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Free for All: MMORPGs for your new console

Betas, Fantasy, Super-hero, EVE Online, Launches, New Titles, Previews, PvP, News Items, PvE, Free-to-Play, Consoles, Casual, Virtual Worlds, MMOFPS, Free Realms, Rumors, Warhammer 40k, Kids, DC Universe Online, Final Fantasy XIV, DUST 514, World of Tanks, Free for All, Family, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Sandbox, Diablo III, Defiance, The Elder Scrolls Online, Destiny, Player-Generated Content, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

PS4 and Xbox One picture
Consoles and MMOs do not have the stand-offish relationship that they used to have. In fact, there are so many different MMOs to choose from on consoles that it's seriously tempting to pick up one of the new ones -- the Xbox One or PlayStation 4 -- even though I wasn't planning on it for a long, long time. I enjoy using a controller with MMOs so much that I plan on covering the subject more in the future.

So let's get to the list of MMOs that are currently on consoles or that will be coming out on consoles in the near(ish) future. Massively's own Mike Foster put together a fantastic list last summer, but I thought I would update and pass it on. After all, the new consoles are officially here... so be sure to reference the list when you need a new MMO to play on your shiny new console!

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MMO Family: Study shows no link between video games and mental health issues in children

Culture, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

We've long heard concerns that video games might be responsible for bringing about antisocial behavior and even violence. But there's some good news for gaming fans. Recently, researchers from the University of Glasgow released findings that video games had no effect on children's psychological development.

The study included thousands of families over the past decade, tracking children's TV and video game playtime from nine months to seven years of age. Let's take a peek at some of the more notable results and what they mean for the young generation of gamers.

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The Stream Team: An eight-year-old's view of Super Hero Squad Online

Super-hero, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Hands-On, Kids, Livestream, The Stream Team

The Stream Team: An eight year old's view of Super Hero Squad Online
Dinner's done; it's time to save Hero City! Massively's Larry Everett and his youngest son, Zach, will don their favorite world-saving outfits to play Super Hero Squad Online. Join us at 7:00 p.m. EST to see whether this crime-fighting duo has what it takes to defeat Dr. Doom on family MMO night.

Game: Super Hero Squad Online
Host: Larry Everett and Zach
Date: Monday, November 18th, 2013
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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MMO Family: How to raise an astute gamer (even if you aren't one)

Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  How to raise a healthy gamer even if you aren't one
As we trudge towards winter here in the States, the frigid temperatures make outside playtime a lot more difficult. And while we're hunkered down inside during those bitterly cold days, more and more kids choose to log in and do a little gaming to get through the winter doldrums.

For many parents, though, negotiations with their children over video game time is about as pleasant as a snowball to the face. Many of us have come across parents who don't play video games at all and are struggling to make sense of the whole thing. What advice is crucial to the uninitiated parents of gaming children? How can they instill healthy gaming habits and get a handle on video gaming in general? Let's look at a few tips that might help in this week's MMO Family.

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Rise and Shiny revisit: Star Stable

Video, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Casual, Roleplaying, Humor, First Impressions, Kids, Family, Rise and Shiny, Livestream

Star Stable screenshot
Sometimes you just need a place where you can chill out, jump on the back of your favorite four-legged friend, and go off on an adventure. During my week's revisit to Star Stable, I've simultaneously been researching zombie MMOs for an upcoming article, and after the third post-apocalyptic game filled with cursing juveniles, I had to cleanse myself by jumping back into the friendly, non-competitive world of Star Stable.

It's a world in which you'll play a young girl who is loaned a horse. It's your job to work your way through a series of linear, story-based quests until you pay the horse off, save the town from evil corporations, help build a bridge to a new area of the map, explore, make friends, join clubs, and take care of your horse. And fashion. Let's not forget fashion. It's hard for me to find fault in the game, at all. Seriously. That's because I'm playing the game exactly as it's meant to be played.

