The Outcast is a Tencent IP that started its life as part of the Tencent comics platform. Thanks to its popularity it got a 2 season anime called Hitori no Shita: The Outcast which aired in 2016 and 2018. Now, it is being turned into a mobile game. The game has 4 clans which 2 unique characters in each who are dealing with the supernatural using their powers. What does that mean exactly? Who knows. There is no release schedule for this game yet. As for a Western release…it’s our opinion that it’s never going to happen.

 

Source: MMOCulture

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Nexon’s 2019 Launch Roadmap Released

During their media event “Nexon Special Day” we got a look at Nexon’s 2019 launch roadmap, mostly for the first half of this year. It also mostly focuses on mobile games. When they were asked about PC games they said that they would talk more about it in their second or third special day events later this year. So basically, if you’re hoping to see Peria Chronicles you’ll have to wait until later this year at the very least.

 

Magia: Charma Saga

A side-scrolling action RPG that has already soft launched in five countries. It appears that Nexon has hopes this game will become a new standalone hit IP for the company. If you’re interested in checking it out our friends at MMOCulture have a 50-minute long preview of gameplay from the soft launch. Currently, the game is available to play in the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, and New Zealand. The inclusion of two English speaking countries gives us high hopes that this game will release in the West.

 

Durango: Wild Lands

Its been a while since we’ve heard about Durango: Wild Lands, but it looks as though they’re preparing to release the game in the west in the first half of this year.

 

Overhit

Details so far are very vague for Overhit, but we do know that Nexon is planning to release it in 150 countries simultaneously. It’s the eagerly anticipated mobile RPG from NAT Games, the makers of HIT.

 

Maplestory M

MapleStory M is finally going to be released in Japan this April.

 

Godzilla Defense Force

Perhaps, the most exciting thing to come from the special media day was the announcement of Godzilla Defense Force, a game in which players need to defend cities against more than 100 different monsters from the Godzilla series. The game will be launching worldwide this May and be available in 10 different languages.

 

It looks like Nexon has a busy few months ahead, especially when you remember that 98% of the company is going up for sale very soon. If you’re interested in reading more about that check out the latest MMO Money column to see which 5 groups will be allowed to place bids.

 

Source: MMOCulture

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Facebook Called Child Game Spending “Friendly Fraud” in Internal Documents

Facebook is the big internet evil we all love to hate on and still log in to every day. Well here’s another reason to not like them. Facebook encouraged developers to let children spend money without parental permission, going so far as to call it “friendly fraud.”This revelation comes via some internal documents that are part of a class action lawsuit against Facebook.

The internal memos, emails, and other documents are dated from between 2010 and 2014 stretching over 135 pages. The documents show that Facebook targeted children in order to grow its game business. It also shows they denied refund requests and encouraged developers to let children spend money without parental permission. This was referred to as “friendly fraud.”

The documents then continue on to recognize the issue of kids overspending in browser games. They even came up with solutions to the problem. But, they opted to ignore them!

Farm Heroes Saga Screenshot Level

An internal study shows children “spent a whopping $3.6 million” on games between October 2010 and January 2011. One parents complained that their child, a 15-year-old, spent $6,500 in two weeks.

They also encouraged developers to offer free virtual items instead of a refund to parents who complained. An employee said that this was because “virtual good bear no cost.” Not much relief to that parent who was down $6,500. Parents then started resorting to chargebacks, where credit card companies would step in and reclaim the money. Facebook discovered that 9% of money coming in from children was being claimed back in this way. For reference, the average business experiences chargeback rates of 0.5%.

An internal survey revealed that most parents were unaware that Facebook stored their credit card information or that kids could make in-game purchases with ease. It was also noted that many of these children didn’t even realize they were spending real money.

One solution that was given was requiring the first 6 numbers on a credit card to approve purchases. They even ran tests that showed this did lower the rate of refund and chargeback requests. But, instead of using it Facebook focused on “maximizing revenue.” An internal memo even explained what “friendly fraud” is and “why you shouldn’t try to block it.”

Facebook responded to all of this with the following statement.

“We intend to release additional documents as instructed by the court. Facebook works with parents and experts to offer tools for families navigating Facebook and the web. As part of that work, we routinely examine our own practices, and in 2016 agreed to update our terms and provide dedicated resources for refund requests related to purchases made by minors on Facebook.”

Basically, once Facebook gaming had died they decided to change their policy. They had made their money and the fad had faded.

