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The Stream Team: The fight for a farm in ArcheAge's early access land rush

Fantasy, Video, Launches, Free-to-Play, Livestream, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Housing, The Stream Team

And they're off! With ArcheAge's early access in full swing, it's a race to try to get plots of lands for farms and houses. That means Massively's MJ will have to blaze through those early levels to get her paws on the scarecrow deed or earn enough Gilda Stars to buy a housing deed. But of course, everyone else will be doing the same. Just how crowded are the newbie lands? And how quickly are the plots of land being snatched up? Join us live at 8:00 p.m. for a glimpse into this land rush.

Game: ArcheAge
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, September 12th, 2014
Time: 8:00 p.m. EDT

Enjoy our Stream Team video below.

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Elite gets release pricing but no release date yet

Sci-Fi, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

Elite: Dangerous is still on track for a Q4 2014 launch. As such, Frontier today revealed the sci-fi sandbox's launch pricing plan as well as a pre-order option.

The standard game will set you back $59.99 (or £39.99 and €49.99 for our friends across the pond). The pre-order Mercenary edition -- available to purchase from now until release day -- will run you $50 (£35.00 or €40) and features an Eagle fighter, a digital guide, a digital concept art book, decals, and more. If you've already pre-ordered or backed through alpha and beta, you'll receive a Merc edition by default.

In other Elite news, Eurogamer reports that the game's original budget was £8 million, most of which came out of Frontier's own pocket prior to its successful crowdfunding campaign. And don't forget about this week's Elite newsletter, which talks more about the Mercenary edition and plans for the franchise's 30th anniversary celebration.

[Source: Frontier press release]

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Pathfinder Online further delays early enrollment to include more map

Betas, Fantasy, Launches, Patches, Sandbox, Subscription, Pathfinder Online

When will Pathfinder Online's early enrollment period begin? The answer to that question continues to change as its studio makes last-minute adjustments. Originally it was supposed to be September 15th, which then was pushed to September 22nd for more work on alpha features, and it's now delayed until September 25th in order to give players a larger initial game world. Players who have early enrollment access will be able to access the wipeable alpha (if they don't have it already) starting on the 18th.

"Our community has been very vocal about their desire to have the whole early enrollment map ready for play on the first day of early enrollment, and we're making changes to our deployment plans to accommodate that desire," Goblinworks posted. The studio also said that it will be delaying the start of the War of Towers until October 16th and that the Mac client should be ready to go by the start of early enrollment.

In the meantime, the team is consolidating its alpha patches into a single large patch for tomorrow and then will be doing updates on Thursdays going forward.

Trion clarifies ArcheAge's head-start housing situation

Betas, Fantasy, Economy, Game Mechanics, Launches, Previews, News Items, Free-to-Play, Community Q&A, Livestream, ArcheAge, Sandbox, Housing

During its livestreamed pre-launch discussion of ArcheAge earlier this week, Trion Worlds clarified a number of issues that will affect players early on when the game enters its head-start period tomorrow. Top priority in a sandbox? Where you hang your hat. Housing will open at the beginning of the head start period, so early players will naturally secure the best properties. There is no limit to the number of houses an account can own, although accounts are taxed "exponentially" after they acquire three and up.

Also of note:
  • The game plans to launch with the eight ten original beta servers.
  • The "patron" subscription is indeed $15; 1250 credits cost 1 APEX or $10. For scale, consider that a character slot costs 1000 credits.
  • Trion vowed to continue its efforts to deal with chat spammers and botters.
  • Everyone, even F2P players, can access the auction hall.
As to the controversial labor point system, Trion says all characters will begin with zero points.

[Thanks, JunkiesNation.]

Destiny has already raked in $500 million in sales

Sci-Fi, Bugs, Launches, MMO Industry, MMOFPS, Destiny, Buy-to-Play

Destiny's alleged big budget didn't end up being a big risk after all, as the title has become the highest-selling day-one digital console game release in history. From a combination of pre-orders, digital sales, and retail sales, Destiny has crossed the $500 million sales mark and doesn't look to be slowing any time soon.

CEO of Activision Publishing Eric Hirshberg considers this massive validation for the project: "Since the beginning, we've been confident that our investment and belief in Destiny would pay off. But not many people believed we'd be able to say it did so on day one. We have more confidence than ever that Destiny will become one of the iconic franchises of this generation and Activision's next billion-dollar brand."

However, if you're attempting to play Destiny from a college campus, you might be dealing with a frustrating impediment. Polygon notes that a networking error is blocking the game on certain campuises. Bungie said that it is aware of the issue and is working on a solution.

