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Business Models

The Daily Grind: Is PLEX/APEX/C.R.E.D.D. risky for developers?

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Business Models, Economy, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox, WildStar

Trion announced ArcheAge's APEX system recently, and while I'm sure it has its own wrinkles, my first instinct was to compare it to EVE Online's PLEX. It's a fascinating idea, allowing players with knowledge of an in-game economy to leverage said knowledge into enough currency to buy tradeable items that can be redeemed for subscription time.

It's always struck me as a bit risky, though. We can only guess at the number of EVE fans who play the game for free thanks to PLEX, but I imagine it's a pretty significant slice of the game's old money crowd. And while newer games like ArcheAge and even WildStar are aping the system in some fashion, it's too early to tell what sort of effect APEX and C.R.E.D.D. will have on developers' bottom lines.

What do you think, Massively readers? Do these sorts of systems seem risky to you if you put yourself in a dev's shoes, or do you think the number of players taking advantage of these systems is relatively small?

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!

Pathfinder Online formally opens alpha to backers

Betas, Fantasy, Bugs, Business Models, News Items, Crowdfunding, Pathfinder Online

Pathfinder
"Ladies and Gentlemen and Miscellaneous Humanoids of all Types," wrote Ryan Dancey on the Goblinworks website today, "It is my great pleasure to announce that we are beginning the formal Alpha Test of Pathfinder Online."

According to Dancey, invitations are now en route to Kickstarter backers and everyone who purchased alpha access through the official game store, so check your email if you ponied up. You can also check out the release notes to clue you in on what's in the alpha and what isn't quite.

For those not participating in the test, the studio plans to livestream the current build tomorrow -- that is, Friday, June 27th, at 6 p.m. EDT -- on its Twitch channel.

Swordsman slashes its way into open beta on July 3rd

Betas, Fantasy, Historical, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, News Items, Free-to-Play, Swordsman

Swordsman
Perfect World Entertainment has just announced that its martial arts-flavored Swordsman MMO will enter open beta on July 3rd, bringing to an end the closed beta that began on June 17th. Special $60 hero packs were announced yesterday.

To coincide with the announcement, Swordsman Product Manager Gabrielle Heiland has narrated a new dev walkthrough video highlighting the game's story, guilds, PvP, and combat mechanics and visuals. Enjoy the vid below!

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Shroud of the Avatar's Release 7 adds water lots and more

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Housing, Crowdfunding, Shroud of the Avatar, Buy-to-Play

Shroud of the Avatar's Release 7 access began this morning. It runs through Sunday, June 29th at 11:00 p.m. EDT. Producer Starr Long has posted a lengthy update that details some of the changes you can expect if you're a backer of the fantasy sandbox.

Chief among these are new water lots and water-based buildings, a 3-D overworld map system, player-to-player secure trading, animal reskins and improved animations, and more. Full details as well as a list of known issues and instructions is available at the official SotA website.

Trion details ArcheAge's patron status, APEX system

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, ArcheAge, Sandbox

Trion has detailed its plans for Patron status in ArcheAge, which it says takes a cue from the company's experience in converting RIFT to a free-to-play business model. Patron status is basically ArcheAge's premium service tier, though Trion says it isn't required to play and instead "adds to the fun." Patrons will get:

• Bonus online Labor Point regeneration (10 per 5 minutes)
• Offline Labor Point regeneration (5 per 5 minutes)
• Increased maximum Labor Points cap (5000 maximum)
• 10% bonus to all Experience gained through combat or labor usage
• 10% discount on Marketplace purchases
• 5 Loyalty Tokens per day for use in the Loyalty Store (awarded on first login of the day)
• Ability to claim land by placing farms and houses
• Ability to pay in-game taxes on owned property
• Ability to post auctions on the Auction House by default

Trion has also announced APEX, an in-game item that grants credits when consumed and that can be sold on the game's auction house or traded between players. Much like EVE Online's PLEX, APEX will allow "industrious" ArcheAge players to pay for Patron status via their gameplay rather than real money. There's more to Trion's announcement, too, including possible F2P house ownership, so click through the links below to read the rest!

Warhammer 40K: Eternal Crusade's founder program goes live

Betas, Sci-Fi, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Events (Real-World), News Items, Free-to-Play, Warhammer 40k, Miscellaneous

war40k
The founder and pre-order program for the upcoming Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade MMO is now officially live. Founder tiers available start with the $40 Warrior Pack (which includes the game, early module access, 40,000 game points, and special perks) and run the price scale up to the $450 (and currently on sale) Xenos pack, which includes the game and early access along with 610,000 game points and even more special perks.

Not into forking over your cash just yet? At E3 a few weeks ago, Behavior Online told Massively that at launch (expected in 2016), Eternal Crusade will boast a hybrid model, with a $40 buy-to-play option and a free-to-play option that restricts players to the Ork Boyz faction. The cash shop will sell "pay-to-be-cool" cosmetics and skins, the devs said.

The studio also issued a new teaser trailer to coincide with the program launch. We've included it below.

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LEGO Minifigures Online open beta progress to carry over

Betas, Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Kids, Family

Funcom wants you to know that it has officially kicked off the open beta for LEGO Minifigures Online. The game's proper launch is still scheduled for Fall 2014, but as of now you can download the free-to-play beta client and have at it!

Current locations include Pirate World, Medieval World, and Space World, and the firm is "hard at work finishing up more great content," according to the news blurb on its web site.

Player progress and cash shop purchases will carry over from open beta to launch.

