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Black Desert is officially in open beta... in Korea

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Classes, New Titles, Previews, News Items, Hands-On, Sandbox, Black Desert

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Black Desert
Still pinning hopes and dreams on Daum's breathtaking sandbox MMORPG Black Desert? If you're in South Korea, those hopes and dreams are a reality this week, as the game officially entered open beta in that region yesterday.

Blogger Steparu has already posted one video from the event, a snapshot of progress on a mid-level Sorceress. We've included it below. If you're bilingual and already enjoying the game, we'd love to hear about it, as those of us in the West will be waiting until at least 2016.

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World of Warcraft proposes tradable subscription currency

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Economy, Patches, Previews, Subscription

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wow
Six-point-one. That's all you World of Warcraft players need to hear to get psyched for the new year. The dev team took a brief pause in rolling in all of the money from Warlords of Draenor sales to talk about what's coming up with Patch 6.1 as well as a proposed new subscription currency.

The patch, which will go into testing soon, will contain improvements to garrisons, a legendary follower, the ability to send tweets from the game, the new Blood Elf models, shorter flight master routes, incentives for visiting friends' garrisons, and the new heirloom collection tab.

Even bigger than this news is word that Blizzard is "exploring" adding a subscription currency that sounds like EVE Online's PLEX. The proposed idea would allow players to buy and sell game-time tokens for in-game gold: "Our current thought on this is that it would give players a way to use their surplus gold to cover some of their subscription cost, while giving players who might have less play time an option for acquiring gold from other players through a legit and secure system."

Claims that MMOs are a 'threat to public health' are 'exaggerated' says new study

Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

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Dr. Rachel Kowert, lead author on the relationship between shyness and online gaming paper that we covered back in October, has just released another study relating to MMOs, this one investigating the psychosocial causes and consequences of online video gameplay.

Due to be published in the science journal Computers in Human Behavior in April 2015, the paper seeks to improve on past research that links online video gaming to loneliness, depression, social anxiety, poor self-esteem, and social incompetence. Kowert and her colleagues from the Universities of Muenster and Hohenheim studied 4500 gamers over 1- and 2-year periods to determine whether negative psychological traits are a consequence of engaging in online games like MMOs or simply act to draw people to online games that help them compensate for those negative traits (the "social compensation hypothesis").

MMORPG gamers will be happy to know that the findings suggest that the latter is true; no, your MMOs won't make you depressed or suddenly unable to manage interpersonal communications:
The results uncovered here do not support the claims that exposure to, or prolonged engagement within, OVG [online video game] spaces negatively impacts players' psychosocial well-being. In that respect, concerns regarding OVGs being a threat to public health seem to be exaggerated. These findings do, however, provide the empirical evidence for a social compensation model among young adult participants, indicating that OVGs have likely become alternative social outlets for young adult players with [low] social and psychosocial resources, as reflected by lower reported life satisfaction and social competence.
In fact, the effect was strongest for young gamers: "For adolescent players, being a member of the online game playing community was found to bolster their reported life-satisfaction."

Stay tuned later this month for a full Massively report on Kowert's MMO-related research.

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Steam discounts lots of MMOs for the holidays

Business Models, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Promotions, Miscellaneous

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Steam
Steam's winter sale is upon us, which means it's time to celebrate the season the way gamers do: by opening up our wallets. Here are just some of the MMOs running sales through Steam: Anybody spot anything else?

The Secret World's Christmas Conspiracies event takes the stage

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), News Items, The Secret World, Buy-to-Play

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What's Christmas without a clown and a chainsaw? Nothing -- if you're in The Secret World. The game that excels as conspiracies has turned one into a holiday event for players to unravel. It all starts with attending a show at London's Albion Theater and winds its way through gathering clues and solving Musical "Magic Flute" puzzles, even discovering Old Saint Nick's tomb.

And what's a Christmas without gifts? TSW offers new pets like an undead polar bear, funky hats, and more outfits and costume pieces -- including a carrot nose -- in the Rucksacks of Saturnalian Delights. The bags are rewards for finishing the holiday missions as well as available in the item shop. As during the Halloween event, players who purchase a special bag (this time the Bag of Wassail) in the shop to share with players will be rewarded with an all-new dance.

As in years past, previous holiday events are also live and running. However, the launchpad warns players that the End of Days event is currently experiencing issues and the team is working to resolve them.

Shroud of the Avatar's Richard Garriott and Starr Long on MMO community

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Events (In-Game), Interviews, Opinion, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, Shroud of the Avatar

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Some Assembly Required:  Garriott and Long interview shows Shroud of the Avatar wins at community
If you've been making a list of sandbox features and checking it twice, chances are you'll find many of those items in Shroud of the Avatar. And if player-generated content and a great community are near the top of that list, then this crowdfunded title might very well be the present you want to get yourself! While still under development, this sandbox has already grown exponentially from its humble beginnings of a chicken in a room to a current state that includes a bevy of features -- with more arriving like clockwork every monthly update. And plenty of those features are tools and systems that allow players to make the game a personalized experience for themselves and others.

