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Business Models

Life is Feudal sells 65,000 copies on Steam early access

Fantasy, Video, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Sandbox

Things are going swimmingly for Life is Feudal if Steam early access sales are any indication. Indie studio Bitbox Ltd says that it's moved 65,000 units of its flagship title since September 19th. If you're a fan of fantasy MMOs and sandboxes, you might want to take a look at the game's latest promo trailer that we've embedded just past the cut.

[Source: Bitbox Ltd.]

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World of Warcraft increases fees in China

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, Subscription

It's going to be a little more expensive to vacation in Azeroth from China in just a couple of weeks.

MMO Culture noted that Chinese publisher NetEase is jacking up World of Warcraft's fees for the first time ever in the region. As of October 16th, the fee will go up by about 45% to become 30¥ for 2700 minutes and 15¥ for 1350 minutes. Instead of paying a flat subscription per month, Chinese players purchase blocks of time to access World of Warcraft.

NetEase handles a bundle of properties in China including World of Warcraft and reported an increase in profits for the previous quarter. However, Blizzard pointed at Asia as the location for a "disproportionate" amount of the 800,000 subscribers lost earlier this year.

Casual escapists, Skyforge hasn't forgotten you

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Culture, Game Mechanics, Interviews, News Items, PvE, Skyforge

A new MMOGames interview with Obsidian Executive Producer Eric DeMilt sheds light on inbound sci-fantasy MMO Skyforge, which he says is angling to provide a deep experience for players with tons of time -- as well as players with very little. As he put it,
"We are striving to make a great high quality free to play MMO that would have action oriented combat and allow for short rewarding session time. We wanted to make something that could accommodate short session game play as allow for enjoyable longer play sessions. It's about escapism and being larger than life."
DeMilt also discusses power creep, player retention, character progression, the Facebook-inspired social network within the game, and monetization; on the last, he's reluctant to give details, but he vows that Skyforge is "not going to be a flat-out pay-to-win game."

Not So Massively: Patches for Destiny, Path of Exile, and Diablo III

Betas, Business Models, Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, Dungeons, MOBA, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Star Citizen, Path of Exile, E-sports, OARPG

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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Villagers and Heroes' latest update introduces subscriptions

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Patches, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Subscription

Villagers and Heroes
Indie sandbox Villagers and Heroes' latest patch, Sands of the Equinox, landed last week. Of note, the patch adds a new all-level zone called the Oases of Anuk'Amon, where players can fight new bosses, collect new gear, and gather craft components. To address player complaints about the combat system, Mad Otter added a new optional dodging mechanic.

And here's something you don't see a lot of indie F2P games doing well past their launch: With this update, Mad Otter implemented an optional subscription plan. Ardent Society Memberships, as the subscriptions are called, boost experience gained from most activities, grant unlimited travel hops and bonus consumables, eliminate house rent, and create extra shared storage. A month-to-month sub is $7.95.

Massively last explored Villagers and Heroes in the wake of its April 2014 update and Steam launch.

Make My MMO: September 21 - 27, 2014

Betas, Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding, Make My MMO

As usual in the Kickstarter corner of the MMO industry, this week saw ups and downs for hopeful MMOs. Trials of Ascension hit its $60,000 crowndfund goal, Star Citizen broke $54,000,000 (count those zeroes, folks!), and Camelot Unchained got a new website. Yay! But TUG laid off half its staff, Pathfinder Online's early enrollment has been delayed until almost Halloween, and Project Gorgon's Kickstarter campaign has fallen short of its $100,000 goal. Boo! Bringing balance to the universe is Shroud of the Avatar, which was successfully Steam greenlit but has resorted to enticing testers with digital hats.

Read on for our complete MMO crowdfunding roundup in this week's edition of Make My MMO.

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Betawatch: September 20 - 26, 2014

Betas, Business Models, Launches, MMO Industry, News Items, Betawatch, Miscellaneous

Trion Worlds ended Trove's alpha yesterday... and soft-launched its paid beta (complete with a brand-new class) in its place. Beta, mind you, will not be wiped again, but you've still got to pony up for a starter pack of one flavor or another to access it. What else is new in the land of MMO testing this week? Read on for the complete Betawatch roundup.

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The Daily Grind: Do you follow MMOs because of their designers?

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

An interesting Kill Ten Rats article a few weeks ago pondered the idea that gamers purchase games because those games are "by the makers of" some other game -- to their doom. Much ado, for example, was made over WildStar's dev team because of its members' work on World of Warcraft, and names like Jake Song, Brad McQuaid, and Mark Jacobs carry a lot of weight when attached to a new MMO title. Yet star power doesn't necessarily make for a good or successful game, especially if that famous designer wasn't directly responsible for whatever it was that made an old game great. Akaneiro is still a mess with or without American McGee's tag.

What about you? Do you buy MMOs based on the past work of individual developers?

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!

WildStar adopts quarterly update cadence: 'No more drops before their time'

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, Patches, PvP, News Items, PvE, Dev Diaries, Miscellaneous, WildStar, Dungeons, Subscription

WildStar Product Director Mike Donatelli has penned a new state of the game post to address concerns about the themepark in the wake of Jeremy Gaffney's resignation as Carbine President and the announcement of server merges in the form of megaservers.

Donatelli says that WildStar will now function under a quarterly cadence for major updates. In August, he told players that the team was adopting a "when it's done" approach to drops instead of its originally planned monthly cadence. "If it's not ready, we'll hold it until it is," he reiterates today, citing quality as his motivator. "This doesn't mean we won't have other activities available to experience on a more regular basis; we're just taking the necessary time to get the major drops right." The next drop, scheduled for November, will include both solo and world story content.

