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The Think Tank: Massively's MMO industry predictions for 2015

Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Humor, Miscellaneous

SWTOR
It's that time of year for looking ahead and trying to predict just what will happen in the MMO industry in the year ahead of us. Will we play it safe this year or predict all sorts of wild and crazy things that everyone can quote and laugh about next December? Magic 8 ball says yes. Go big or go home when it comes to predictions!

Join the Massively staffers for this next-to-last Think Tank of the year and share your own predictions in the comments.

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Claims that MMOs are a 'threat to public health' are 'exaggerated' says new study

Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

Dr. Rachel Kowert, lead author on the relationship between shyness and online gaming paper that we covered back in October, has just released another study relating to MMOs, this one investigating the psychosocial causes and consequences of online video gameplay.

Due to be published in the science journal Computers in Human Behavior in April 2015, the paper seeks to improve on past research that links online video gaming to loneliness, depression, social anxiety, poor self-esteem, and social incompetence. Kowert and her colleagues from the Universities of Muenster and Hohenheim studied 4500 gamers over 1- and 2-year periods to determine whether negative psychological traits are a consequence of engaging in online games like MMOs or simply act to draw people to online games that help them compensate for those negative traits (the "social compensation hypothesis").

MMORPG gamers will be happy to know that the findings suggest that the latter is true; no, your MMOs won't make you depressed or suddenly unable to manage interpersonal communications:
The results uncovered here do not support the claims that exposure to, or prolonged engagement within, OVG [online video game] spaces negatively impacts players' psychosocial well-being. In that respect, concerns regarding OVGs being a threat to public health seem to be exaggerated. These findings do, however, provide the empirical evidence for a social compensation model among young adult participants, indicating that OVGs have likely become alternative social outlets for young adult players with [low] social and psychosocial resources, as reflected by lower reported life satisfaction and social competence.
In fact, the effect was strongest for young gamers: "For adolescent players, being a member of the online game playing community was found to bolster their reported life-satisfaction."

Stay tuned later this month for a full Massively report on Kowert's MMO-related research.

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The holidays have arrived in SOE's MMORPGs

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Business Models, Culture, Events (In-Game), Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, Dragon's Prophet, Landmark

EQ2
If you're a fan of SOE's MMOs and also a fan of Christmas, good news! SOE's MMOs also have Christmas! The studio posted a roundup of its holiday festivities earlier today:
  • EverQuest II: The Frostfell Wonderland Village returns this year along with a brand-new quest called The Great Candy (Cane) Chase.
  • DC Universe Online: Players will confront Larfleeze's Orange Lantern Corp. Old feats and rewards are back, as are "new base items, styles, a feat, and collection."
  • PlanetSide 2: It's Auraximas, which means it's time to murder snowmen. Special camo will also be on sale in the in-game store because of course it will be
  • EverQuest: Frostfell in this classic MMO brings Santug Cluagg and a host of new quests rolled out in phases.
  • Dragon's Prophet: Celebrate the The Silver Dragon Festival through January 15th.
A moment of silence, of course, for the SOE games no longer with us after this year's purge. Ahem.

If you're more the type to moon after Landmark and its futurespawn, EverQuest Next, check out MJ's hands-on with Landmark's PvE content update, which launches today. And peek back early next week for Massively's traditional MMO holiday event roundup for all the big games across the genre.

The Daily Grind: What was your best open-world PvP experience?

Culture, PvP, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

black desert
As someone who usually stands on the outside of the whole PvP scene, I'm often curious about the appeal and goings-on of fighting endlessly against other human opponents, especially in MMOs. People seem to talk highly of open world battles and epic moments, although my experience has been limited to being corpse camped on a World of Warcraft server and taking part in many confusic and hectic keep battles in Warhammer Online.

So sate my curiosity today and tell me a time when you had your best open-world PvP experience. What happened and why was that such a treasured memory?

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!

Global Chat: Die, DPS meters, die!

EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, HEX, Skyforge

gw2
Hey you! Yes, you! Are you sick of damage meters ruining your life? Do you rebel against the virtual man by questioning such long-established gaming tropes as levels? Then have we got the column for you!

In our last community blog round-up of the year, we've collected some fine pieces of discussion, debate, and introspection -- not to mention a first impression or two to tide you over until 2015. We've also got an essay about the joy of healing, what it's like to play an MMO as a bear, going back to the Isle of Refuge, and more!

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CBS looks at the rise of spectator e-sports

Video, Culture, MMO Industry, PvP, Miscellaneous, E-sports

cbs
In a "Game On" segment, CBS Sunday Morning featured an in-depth look at e-sports and the spectator community that has grown up around them. It showed how games like StarCraft II and League of Legends have packed stadiums full of people who watch and cheer on their favorite teams of gamers.

"I think I'm too old to understand what's going on in online gaming now," the reporter comments at one point. Our dear friend Research Analyst Michael Pachter replies, "You probably are."

You can watch the entire eight-minute segment after the jump.

[Thanks to Sorenthaz for the tip!]

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One Shots: It came from the comments section!

World of Warcraft, Screenshots, Culture, Vanguard, One Shots, Star Wars: The Old Republic, TERA, Miscellaneous

In addition to sending in your favorite MMO screenshots to oneshots@massively.com, some of you have taken to the comments section in these columns to share your pictures and stories as well. That's totally fine with me, by the way, as long as the email submissions continue as well! However, today I'd like to call attention to a few of these comments section shots and give them a little more attention up above the line.