What about Shroud of the Avatar makes it so great for player-generated content? What makes the community great? And how has Steam affected the game? I sat down with Portalarium's Richard Garriott and Starr Long to talk about the move to Steam, updates, PGC, and the amazing community that's supporting the game. These guys had so much to share that this is only part one!

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Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: Most Anticipated for 2015 and Beyond

MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

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Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the Most Anticipated MMO for 2015 and Beyond. Pretty much every MMO that isn't out yet or is planning a major content update in 2015 was eligible for this award. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively staff pick for Most Anticipated MMO for 2015 and Beyond is...

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WildStar eyes Chinese release

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, WildStar, Subscription

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WildStar
WildStar may have a new audience for its sci-fi western ways, as 2P.com reports that the game will be headed to China somewhere between late 2015 and early 2016.

The MMO will be operated by Giant Interactive, which also handles ZT Online. However, NCsoft and Carbine have yet to officially announce the partnership.

A new market for WildStar may be just what the beleaguered title needs to shore up its financials. The Q3 2014 earnings report from NCsoft showed that the new MMO had dropped sales dramatically compared to the previous quarter.

[Thanks to Mason for the tip!]

Skyforge offers two contests for those who seek beta keys

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, News Items, Free-to-Play, Promotions, Skyforge

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The official Massively suggestion for the name: Leet, But Not Like Those Leets That Are Owned By Funcom.  A Totally Different Leet That We Made Up.
Is the only thing you want for Christmas a nice shiny Skyforge beta key? If so... wow, you are aiming really low when it comes to gifts this year. We usually at least would ask for a game, not test access to a game. Besides, you could get one completely for free by taking part in one of two contests. The first is a straightforward raffle-style giveaway on Facebook: Just "like" the game's page and submit your account email, and 500 lucky entrants will get a beta key.

But for those who want a key and prefer not to leave it up to chance, there's a forum thread asking players to name the critter they see in the header above. The five best entries will receive a beta key, followed by a vote-off of all the suggested names. So there's a chance at getting in just based on your creativity at naming things, which might be more your style. The name contest will run until December 22nd, while the Facebook entries are accepted until January 15th.

[Thanks to Gabriel for the tip!]

The Daily Grind: Do single-player games give you a craving for MMOs?

MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Secret World

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I made a dent in my Steam backlog this month, and one of the older titles that I finally got around to beating was Alan Wake. This has nothing to do with MMOs, really, except for the fact that the game's creepy atmospherics and its focus on the supernatural made me want to fire up The Secret World.

What about you, Massively readers? Do your single-player adventures ever give you a craving for a particular MMO?

Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

The holidays have arrived in SOE's MMORPGs

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Business Models, Culture, Events (In-Game), Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, Dragon's Prophet, Landmark

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EQ2
If you're a fan of SOE's MMOs and also a fan of Christmas, good news! SOE's MMOs also have Christmas! The studio posted a roundup of its holiday festivities earlier today:
  • EverQuest II: The Frostfell Wonderland Village returns this year along with a brand-new quest called The Great Candy (Cane) Chase.
  • DC Universe Online: Players will confront Larfleeze's Orange Lantern Corp. Old feats and rewards are back, as are "new base items, styles, a feat, and collection."
  • PlanetSide 2: It's Auraximas, which means it's time to murder snowmen. Special camo will also be on sale in the in-game store because of course it will be
  • EverQuest: Frostfell in this classic MMO brings Santug Cluagg and a host of new quests rolled out in phases.
  • Dragon's Prophet: Celebrate the The Silver Dragon Festival through January 15th.
A moment of silence, of course, for the SOE games no longer with us after this year's purge. Ahem.

If you're more the type to moon after Landmark and its futurespawn, EverQuest Next, check out MJ's hands-on with Landmark's PvE content update, which launches today. And peek back early next week for Massively's traditional MMO holiday event roundup for all the big games across the genre.

Hearthstone now available worldwide on Android devices

Fantasy, Launches, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Hearthstone

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hearthstone
After a soft launch in select countries on Android devices, Hearthstone is now available worldwide for Android gamers.

To run it, you'll need to have an Android device that's at least 6" or larger. Like the other platform versions, the Android edition of Hearthstone will sync up with your Battle.net account and allow you to use your existing cards (if you have any). Plans are in the works for an Android version to work on smaller-size phones.

Hearthstone recently won the award for Massively's Best Pseudo-MMO of 2014. Android players can snag it on Google Play or through Amazon.

City of Steam is merging EU servers on December 22nd

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, City of Steam, Subscription

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And then everyone just burns forever.  I think.  I don't know how merges work.
If you've played City of Steam in the EU and thought to yourself, "Man, there are just too many servers for this game right now," the developers agree with you, which is why the server list is being consolidated down to a single server as of December 22nd. Characters will be automatically transferred, with character names getting server tags to make sure naming issues sorted out before they arise.