 

Source: Reveal via GamesIndustry

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NetEase Introducing Mobile Game Curfew in China

According to a report from China, Daily NetEase is introducing a mobile game curfew in China for younger players of their games. The curfew will be in effect for children and teenagers and will prevent them from logging in to select mobile titles. From 9:30 PM to 8:30 AM anyone underage will have access to games restricted in an effort to curb game addiction.

The new system will also restrict how long those under 18 can play each day. For children under 12, they will be allowed to play for one hour each day Monday to Friday and 2 hours on the weekends. 13 to 18-year-olds will be able to play for 2 hours during the week and 3 on weekends.

Knives Out

Players won’t be able to get around this by not registering either. All unregistered users will only be given 2 hours of gametime period. They will also be prevented from making in-app purchases. Parents of gamers will be given the ability to monitor how much time their child plays and their spending habits on a new platform called NetEase Parenting Care.

This will all be rolled out starting this month with 15 of NetEase’s most popular titles including Fantasy Westward Journey, Knives Out, and Onmyoji.

Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this be put in place in China. Tencent started doing something similar in 2017 and even took it a step further by using police databases to get underage players who try to work around the rules. So the age-old idea of just pretending you’re 18 so you can have an adult Neopets account won’t work. Not that anyone in the MMOGames office EVER did that!

It is very likely that we will continue to see this sort of thing happening with mobile game companies that operate in China. The real question is if we will ever see this happen in the West. It seems very unlikely, but only time will tell.

 

Source: ChinaDaily via Gamasutra

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Pre-Registration for Ragnarok Online Mobile Begins Nov. 29

Aaah, the spicy notes of nostalgia. It’s thick in the MMO gaming air, whether we’re talking LotRO’s Legendary Servers or WoW Classic, or even Old School RuneScape on mobile. Now, another elder statesman of the MMO genre is heading to mobile phones: Ragnarok Online, or more specifically Ragnarok M pre-registration.

ragnarok m pre-registration

Ragnarok M: Eternal Love (yes that’s it’s full title) is described in the press release as “a faithful mobile adaptation of the long-beloved MMORPG” specifically designed for mobile devices. The game has already earned some impressive success in Asia, topping download lists for both iOS and Android games in several regions.

Fans of Ragnarok can expect all of the usual bells and whistles in Ragnarok M, including several classes to choose from, over 40 different maps, guild and group gameplay, and pet and cooking systems among other features.

Interested fans can head to the official site in order to pre-register for the game on their preferred platform this coming Thursday, November 29th.

Our Thoughts

Hm…we’re not sure how big the market for a mobile Ragnarok Online is, but then again there’s always a devoted fanbase out there somewhere, niche though it may be. Here’s hoping this mobile edition of the classic MMORPG lives up to those fans’ expectations.

Source: press release

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Blizzard Working on Warcraft Pokemon Go Style Game

While there may have been a lot of unhappy Diablo fans over the announcement of Diablo Immortal it turns out that there are a lot of mobile gamers in Blizzard. In fact, they have even more mobile games in the works, including a Warcraft Pokemon Go style game. Why? Because the developers at Blizzard love Pokemon Go and with it consistently being one of the top money making mobile games in the world it just makes good sense. Combine the biggest MMORPG with one of the biggest mobile games and profit while also working on something you love.

The news that Blizzard is working on a Pokemon Go style game based in the Warcraft universe came in part of a long article on Kotaku that looks at the future of Diablo, and in fact the culture currently in Blizzard. The article itself has a number of anonymous sources who either currently work at Blizzard or have recently. It’s a long read, but an important one for anyone who might not understand why Diablo Immortal exists or what is going on at Blizzard at the moment.

Things to do Before Battle for Azeroth Launches

 

The biggest revelation from Kotaku article is the Warcraft Pokemon Go game. In fact, it’s the only real newsworthy part of the entire article. The rest though, is a very interesting dive into the politics at Blizzard. It often refers to the fact that they’re focusing a lot on cutting costs and feeling pressure from Activision where they weren’t before. There appears to be a shift in the culture of the studio for better or for worse. One of the outcomes of this change is the inclusion of smaller game projects like Diablo Immortal, Warcraftemon Go, and other mobile games.

As for Warcraftemon Go, it will be joining a genre of games that is gaining quite a bit of momentum. It began with Ingress, Pokemon Go’s older brother. Then Pokemon Go was released and Niantic started working on the same type of game but in the Harry Potter universe. There’s also a Jurassic Park game, a totally new IP called Maguss, and even Jesus Christ himself has a version of this style of game.

