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Hearthstone launches Goblins vs. Gnomes on December 8th

Fantasy, Expansions, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Casual, Miscellaneous, Hearthstone

Yes, this is a thing that's happening.
It seems as if it was only a month ago that Hearthstone players learned the title of the game's first expansion, Goblins vs. Gnomes. Probably because it was a month ago. That expansion is launching on December 8th, adding 120 new cards into the card pool and displaying an alacrity that other Blizzard titles could only dream of achieving. The new expansion cards can be crafted, purchased, or earned via the Arena, just like the existing packs except with new cards.

If you're interested in having a launch party, Blizzard is also interested in your launch party. If you plan your event, have it registered as a proper gathering by notifying the community team, and then submit pictures and stories about the event by December 22nd, you could win a little Hearthstone care package. Or you could just kick back and enjoy the new expansion by playing. Your call.

Blizzard issues thousands (more) Hearthstone bot bans

Fantasy, Culture, News Items, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Trading Card Games, Casual, Miscellaneous, Hearthstone

Not just for using bots.  The first expansion is all about goblins and gnomes.  Come on.
Good news, Hearthstone players. If you've been using a bot to automate your gameplay, you'll log in today to find a shiny new prize! Specifically, that shiny new prize is not being able to log in because you've been banned. Your prize was being banned. Blizzard has awarded this prize to "several thousand" Hearthstone accounts using third-party tools to automate gameplay; the bans are permanent, so no need to worry about losing them at the end of the season.

Players who have not been botting and violating the game's TOS will also log in to find a shiny new prize, which is a play environment with far fewer bots. Isn't that nice? The official post reminds players to report suspicious behavior by emailing the development team so that in the future another group of cheaters can wake up to find a brand-new lifetime ban locking them out of the game.

Those of you who can still log in may also want to take the opportunity to vote on the next teaser for the Goblins vs. Gnomes expansion.

[Thanks to Dengar for the tip!]

Not So Massively: LoL's billion, SOTA's Steam debut, and Hearthstone's smartphone plans

Betas, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Classes, Culture, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Marvel Heroes, Consoles, Casual, MMOFPS, Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MOBA, League of Legends, Crowdfunding, Path of Exile, Hearthstone, E-sports, OARPG

NSM - Infinite Crisis
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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Hearthstone boasts 20 million registered players

Culture, News Items, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Casual, Miscellaneous, Hearthstone

Ironically, this would be far better than Warcraft is doing lately.
Does it ever seem like there's an endless flow of players in Hearthstone? There's not. But there are quite a lot of players, with Blizzard Entertainment announcing today that the game has broken 20 million registered accounts. If those were all people with real cards, that would be... a lot of cards. Like, at least a dozen.

The game launched on the iPad in April and is aiming at an Android tablet release in the near future, as well as expanding to iOS/Android phones. Hearthstone will also have its first world championship at Blizzcon this year, with contestants fighting for a $250,000 prize pool.

[Source: Blizzard Entertainment press release]

PAX Prime 2014: I wonder as I Wander

Betas, Fantasy, Previews, Consoles, Casual, Events (Massively's Coverage)

We've been keeping our eyes on Wander for a year now, and during PAX Prime I caught up with Lead Developer Loki Davison to see how this collaborative exploration title's been going.

For someone who only now got a first look at this game, it was a jarring shift from the adrenaline-fueled rides in booths all around. Instead, Wander is something akin to an interactive nature screensaver. You slowly move through the beautiful tropical setting to poke around looking for secrets and more scraps of the overarching story. There is no death. There are no other creatures, except for fellow players. And your top speed is capped at something like two miles per hour.

Davison said that this style of game is meant to be both relaxing and rewarding to the inquisitive mind. Discovery and sharing those findings with other players to figure out the larger secrets is the driving force here, but if you simply want to walk around as a giant tree with hands or flutter about as a butterfly, nobody is going to stop you.

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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

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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NGames teases new Star Trek 'MMO'

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Browser, Casual

We get all kinds of press releases here at the Massively office tower, some of them worth printing and some of them not. This latest one is pretty cryptic, since it neglects to nail down a title for the game it's hyping. Since the words Star Trek will probably fall somewhere in said title, though, we figured you'd want to know about it.

The game is purportedly an MMO, though to what extent publisher NGames doesn't say. In fact it doesn't say much of anything gameplay-related, though the title looks to be browser-based and set in Fluidic Space. "Combat plays a pivotal role," the press release mentions, with players needing to side with either the Klingons or the Federation. NGames says that it will "be revealing more information in the coming weeks."

We've copy/pasted the full release after the cut.

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Blizzard serves up some Hearthstone tips

Fantasy, Game Mechanics, News Items, Casual, Guides, Miscellaneous

Tip 1: Cards do things.
So maybe you've been playing some Hearthstone while waiting for the next World of Warcraft expansion to actually be a thing. That's not a difficult prospect if you're used to card games, but it's going to throw you for several loops if you haven't played them before. Senior designer Mike Donais has penned a new article full of tips for new players on how to build and play a new deck that can hold its own.

Veteran card game players will probably already be familiar with most of the fundamentals -- start with a theme, have early-game cards, play with plenty of minions -- but it's all good advice. It also offers some suggestions for cards worth building around whether you want a fast and aggressive deck or a slow controlling force. Check out the full article for a few ways to improve and refine your deck, hopefully making you that much more formidable on the ground.

