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Kids

Wizard101 and Pirate101 rack up 50 million players combined

Fantasy, Kids, Wizard101, Giveaways, Family, Pirate101

kingsisle
The Spiral, KingsIsle's online universe, is one of the most underrated success stories in the MMO genre. After six years of operation, Wizard101 (and its spin-off Pirate101) have tallied up over 50 million lifetime players (that's total players ever).

The big numbers don't stop there, either. These two games have seen more than 1.46 trillion gold earned, 2.1 billion quests completed, and 3 million player homes inhabited. One pet-happy player even collected 4,986 companions and thus earned a place in the history books.

To celebrate the milestone, KingsIsle is giving away a free monolith housing item in both Wizard101 and Pirate 101. You can check out more crazy numbers in the infographic after the break.

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Wizard101 adds four new dungeons

Fantasy, Video, Patches, Free-to-Play, Kids, Wizard101, Family, Dungeons

Wizardry is not a safe profession these days. Wizard101 has grown even more dangerous with the addition of four brand-new dungeons spread across the game's level range, and Massively fully expects multiple online casualties to result from this irresponsible action.

The new dungeons are the snowy Shangri-Baa Mountains (level 25), Barkingham Palace (level 40), the House of Scales (level 60), and Castle Darkmoor (level 100). The latter is vital for wizards seeking a new spell for their arsenal, as a Castle Darkmoor quest will award one new shadow-enhanced card for each school of magic.

The November update came with other improvements to the game, including bypassing combat idlers' turns, more member benefits, and savable equipment sets. We've got a video covering the shadow-enchanced spells for you to watch after the break.

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Layoffs are probably in store for Transformers Universe

Sci-Fi, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Kids, Transformers Universe

It's not exactly rubbing salt in the wound, but it sure tastes that way.
A staff reduction will be hitting Jagex's Transformers Universe team, and not for the first time. The studio has confirmed that it is in the process of examining duties and roles within the development team, with some team members facing reassignment to elsewhere in the company and others seen as redundant. No actual layoffs have taken place at this time, although "soon" is the watchword.

The announcement does mention that there are opportunities in an as-yet-unannounced project currently in development behind the scenes at Jagex. Transformers Universe went into open beta in July and has a variety of founder's packs currently available to purchase; an official launch date has not been announced. Our condolences to all those affected by the upcoming layoffs.

Fully crossplatform LEGO Minifigures Online is coming to the Kindle Fire HDX

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Kids, Family

Funcom has today announced a partnership with Amazon that will put LEGO Minifigures Online on Amazon Fire TV as well as the Kindle Fire HDX line of tablets. Says the studio,
Working with Amazon on this project includes support for the Fire TV game controller as well as Amazon's store and payment systems. Fire TV is currently widely available in North America and Germany, and is launching in the United Kingdom in November 2014. LEGO Minifigures Online is scheduled to go live on Fire TV at the end of 2014.

Funcom will also be bringing LEGO Minifigures Online to the HDX line of Fire tablets. The game will be optimized for these devices and will fully support Amazon's store and payment systems for these devices. This version of LEGO Minifigures Online is set to go live at the end of Q1 2015.
Of note, Funcom promises that the family-friendly MMO will feature full cross-platform play across "Windows PC, Mac, iOS tablets, Android tablets, Fire TV and Fire tablets," making it one of the few MMOs playable on pretty much everything with the possible exception of your toaster.

We've included the game's recent Space World trailer below.

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LEGO Minifigures Online shows off the Space World

Trailers, Video, News Items, Free-to-Play, Kids, Family

It's the Space Police!  We're guilty!  The crime?  Not being in space!
Space is big. Really big. You wouldn't believe how vastly, mind-bogglingly huge it is. I mean, you might think it's a long way from your bed to your computer, but that's just peanuts compared to space. So while labeling a single area in LEGO Minifigures Online as the "Space World" might seem like a bit of an oxymoron, just think of it as a sampling of the mind-boggling hugeness of what space has to offer. In this case, it's aliens and evil space marines.

