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FlapMMO brings non-combat gameplay to new heights

Culture, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Humor, Sandbox

No, we are not good at this game.  Nor are most people.
For years, players have sought MMOs that truly offered a combat-free experience. FlapMMO, a massively multiplayer version of the sadly defunct Flappy Bird (not officially sanctioned), is that rare gem that delivers precisely that. In fact, it delivers everything you could ask for in the genre -- no combat, no levels, and a wide-open world to simply explore. It even offers exclusively horizontal progression (since that's the way the screen scrolls, you can't go backward).

If all this sounds too good to be true, you should consider also the fact that the game is entirely free-to-play without so much as a cash shop. Chat functions are currently limited, as is character customization, but there's no word from the developer on whether or not this is part of the design or something that will be addressed in the first expansion. You might want to consider giving this wide-open combat-free exploration simulator a try if you've got some free time on your hands.

Lord of Ultima shutting down in May

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, MMORTS, Sunsets

Lord of Ultima shutting down in May
The land of Caledonia will soon be swallowed up by the sea of game closures. On Monday, May 12th at 2:00 a.m. EST, Lord of Ultima services will be stopped permanently. Announcing the closure, the developers of Lord of Ultima thanked players for their continued support over the years. Starting now, the ability to buy Play4Free Funds is disabled, but players who currently have the in-game currency are encouraged to spend it before the shutdown. New account creation has also been disabled; those who are already in the game, however, can continue their quest to be one of the final lords ruling over the land.

[Thanks to all who sent in tips!]

Transformers Universe now a 'MOTA,' set for summer release

Betas, Sci-Fi, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Transformers Universe

Transformers Universe promotional art
The last we heard about Jagex's development of Transformers Universe was in July of 2013 when it was announced that 13 employees had been laid off from the game's development team. Today, however, Jagex CEO and CTO Mark Gerhard announced some big news regarding the would-be Transformers MMO. Specifically, he announced that... it's not exactly an MMO anymore.

Transformers Universe is now being called a "massively online, tactical action game, or MOTA," and Gerhard states that it offers "fast-paced, battle centric, tactical action with a selection of game modes for core gamers, casual gamers, and Transformers enthusiasts alike." All the nitty-gritty gameplay details can be found in the official post, but Gerhard specifically addresses the studio's long radio silence, stating that "from today onwards [fans] can expect regular updates, and soon all start participating first-hand" in the game's ongoing development. He mentions that the studio is "100% set to launch Transformers Universe this summer" and that they will be progressively inviting registered players into the game's beta testing. To get all the full details on this new "MOTA" or to sign up for beta, head over to the Transformers Universe official site.

Bigpoint's DarkOrbit Reloaded launches

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser

Fans of the original browser-based Dark Orbit that launched seven years ago are in for a treat today: Bigpoint announced the release of Dark Orbit Reloaded. The space MMO's new iteration has a new UI, a redesigned game entry (including bonuses for newcomers), over 200 new missions, an epic storyline, new maps, and new faction characters. Taking advantage of newer technology, Dark Orbit Reloaded also boasts high-resolution graphics as well as has other features in the works for players to look forward to. Check out the official trailer below.

[Source: Bigpoint press release]

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The Stream Team: League of Angels with Beau

Fantasy, Video, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Previews, Opinion, Browser, Hands-On, MMORTS, Livestream, The Stream Team

League of Angels screenshot
Join Massively's Beau Hindman as he attempts to discover gameplay and strategy behind League of Angels, a new browser-based game that appears to combine MMORTS features with side-scrolling combat. Jump in the chat room to ask any questions or to give him advice!

Game: League of Angels
Host: Beau Hindman
Date: Monday, January 20th, 2014
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Led by mobile and free-to-play, U.S. digital sales see big gains in 2013

Fantasy, Real-Life, Business Models, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, PvE, War, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, MMOFPS, Dungeon Fighter Online, Miscellaneous, MOBA, League of Legends, MMORPG

MMO Chart
The digital games market is still on the rise, generating $11.7 billion in sales in 2013. According to market research firm SuperData, this total marks an 11% increase over digital sales in 2012. SuperData noted that Christmas and New Year's occurring in the middle of the week may have helped spiked end-of-year numbers; December 2013 saw a 36% increase in digital sales compared to December 2012.

