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The Secret World's Christmas Conspiracies event takes the stage

Horror, Real-Life, Events (In-Game), News Items, The Secret World, Buy-to-Play

What's Christmas without a clown and a chainsaw? Nothing -- if you're in The Secret World. The game that excels as conspiracies has turned one into a holiday event for players to unravel. It all starts with attending a show at London's Albion Theater and winds its way through gathering clues and solving Musical "Magic Flute" puzzles, even discovering Old Saint Nick's tomb.

And what's a Christmas without gifts? TSW offers new pets like an undead polar bear, funky hats, and more outfits and costume pieces -- including a carrot nose -- in the Rucksacks of Saturnalian Delights. The bags are rewards for finishing the holiday missions as well as available in the item shop. As during the Halloween event, players who purchase a special bag (this time the Bag of Wassail) in the shop to share with players will be rewarded with an all-new dance.

As in years past, previous holiday events are also live and running. However, the launchpad warns players that the End of Days event is currently experiencing issues and the team is working to resolve them.

Skyforge offers two contests for those who seek beta keys

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, News Items, Free-to-Play, Promotions, Skyforge

The official Massively suggestion for the name: Leet, But Not Like Those Leets That Are Owned By Funcom.  A Totally Different Leet That We Made Up.
Is the only thing you want for Christmas a nice shiny Skyforge beta key? If so... wow, you are aiming really low when it comes to gifts this year. We usually at least would ask for a game, not test access to a game. Besides, you could get one completely for free by taking part in one of two contests. The first is a straightforward raffle-style giveaway on Facebook: Just "like" the game's page and submit your account email, and 500 lucky entrants will get a beta key.

But for those who want a key and prefer not to leave it up to chance, there's a forum thread asking players to name the critter they see in the header above. The five best entries will receive a beta key, followed by a vote-off of all the suggested names. So there's a chance at getting in just based on your creativity at naming things, which might be more your style. The name contest will run until December 22nd, while the Facebook entries are accepted until January 15th.

[Thanks to Gabriel for the tip!]

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.

City of Steam is merging EU servers on December 22nd

Fantasy, MMO Industry, News Items, Free-to-Play, Browser, City of Steam, Subscription

And then everyone just burns forever.  I think.  I don't know how merges work.
If you've played City of Steam in the EU and thought to yourself, "Man, there are just too many servers for this game right now," the developers agree with you, which is why the server list is being consolidated down to a single server as of December 22nd. Characters will be automatically transferred, with character names getting server tags to make sure naming issues sorted out before they arise.

Players on the current EU3 server will be receiving a compensation package that includes a 90-day subscription and a variety of other materials for character advancement. The five-characters-per-server limit will be enforced with prejudice; the staff is simply deleting the oldest or least-played characters on an account if the merge puts someone over five characters on the final server. So take care of that issue before it arises on the 22nd.

Camelot Unchained's Mark Jacobs on the warrior class and development transparency

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Business Models, Classes, Game Mechanics, Interviews, MMO Industry, PvP, News Items, Sandbox, Crowdfunding, Camelot Unchained

Camelot Unchained
City State Entertainment -- an indie studio that's becoming better known to our readers, I imagine, after it ran away with our poll for best studio last week -- has today posted its first class concept reveal. The tentatively named Drengr is the Viking warrior class, and in its long design document, the studio has outlined just how the archetype fits into the proposed Path system that will govern character development in the crowdfunded RvR MMORPG.

We spoke to CSE's Mark Jacobs about the Path system, warrior reveal, and the impact of transparency on the game development process. Enjoy the interview below!

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WoW and FFXIV see boosted playtime on Raptr; ArcheAge playtime 'cratered'

Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

Raptr
Another month, another Raptr report. Yesterday Raptr.com posted its most played PC games list for November, and MMOs did rather well. Unsurprisingly, World of Warcraft surged up the list to #2 thanks to the Warlords of Draenor expansion. "The MMO's monthly play time was up 71.3% versus October," Raptr's press release says. And though WoW "likely" drew from League of Legends' numbers, it couldn't quite usurp the MOBA's #1 seat.

Among other MMOs, ArcheAge playtime "cratered by 39.97%," but World of Tanks and Final Fantasy XIV both saw rises in theirs. Guild Wars 2 rose in rank, Raptr says, but lost playtime in November vs. October. SWTOR fell two places since October.

