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Business Models

Heroes & Generals on Steam today

Historical, Business Models, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, War, Free-to-Play

Did you know that Heroes & Generals was one of the first titles to ever be Greenlit by the Steam community? Yep, it was, and today developer Reto-Moto is launching the World War II shooter/strategy FPS on Valve's ubiquitous PC platform.

But wait, isn't Heroes & Generals a browser game? Well, partly, but Reto-Moto says not to worry. "The browser version will also still be operational and both versions offer the same game and access to the same wars," the firm explains via press release. If you're already an H&G player, you can use your existing account with the new Steam version.

Click past the cut to have a look at the Steam launch trailer!

[Source: Reto-Moto press release]

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David Braben explains Elite's high prices

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Buy-to-Play

If you looked at the £200 alpha and £100 premium beta price tag for Elite: Dangerous and thought, wow, that's pretty damn expensive, you're not alone. Frontier boss David Braben recently explained the price points to Eurogamer.

"We've taken flak for it," Braben said. "But the important thing for the alpha is, for it to be a genuine alpha, we didn't want huge numbers. Maybe we shouldn't have restricted it by price but it seemed like a logical thing to do. It seemed like a fair thing to do."

He goes on to say that while Frontier could have "thought more carefully" about how the prices would appear to gamers outside of Elite fandom, the devs "planned it this way for sound reasons, and part of that is going toward backing the game. We don't have a publisher here," Braben said. "That backing helps financially."

The Daily Grind: Is the term free-to-play intentionally misleading?

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind, Mobile, Miscellaneous

Earlier this month, Britain's Advertising Standards Authority barred EA from advertising its mobile game Dungeon Keeper as "free-to-play." Why? Because Dungeon Keeper has a countdown timer that blocks progress in the game, a timer that can be bypassed with money. "From the information available in the ad, players would expect the gameplay progression and their ability to advance to be unhindered by unexpected and excessively onerous delays," wrote ASA, "and we therefore considered that the length and frequency of these countdown events was beyond that which would be reasonably expected by players. [...] While we understood that the average consumer would appreciate that free-to-play games were likely to contain monetization functions, we considered that they would also expect the play experience of a game described as 'free' to not be excessively restricted."

Welcome, ASA, to the MMO community's endless debate over what constitutes free-to-play! This "free-to-wait" game mechanic is nothing new to us; it pervades mobile titles as well as many MMORTS titles and indie MMOs (Glitch and Villagers and Heroes come to mind). As a gamer, I find the mechanic not so much exploitative as obnoxious, and I'd rather not see it spread. But I spy a slippery slope here. Do you think the ASA is right? Are MMOs with this mechanic (or similar mechanics) misleading consumers? Which F2P games could be legitimately F2P under the ASA's understanding of the term?

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!

Guild Wars 2 selling well in China [Updated]

Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Buy-to-Play

Chinese MMO players love Guild Wars 2, according to an NCsoft census that was translated on Reddit. The two-year old fantasy MMO has eclipsed 3.8 million Chinese users, which indicates far faster growth than the game has exhibited in the rest of the world. The title launched in August of 2012 and topped the 3.5 million sales mark a year later. China's 3.8 million sales happened in just two months.

GamesIndustry.biz posits that GW2's Chinese success is an indication of a lucrative and untapped market for Western developers as well as evidence that buy-to-play business models can succeed in an area dominated by F2P.

[Thanks 7BitBrian!]

[Update: ArenaNet has disavowed these numbers as of July 11th. "We'd like to clarify recent news of GW2 China sales: it's inaccurate, from a Chinese fansite, and they could be estimating characters," the studio said via Twitter. Thanks to Martin for the tip.]

Richard Bartle predicts that free-to-play will decline

Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play

From up here it all seems so easy.
Free-to-play as a business model stirs a lot of passionate opinions in both gamers and developers. According to Richard Bartle, well-known gaming researcher and co-creator of the first MUD, free-to-play as a business model has a certain half-life and is going to hit a point when it's just not viable any longer. Bartle spoke on the topic at the Develop conference in Brighton, explaining that the lack of standardization across the industry is part of what will hamper the model, with different games placing different cash gates at varying levels of restrictiveness.

