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Twitch viewership now rivals prime-time cable

MMO Industry, Livestream, Miscellaneous

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While some folks don't understand the phenomenon of watching others play a game when they could actually play it themselves, many are doing exactly that. And those numbers continue to rise: A recent look at viewership compiled in The New York Times shows that Twitch at its peak now rivals the average of some prime-time cable networks. Compared to major video providers, however, Twitch still lags behind. When held up to NetFlix and YouTube, Twitch has about eight times fewer hours of video viewed monthly compared to the former and roughly 24 times fewer than the latter.

Contributing to Twitch's numbers are a multitude of streamers who've built large audiences. These personalities can individually pull in up to and even more than 40,000 viewers during a single stream. For a glimpse of all the graphs, head on over to NYT.

Star Trek Online celebrates the end of summer with giveaways [Updated]

Sci-Fi, News Items, Star Trek Online, Free-to-Play, Promotions, Subscription

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Those must be pretty big fireworks.
The days get shorter, the heat diminishes, and students collectively go back to actually studying things. Yes, summer is coming to a close, and the team behind Star Trek Online is pretty happy with how this past summer went. Sure, seasons are kind of a meaningless concept when you're talking about a setting that spans multiple planets with their own annual cycles, but the players are still here on Earth, and they can celebrate the end of the season with free stuff.

An as-of-yet undisclosed ship will be going live in the game's cash shop tomorrow, but that's not the really free part. From August 29th to September 1st, around 1:00 p.m. EDT, a new promotional item will be flagged in the store as free. These items are all account-wide unlocks so long as an eligible character is available to claim the item. Who wouldn't like some free stuff for the end of summer?

[Update: The team has also today released more information about upgrading tier 5 ships.]

Project Gorgon engages its second Kickstarter campaign

Fantasy, Video, New Titles, Crowdfunding

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gorgon
After its Kickstarter campaign fizzled back in 2012, Project Gorgon and its team regrouped to prepare a second, and hopefully successful, crowdfunding drive. The campaign launched a couple of days ago and is attempting to rake in $100,000 in pledges before the end of its 30 days.

Project Gorgon bills itself as "an indie MMORPG with the deep gameplay of the classics, all the features of a modern game, and a unique immersive feel." The team promises a virtual world with a focus on exploration without signposts and immersive aspects such as being able to write in-game books for others to read. Project Gorgon also allegedly rewards certain types of gameplay with "behavior badges."

Project Gorgon has been in development for four years and is nearing the production stage. The game is actually playable in an early state right now, so if you're curious, you can check it out before deciding whether or not to sponsor its development. We've also got a preview video for you after the jump.

[Thanks to Gaming Conjecture for the tip!]

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The Stream Team: Looking for trouble in ArcheAge places

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Free-to-Play, Livestream, ArcheAge, The Stream Team

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After having her car insurance canceled in ArcheAge (apparently water damage isn't covered!) and her driving privileges revoked, Massively's MJ heads back to the safer realms of questing. Oh, whom are we kidding -- there is plenty of trouble she can get into anywhere! And if you know MJ, you know she'll find some. Maybe she'll even turn to a life of crime and go on a potato-stealing spree. Join us live at 6:00 p.m. for more Firran alpha adventures.

Game: ArcheAge
Host: MJ Gutrhie
Date: Wednesday, August 27th, 2014
Time: 6:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Blizzard's Tom Chilton on World of Warcraft's slow content pace

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Patches, News Items, Subscription

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Blizzard's Tom Chilton has been making the rounds this week in one candid interview after another. World of Warcraft website Icy Veins recently asked him directly why recent content releases haven't been meeting the originally planned six-month cadence, and Chilton didn't dodge, explaining that scaling the team up to make Warlords of Draenor resulted in a later-than-desired pace for releases:
We did a good job earlier in Mists of Pandaria, having the content come at a more frequent intervals, and certainly we had hoped to have Warlords of Draenor out a couple of months ago. The reality is that scaling up the number of people that we have, to work on multiple projects at once has slowed us down. Honestly, it should have not come as a surprise to us. We increased the size of the team by 50% and the majority of those people had never worked on World of Warcraft before or any other MMO, so it is really difficult for them to create content right away, without getting up to speed. So we ended up redoing a lot of the content that we were doing for Warlords to make sure that we would get it at the quality level that we would expect. Also, the garrison feature turned into a bigger thing than we expected it to be. Quality is the most important thing, so if we have to make a choice between getting you something two months ago or getting you a great expansion in November, the choice is obvious. I think we are in a better position now for the future, we already have zones in production for our next expansion. So, if things go well, there will be less of a gap.
Chilton also discusses alternative subscription models for niche players (there are no plans for such), the possibility of making Outland and Northrend parallel level 60-80 content paths, and the potential for visual and aural upgrades beyond character models.