As always, Raptr roundups come with the caveat that they represent Raptr users on PC, not all gamers; some MMO studios are also known to boost their Raptr numbers with in-game incentives. But since some of these games refuse to release population data, you might call this the next best snapshot of popularity outside of touring the servers yourself.

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The Secret World's killer clown is coming to get you

Horror, Business Models, News Items, The Secret World, Promotions, Buy-to-Play

TSW
Some Funcom fans are getting a nice present in their email today: a ticket to play The Secret World for free for a month.

"You will die. Because, hey, that's what happens when you play an MMO where killer clowns are after you. Fight back! Play The Secret World for FREE this Holiday season," reads the promo.

The freebie 30-day codes in the emails are apparently valid if used by January 15th and include experience potions as well as $5 worth of points to spend in the cash shop. It's currently unclear whether the promotion is for former subbers or just everyone who has a Funcom account.

Elite: Dangerous offers cash prizes in the race to 'Elite'

Sci-Fi, Contests, Game Mechanics, New Titles, News Items, Promotions, Elite: Dangerous, Buy-to-Play

Elite
Why launch a space MMO when you can launch a space MMO and a giant competition for cash money? That's exactly what Elite: Dangerous is up to just a day after its formal launch. Frontier is offering several huge cash prizes for players who reach the "Elite" rank in various gameplay categories.
Entrants must start from a fresh save on the release version of Elite: Dangerous, starting with the Sidewinder and 1,000 CR, and use 'Open Play' multiplayer mode only. They can use the slight advantage of the Eagle starship offered as part of Elite: Dangerous' Mercenary Edition, but otherwise it should be a level playing field. If in Frontier's sole opinion, there has been any cheating, then an entry may be disallowed. This is a skill-based competition with the following prizes for the first person to reach:
1. Elite in combat - £1,000 or $1,500 or €1,200*
2. Elite in exploration - £1,000 or $1,500 or €1,200*
3. Elite in trading - £1,000 or $1,500 or €1,200*
4. Elite in all three - £10,000 or $15,000 or €12,000*
(* currency as applicable)
Participants must clear their saves, start their journey post-release, and play entirely in open play mode. Anyone out there going for it?

SMITE explores Awilix in depth and kicks off Saturnalia

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Events (In-Game), News Items, Free-to-Play

The lack of lore apparently meant that Awilix drank heavily from the well of Generic Fantasy Undress.
There are a lot of goddesses of the night or the moon, period, and there's no shortage of playable ones in SMITE, either. Awilix is also a figure without a whole lot of prominent lore trying to provide a different take on the general role of assassin. So how did the design team go from a name and a few details to a playable character? Through interplay with her pet jaguar, a different series of abilities, and an emphasis on mobility and hit-and-run tactics.

Already have all of the gods you need right now? You've still got a reason to log in to SMITE as the game runs its Saturnalia event, offering free bonus gems to everyone and doubled experience gains for each match played. A series of rolling sales on the pantheons of the game will also persist through the whole of Saturnalia, so if you decide you would like to pick up some new skins, you've got that option.

[Thanks to Sorenthaz for the tip!]

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Space strategy MMO AD2460 launches on December 29th

Betas, Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Launches, New Titles, PvP, News Items, Browser, MMORTS, Miscellaneous, Subscription

AD2460
After two months in open beta, space strategy MMO AD2460 has announced its official launch for December 29th. The spiritual sequel to 2000's Planetarion, AD2460 is playable in-browser, meaning it works on mobile too. Players will be spending their time developing alliances and empires and fleets, and once the game is out of beta, they can expect to pay $1 a week in sub fees.

Fifth Season's Christian Lassem dropped by our comment section earlier this fall to dispel confusion about the game and show off a slice of combat via video, which we've included below.

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Valiance Online moves to Greenlight and picks up a City of Heroes artist

Super-hero, MMO Industry, News Items

Also known as the other CoH revival project that might eventually see the light of day.
So you want to back Valiance Online as a longtime fan of City of Heroes, but your Kickstarter budget right now is at a solid $0. Good news, then; you can support the game just by voting for it on Steam Greenlight. It's still early in the testing cycling, but the game has added a rather significant feather to its cap with the addition of its newest staff member, former City of Heroes animator Ron Friedman.