Mobile titles claimed the largest percentage of the digital pie, representing $3.6 billion in sales. Free-to-play titles were up 45% year-on-year to $2.9 billion. Perhaps most interesting for MMO players is the fact that F2P MMO offerings from games like World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic landed in the top ten, though the top three free-to-play earners in 2013 were CrossFire, League of Legends, and Dungeon Fighter Online.

Data used by the firm is gathered by collecting digital transaction data directly from developers and publishers.

[Thanks to Hagu for the tip!]

MMObility: Innogames' Fabio Lo Zito details Tribal Wars 2

Betas, Fantasy, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Interviews, PvP, War, Free-to-Play, Browser, MMORTS, MMObility

Tribal Wars 2 screenshot
Tribal Wars 2 is the successor to Innogames' oldest title, Tribal Wars. The original is (to put it gently) ugly as sin, but that has never stopped it from being one of the most popular titles the German publisher produced. As a matter of fact, 2013 was the biggest year for the original game... after a decade in existence! You might have heard of some of the other titles in the Innogames lineup or watched an advertisement for two of its largest games, Grepolis and Forge of Empires. So how does Tribal Wars 2 compare to these other games?

First of all, it offers much of the same intense gameplay as the publisher's other, larger titles. Grepolis is sort of the spiritual successor to Tribal Wars and features water-based gameplay that makes ships and deities an integral part of play. Grepolis also offers a more wide-ranging playerbase, thanks to television advertising that helped to pull in more casual players.

Tribal Wars is much more hardcore, and Tribal Wars 2 will be no different. It will look a heck of a lot prettier than its earlier sibling, though! I sat down with Fabio Lo Zito of Innogames to talk about the changes.

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Doctor Who: Worlds in Time shutting down

Business Models, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, Browser, Sunsets

Doctor Who Worlds in Time
It's a day that ends in 'Y,' which means that somewhere someone is shepherding a free-to-play pseudo-MMO through its death rattle. Today that title is Doctor Who: Worlds in Time, a browser-based thing from developer Three Rings that's been operating since March of 2012.

According to the official website, the game will shut down on February 28th. Microtransaction services have already been suspended.

League of Angels goes live today

Fantasy, Events (In-Game), Launches, New Titles, Browser

League of Angels
Youzu Interactive's hybrid turn-based fantasy MMO League of Angels will officially launch today, and co-publisher R2Games is celebrating with events rewarding in-game items and LoA merchandise. In addition, fans will get a peek at special event cosplay from "established names in the community" by signing up for the game's newsletter.

League of Angels features a training system for your team of angels, massive PvP arenas, crafting, and character customization with mounts, cosmetics, and other accessories. Interested players can sign up and play straight from the game's official portal via GTArcade.

[Source: R2 Games/Youzu Interactive press release]

Eldevin making a run at Steam Greenlight

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, New Titles, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Browser, MMORPG

Browser-based MMO Eldevin, which launched at the end of November and was named by our own Beau Hindman as indie browser MMO of the year, is now entering the fray that is Steam Greenlight's open voting pool. Fans of Eldevin can vote for the game if they want to see it come to Steam; Hunted Cow aims to create a standalone Java-based version of Eldevin that will run on Valve's digital distribution platform.

Greenlight has proven a boon to many small studios. Since its inception, hundreds of games have been greenlit for distribution on Steam with the most recent batch landing just today. If Eldevin clears the vote threshold, it might just make it through Valve's approval process and onto Steam's digital shelves.

Check out the Eldevin launch trailer after the break and have a look at the game's Greenlight listing for more information.