A new video is now available showing off the Space World and everything that players can do therein: fighting off alien invaders, huge robots, strange wildlife, and flying saucers. Yes, it's all a bit silly and strange, but when you're marching into battle with a team consisting of a pirate, a DJ, a guy in a chicken suit, and a knight, you kind of expect to be thrown into strange scenarios. Check out the video just past the break.

[Source: Funcom press release]

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Jukebox Heroes: LEGO Universe's soundtrack

Opinion, LEGO Universe, Kids, Family, Jukebox Heroes, Music

lego universe
I'm still incensed that nobody had the courtesy of informing me that LEGO Universe had such a great soundtrack until well after the title was shuttered. I guess it doesn't make a big difference -- at least I know now -- although I might have mourned its passing more.

Composed by Brian Tyler and Michael Jason Corder, the LEGO Universe score was never released, although it looks as though there were once plans to do so. This is an incredible shame because the wider listening audience is missing out on one of the most diverse, cheeky, and fun soundtracks from online gaming. The one word that kept popping into my mind while listening to this was "personality" -- as in, it has so much of it. At so many points I kept thinking that I was hearing the score to a well-done kids movie and not a "mere" video game.

I'm limited to six picks (and a bonus feature!) in this space, but I highly recommend that you use this column as a jumping point to listening to the LEGO Universe soundtrack in its entirety. If you do, I think you'll agree with me that this score is simply a triumph.

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The Stream Team: Aiming for the gods in LEGO Minifigures Online

Video, Patches, Kids, Family, Livestream, The Stream Team

Though still in beta, LEGO Minifigures Online recently introduced Mythology World, a LEGO land where Greek gods like Zeus and Hades strut their stuff (and possibly try to squish players). A big fan of mythology, Massively's MJ is eager to hop in and work her way into this new land, but her biggest challenge will be leveling enough to get there! Will she earn enough power to make it to the mythical land to face off against Minotaurs and maybe even Medusa? At least maybe she'll find the pieces to make a new minifigure. Join us live at 3:00 p.m. for the race to the gods.

Game: LEGO Minifigures Online
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, September 5th, 2014
Time: 3:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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LEGO Minifigures Online rolls out a mythological update

Betas, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Kids, Family

It's not mythical, that would mean it didn't actually exist.
With a month or so to go before LEGO Minifigures Online fully launches, the game has brought forth its biggest update yet. So what does it contain? Nothing less than the new Mythology World, which also brings an increase in the level cap to 25 along with its new areas and monsters. The area also continues the main story if that's more of your thing.

Aside from the new area, the Series 11 minifigures have been added to the game, along with the first batch of cash shop figures that includes the Yeti, the Mountain Climber, and the Pretzel Girl. Players can also find their friends more easily with the addition of a friend code, and the loot system has been overhauled to allow players a chance to build minifigures from loot. Check out the full set of update notes for more detail and get building in the game if it's just what you've been waiting for.

PAX Prime 2014: Hands-on with Undead Labs' Moonrise

Fantasy, New Titles, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Hands-On, Events (Massively's Coverage), Kids

moonrise
One of the maxims of Undead Labs is that the team is composed of "gaming omnivores" who don't want to get stuck in a rut of doing the exact same game and genre over and over again. When this was explained to me, it helped ease the shock that was caused by the realization that a studio best known for its gory zombie survival bent is also making a colorful Pokémon-like title called Moonrise.

In Moonrise, you play as a Warden who is tasked with saving a wide variety of cute critters called Solari by -- of course -- enslaving them and making them fight other Wardens and their pets. Instead of striving to overcome its Pokémon heritage, the team admits that the game is specifically targeted at older teens and younger adults who grew up with those games and want to experience a slightly more mature and full-featured iteration.

I got to spend some quality time curled up on a couch with a lap full of Moonrise on the iPad at PAX Prime this week. Is this due to be the next "catch 'em all" fad or a strange blip in the company's portfolio? Read on, and I shall make my guess.

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The Daily Grind: Are kids poor MMO consumers?