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The Stream Team: Star Stable with Beau and the developers

Video, Interviews, Previews, Opinion, Hands-On, Casual, Kids, Family, Livestream, The Stream Team

Star Stable screenshot
Do you ever ask yourself, "Where can I find an MMO that allows me to play as a little girl whose best friend is a horse?" If so, when seek no more because today Beau has on tap the developers from Star Stable, a cutesy horse-based MMO brought to you by World of HorseCraft AB. If you want to ask questions, join us in the chat room. We promise you haven't see an MMO like this before!

Game: Star Stable
Host: Beau
Date: Monday, November 4th, 2013
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Funcom opens LEGO Minifigures Online beta registration

Betas, Previews, News Items, Kids, Family, Miscellaneous

I guess you can savor the... buildup.
If you still have sleepless nights mourning the loss of LEGO Universe, the announcement of LEGO Minifigures Online was like a ray of sunshine. For that portion of the audience -- and anyone else really looking forward to playing in a brick-based playground -- today's news will be even more welcome. Funcom has opened a registration site for players interested in taking part in the game's beta, with the first phase scheduled to start in... early November. Yes, it is early November right now; we told you it was good news.

The gameplay focus will be familiar to anyone with a love of LEGO toys. Collect minifigures with unique abilities, collect bricks, and build new things to improve your abilities and learn new tricks. Cross-promotions are also planned with bagged minifigures, allowing you to jump in with your collected figures right off the bat. Go ahead and sign up for the beta if this sounds like just your cup of brick-based play.

[Source: Funcom press release]

MMO Family: Good video games or bad mind games?

MMO Industry, Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  Good video games, or bad mind games
The video game industry suffers from an uncomfortable balance. On one hand, it's a business, and the best way to make money is to keep players playing. On the other are the methods that go into getting people playing -- and paying. From the bottom-feeding tactics of Zynga's FarmVille to the more subtle methods we see in MMOs through cash shops and microtransactions, studios are employing a variety of mind games to nudge players to open their wallets.

It's one thing to market to adults, who (in theory) are mature enough to make wise decisions on how much to spend on gaming. But kids are a growing percentage of the playerbase and might not be as savvy when it comes to smart spending. NPR took a look at the marketing side of gaming, in an article called How video games are getting inside your head -- and wallet. It raises some meaningful questions about video games and children, which we'll look at in this week's MMO Family.

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Sharks, skulls, and ships: One year of Pirate101

Fantasy, Expansions, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Mac, Kids, Wizard101, Family, Anniversaries, Pirate101, MMORPG

Pirate101
Pirate101 is a strange beast. It is a family-friendly, free-to-play, colorful MMO with silly characters, simple design, and quirky environments. Adventuring in Pirate101 sometimes demands that you investigate the secrets of a city that literally sits on top of a flying whale or that you and your friends (a fencing crab, perhaps, or a sharpshooting fox) leap onto a flaming, flying pirate ship in order to punch sharks in the face and steal their treasure.

Hidden underneath the silliness, however, is a relatively deep turn-based strategy game designed to engage younger gamers while ensuring their adult counterparts have a good time. KingsIsle Entertainment isn't in the business of making kids games; instead, the studio strives to create titles that kids and parents can play together. The success of Pirate101 in its first year demonstrates that KingsIsle might just be on to something.

Let's take a little peek back on the last 12 months of Pirate101 to examine its major milestones.

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Piecing together the details of LEGO Minifigures Online with the Funcom team

Game Mechanics, Interviews, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Kids, Family, Miscellaneous, Player-Generated Content

Piecing together the details of Lego Minifigures Online with the Funcom team
Brick by virtual brick, the team at Funcom has been busy building the upcoming LEGO Minifigures Online. It's been a quiet fall after the big reveal in August at Gamescom, but that doesn't mean the game isn't making progress. Executive Producer Lawrence Poe and Lead Designer Oscar López Lacalle have lots of details to share about the game, and they took the time to answer some questions here at Massively. Read on for a glimpse of the world, the LEGO minifigures themselves, and how this game will appeal to gamers of all ages.