Massively Exclusive: Elsword's two new systems

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, Free-to-Play

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elsword
Elsword is adding in a pair of new systems for two of the MMO's key characters, Aisha and Eve. Both of these systems have something in common, which is the ability to automate or streamline some of the fancy combat moves.

Aisha gets the memorization system, which takes three skills and mooshes them up into a single button press. Players can activate Aisha's legendary memorization during play, assigning specific skills in order for use later. It's helpful that MP is used while setting up the skill chain and not when triggered, although the chain will do only 70% of normal damage.

As for Eve, she is being granted with the core release system. Players can trigger Eve's awakening mode to unleash automated attack and defense moves. By choosing certain skills during this phase, players can change the core from an automatic laser that lashes out at enemies to a protective shield.

We've got pictures of the memorization and core release systems below!

Leaderboard: How do you feel about loyalty rewards?

Fantasy, MMO Industry, Opinion, Leaderboard, The Elder Scrolls Online

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Elder Scrolls Online announced its vet reward program recently, and while it doesn't take effect until next month, it got me to thinking about similar incentives in other MMOs. They're pretty common, of course, and even F2P games offer them provided that they also offer an optional subscription tier.

Personally vet rewards aren't much of an incentive. I mean, sometimes they offer a neat-looking vanity pet that I'll look at once and subsequently forget to ever summon again, but I can't recall ever anticipating a loyalty reward or remaining subscribed in order to get one. What about you, Massively readers? Are loyalty rewards nothing more than a nice bonus, or are there some that go above and beyond in terms of desirability? If so, which ones? Don't forget to vote after the cut!

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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Get Skyforge closed beta keys in a social media scavenger hunt

Betas, Fantasy, MMO Industry, New Titles, Giveaways, MMORPG, Skyforge

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Did the upcoming title Skyforge grab your attention during its Gamescom panel earlier this month? Are you now looking forward to delving into the class-swapping system for yourself? If so, we've got good news: You have the chance to nab a key that guarantees access to the closed beta! Obsidian is having a scavenger hunt giveaway on the game's official Twitter and FaceBook page, getting a total of 100 keys into the hands of fans. Numerous keys have been posted already, so if you want one of them, keep your eyes peeled. If you don't win, however, you can still sign up for a chance to get one on the official site.

[Thanks to Dystopiq for the tip!]

Guild Wars 2 previews crafting backpacks

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Crafting, Buy-to-Play

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I said there's got to be some good reason for your crafting themed backpack, gold stack, turn around your gems are back, yeah.
Do you consider yourself nice and crafty in Guild Wars 2? Are you fond of being a master of your chosen profession? If so, you're going to be nabbing some nice upgrades when the September 2014 feature pack rolls out. For example, there's the new line of craft-based backpacks available to players that don't take much to make but show off just how good you can be at making stuff in the game. If you've ever wanted to haul around a miniature forge on your back as part of your wardrobe, your ship has come in.

Players can also look forward to new exceptional weapons that can either be crafted for leveling characters or found via exploration, giving your character a little boost while leveling through Tyria. There are also loot changes that make you more likely to receive items you can use on a character rather than receiving an endless string of greatswords on your Thief. Take a peek at the official post for more details.

Final Fantasy XIV celebrates a year since its relaunch

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Anniversaries, Subscription

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Well this is much more pleasant than what exploded in the night sky at Carteneau.
As of today, Final Fantasy XIV has made it a full year since its successful relaunch. Producer Naoki Yoshida took the time to celebrate with a special letter from the producer, looking back at the past year of operation, both the pitfalls and the highlights. He also thanks the fans and especially the Legacy players for having stood by the game from a rocky inception to the present, and looks forward to upcoming patches, the pending Fan Fest, and the as-yet-unrevealed expansion.