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Kids, Family, Miscellaneous

LMFO
Earlier this year after announcing sunsets for the apparently popular Free Realms and three other titles, SOE's John Smedley declared that his studio was done with MMOs aimed at children. "No more kid's games," he said on Reddit. "Kids don't spend well and it's very difficult to run a kids game. Turns out kids do mean stuff to each other a lot."

The last comment is no doubt true and manifests primarily in unfettered chat, as former Massively writer Karen Bryan explored a few years ago. But is it likewise true that "kids don't spend well"? Kid-friendly games like Wizard101 and Super Hero Squad Online seem to be doing just fine. Funcom sure thought the market was ripe for another go at a LEGO MMO. And I suspect that tweens are heavily responsible for some of the crazy IAP spending going on in the mobile space. If I were a kid now instead of in the '90s, I would have blown my allowance on Guild Wars 2 microtrans instead of comic books and trading cards.

What do you think? Are kids truly as terrible an MMO audience as SOE believes?

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!

Watch MapleStory 2's feature trailer

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, MapleStory, Free-to-Play, Kids, Housing, Player-Generated Content

maplestory 2
Even if you don't understand Korean, chances are that you can grok some of what's going on in this new MapleStory 2 features trailer. The video shows various systems in the game, including player-created content, housing, customization, and (oh yes) minigames.

Check out the video after the break and let us know what you think of MapleStory 2's look and offerings!

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The Stream Team: Family MMO night with the Super Hero Squad Online devs

Super-hero, Video, Patches, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Kids, Family, Livestream, The Stream Team

The Stream Team: Live with Super Hero Squad Online devs!
Super Hero Squad Online has been a favorite for several of Massively's writers, Larry Everett being one of them. Today, Larry and his son, Zach, will show off the new SHSO Recharged. And for extra fun, they've invited the developers along. (Maybe they'll have free stuff for you!) Join us at 7:00 p.m. to find out just how awesome this family MMO is for both kids and adults.

Game: Super Hero Squad Online
Hosts: Larry Everett, Zach, and the Gazillion devs
Date: Tuesday, July 29th, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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First Impressions: LEGO Minifigures Online

Betas, New Titles, Previews, PvE, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, First Impressions, Kids, Family

LEGO Minifigures Online
Besides being an avid gamer myself, I am raising three children who are also avid gamers. You might have seen past livestreams that I've done with my youngest son and my daughter. In fact, my son and I are going to stream with the Super Hero Squad Online crew here in the next few days. As a gaming dad, I keep my eyes out for games that lend themselves to being kid friendly and fun for adults, too.

When Free Realms shut down, my youngest, now 9 years old, was heartbroken. Although he didn't really do much questing, he loved the other activities in the game like kart racing and exploring the housing system. I have attempted to get him to jump into games like Wizard101 and Pirate101, whose combat systems were more complex than his liking. But he's a fan of combat in SHSO. He also plays Minecraft daily and has really adhered to the whole culture that surrounds it.

So when LEGO Minifigures Online opened its beta, I thought it would be an excellent combination of both SHSO combat and the building systems of Minecraft. I was wrong on one count but right on the other. My son loved the combat system, at least.

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Wizard101 introduces Fishing

Fantasy, Video, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Kids, Wizard101, Family

It's also fishing for your money, but that's sort of how games stay in operation.
Fishing is the eternal side activity of MMOs, the reason for players to sit about and cast their line over and over in the hopes of receiving something worthwhile. Wizard101 joins the lineup of fantasy games offering a fishing option today with a new patch, although you will be fishing in an appropriately magical fashion. Rather than a mundane line and sinker, players summon magical orbs to help snare fish; the ones they catch can be sold, used for crafts, or displayed as trophies around your house.

If this is the one thing you've been waiting for before you get into the game, you can also take advantage of the new promotional bundle on sale at Target. The Spiral Cup Gauntlet Bundle includes a new housing item, a new pet, new clothes, and a new mount for players, along with either a month's subscription or 5000 crowns. You can pick it up for $39 and then jump right back into casting orbs and looking for fish. Or doing other things, presumably.

[Source: Kingsisle Entertainment press release]

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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.

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