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The Stream Team: Wracking our brains in Brain Storm

Betas, Real-Life, Sci-Fi, Video, New Titles, Previews, Opinion, Browser, Hands-On, Casual, MMORTS, Livestream, Miscellaneous, The Stream Team

Brain Storm screenshot
Join us as we explore Brain Storm, an interesting quiz-based, browser-based MMORTS. Yes, it's a real thing and so far looks pretty cool, so join Massively's Beau Hindman in the chat room and ask your curious questions!

Game: Brain Storm
Host: Beau
Date: Monday, January 6th, 2013
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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MMObility: Mobile and browser face off in School of Dragons

Fantasy, Screenshots, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Previews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Kids, Family, MMObility

School of Dragons screenshot
I was excited to learn about a mobile version of School of Dragons, a browser-based, kid-friendly MMO based on the fantastic movie How to Train Your Dragon. I pictured soaring through the skies and interacting with characters from the movie, all while sitting down with my favorite tablet. Unfortunately, I am not able to play on my favorite tablet yet (my Android), but I was able to download it on my wife's iPad Air.

I didn't have much experience with the browser-based version, so I read up on Karen's MMO Family article, made an account, and logged in. I was impressed by the game's visuals even though they are fairly primitive, as they do a good job of giving a sense of scale and accurately recreate many of the movie's characters. The game is very active, even during odd times of the day, and the chat is filled with players discussing the finer points of being a viking.

Unfortunately, the game lacks in polish. Is it be good enough to satisfy younger, less picky fans? Possibly, but after playing the browser-based version, I hoped that the mobile version would somehow feel smoother and more natural.

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Massively's Third Annual Frindie Awards

Fantasy, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Ryzom, Wurm Online, Opinion, Second Life, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile, Casual, Virtual Worlds, MMORTS, Free for All, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

Frindie Awards
It's time once again for me to throw out my awards for the best of free-to-play, indie, and oddball MMOs, a real niche-within-a-niche. It might seem that I am assigned many of these titles as though I were some modern day Mikey, but the truth is that I get a huge thrill out of finding a new game but get even more of a thrill when I realize that no one is covering it. I had to really think hard about the criteria for the awards this year, mainly because "indie" is quickly becoming one of those often hard-to-define words, alongside "MMORPG" and "free-to-play." Fortunately, I think I know it when I see it.

I kept my choices to games that I have actually played this year. I wanted to avoid games that appear to be really cool. If you want a more broad batch of prizes, check out Massively's best of awards. (Side note: I voted for Defiance as my game of the year.)

These awards are for games that are being created on a shoestring or independent of massive budgets. Some of them are connected to some money, of course, but instead of trying to define "indie," I will only repeat: You'll know it when you see it.

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Second Wind: City of Steam: Arkadia

Fantasy, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, City of Steam, Second Wind, Steampunk

Screenshot -- City of Steam: Arkadia
I've been rooting for City of Steam ever since it was first announced, mostly due to my sheer love of the steampunk genre. We've got high fantasy and gritty sci-fi games galore, but steampunk has been largely neglected in the realm of gaming.

That's why it was so disheartening to hear that City of Steam's first incarnation (of which I spoke rather highly when I saw it at PAX East in early 2013) would be shutting down after only about five months of opening its doors to players. It was a bold move for Mechanist Games to make the jump to self-publishing, and when I saw the game featured on Kongregate, I decided I'd check and see how the troubled title was holding up in its new form. The question is, does City of Steam: Arkadia manage to stoke the fires or is it just a bunch of hot air?

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RuneScape launches companion app

Fantasy, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Mobile

RuneScape's got a new way to stay in touch your with friends who are outside of the game: the Companion app.

RuneScape Companion is a versatile web app that can be accessed by just about any mobile device, tablet, or PC via the companion web page. The app currently functions as a chat interface between you and your friends, clan, or private conversation partners. Jagex is looking to expand the app's functionality in the coming year.

While the companion app works great on many devices, there are a few that have yet to be invited into the club, such as the iPad Air and all Windows phones.

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