Our first entry is from commenter Ausj3w3l, and I have to admit that it made me laugh. I think it's something about the way that this character is standing. Fat and proud, just like Mother Nature intended! "Most of the armours in TERA are completely over the top but fabulous, but eh... nothing beats the fuzzball in swim pants," she posted.

The fun doesn't stop here! We've still got three more smashing pics to go!

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The Daily Grind: Would you play on a WoW progression server?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

wow
Recently I resubscribed to World of Warcraft, spent about two hours back in the game, and then uninstalled it once again. Call it $15 spent on a nostalgia trip of curiosity. The overwhelming feeling that I got coming back after being mostly gone for four years is that everything had moved on and I wasn't there to move on with it. Sure, I could catch up in time, but I lacked the will to do so.

But you know what would get me back and in a big way? If WoW took a page from EverQuest and instituted a progression server. Maybe the devs can't recreate the game as it once was, but I'd play a WoW that started out only with the core content and then slowly unlocked the expansions over a series of months so that the server's playerbase could go through it together.

It's a pipe dream, I know. But would you play on a WoW progression server?

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!

How to break into the games industry according to Hi-Rez

Video, Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

SMITE
If for some reason you find yourself possessed of an urge to seek a career in the video games industry, convinced that it's a stable meritocracy that will help you build skills and provide financial support for your family, then don't watch the videos in the post; instead, flee, flee for your lives!

Just kidding. Mostly.

Hi-Rez Studios -- of SMITE, Tribes: Ascend, and Global Agenda fame -- has released a series of videos this week all about breaking into the games industry. Unless you already have a giant pile of money to fund your own studio, the videos actually provide some useful advice, focusing on cultivating a specific skill in demand at game studios. There are five videos in all: two on the basics and one apiece on design, programming, and that most glamorous of jobs, QA. Check 'em out below.

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Ask Massively: Scoring last year's MMO predictions

Business Models, Culture, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Opinion, Massively Meta, Humor, Ask Massively, Miscellaneous

GW2
One of my favorite things to do every year is go back to the previous year's staff predictions. What did we think 2014 was going to look like in the MMO world back at the end of 2013? How wrong were we, and where did we hit eerily close to the mark? I won't include everything, just some of the more prophetic and ridiculous ideas our current staff offered a year ago. Feel free to share your own fulfilled prophecies down in the comments.

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The Daily Grind: Are DPS meters bad for MMOs?

Culture, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Dungeons

DPS Meters - WoW Interface
In the comments of Eliot's Soapboxes about MMO raiding, one Massively reader declared his own most-hated element of the raiding scene: DPS meters. In MMOs that allow mods, players invariably find a way to slice and dice the combat logs with a plugin that parses who did what and how much of it, spitting those data out into a tidy list that shows who's king of DPS and who's just being "carried."

I don't think most MMO players want to see math and numbers driven from the genre in favor of rock-paper-scissors simplicity -- I sure don't, anyway; I like my crafting spreadsheets. But the vast majority of MMO combat really truly doesn't require the rotational precision of the top raiding guilds in the world, so why do we see DPS meters being trotted out for every basic dungeon? Repeatedly seeing people as numbers isn't exactly generating warmer MMO communities, and sometimes I wonder whether our obsession with judging everyone around us "by the numbers" is a crutch to help us avoid unpleasant conversations. Did we really need a DPS meter to clue us into the fact that Bob is half AFK tapping his 1 key over and over instead of paying attention to the fight? I think we knew that without the mod.

What do you guys think? Are DPS meters bad for MMOs?

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!

Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: Best MMO Studio

Culture, MMO Industry, News Items, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the Best MMO Studio of the year. Every studio that runs an MMO in 2014 was eligible, even those who didn't launch anything this year, but whatever the studio did to impress us should have occurred this year. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively staff pick for Best MMO Studio of 2014 is...

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Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: Most Improved MMO

Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the Most Improved MMO of the year. Pretty much all MMOs were eligible for this particular award, even if they didn't launch in 2014, as long as they improved significantly in 2014. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the reader poll at the very end.

The Massively staff pick for Most Improved MMO of 2014 is...

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Eleven (the Glitch resurrection project) is moving into alpha

Betas, Fantasy, Culture, News Items, Free-to-Play, Miscellaneous

Glitch
It's been two years since Glitch shut down, and there are two possible responses to that. The first is to be sad that the MMO landscape lost an attractive, quirky, interesting little game. The second is to be quite happy because Eleven, the project that seeks to restore the original functionality of Glitch with a new team as a labor of love, is entering its alpha test phase. How awesome is that?

The first phase of testing is not a particularly large one: The amount of functional stuff in the game is tiny, and only 13 people are getting let in for test purposes. But it does mean that the project is moving along, and those lucky 13 people are going to get to play a game whose fans have been mourning ever since its shutdown. It's also a project done with Tiny Speck's blessing, ensuring that a successful alpha test now is the first step toward opening the doors of this world once more.

The Daily Grind: Could a non-combat MMO be compelling?

Culture, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

brain
As much as I like being the action hero in MMOs, even I must admit that the ratio of combat to non-combat activities is lopsided to the extreme. Some days I feel like I'm playing an endless kill simulator that doesn't allow me to live in these virtual worlds so much as attempt to murder most of what is in them.

So sometimes I think about MMOs where combat isn't just marginalized but non-existent. Could it work? Sure, we have seen titles like A Tale in the Desert and Myst Online replace combat with community crafting, but such games are so few in number and under-populated.

What do you think? Could a non-combat MMO be compelling? Would you play a game that was heavy on sandbox elements but had no fighting?

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!

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