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Vanguard

The Daily Grind: How much would you pay to keep an MMO alive?

Business Models, MMO Industry, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, The Daily Grind

Vanguard
So here's something that bothers me about this whole SOE MMO armageddon thing. When CEO John Smedley took to Twitter to sympathize with upset Vanguard fans yesterday, he implied that the firm has done all it could to keep the long-running fantasy MMO afloat. "I realize the Vanguard players are upset," he tweeted. "We waited a long time to do this and ran it well past economic viability."

The phrase "past economic viability" is odd since SOE has literally been giving Vanguard away for nearly two years now. The other part of the equation that doesn't add up is why SOE -- or any other firm that insists on closing down a license-free MMO -- doesn't first reach out to the affected playerbase and offer them a chance to save the day.

It might go something like this. "Dear Vanguard player, we thank you for your support and we regret to inform you that the game is not doing well financially. In order to avoid shutting it down, we require you and every other current player to pay a $50 monthly subscription fee."

Sure, 50 bucks is an arbitrary number that I just made up and a large number for an MMO sub. But can anyone credibly state that loyal players wouldn't gladly pay $50 or more if it meant saving their game? How would we know since no MMO company can be bothered to try it? Which leads in to today's Daily Grind question. How much would you pay to keep your favorite MMO alive?

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!

SOE shuttering Vanguard, Clone Wars, Free Realms, and Wizardry [Updated]

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Free Realms, Wizardry Online, Sunsets

SOE logo
SOE is closing down four of its MMOs. Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures and Free Realms will close on March 31st. Vanguard and Wizardry Online will bow out on July 31st.

"At Sony Online Entertainment, we are always evaluating our portfolio to ensure we're providing players with the best gameplay experiences," the company said via press release. "At times, as part of this commitment, we have to make the difficult decision to sunset a game so we can refocus our resources on other areas in the best interest of our company and player community."

SOE CEO John Smedley will be fielding questions on Reddit at 6:00 p.m. EST. We'll update you with the link when it's live.

[Update]: Smedley's Reddit AMA

The Stream Team: Dungeon Tours visits Vanguard's High Elves

Fantasy, Video, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

Dungeon Tours is slowly sweeping across Vanguard's European-esque continent of Thestra. After last week's stop with the Vulmane, Massively's MJ moves on to adventure through the starter dungeon for the High Elves of Leth Nurae. The city of Leth Nurae itself imbues all who enter with peace, but Arcanium lies just outside of the city limits and those blissful feelings don't follow those who venture there. If you haven't visited Arcanium, a dungeon for levels seven through 12, now is your chance. Join us live at 12:00 p.m. to to see what secrets hide within.

Game: Vanguard
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, January 18th, 2014
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Vanguard's Cave of Wonders releases today

Fantasy, Galleries, Screenshots, Game Mechanics, Endgame, News Items, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Dungeons

What once was lost is back again: Vanguard's Cave of Wonders, present back in beta but nixed from the launched version, has returned! And devs have not only excavated this long-buried cave but reworked it to fit the current lore and add all-new raid mechanics. In this next step in the City of Brass plot, players will enter the first wing of the Cave of Wonders and take on four new bosses in 24-man raids. This cavern reopens today, filled with treasures (and all-new raid gear) for those willing to brave the dangers. For a peek into the cave, check out the six new screenshots in the gallery below.

The Stream Team: Returning to Thestra's dungeons in Vanguard

Fantasy, Video, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

No matter where you start in Vanguard, there are plenty of dungeon experiences right from the get-go. And in this next edition of Dungeon Tours, Massively's MJ heads back to Thestra to the Vulmane starting area of Dahknarg to show off the first dungeon awaiting the wolf-like race. Slated for the solo adventurer between level 7 and 11, the dungeon can be done alone or with friends. As most of the lowest dungeons go quickly, MJ might also swing by Arcanium in Leth Nurae, home of the High Elves. Join us live at 12:00 p.m. for this next stop on the tour.