[Source: Activision Blizzard press release]

Destiny launches a day one patch

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Launches, New Titles, Patches, News Items, Consoles, MMOFPS, Destiny

Yikes.  Sorry, folks.
If you've played MMOs for any length of time, you've probably acquired a fear of the phrase "day one patch," as it's rarely an indication that everything will be smooth sailing. Destiny has just launched (as the most pre-ordered new IP ever, according to Activision), and it's already gotten its first patch out now, with sweeping changes to several key areas of the game's systems. Subclass locking is gone from builds and the unlocking order for subclasses has been adjusted; in addition, several classes and subclasses have seen their abilities and mechanics adjusted.

The patch also ushers in balance changes for most styles of weapon: assault rifles, pulse rifles, shotguns, scout rifles, hand cannons, HMGs, the list goes on. Some PvP mechanics and several maps have also been adjusted, which might lead to some rude awakenings for players jumping into the game expecting to know everything from beta. Check out the full patch notes for a breakdown of all the changes.

The Daily Grind: Are day-one reviews of MMOs fair?

Sci-Fi, Business Models, Launches, MMO Industry, Previews, Opinion, Massively Meta, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous, Destiny

This is pretty much how I feel during launch week
We've discussed the issues associated with previewing and reviewing MMOs on Massively before (we don't do "reviews" at all, you'll recall), but Bungie has brought the topic to the surface of MMO discussion once again. Ahead of Destiny's launch this week, Bungie wrote a blog post echoing what most MMO developers have long known: Experience with a launch MMO, with its systems not fully formed and its players not swarming the zones, can't really produce a review that fully captures the feel of a game with millions of people fluttering around in it. And even in a game with only 20 levels, a day-one reviewer can't possibly have completed enough content to deliver more than a snapshot of the gameplay.

Bungie didn't even mention the likelihood of the day-one MMO launch disasters that we're all so unfortunately familiar with, disasters that often make MMOs unplayable, never mind unreviewable. Still, if a game sucks at launch, isn't it fair to say so? A snapshot is useful for what it is, and there's no reason a developer should get a free pass on criticism at launch just because MMOs usually improve with age and warm bodies.

What do you think -- are early MMO reviews fair? How do you weigh them when deciding whether to purchase a game?

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!

Destiny's launch-day roundup

Betas, Sci-Fi, Culture, Events (Real-World), Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Destiny, Buy-to-Play

Destiny is officially live today around the world. While it may never arrive on the platform most of us MMO players prefer and it's not squarely an MMORPG, we can still cheer the arrival of a worthy mainstream crossover. Welcome to the fringes of our genre!

We've rounded up our Destiny coverage from announcement to launch to celebrate today's official release. Enjoy! (And if you want to see it live, our sister site Joystiq is streaming it right now!)

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The Daily Grind: What's the longest you've anticipated a new MMO?

Fantasy, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, The Daily Grind, ArcheAge, Sandbox

When Trion announced ArcheAge's western launch date last weekend, the first word that came to mind was finally. I'm not looking to bust anyone's chops here, but damn have I been waiting to play this game for forever.

The only other MMO I've followed so closely from its public announcement to its release was Star Wars: Galaxies, and that was only three years of waiting compared to over four for ArcheAge. What about you, Massively readers? What's the longest amount of time you've spent anticipating a new MMO? Which MMO was it?

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!

PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is a go for launch!

Betas, Fantasy, Interviews, Launches, Free-to-Play, Events (Massively's Coverage), ArcheAge, Sandbox, Housing

The packed ballroom at Trion's PAX Prime party erupted into giddy cheers last night when the team announced that ArcheAge's launch is merely a couple of weeks away. This gorgeous fantasy sandbox blew up the alpha test population and is poised to be a huge coup for Trion as the studio adds another title to its growing portfolio.

While the official launch date is September 16th, there will be an open beta from September 4th through the 8th, followed by a headstart launch on the 12th for founders.

The team expressed confidence in the alpha testing and the back-and-forth communication with developer XLGAMES. If XLGAMES is the proud mom and dad of ArcheAge, I was told, then Trion is the proud auntie and uncle. A lot of work has gone into straightening out regional differences for the western audience as well. For example, in Korea it's quite common to play an MMO with the intent of selling your character for actual money, which places a different value and emphasis on what you accumulate and do. Since such sales aren't often legal here, adjustments had to be made for the localized version. There was also a special cape item that Korean players could use to identify botters, which was used responsibly in that country but has apparently been wielded as a griefing tool in the west.

