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Hands-on with Hearthstone for iPad

Fantasy, Launches, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

While I was part of the early beta crowd for Hearthstone last year, I haven't played it in quite some time. It wasn't because I became disenfranchised with the game but rather because I felt it truly belonged on a tablet -- and playing it on a PC just felt wrong somehow. So I've been waiting for Hearthstone to finally make the leap to the iPad, and when that happened yesterday, I was all over it like a murloc swarm on a noobie.

In many ways, Hearthstone is absolutely tailor-fit for mobile gaming. It requires minimal manipulation; poking, holding, and the occasional swipe is about as complex as the physical mechanics get. It's a turn-based thinker's game that gives you ample time to plot your strategy and get a few other things done between moves. On an iPad, that's pretty easy; I would read a book while my opponent took his/her/its turn.

The game actually kept me up past my bedtime because of the "just one more match" temptation, which tells me that the magic that fueled my interest in this game in beta is roaring more now than ever. But how does it actually handle on Apple's devices?

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Hearthstone comes to iPad

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Launches, Free-to-Play, Trading Card Games, Hearthstone

After a soft launch in a few countries, Hearthstone is now available to iPad owners worldwide.

Blizzard announced today that Hearthstone is on the app store as an alternative to the PC version. The title is available on iPads 2 and newer as well as the iPad minis. New and returning players will be treated to a free card pack as part of this release.

Hearthstone has a funny trailer for the Apple release, which you can watch after the jump.

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Not So Massively: Heroes of the Storm's new heroes, Dawngate's beta launch, and Diablo III's latest patch

Betas, Fantasy, Classes, Game Mechanics, Interviews, Launches, MMO Industry, Patches, PvP, News Items, Free-to-Play, Mobile, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Events (Massively's Coverage), Miscellaneous, Not So Massively, MOBA, Diablo III, Hearthstone

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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PAX East 2014: Pre-launch words with WildStar's Jeremy Gaffney

Sci-Fi, Economy, Interviews, Launches, Endgame, WildStar, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

This is the sort of stuff that got me excited for the game in the first place.
WildStar is being released in about a month and a half. It feels as if it's been forever since the game first revealed its announcement trailer. Now we've finally got a release date in sight, and the last few features for the game are being revealed to the public. It's one of the last chances that we'll have to talk about the game before it releases.

On the last day of this year's PAX East, I had a chance to sit down with executive producer Jeremy Gaffney to chat a little bit more about the game before it launches. While the game has gone gold and the discs are being manufactured, the team is still refining and improving the game and plans to do so up until the day of launch. That meant talking about the endgame, the development process, and the changes that have been made already in the most recent stages of beta.

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Here's FFXIV's PS4 launch trailer

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Launches, MMO Industry, News Items, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, Subscription

Final Fantasy XIV cutscene
It's Final Fantasy XIV's launch day... on the PlayStation 4. Square's fantasy MMO reboot -- and Massively's 2013 MMO of the year -- has been dazzling gamers on the PC and the PlayStation 3 for some time now, but a new trailer reminds us that next-gen console owners can now join in the fun.

You can view the clip in its entirety after the break.

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Perpetuum announces April 23rd Steam launch

Betas, Sci-Fi, Business Models, Launches, Free-to-Play, Perpetuum, Sandbox

Avatar Creations' sci-fi sandbox Perpetuum might have a few years under its belt now, but that doesn't mean it's too proud to set up shop on Steam, and on April 23rd, that's exactly what it will do. In a dev blog posted today, the studio outlined what the Steam launch and gamma reset will mean for the existing playerbase:
Those who already own the game are now able to link their Perpetuum and Steam accounts on our website and receive a free copy of the game on Steam. We have set up a new Account connections section under account management where you can do this. [...] Future purchases of Perpetuum on our website will not mean that you will also get a Steam key. Since Steam is not a requirement to access the game and will not give players any in-game benefits, we will still be offering Perpetuum through our own store as well.
Perpetuum already dropped its subscription fee earlier this month in preparation for the relaunch.

The Think Tank: Putting The Elder Scrolls Online's launch in context

Fantasy, Bugs, Events (Real-World), Launches, New Titles, Opinion, The Elder Scrolls Online, The Think Tank, Subscription

If you've been around the MMO industry long enough, you know that MMO launches rarely go smoothly for everyone. Some of them even crash and burn in such spectacular ways that veterans are still invoking their names a decade later. This week, I polled a few of the Massively staffers about the launch of the Elder Scrolls Online. How did it fare compared to some of the trainwrecks in MMO history?

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WildStar's elder gem system to get post-launch love

Sci-Fi, Launches, Patches, WildStar, Subscription

What you see is only half of what you get, at least in regard to the elder gem system in WildStar.

Carbine Studios Product Director Mike Donatelli churned out a good-sized post on the forums this morning concerning WildStar's elder gem system and what the studio has planned for it after the game's launch. He said that what's currently in-game is "only half of the intended final system," and while the team can't get in the full deal by release, the rest will be included in the first major post-launch patch.