Game: Vanguard
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, January 11th, 2014
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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SOE considering an one-subscription-covers-all plan for $14.99 a month

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Business Models, Economy, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Dragon's Prophet, Wizardry Online, Subscription

EQN
SOE President John Smedley took to Reddit today to address the "fear, uncertainty, and doubt" that's been swirling about regarding the subscription changes made to its games, most notably PlanetSide 2 and EverQuest II. While he lists several reasons why the studio is doing this, the main reason is a big change in the works: SOE is considering implementing a one-subscription-covers-all plan moving forward.

"We are considering (and are likely going to move forward with) a plan that means if you subscribe to one of our games you are a subscriber to all our games (this applies to PC titles only, by the way) all for the current $14.99 a month," Smedley wrote. "That's a benefit most companies simply can't offer because they don't have our portfolio of games. The goal would be to let you pick an item in each game you play."

He implied that this plan will also cover EverQuest Next Landmark and EverQuest Next. Other reasons for the subscription change include helping players buy larger items on the marketplace, internal issues regarding people stockpiling Station Cash, and disparity between computer and console promotions.

For a more in-depth look at the subscription plan changes, read our recent Norrathian Notebook column.

The Stream Team: Touring Vanguard's first dungeons on Kojan

Fantasy, Video, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

So far the dungeons of Vanguard have been confined to caves, but that's not always the case. In fact, some dungeon experiences are right out in the open! So it is with the first low-level dungeon on Kojan, Vaelwyn Citadel. Join Massively's MJ as she travels to Ca'ial Brael and works her way through first the Citadel and then Glade of the Lost. As a bonus, the two dungeons are close to each other! This next tour departs promptly at 3:00 p.m., so don't miss it.

Game: Vanguard
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Thursday, December 26th, 2013
Time: 3:00p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Visiting Vanguard's lowest-level dungeons on Qalia

Fantasy, Video, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

All aboard for the next stop on Dungeon Tours! We got a taste for the first two dungeons of Vanguard's Thestra last week; now it's time to check out the desert lands of Qalia. Massively's MJ has put on her sunblock and plans to visit Rockspine Lair near Pankor Zhi. If time permits, she might also poke into Ksaravi Hollow near Khal. If you have a new character on Qalia, now is a great time to jump in and test yourself in these dungeons in the level 5 to 11 range.

Game: Vanguard
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Friday, December 20th, 2013
Time: 9:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Tackling Vanguard's lowest-level dungeons

Fantasy, Video, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

With over 80 dungeons to choose form in Vanguard, sometimes Massively's MJ gets paralyzed with indecision: Which one this time? Well, she's solved that dilemma for good; she'll just start at the first one and do them all from there, in order! And so the very first Dungeon Tour begins. We kick off our tour on Thestra with the lowest of low dungeons in the racial starting areas. First up: Rindol Storehouse on Thestra with an extra trip to Oathbreaker Caves! Join us live at 1:00 p.m. EST for the a look into the dungeons available for players under level 10 on Thestra, and stay tuned for more as the series continues.

Game: Vanguard
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, December 14th, 2013
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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Next SOE Live hits Vegas August 14 - 17, 2014

Fantasy, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Free Realms, DC Universe Online, EverQuest Next, PlanetSide 2, Dragon's Prophet

If you're still kicking yourself for missing the big reveals of SOE Live 2013, you've got plenty of time to make preparations for next year's convention. Mark your 2014 calendars for August 14th through the 17th; that's when fans from the whole arsenal of SOE games will descend upon Las Vegas to mingle with devs, participate in contests and tournaments, attend player and dev panels, and catch reveals of upcoming content in their favorite games. SOE Live 2014 will also features access to beta programs as well as plenty of in-game and real world swag.

The annual fan convention will return to Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, and tickets will be available for purchase in early 2014. Additional information will be forthcoming later, but you can catch the reveal trailer below.

[Source: SOE press release]

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Leaderboard: How many same-genre MMOs can you play at once?