Bartle went on to state that the model also relies upon a fixed number of people willing to pay a large amount of money to make up for the users who pay nothing, and designers themselves will be unhappy with developing content for free-to-play titles. It's undeniable that the free-to-play model has had a massive impact on MMOs; whether it's a temporary thing or a consistent feature of this particular genre is still up for debate.

Trion Worlds' Scott Hartsman: F2P reduces barriers

Business Models, Interviews, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play

rift
Trion Worlds CEO Scott Hartsman is preaching the gospel of free-to-play far and wide these days, saying that it makes sense to have games as accessible as possible to players.

"If there's one thing we're learned through all of our own prior development, it's that the barrier of having to purchase a thing before getting into a game is proving to be a bigger and bigger barrier as time goes on," Hartsman told MCV.

But will F2P backfire by giving away the store for nothing to penny-pinching players? Hartsman doesn't think so: "What we're discovering is that if you take great content and great gameplay and reduce the barriers and take that leap of faith, customers will be there for you and will be there to support you."

All of Trion Worlds' game library is free-to-play at this point.

Super Hero Squad Online revamps cash shop, posts Recharged trailer

Super-hero, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Casual, Family

SHSO
Kid-friendly Super Hero Squad Online is today touting its recent Recharged patch, the game's biggest ever release. Recharged brings new starter heroes, new gear, new achievements, and new missions to the game. Players and parents will want to know that the cash shop has been revamped and prices on buyables like heroes have been reduced. Currency acquisition has also been redesigned and simplified; the game's currencies have been merged into one currency called fractals, which are now obtainable in larger quantities and through more activities.

Gazillion boasts that its active playerbase has more than doubled in size since the update. Enjoy the game's fresh trailer below.

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Frontier opens Elite single-player combat build to all pre-order pilots

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

Frontier has doubled the number of players fighting, trading, and exploring their way through the sprawling cosmos of Elite: Dangerous. The firm released Elite's single-player combat build to all beta backers earlier today in preparation for the multiplayer beta launch on July 29th.

If you've pre-ordered or backed Elite, you can download the launcher by logging into the game's website and pointing your browser at the "My Downloadable Products" link. Frontier also wants you to know that you can still pre-order the multiplayer beta and receive immediate access to today's single-player release.

[Source: Frontier press release]

Destiny reveals beta dates, expansion pass, and special edition pricing

Betas, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Business Models, MMOFPS, Destiny

Destiny
It's open war across the cosmos, and your wallets look to be the first casualty in Destiny's interplanetary conflict. Bungie announced today that it will be pre-selling two DLC packs and revealed the contents of its special editions. The studio also said that the PlayStation beta will start on July 17th, with the Xbox beta kicking off a week later on July 23rd.

Despite the name, the Destiny Expansion Pass isn't for full-fledged expansions but for the first couple of post-launch content additions. The first pack, The Dark Below, will explore an ancient tomb underneath the Moon's surface. Bungie is promising exclusive PlayStation content for both expansion packs. Players can buy the expansion pass for $34.99 or individual packs for $19.99 apiece.

Alternatively, thrifty Destiny fans can pick up one of the special editions that come with the two DLC packs included. These packages include the Digital Guardian Edition ($89.99), the Limited Edition ($99.99), and the Ghost Edition ($149.99). While the editions each contain a different mix of goodies, by pre-ordering any of them players will have early access to weapons, gear, and emblems.

Bungie also released the official beta trailer, which you can watch after the break.

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Make My MMO: June 29 - July 5, 2014

Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Crowdfunding, Make My MMO

This week in MMO crowdfunding... not a whole lot happened, to tell you the truth. Oh sure, the usual space sim suspects made additional bank, and despite a failed Kickstarter drive, indie sandbox MMORPG Shards Online soldiered ahead with its development roadmap and a plan to release a playable alpha by the end of the year.