Working As Intended: Dabbling in indie sandbox Villagers and Heroes

Fantasy, Business Models, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, Sandbox, Crafting, Housing, Working As Intended

Villagers and Heroes
Villagers and Heroes is not the sort of sandbox that gets a lot of coverage in the gaming press. You can't gank in the game. No one will murder you for your ore or your logs. There are no petty internet crime lords generating scandals or developers being ousted for cheating. Clichéd zombies are not waiting to slaughter you come nightfall. You cannot fall off a cliff or treetop pathway to your death. You never have to walk 10 miles uphill in the snow both ways to get to your house. You don't have to wait in line for an instance. You don't really have to fight at all.

In fact, the worst thing that might happen to you is that you'll run out of energy.

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Massively's hands-on with EVE Valkyrie on the Oculus Rift DK2

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Culture, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, New Titles, Previews, PvP, News Items, Opinion, Hands-On, Casual, First Impressions, Events (Massively's Coverage), MOBA, Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous

Elite: Dangerous title image
At last year's EVE Fanfest, the press and attendees got a rare glimpse into something other than CCP's major IPs -- a virtual reality tech demo produced by a handful of developers during their down time. Originally codenamed EVR, this VR dogfighter on the original Oculus Rift development kit drew a surprising amount of attention and went on to win several awards at E3. It's now been a year since that project first sprouted legs, and last week at EVE Fanfest 2014 it sprouted wings as well.

Now named EVE Valkyrie, what started as a side-project has become one of CCP's key intellectual properties and the poster-child for virtual reality gaming. The game's success now ultimately relies on the adoption of VR tech and the appeal of its gameplay, both of which are still open questions at this point. I got some hands-on time with the latest build of Valkyrie during Fanfest to see how the game and the technology that powers it have come along in the past year, and I was pleasantly surprised.

Read on to find out how Valkyrie has changed in the past year and for a first look at the new Oculus Rift Development Kit 2.

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EVE Fanfest 2014: EVE Valkyrie demos gameplay, features Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Events (Real-World), Game Mechanics, Lore, MMO Industry, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Consoles, Casual, Events (Massively's Coverage), Dev Diaries, Sandbox, MOBA, Virtual Reality

EVE Valkyrie
Moments ago at EVE Fanfest 2014 in Reykjavik, Iceland, developer CCP Games revealed some exciting developments for its upcoming virtual reality dogfighter EVE: Valkyrie. Among the announcements was the revelation that actress Katee Sackhoff (of Battlestar Galactica fame) will be starring as the voice of Valkyrie faction leader Ran. The Valkyrie faction is a breakaway sect of EVE Online's Guristas pirates that has become a mercenary outfit, using cloning and genetic enhancements to get an edge on the other pirate factions of New Eden. Sackhoff's character will be handing out missions to players in the final game and barking orders in your ear throughout each mission.

Read on for our the highlights of the Valkyrie demo and Sackhoff's video missive to players.

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Man steals thousands of dollars, spends them on Evony

Fantasy, Culture, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Humor

A Hawaiian man is expected to plead guilty to charges that he stole thousands of dollars to spend on the browser-based game Evony.

David Buchanan, 47, is charged with wire fraud after he convinced one woman to give him $40,000 for an investment that would see a promised 650% turnaround. "As a middle-aged, admittedly square, FBI Special Agent who doesn't play video games," Agent Tom Simon said during the investigation, "I was understandably perplexed when, during the 'follow the money' analysis, I kept seeing payments being made to something I'd never heard of called Evony. A bit of Googling properly identified Evony as an online video game of sorts, but I was still puzzled how anyone could possibly spend thousands of dollars on a video game. I wasn't being judgmental about the societal value of gaming. I was just dumbfounded that any video game could possibly cost that much."

You may remember Evony as that game best known for its boobtastic advertising campaigns a few years back, and, surprisingly enough, it's still around. Buchanan's trial is expected to take place on May 8th with sentencing expected later in the year.

Funcom secures $1.6 million in additional equity

Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Casual, Kids

Funcom logo
Funcom's website has published news of a move that gives the firm $1.6 million of additional equity as it prepares to launch LEGO Minifigures Online.

In May of 2012, Funcom reached an agreement with US fund manager Yorkville Advisors and is now partially exercising the resulting option. "We are very pleased to have increased the company's financial flexibility with funds that will be used in preparing for the launch of LEGO Minifigures Online," explained CEO Ole Schreiner explained in a prepared statement. "We have several times expressed a need for additional equity and have considered different alternatives to secure this. This facility has been available to us since 2012, but the timing has not been right before."

Super Hero Squad Online commemorates its third birthday

Super-hero, Trailers, Video, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Casual, Kids, Family, Anniversaries

Who says kids MMOs are dead? Not Super Hero Squad Online! The adorable chibi-superhero MMO turns three this week, boasting seven million registrations since launch, 144 different playable heroes, playable villains, and even a new crafting system.

The celebratory game additions and perks include new characters (Spider-Ham, Captain America Stealth, Falcon EXO-7, and Winter Solider), new world event heroes, hero sales, Facebook giveaways, a 20%-off sub sale through April, and a birthday card contest.

Enjoy the festivities in the brand-new trailer below.

[Source: Gazillion press release]

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Today's your last chance to play Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, Casual, Free Realms, Kids, Clone Wars Adventures, Sunsets

Clone Wars Adventures main cast
Per SOE's announcement last January, today is your final opportunity to play its Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures MMOs. If you can't play, be sure to join Massively's Larry Everett for a farewell stream later tonight.

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