Players on the current EU3 server will be receiving a compensation package that includes a 90-day subscription and a variety of other materials for character advancement. The five-characters-per-server limit will be enforced with prejudice; the staff is simply deleting the oldest or least-played characters on an account if the merge puts someone over five characters on the final server. So take care of that issue before it arises on the 22nd.

Final Fantasy XIV is now offering a PlayStation 4 two-week free trial

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XIV, Promotions, Subscription

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ff14
Final Fantasy XIV may be intriguing you ever since it won of our Most Improved MMO of 2014 this past week. If you haven't bought into it yet and have a PlayStation 4, then you now have a free option to sample this acclaimed title.

Square-Enix announced today that it has begun to offer a 14-day free trial on the PlayStation 4 before requiring a subscription. There are a couple of caveats for these trial accounts, however; players can level only to 20 and have a few in-game activites restricted for the duration of the two-week trial.

[Source: Square-Enix Press release]

EVE Online nixes industry teams

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription

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eve
Not every new idea is going to take off and be a smash hit, as CCP definitely understands this as much as anyone. The EVE Online developer said that the implementation of industry teams earlier this year has been vastly underused, and as a result, teams will be removed from the game entirely in 2015.

"We have been closely tracking all related industry metrics and dials and it is apparent to us that usage of teams has been very low relative to the goals we set for it -- with single figure percentage use in manufacturing jobs and near nonexistent use in research," CCP wrote.

Industry teams had allowed players to hire NPCs to help out with industry jobs. The feature will be "methodically removed" over the next few months, although players will be able to use teams until they are forceably retired.

On another note, EVE tweeted that it has freed up over six million names from former trial players and has made them available for general use.

Leaderboard: Are you playing Elite: Dangerous this week?

Sci-Fi, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Sandbox, Leaderboard, Elite: Dangerous

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I'm vacationing from Massively this week, but I'm not vacationing from MMOs. Unless Elite: Dangerous isn't technically an MMO. Maybe it isn't, I dunno, because I haven't played long enough to form an opinion just yet. Anyway, Elite! Launched yesterday! Yay! Maybe after my vacation I'll manage to write something more in depth, but for now that will have to suffice.

What about you, Massively readers? Are you playing Elite this week? If so, what do you think?

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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Watch six videos of TERA's new dungeons

Fantasy, Video, Expansions, Free-to-Play, TERA, Dungeons

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tera
If you haven't heard from your TERA-playing friends, don't worry -- they're merely in the thick of enjoying the new Fate of Arun expansion. As with many MMO expansions, Fate of Arun came packed with tough new dungeons, and intrepid YouTuber Skill Graal filmed adventures through several of them.

You can watch six of these dungeon dives after the break, including looks at Bathysmal Rise and Ravenous Gorge.

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Echo of Soul has 'everything an MMO player could want'

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

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eos
"At launch, Echo of Soul will include everything an MMO player could want," says Global Development Project Manager Junhyung Jung. "With 68 areas and over 1,600 quests, EOS offers far more initial content than other games."

Them's fightin' words, Mr. Jung. But also playin' words, too. The above quote comes from a new Echo of Soul video dev diary, in which Jung makes a case for why this title should have broad appeal. He runs down the features list, including PvE content, PvP battles, and solo and team challenges. The level cap is also mentioned as where the game "truly begins."

You can watch the full dev diary after the break.

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RIFT beefs up the minion system

Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, RIFT

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rift
RIFT's new minion system is arguably one of the more popular additions to the game in some time, with players sending out their loyal subjects to bring them back treasures and fame. However, Trion Worlds says it still has work to do, and in a new "State of the Minunion" post, the studio lists a few areas that it's improving with the game's next hotfix.

The new Fae Yule minion mission pack, with a series of quests that tell a story, will have some of its minion rewards buffed up with better stats. The hotfix will also tackle a few bugs and add minion-releated achievements. Finally, adventure rewards are being fine-tuned and improved, although it has been difficult for the team to handle this as it has been "an extremely extensive change touching dozens upon dozens of loot tables."

Choose My Adventure: World of Warcraft and the shadowy priest

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Polls, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Subscription, MMORPG

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It's been one week since Choose My Adventure's voters sent me on the path of darkness in World of Warcraft, daring me to cast off my healing roots and adventure forward as a Priest who deals only in shadow. I've gained a couple of levels, tinkered with my garrison, and killed hundreds and hundreds of orcs. I've even managed to work out some of last week's confusion, finding a spell rotation that works for me and laying waste to any PvE enemies that cross my path.

I've also completed about a million quests, Warlords of Draenor-style.

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Elite: Dangerous launch Dec. 16, 2014
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