ArcheAge won't be budging on its commitment to an open PvP world; it's simply how the game is constructed. Players who want to avoid getting ganked will need to keep an eye on war zones that move throughout the world and accept the inherent risk that comes with attempting trade in those regions.

The team hopes that there will be enough space on the servers for all subscribers to grab an open world housing plot if desired. Coming some time after launch will be castles, which are larger structures that guilds can build, maintain, and defend together. Trion said that server transfers won't be in for release but are being worked on for the future.

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PAX Prime 2014: ArcheAge is launching on September 16th

Betas, Fantasy, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, ArcheAge, Sandbox

Yes, I know she turns into a bad angel
And lo, a new MMO came upon them, and the glory of non-linear gameplay surrounded them, and they were sore afraid.

Actually, they weren't afraid. They were exuberant. They sang "funk yeah!" -- their voices an angelic choir -- because frickin' finally, four years after discovering ArcheAge and three years after initially playing it, they received a western launch date.

That date, as we learned tonight at PAX Prime, is Tuesday, September 16th. Other dates to bear in mind are September 12th (the Founder head-start) and September 4th through September 8th (the open beta).

Massively's on the ground in Seattle during the weekend of August 29th to September 1st, bringing you all the best news from PAX Prime 2014. Whether you're dying to know more about Warlords of Draenor, The Elder Scrolls Online, Landmark, or any MMO in between, you can bet we'll have it covered!

Choose My Adventure: Firefall is finally a real game

Sci-Fi, Polls, Launches, New Titles, PvP, PvE, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, MMOFPS, Choose My Adventure, Firefall

Forgive me, Massively readers, for I have sinned. It has been six months since my last Choose My Adventure. Luckily, absolution is readily available via a 50-pound desktop computer, a mostly stable internet connection powered by one of the most hated companies in the United States, and three or four Hail Proudmoores. In summary: I have stared into the face of an eternal offline purgatory, clenched my teeth, and growled, "Not today."

No, today I'm going to play Firefall. And you're coming with me.

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2001's RuneScape announces its first-ever expansion

Fantasy, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Launches, Lore, Patches, News Items, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, Browser, Sandbox

Who says old games never get new content? Jagex has just announced Lost City of the Elves, the first expansion pack ever for 13-year-old sandbox MMO RuneScape. The expansion, which is being rolled out gradually beginning today, will bring to conclusion the long-running Elf Quest campaign and mark the start of a new adventure, Plague's End:
"From today, high level players can begin their journey towards Prifddinas by taking part in the new and epic Plague's End quest, the largest adventure in RuneScape to date. As well as being voted by RuneScape players as part of the game's Player Power initiative, the development of the Lost City of the Elves has seen considerable collaborative efforts between Jagex and the community throughout its creation. The expansion pack is being released in three parts to enable players to experience and enjoy all areas of the new content. Today's release of Plague's End will be followed by the unlocking of one half of the elf city in September, and the second half in October."
The expansion also includes new skill training methods, wearables, minigames, a "guild social hub," and the largest city in the game to date.

[Source: Jagex press release]

Betawatch: August 2 - 8, 2014

Betas, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Betawatch, Miscellaneous, Crowdfunding

After a few delays, Landmark's beta launched a massive patch introducing guilds as well as glass and ice voxels. For those still stumbling around in the game trying to learn which tool does what, Massively's own MJ Guthrie put together a helpful Landmark building guide. What else is new in the land of MMO betas?
  • ArcheAge will run another closed beta event next weekend.
  • The Crew has plans for a second round of closed beta beginning August 25.
  • Elite: Dangerous is hard at work on its second premium beta phase.
  • Das Tal ended its early alpha tests and is now hoping to be greenlighted on Steam.
  • Tree of Savior delayed its closed beta; it won't be this summer after all.
  • Next week, we'll finally learn when Warlords of Draenor is launching.
  • Demon Crusade launched its second beta earlier this week.
  • Finally, we've updated our Shards Online listing with the game's new website.
The complete Betawatch roundup follows.

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The Think Tank: Predicting the launch of Warlords of Draenor

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Business Models, Launches, MMO Industry, Opinion, Subscription

We teased Blizzard on Monday for announcing an announcement date for the release date for World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, but the truth is, even MMO players who don't play WoW are a little curious about when the expansion will release and how it might impact other MMOs we all play. That release date is what the Massively team is talking about today; we're issuing our predictions for launch date. Join us in the comments!

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