He also promises improved elder game itemization, disincentives for toxic PvP behavior, attunement adjustments, and a new training dungeon to prepare players for WildStar's controversial raid content. "I want to stress that we're not nerfing raids," he writes. "We're just giving you the tools to succeed when tackling them."

Guild Wars 2 promotes its World Tournament Series Championships, goes on sale

Fantasy, Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), Events (In-Game), Game Mechanics, PvP, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Livestream, Buy-to-Play

Earlier this morning, ArenaNet delivered its 2014 Guild Wars 2 World Tournament Series Championships roadmap from London's Eurogamer Expo, where the studio is livestreaming its latest e-sports endeavor. ANet is calling the tourney the game's "first truly international competition" as it pulls players from three continents; opening rounds of qualifiers have already concluded. The studio explains,
"Each event will pit four teams in a fight to become the world's best Guild Wars 2 PvP players, with the top two teams from the host region facing off against two visiting teams. The debut event is scheduled for December 4-5 in Beijing, where players will vie for a $50,000 (USD) prize pool and the title of first-ever Guild Wars 2 WTS Champion."
As promised Tuesday, the buy-to-play MMO's free trial also began this morning at 3 a.m. EDT; it's active for a week until the wee hours of October 2nd. Box prices (specifically, Digital Heroic Editions and Digital Deluxe Editions through the GW2 storefront) have also been halved throughout the promotion.

[Source: Anet press release]

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Pathfinder Online's early enrollment is delayed yet again

Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Business Models, News Items, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding, Subscription, Pathfinder Online, Buy-to-Play

Pathfinder Online has further delayed the start of its next testing phase, Goblinworks wrote on its blog yesterday in a post titled Early Enrollment Will Not Start This Week:
There are a lot of final pieces coming into place to turn Pathfinder Online into a Minimum Viable Product so all of our early adopters can play and have a great time. The Auction House didn't make it in for a build last week and that is a critical feature of our MVP. As always, Goblinworks is dedicated to making sure the players have a solid and fun game experience. As a result we are going to reschedule the start of Early Enrollment. The team is developing their roadmap and when we have a revised start date we will provide an updated blog to present that plan. We appreciate your continued patience.
Those of you playing along at home will recall that this is the third such delay. On September 3rd, early enrollment was shifted to September 22nd for bug fixing; a week later, it was set for September 25th to accommodate, Goblinworks said, its players' vocal "desire to have the whole early enrollment map ready for play on the first day of early enrollment." Early enrollment is the equivalent of paid early access for backers and incurs a subscription fee.

Analysts estimate Blizzard's lost investment after Titan's cancellation

Business Models, Economy, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

Titan's official cancellation notice yesterday didn't come as much of a surprise to MMO players; after all, the game had been backburnered more than a year ago, its staff transferring to Warlords of Draenor and other Blizzard projects. But the cancellation means Blizzard might never fully recoup its seven-year investment in the game, and that has some analysts worried.

"Development costs for Titan may have amounted to tens of millions, perhaps $50 million or more," says one such analyst, Billy Pidgeon, as quoted in a GamesIndustry.biz piece yesterday. Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter upped that estimate: "My guess is 100 - 200 people at $100,000 per year, so $70 - 140 million sunk cost. It's pretty sad that it took so long to figure out how bad the game was. I expect them to go back to the drawing board." Still another industry observer, David Cole, argued that the current games market simply no longer tolerates seven-year development cycles and high overhead.

Pidgeon stresses that it's not all doom and gloom, however: "Blizzard has cancelled several games in various stages of development in the past. Costs for unreleased games can be significant, but launching substandard games can harm the reputation of a successful publisher such as Blizzard. Expenses for development can be considered R&D, and benefits can include invaluable training, IP and technology that can be applied to other games."

Guild Wars 2 opens limited free trial access [Updated]

Fantasy, Business Models, Events (Real-World), News Items, Guild Wars 2, Promotions, Buy-to-Play

OK, guy in the comment section who always asks whether Guild Wars 2 has a free trial: The answer is finally yes.

But there's a catch; free access to the game lasts for one week only, beginning at 3 a.m. EDT on September 25th and ending 2:59 a.m. EDT on October 2nd. ArenaNet says it has already opened registration for the trial so that interested gamers can start downloading the client ahead of time. Old trial accounts will work for this promotion.

Earlier this month, Guild Wars 2's second feature pack overhauled the early game experience, making this an ideal time to be a newbie in the buy-to-play title.

[Update: ArenaNet has posted a number of mechanics changes that will be in place for the trial and affect trial accounts, including restrictions on mail and chat.]

Not So Massively: SOTA's greenlight campaign, LoL's free song, and Destiny's first raid

Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Business Models, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Mobile, MMOFPS, World of Tanks, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, World of Warships, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Crowdfunding, Destiny, Elite: Dangerous

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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Shroud of the Avatar has already been greenlit on Steam

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Shroud of the Avatar, Buy-to-Play

Well, that was fast! After a brief campaign that began late last week, Shroud of the Avatar announced today that it has been successfully greenlit on Steam:
As you can see on the page your overwhelmingly positive support has resulted in an incredibly fast green lighting of Shroud! Thank you all so much for your support. Stay tuned as we now work with Valve to get Shroud in the Early Access section of Steam as soon as we can.
SOTA's successful 2013 Kickstarter campaign has to date brought in almost two million dollars. Early access is currently available with a $45 minimum pledge.

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