Elder gems are a type of currency that players will earn with XP once they hit the level cap. There's a weekly limit to the number of gems that can earned, and players can use these gems to buy gear and items from special vendors. Future plans for the system include the ability to buy amp and ability tier points that haven't been procured elsewhere and weekly and daily quests to earn more gems.

The Crew targets fall 2014 launch window

Betas, Video, Launches, Consoles, Miscellaneous

The Crew
Ubisoft's racing MMO, The Crew, will be joining this fall's increasingly crowded line-up, the studio announced today.

While Ubisoft isn't being more specific as to a launch date, it did say that The Crew will be available on the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC when it arrives in fall 2014. The studio also put out two pre-order editions for the console versions: the Limited Edition and the more packed Muscle Edition. The latter can only be pre-ordered at Gamestop.

Joystiq has a video preview of The Crew that you can check out after the jump.

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Villagers and Heroes announces April 17th Steam launch and new expansion

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Launches, Patches, News Items, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Player-Generated Content, MMORPG

Villagers and Heroes
Free Realms refugees, if you're looking for a new home with cute graphics and quests and housing and crafting, then indie F2P MMO Villagers and Heroes might just be it. The game itself isn't new, but with its new expansion, Fury of the Stone Lord, it's receiving a major graphical upgrade and content patch revolving around gargoyles. Expect 30 new adventure maps (bringing the count to 110), new quests and monsters, new spells and heroic feats, and 15 extra skill levels to boot.

Developer Mad Otter Games says the sandbox MMO will launch on Steam on April 17th. We previewed the upgrades and new client back in February. Check out the trailer below!

[Source: Mad Otter Games press release]

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Celtic Heroes mobile MMO launches for Android

Fantasy, Launches, Free-to-Play, Mobile

Celtic Heroes
Celtic Heroes has been doing well enough on the iOS platform that developer One Thumb Mobile is now releasing it for the Android. Published with the popular Unity game engine, Celtic Heroes is a mobile 3D MMO that focuses heavily on a rich fantasy storyline and is said to rival any other browser or desktop MMO.

"Our team has created something very special with the launch of our new cross-platform engine," states Executive Producer Paul Simon. "We look forward to massively expanding Celtic Heroes and providing the biggest, most social gaming experience on mobile."

You can download Celtic Heroes now for free from the Google Play store or the Apple store.

[Thanks for the tip, Dengar!]

The Daily Grind: What's your definition of a polished MMO launch?

Fantasy, Launches, MMO Industry, Opinion, The Daily Grind, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

Elder Scrolls Online - Spindleclutch swarm mother
I feel bad for ZeniMax, because it put itself in a bit of a no-win situation when it declared that Elder Scrolls Online's launch would be "polished" and "lag-free." The first of those terms is of course subjective, and there's quite a bit of wiggle room in the entire statement, but even so it was the equivalent of painting a bullseye on your chest and inviting the chorus of anti-ESO snarkanauts to take their best shot.

From my 50-hours-of-playtime perspective, though, the launch has in fact been completely lag-free. It's also been one of the more polished overall launches I've experienced in a number of years, though I wouldn't say it's number one (Lord of the Rings Online had fewer quest bugs out of the gate, which was all the more impressive since smooth MMO launches were unheard of in 2007).

In any case, what's your criteria for a "polished" MMO launch? Assuming you played ESO last week, does it qualify?

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!

The Elder Scrolls Online runs into free sub time billing issues

Fantasy, Business Models, Launches, News Items, Consoles, The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription

You didn't really want to play past early access anyway, right?  You did?  Oh.
The early access period is over, and The Elder Scrolls Online has launched. Unfortunately, it's running into a bit of a subscription problem. Thirty days of free time are included with the box purchase, something that most subscription-based games include; that's not the problem. The problem is that the game won't let players start in on those 30 days of free time until a subscription has been set up... and paid for, it appears.

At the moment, cards used to set up accounts are being charged the subscription cost immediately as a verification measure, which means that players who are not able to pay yet are locked out of the game. This is a strange state of affairs, obviously; most verification charges are for a single dollar, but people are reporting a full month's charge being applied immediately. It's most likely a mistake, although it can cause problems for those looking forward to playing on the free month during the launch weekend.

[Thanks to anonymous for the tip!]

Betawatch: March 29 - April 4, 2014

Betas, Launches, MMO Industry, News Items, Betawatch, Miscellaneous

ArchLord II
The Elder Scrolls Online officially launched today (actually, it launched yesterday, and early!), so we bid it a fond farewell from the pages of Betawatch. What else is new in the world of MMO beta testing? The complete Betawatch roundup awaits.

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Massively's Elder Scrolls Online's launch-day roundup

Fantasy, Launches, Previews, Massively Meta, Events (Massively's Coverage), The Elder Scrolls Online, Subscription, MMORPG

Though The Elder Scrolls Online launched its early access period Sunday, the game's official launch day is today, and those of you who didn't preorder can finally log in and kick some Molag Bal butt. To celebrate the launch and help out anyone who's wandering around Tamriel lost and confused, we've rounded up the best of our Elder Scrolls Online content -- our guides, key news, livestreams, previews, and opinions. Enjoy!

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