Today also marks the start of a seasonal event to celebrate the anniversary, featuring new minipets, a new emote, and new items for players to enjoy. The event will run until September 8th, giving everyone time to complete the sequence if they so choose. So here's to a year of the resurrected game, and let's hope for many more to come.

Choose My Adventure: Firefall as it stands

Sci-Fi, Polls, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Choose My Adventure, Post-Apocalyptic, Firefall, MMORPG

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Firefall
As I noted in the first week of this month's truncated Choose My Adventure, Firefall is finally an honest to goodness real-life video game. The extended extended beta is over, the launch trailer has released, and the game has been cut loose into the world. One might argue that Red 5 is now officially out of excuses; if something isn't satisfactory in Firefall, it must be unsatisfactory by design. We have stepped beyond the point where "it's a beta" is a fair explanation of the game's rougher edges.

Because what we're dealing with is theoretically intended to be a full retail product, it's not useful to talk about what Firefall used to be, nor is it useful to speculate on what Firefall might become. The only honest evaluation of the game, if evaluation is the goal, must center on the current iteration of the product, the one that Red 5 considered complete enough to release as the finished version of its vision. Is Firefall, in its current state, worth playing? Does it offer enough content to keep players engaged? Is it finally delivering on the promise we have glimpsed in its systems?

For the first time since my initial encounter with the game in early 2013, I'd say the answer is yes.

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The Crew's closed beta PvP is lobby-based

Betas, Real-Life, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Races, Buy-to-Play

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What's PvP like in The Crew? You can find out if you're playing the PC closed beta this week. If not, you can read the latest news blurb on the racing MMO's website to get the general idea. It says that PvP races are enabled at level 10. Curiously, given Ubisoft's focus on The Crew's open-world design up to this point, the post also mentions that the closed beta's eight PvP races are lobby-based.

"The PvP lobbies can be accessed directly from the map," the company says. "The Midwest PvP lobby being in Detroit and the East lobby in New York, both represented by a yellow lozenge."

Anarchy Online's graphics engine upgrade suffers delays

Betas, Sci-Fi, Anarchy Online, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox

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Anarchy Online
Funcom has announced that two Anarchy Online developers, Genele and Macrosun, are leaving the studio and "relocating back to their homelands in Scandinavia." That's bad news for MMO gamers patiently awaiting the game's promised new graphics engine, as the devs' departures mean delays for both the upgrade and the next patch. Creative Director Joel "Nusquam" Bylos explained the situation to players on the official forum:
[L]osing competent and knowledgeable people does have some impact on our development schedule, so we've had to rearrange some things and tune our schedules to make sure we can deliver on our vision for the game. Originally we were planning to patch 18.7 to live this month. We have now delayed it until we have had the chance to give it a thorough going over with the new designers. It is a large and complex patch and we want to be a hundred percent certain that we understand all of the intricacies of the patch before we make it live.

Additionally, because Macrosun was the technical coordinator on the new engine, it causes some challenges on the code side. It will take our live coders some time to get themselves acquainted with the engine and all that it entails. The beta will remain up and running and we hope to get past beta status as soon as we can.
Nusquam noted that Henry "Michizure" Senger will take over for Genele and that the existing live team was organized with "competence sharing" across the studio's games to minimize the impact of personnel shifts. Funcom earlier this week tweeted about new job openings in its Durham, North Carolina, location.

[Thanks to tipster Divalicious Diva. Image credit: Azzura.]

WildStar's Jeremy Gaffney steps down as president of Carbine Studios

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, News Items, WildStar, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

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So long, and thanks for all the feuds.
Jeremy Gaffney, President of Carbine Studios, has announced via the WildStar forums that he will be stepping down from his current role as president of the studio. He's staying on in a consulting and advisory role, but he'll no longer be steering the operation.

Why the change? According to Gaffney's post, part of it is a result of both losing several family members to cancer last year and having to receive treatment for skin cancer himself. He's recovering without incident, but he put off the treatment for nine months to keep working through launch. Meanwhile, he also wants to allow the studio's creative team to keep working on improving the game rather than simply listening to his creative vision, something which is more easily accomplished if he steps away from an active role.

Gaffney concludes his letter by thanking the fans as well as the studio for making a game that he's proud to have been a part of.