 

Source: Kotaku

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Niantic Joins the United Nations to Boost Tourism

From community outreach to US national parks, a new Niantic partnership is now moving to its next big initiative: global tourism. The AR game developer has joined hands with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in an effort to boost tourism via Niantic’s mobile games.

new niantic partnership

Niantic and the UNWTO will work together to launch several campaigns and events using both Pokemon GO and Ingress Prime games to draw people to real-world locations. The events will be part of the UNTWO’s Travel.Enjoy.Respect campaign it currently runs.

Details on what these events involve weren’t outright elaborated on, but they’re expected to use the map technology of both titles to draw players to landmarks or other important sites. There’s also mention of utilizing augmented reality, which means the phone camera could be used in some way to get players of Niantic’s games to look up at the locations.

“Our goal at Niantic is to create interactive games that encourage exercise, social interaction and exploration,” said Niantic’s Anne Beuttenmüller. “We’re looking forward to creating brand new adventures for our players in collaboration with UNWTO to increase awareness around their mission of responsible tourism.”

Our Thoughts

Really, our thoughts on this partnership are no different than the ones we had when Niantic announced collaboration with other organizations trying to leverage AR games to get people to explore their world: this is a great idea and we do hope that the events in question gain a lot of traction and are enjoyable to players.

Source: GamesIndustry

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NCSoft Announces Aion 2, Blade & Soul 2 and Other Mobile Games

Nexon’s annual NC Media Day had a whole lot of things to unveil ahead of the upcoming G-Star 2018, and almost all of those reveals were brand new mobile games based on the company’s established IPs. We can now confirm the upcoming arrival of Aion 2, Blade & Soul 2, and no small number of additional mobile titles.

nc media day

Aion 2 takes place 900 years before the events of the first game and focuses on the arrival of dimensional cracks. These are more than just story device — they’ll actually will let players from other servers come together for large-scale PvP.

Aion 2 will also be lifting the PC version’s restrictions on gliding, which opens up what they call a “three-dimensional battle system.” The game will also let players wield different weapons without the constraints of class choice.

Blade & Soul 2, meanwhile, takes place years after the events of the PC game, where the characters from that title have passed into legend. Nexon touted smarter enemy AI and new ways of interacting with NPCs, as well as the removal of the faction system in order to build a “free community.”

NCSoft also unveiled Blade & Soul M, a mobile edition of the original PC game; Blade & Soul S, a super-deformed variation of the original game with character collection and open-world combat; and Lineage 2M, a massive MMOARPG with 100 million square meters of land to explore.

There are a lot of details and videos to take in, so be sure to head to the source link for some more in-depth coverage.

Our Thoughts

Well, these title announcements will either be of interest to fans of the IPs in question, or will be another mobile-shaped slap in the face. Though considering the way people have taken to the reveal of Diablo Immortal, we suspect it’ll primarily be the latter.

Source: MMO Culture

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Activision-Blizzard Stock Takes a Hit after Diablo Immortal Reveal

The negative reaction to the Diablo Immortal reveal has hit the company in the place where it arguably matters the most: the stock market. After the game’s maligned unveiling at BlizzCon, Activision-Blizzard’s shares started to trend downwards by the end of the trading day yesterday.

diablo immortal reveal

By the end of Monday at the NASDAQ stock exchange, ActiBlizz’s shares dropped 7.2%, bringing the company on track for its lowest close since January. The game continues to receive backlash from Diablo fans, yet its reveal has gotten praise from financial analysts, with one quoted as calling the game’s announcement “Blizzard’s first shot on goal into the big global mobile game market.”

Blizzard reps at the floor of BlizzCon appeared ready to press against common player accusations. One such accusation is that Diablo Immortal is a reskinned Crusaders of Light, which was refuted by one rep. “Blizzard, in partnership with NetEase, has built ‘Diablo Immortal’ from the ground up for iOS/Android,” says the rep.

Another response from Blizzard is related to early mutterings that a proper Diablo 4 reveal was on deck to be unveiled at BlizzCon but was removed from the show at the last second — a report that was flatly denied by the company.

“We can say that we didn’t pull any announcements from BlizzCon this year or have plans for other announcements,” reads the official response. “We do continue to have different teams working on multiple unannounced Diablo projects, and we look forward to announcing when the time is right.”

Our Thoughts

We suspect this stock price hit is a correction more than a regular trend, but it’s impossible to ignore that Diablo Immortal has incensed a whole lot of fans. While there are a couple of us that are certainly intrigued by the game, we also have to agree that a mobile title being introduced at Blizzard’s biggest fan convention was, at the absolute least, pretty tone deaf.

Sources: Bloomberg via PCGamesN, Variety, Venture Beat

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