Other than that, though, it was fairly quiet. Indie firm Universe Projects did alert us about its Voidspace Kickstarter, which looks to fund a sci-fi sandbox MMO that has already been Greenlit on Steam. Further details are available past the cut.

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Asheron's Call is now buy-to-play

Fantasy, Asheron's Call, Business Models, Events (Real-World), News Items, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

AC1
As announced back in May, Asheron's Call (and by extension, Asheron's Call 2) has shifted from a subscription to a buy-to-play model this week.

Turbine wrote in May that the last sub payments would be processed on June 30th and that the game would become buy-to-play thereafter. Massively can confirm that logging into the Turbine account site and attempting to resume an old account currently allows players to select a "Lifetime AC Plan" for $9.99, which matches the buy-to-play price for all gamers who wish to play for the first time. Players who were subbed at the transition should be grandfathered in and will no longer be billed every month.

While both games will continue in maintenance mode, Turbine still plans to facilitate player-run servers this year.

[With thanks to Arpeggio.]

Perfect World Entertainment buys Digital Extremes

Sci-Fi, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, MMOFPS

And now it's going to be all about making money, because... it used to be a charity?  Not clear on this point.
Perfect World Entertainment is adding another studio to its cap. Digital Extremes Ltd., the studio behind Warframe, is having all of its outstanding shares purchased by PWE in cooperation with Sumpo Food Holdings Limited. This agreement is non-binding and was first announced on June 30th, although nothing has come up since to indicate any sort of a change or reversal.

Players have taken to the forums voicing a certain amount of displeasure with the deal, with several comparisons to PWE's acquisition of Cryptic Studios when it was sold by Atari. As it stands, no official statement beyond the business dealings has been made by the studio.

[Thanks to Clinton for the tip!]

Not So Massively: Hearthstone's expansion, God of Destiny's greenlighting, and Dead Island's MOBA

Betas, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Events (Real-World), Expansions, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Consoles, MMOFPS, DUST 514, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MOBA, Age of Wushu, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Hearthstone

NSM
Welcome back to No So Massively, where every Monday we round up the highlights from the past week in the world of MOBAs, roguelikes, MMOTCGs, and other games that aren't quite MMOs.

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Make My MMO: June 22 - June 28, 2014

Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Crowdfunding, Make My MMO

This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Star Citizen made more money. At this point I should probably go ahead and add that as a permanent part of Make My MMO's opening paragraph. Elsewhere, Pathfinder Online formally flung open its doors and invited backers into its alpha. If you supported the fantasy sandbox on Kickstarter or purchased access through the GoblinWorks store, you should be getting an email invite.

Finally, indie outfit Nesoi Tech revealed Bone Gulch, which is some sort of online multiplayer Old West thing built with the Unity engine. Though its Kickstarter page labels it an MMO, I'm not sure how MMO it really is, but I'm desperate enough for a Red Dead Redemption-style persistent world to be cautiously optimistic.

As always, the rest of our crowdfunded MMO roundup is just past the break.

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SMITE claims four million players since launch

Fantasy, Historical, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, MOBA

smite
In a new interview with RedBull.com this week, Hi-Rez Studios COO Todd Harris revealed that since SMITE's launch last March, both the MOBA's dev team and its player population are on the rise. In fact, he says, the game has become so profitable that Hi-Rez has "double[d] the size of [its] studio."
At the game's release in late March, we were at three million players, and we are now well over four million. We are not on Steam, but comparing to Steam stats, SMITE would sit around number 10 to 12 in terms of popularity and daily players. Most importantly to us, the playing population has increased every month since the start of the Beta. [...] Our players are currently 45 percent Europe, 40 percent North America, 10 percent South America and five percent other.
Harris drops a few other bits of trivia, including the fact that SMITE's original sci-fi IP was based on the studio's MMOFPS Global Agenda, but the mythology theme was deemed more "compelling."

[With thanks to keen-eyed tipster Sorenthaz!]

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