Blizzard sale slashes prices on WoW and Mists of Pandaria

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, News Items, Promotions, Subscription

WOW
We're sure this has nothing to do with recent themepark releases and impending updates, but here it is anyway: World of Warcraft's summer sale has dropped the prices of the game everyone loves to pretend to hate. The WoW bundle and separate Mists of Pandaria expansion can be had for 10 bucks apiece until July 1st. Our sister site WoW Insider notes that European gamers are looking at €7.50 for WoW and €10.00 for Mists.

Sorry, sale fiends; there's no way to rig this one.

Bone Gulch is a Wild West online sandbox with a Kickstarter campaign

Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding

Four years ago I was deep in the throes of Red Dead Redemption's lovely, lusty Old West. I wondered why a sprawling, frontier-based MMO wasn't yet a thing, and sadly I'm still wondering.

Indie company Nesoi Tech apparently shares my affinity for the genre, judging by its new Bone Gulch Kickstarter project. It's a Unity-based sandbox game featuring "an advanced crafting system, a unique bounty system," and "extensive player customization," among other things.

Nesoi's press release also mentions single-player story-based campaigns "in addition to local and online multiplayer action," so we're not quite sure how MMO it is at this point. There's some pre-alpha video footage available, though, and we've embedded it for you after the cut.

[Source: Nesoi press release]

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Bungie COO on Destiny's 10-year plan, business model, and more

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Destiny

Bungie COO Pete Parsons spoke to GamesIndustry.biz at E3 a couple of weeks ago, and the website has now published a wide-ranging interview that covers everything from Destiny's rumored $500 million budget to the fact that Bungie came to Activision with a 10-year plan for a new IP and a tent-pole franchise.

Parsons declined to directly answer questions on Destiny's unannounced business model, though he did reiterate that "it's not going to be subscription" and that Bungie is going to make sure that "it's never confusing for anybody."

Star Citizen tops $47 million, will continue to offer stretch goals

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Star Citizen, Buy-to-Play

Star Citizen has topped $47 million in funding on the wings of its recent Xi'An scout ship promotion. Cloud Imperium boss Chris Roberts talks about the ship and its unique thruster setup (and its corresponding unique flight characteristics inside the space sim's physics engine) in his latest letter from the chairman.

Roberts also reveals that 54 percent of Star Citizen backers voted for CIG to continue offering stretch goals. He says that the company will "honor that choice," but that there will be some changes. "I'm not comfortable promising additional features with each million unless they're truly additive," he explains. "When we have a new idea that really impacts the final game and needs the funding then we'll offer it here... but you can expect a number of player rewards and new ways of highlighting Arena Commander as immediate goals!"

The Daily Grind: Have you ever volunteered for an MMO?

Fantasy, EverQuest, Business Models, Culture, Events (In-Game), MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, The Daily Grind, Roleplaying, Miscellaneous, Player-Generated Content

EQ
A few weeks ago in my Working As Intended column, I brought up the role gamemasters and officially appointed player helpers had in fostering communities, directing roleplaying, and aiding newbies and event organizers in early MMOs. We're not talking about just floating a HELPER tag over your head (though most modern MMOs lack even that); old-school games literally ran programs that traded game time (or just a hearty thanks!) to players who would log into special accounts or robed characters and lend a hand, officiate a wedding, or help a clueless nooblet find the bank.

While I was focusing primarily on Ultima Online in that article, just a few days later, SOE tweeted a post about the EverQuest franchise's alive-and-kicking volunteer Guide program. Participating player Guides are now expected to run dynamic events and quests rather than interact in chat, but the concept is the same, even in 2014, however strange it must seem to newcomers to the genre.

Today I'm wondering how many of our readers have ever volunteered in a semi-official or official capacity within their MMO of choice. How did it treat you, and do you want to see programs like these become more widespread?

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!

Not So Massively: GTAO's update, Hearthstone's tourney, and LoL's Summoner's RIFT revamp

Betas, Sci-Fi, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, New Titles, Patches, PvP, News Items, Mobile, Consoles, MMOFPS, Community Q&A, Post-Apocalyptic, Not So Massively, Sandbox, MOBA, League of Legends, Diablo III, Firefall, Destiny, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, Infinite Crisis, Path of Exile, Hearthstone, The Division

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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Das Tal secures additional funding, releases summary vid

Fantasy, Video, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items

Fairytale Distillery has announced that its Das Tal PvP sandbox MMO has received a $130,000 funding infusion that will speed up development.

"A basic playable build will be available for public testing in July," the firm says via press release, and new alpha testers will be added to the current pool. If you want to be part of the game's testing process, you can sign up on the newly redesigned website.

Finally, the dev team has a released a new video that summarizes what Das Tal has on offer. View it in full, along with the press release, after the cut.

[Source: Fairytale Distillery press release]

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Pathfinder Online takes crowdforging seriously

Betas, Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, News Items, Miscellaneous, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Player-Generated Content, Pathfinder Online

Pathfinder
Goblinworks, whose sandbox MMO Pathfinder Online entered alpha earlier this month, is turning to hopeful players for crowdforging purposes by way of the IdeaScale platform. You've probably seen the concept used for software and mobile development already: Players post mechanics and gameplay suggestions and ideas, and other contributors vote them up to show the developers where to focus time and effort.

The Goblinworks team has highlighted a number of ideas via Twitter, including player books, gender neutrality, clothing dye, beast taming, and terrain as impediment. You can check out and contribute to the entire list of suggestions on the official site.

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