Friedman's stated duties will be training the team on animation methods for the superheroic game, reviewing and modifying existing animations, and creating new animations as necessary. It's a good sign that the game will inherit a fair chunk of City of Heroes visually, so if you've been on the fence, now might be the time to consider voting for the game after all.

Massively Speaking Episode 325: End of the year roundtable

Podcasts, MMO Industry, News Items, Massively Meta, Massively Speaking, Miscellaneous

elite dangerous
2014 was a heck of a year here at Massively. And for all of the ups and downs that we weathered, we like to think that we've emerged a little smarter, a little wiser, and a little ready for a less dramatic 2015. On today's episode, we invited to staff to come in talk about MMOs we've played, our awards picks, and what we're going to do in the new year.

Get all of our opinions and analysis on the most important stories of the past week right here on Massively Speaking, the industry's leading MMO podcast. And if you have a comment, question, or topic for the podcasters, send an email to podcast@massively.com. We may just read your email on the air!

Get the podcast:
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Listen here on the page:



Read below the cut for the full show notes.

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Warhammer 40k: Eternal Crusade discounts its founder packs

Betas, Business Models, News Items, Warhammer 40k, Miscellaneous

Eternal Crusade
Just in time for the holidays, Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade is discounting its founder upgrade packs. "We have big plans coming in 2015," says Behaviour Online, "and want to allow our fans the chance to get some extra upgrades now."

Starting December 17th, the game will offer a 25% discount on pack upgrades, which makes the cheapest packs $30 and the elite Dawn of the Imperium pack $97.50. Founder packs count as preorders, even at the lowest tiers. While the game will be F2P upon launch, free players are restricted to the Ork Boyz faction.

We've included the latest video, a teaser for the studio's Friday Twitch event, below. Behaviour will be hosting a Razer product giveaway and showing off a brand-new war zone.

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The Transformers Universe MOBA is shutting down

Betas, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous, Transformers Universe, MOBA, Sunsets

Bad news today, folks: MOBA Transformers Universe will close before it even leaves beta as part of Jagex's and Hasbro's efforts to "realign their plans and focuses for 2015." UK developer Jagex had posted about impending layoffs for the TU team back in November, but it appears that it's really game over now:
The shutdown period will begin from today. As part of the winding down we will be refunding all those that have purchased a Founders Pack, as well as anyone that has purchased relic bundles and starter packs. These refunds should be all processed in the next 30 days. In addition we will be closing the ability for new players to make accounts, those of you that already have accounts will continue to be able to use them until the closure date. [...] We will also be pushing an update live today that will switch off the ability for players to buy any more relic packs, or starter bundles.

[O]n 31st Jan 2015 @ 10am GMT we will be shutting down all servers and forums and will freeze all Transformers Universe related accounts. These accounts will then be live for another 60 days (approx.) for any final queries before deletion on 31st March 2015. Between now and the date of closure the Jagex CM team will continue to operate on the forums and we will provide relevant updates on the website as necessary.
Jagex asks players to contact the customer services team if they have not received their refunds by January 16th. Our hearts go out to the players and developers who hoped to see the title succeed.

WildStar's next big update and holiday surprise

Sci-Fi, Game Mechanics, Patches, Previews, Endgame, News Items, WildStar, Dungeons, Subscription, Buy-to-Play

Now if you'd jut say that Glory is available from shiphands, we'd be moving somewhere!
The first major WildStar update of 2015 is available on the test servers now. Yes, there's a little time before it actually goes live for everyone. Creative Director Chad Moore took the opportunity today to explain to the community everything contained within the new update, starting with the addition of two new dungeons (the Protostar Academy and the Ultimate Protogames), a new Shiphand mission, and the addition of veteran-level Shiphand missions that can still be cleared solo or in a group as you'd like.

This update also includes new housing options, cosmetic options for characters (including the ability to edit your appearance post-character creation), and the addition of the new Glory currency for completing dungeons and raids, which can be exchanged for high-end equipment. Last but not least, it's the update that includes the long-discussed drop of the Datascape raid down to 20 players, making it less of a challenge to assemble a roster for this content. While it remains to be seen how well the update actually plays, it looks to be filled with a number of positive changes for the game.

In other WildStar news today, the studio is running holiday promotion during December. "Carbine wanted to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and spread some cheer by giving out 12 Days of Boom Boxes," wrote Community Manager Tony Rey yesterday. "Everyone that has logged into WildStar during the month of December (12/1-12/15) will receive these sweet little bundles of potential."

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