[Thanks to Pete for the tip!]

The Daily Grind: What would you want in a World of Warcraft 2?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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wow
Your guess is as good as mine as to how serious Blizzard was being the other week when it floated the possibility of a sequel to World of Warcraft during an interview. After all, words are cheap, but development is crazy expensive.

But let's have a little fun with this concept today, whether or not a WoW 2 is in the making. Assuming that there was one being brewed up, what would you want to see done with it? Would it embrace more sandbox features? Would it simply remake the current game or jet off on its own timeline? Would you even prefer a platform switch, such as a mobile WoW or a virtual reality-based one?

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!

GX3 Kickstarter gets a big boost from Blizzard

Culture, Events (Real-World), News Items, Miscellaneous

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Points where they're due.
Conventions are expensive, and unless you have a major publisher or media franchise backing them, it's very easy for a convention to be successful without being successful enough to keep going. GaymerX managed two conventions, but the third round is currently on Kickstarter, trying to raise funds for another convention focused on inclusiveness and support of all different types of gamers. That goal is being helped significantly by a big name in online gaming: Blizzard Entertainment.

The Kickstarter site for the convention lists the World of Warcraft developer as pledging "over $10,000" to making the convention a reality. There are still 23 days for the project to reach its funding goal, but that kind of money certainly helps kick a project along. If you're interested in donating yourself, the convention will be in the Bay Area of California in either November or December of 2015.

Black Gold Online announces its first major content update

Fantasy, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Black Gold

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Making a joke about critical reception seems just plain cruel.
The first major update to Black Gold Online is going live on September 10th, and it's not going to be all sunshine and lollipops. The name alone kind of makes that obvious; a title like the Campaign of Ashes doesn't bring to mind pleasant undertakings. It brings to mind a new region of the game, plenty of new open PvP, and new missions and quests for players. Which, as it turns out, is exactly what the update will provide.

Of course, that's not the extent of what the update is offering to players, who can look forward to a higher level cap, a new "Skill Surge" system, more equipment, and more content across the board. The update also ushers in an improved interface and a variety of performance upgrades, making the game run more smoothly while being that much easier to play. It's only a couple of weeks until the update goes live, so active players should get ready now.

Diablo 2.10 patch releases with week of in-game bonuses

Fantasy, Video, Events (In-Game), Patches, Diablo III, Buy-to-Play

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d3
It's time for new challenges in Diablo III, as Patch 2.10 crash-landed today to the delights of players and the screams of frustrated hellbeasts. Why won't you stop slaughtering them already?

The big four features that arrive with 2.10 are seasons, greater rifts, leaderboards, and cesspools. Starting today, players can roll up a fresh character for a new season to earn special rewards without assistance from the player's other assets. To celebrate the patch, Diablo III has triggered a week of double gold find and double treasure goblin appearances.

The patch notes are so long that, well, they descend into the deep blackness of the website. If you'd rather not go blind reading all of that, you can check out the patch overview video after the jump. Happy gaming!

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The Stream Team: Firefall's farewell

Sci-Fi, Video, PvE, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Post-Apocalyptic, Livestream, Firefall, The Stream Team, MMORPG

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Firefall
Massively's Mike Foster is prepping for one last go-round with Firefall, the subject of this month's Choose My Adventure. According to the results from last week's poll, readers are hoping to catch a glimpse of Firefall's newly-implemented campaign in action. So, with guns blazing and rocket boots flaming, Mike steps once more unto the breach. Join him live at 7:00 p.m. EST.

Game: Firefall
Host: Mike Foster
Date: Tuesday, August 26th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Massively Speaking Episode 311: Interior decorating

Podcasts, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

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Rid yourself of gender-baised notions, for boys love interior decorating too! This week, Eliot and Justin share tips on couch placement, pleasing contrasts between wall trim and carpet colors, and where to put mutated eyeballs so that they're not always freaking out the guests. Also, they talk about MMOs, because that's what we sometimes do on this show.

Get all of our opinions and analysis on the most important stories of the past week right here on Massively Speaking, the industry's leading MMO podcast. And if you have a comment, question, or topic for the podcasters, send an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
[RSS] Add Massively Speaking to your RSS aggregator.
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Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Massively Speaking Episode 311: Interior decorating

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