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MMO Family: A cornucopia of kid-friendly Halloween events

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Free Realms, Kids, Wizard101, MMO Family, Family, Clone Wars Adventures, Miscellaneous, Pirate101

MMO Family  A cornucopia of kidfriendly Halloween events
Part of the fun of MMOs is the chance to dress up our characters, so it's no surprise that the month of October is a big one for kid-friendly MMOs. There's a plethora of pumpkins, countless costumes, and copious amounts of creepy housing decor. And the vast tonnage of treats available makes those real-life treat bags look minuscule in comparison.

In this week's MMO Family, we've got a roundup of several Halloween celebrations in kid-friendly games. And while most are about the "stuff," there are also several creative contests and events that are worth a look. Get your scare on below!

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Deaf gamer connects, educates through Wizard101

Fantasy, Culture, Free-to-Play, Kids, Wizard101, Family

Deaf gamer connects, educates through Wizard101
Even though she can't hear any of the music or sound effects in the game, Kelsey Fireheart professes a strong love for Wizard101. In a guest post on the KingsIsle blog, Kelsey shares a little of what it's like to be a deaf gamer and why this MMO means so much to her.

Shortly after starting her adventures in the game, Kelsey had a profound encounter: "I remember questing in the Pyramid of the Sun of Krokotopia and I bumped into a fellow wizard named Diana Wildheart. She mentioned that she was deaf, and I gasped in astonishment. I replied, I am deaf too! That's when I realized that I could meet fellow deaf gamers through games like Wizard101."

Kelsey said that this friendship made her realize that MMOs could be used for more than just fun and to educate others about what it's like to be deaf. "This game is a wonderful educational tool that I can use to teach countless others and it gave me a way of communicating with no barriers. In fact, it gave me a greater purpose within the game," she wrote. Kelsey said that the visuals of the game are quite important to her and that she wished sign language would be available as in-game emotes.

MMO Family: Highlights from ROBLOX's Virtual BLOXcon

Free-to-Play, Kids, MMO Family, Family

MMO Family Highlights from ROBLOX's Virtual BLOXcon
MMO conventions are always a good opportunity for fans to meet each other and for developers to solicit input. ROBLOX held a series of BLOXcons over the summer in Chicago, London, and New York City, where thousands of fans were able to get together and celebrate the game. But of course, not everyone can make the trip to a convention, so the company decided to hold a virtual BLOXcon as well. The firm ran a five-hour livestream that included a state of the game speech, new feature announcements, Hall of Fame awards, and gameplay that showcased some of the best creations by ROBLOX fans.

If you missed it, fear not, because this week's MMO Family has a rundown of all the highlights!

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MMO Family: Are kid-friendly MMOs doomed to extinction?

MMO Industry, Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  Are kidfriendly MMOs doomed to extinction
Recently, the family-friendly segment of the MMO industry suffered a bit of a blow with the news of Disney's decision to shut down Pirates of the Caribbean Online and Toontown. These were both titles that had been around for years, and both had loyal fanbases. Toontown in particular has been around for about a decade and won several awards through the years. So when the sunsettings were announced, it raised questions about whether kid-friendly games are as successful as publishers might have hoped.

In fact, these aren't the only relatively well-known kids' titles to be shut down over the past year. And while it might be premature to signal the death knell for kid MMOs, it's a good time to do an assessment on what's working and what might be hampering success. In this week's MMO Family, it's time to do a little state of the (kid-friendly) industry.

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Pirate101 begins testing on Mac client

Fantasy, News Items, Free-to-Play, Kids, Family, Pirate101

There are jokes to be made but I leave them for others to make.
A life of adventure on the high seas is the sort of thing that appeals to everyone, even people who choose to buy a Macintosh instead of a Windows computer. That's why Pirate101 is adapting the game to a native Mac client, with the test realm version of the client available now. Players will be able to download and install the game at their leisure, although the new client is not currently hooked up to the live servers.

There's no need to sign up for the testing, but not everyone is eligible. Active members and players who have made at least $6 worth of purchases in the last 30 days may download and try the new client; free-to-play players may not. Still, it's easy to become eligible if you really want to jump into some Mac-based piracy, so you can free your computer from having to run at least one game via Boot Camp.

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