Fantasy, MMO Industry, Opinion, Vanguard, Leaderboard

Vanguard unicorns
I have a hankering for Vanguard. I don't know why, other than it's one of those MMOs that I've always enjoyed despite playing it rather infrequently. This hankering is problematic, though, because I'm already dabbling in Final Fantasy XIV, Lord of the Rings Online, and an offline RPG.

All of these games have a fantasy bent, and when you couple that with the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day, I'm sure you can understand my dilemma. Failing some sort of uber-MMO that manages to combine all of the best features from each of these titles, I guess I'll just have to pick one for a primary game and glance longingly at the also-rans every now and again.

What about you, Massively readers? How many same-genre MMOs can you play at the same time? Two? Three? None? Vote after the cut!

Ever wish that you could put to rest a long-standing MMO debate once and for all? Then welcome to the battle royal of Massively's Leaderboard, where two sides enter the pit o' judgment -- and only one leaves. Vote to make your opinion known, and see whether your choice tops the Leaderboard!

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SOE patches Vanguard database fixes, eyes Cave of Wonders

Fantasy, MMO Industry, Patches, News Items, Vanguard, Free-to-Play

Vanguard
SOE has patched the latest version of Vanguard to the live server. Today's downtime was used to implement the database performance improvements that showed up on the game's test server a while back. SOE says that after it's satisfied with server performance, it will be looking to "patch out the first wing of the Cave of Wonders," hopefully in time for the Christmas holidays!

[Thanks Mikegonz!]

The Stream Team: Slaying Vanguard's server beast (and dungeon mobs, too)

Fantasy, Video, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Massively Meta, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

Neither sleet nor snow nor server offline will keep Massively's MJ from Vanguard dungeons! OK, well the server being offline can, and actually did last week. But she won't give in that easily! She's back and ready to slay the mighty server beast that refused her her dungeon adventures.

Now the question is, which one will she hit up today? That depends on who is brave enough to join the group! With over 70+ to choose from at her level, the possibilities feel endless. If some lower levels join the party, she'll head to one they can access. If not, perhaps the group will venture into Dreadfang Hovel, Lair of the Drake Riders, or Stonefist Scarp. Join us live at 1:00 p.m. to see where the crew ends up. Or better yet, log in and be a part of the crew!

Game: Vanguard
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, December 7th, 2013
Time: 1:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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The Stream Team: A dungeon a day keeps monotony away in EverQuest II

Fantasy, Video, EverQuest II, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Livestream, Dungeons, The Stream Team

Eeny, meeny, miny, moe -- to which dungeon will we go? In Vanguard, that can be a difficult question to answer. In fact, with so many to choose from in every level range, picking where to get your dungeon-diving on is basically slaying the first (and possibly the hardest) boss! But that won't stop Massively's MJ from gathering some friends and delving into one. Join us live at 12:00 p.m. to see which one the group faces in the latest Telon dungeon adventures.

Game: Vanguard EverQuest II
Host: MJ Guthrie
Date: Saturday, November 30th, 2013
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST

[Update: Due to Vanguard server being offline, the livestream has been switched to EverQuest II]

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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The Stream Team: Playing Vanguard using 'Immersion Rules'

Video, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Vanguard, Free-to-Play, Hands-On, Roleplaying, Livestream, Sandbox, The Stream Team

Vanguard Saga of Heroes screenshot
Years ago Beau set out to play Vanguard: Saga of Heroes in a unique way that would add depth to the game. He came up with a set of rules -- the Immersion Rules -- and followed them for a long time. Some of the rules include seeking shelter during bad weather, using a real-life map only, eating and drinking at particular times and even resting or sleeping. He even added in permadeath and lost one of his most beloved characters that way. Join him as he tries the rules out once again, on camera!

Game: Vanguard: Saga of Heroes
Host: Beau
Date: Friday, November 8th, 2013
Time: 4:00 p.m. EST

Enjoy our Steam Team video below.

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