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Final Fantasy XIV is now offering a PlayStation 4 two-week free trial

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XIV, Promotions, Subscription

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ff14
Final Fantasy XIV may be intriguing you ever since it won of our Most Improved MMO of 2014 this past week. If you haven't bought into it yet and have a PlayStation 4, then you now have a free option to sample this acclaimed title.

Square-Enix announced today that it has begun to offer a 14-day free trial on the PlayStation 4 before requiring a subscription. There are a couple of caveats for these trial accounts, however; players can level only to 20 and have a few in-game activites restricted for the duration of the two-week trial.

[Source: Square-Enix Press release]

EVE Online nixes industry teams

Sci-Fi, EVE Online, Dev Diaries, Sandbox, Subscription

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eve
Not every new idea is going to take off and be a smash hit, as CCP definitely understands this as much as anyone. The EVE Online developer said that the implementation of industry teams earlier this year has been vastly underused, and as a result, teams will be removed from the game entirely in 2015.

"We have been closely tracking all related industry metrics and dials and it is apparent to us that usage of teams has been very low relative to the goals we set for it -- with single figure percentage use in manufacturing jobs and near nonexistent use in research," CCP wrote.

Industry teams had allowed players to hire NPCs to help out with industry jobs. The feature will be "methodically removed" over the next few months, although players will be able to use teams until they are forceably retired.

On another note, EVE tweeted that it has freed up over six million names from former trial players and has made them available for general use.

Leaderboard: Are you playing Elite: Dangerous this week?

Sci-Fi, Launches, MMO Industry, New Titles, Opinion, Sandbox, Leaderboard, Elite: Dangerous

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I'm vacationing from Massively this week, but I'm not vacationing from MMOs. Unless Elite: Dangerous isn't technically an MMO. Maybe it isn't, I dunno, because I haven't played long enough to form an opinion just yet. Anyway, Elite! Launched yesterday! Yay! Maybe after my vacation I'll manage to write something more in depth, but for now that will have to suffice.

What about you, Massively readers? Are you playing Elite this week? If so, what do you think?

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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Watch six videos of TERA's new dungeons

Fantasy, Video, Expansions, Free-to-Play, TERA, Dungeons

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tera
If you haven't heard from your TERA-playing friends, don't worry -- they're merely in the thick of enjoying the new Fate of Arun expansion. As with many MMO expansions, Fate of Arun came packed with tough new dungeons, and intrepid YouTuber Skill Graal filmed adventures through several of them.

You can watch six of these dungeon dives after the break, including looks at Bathysmal Rise and Ravenous Gorge.

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Echo of Soul has 'everything an MMO player could want'

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Free-to-Play, Dev Diaries

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eos
"At launch, Echo of Soul will include everything an MMO player could want," says Global Development Project Manager Junhyung Jung. "With 68 areas and over 1,600 quests, EOS offers far more initial content than other games."

Them's fightin' words, Mr. Jung. But also playin' words, too. The above quote comes from a new Echo of Soul video dev diary, in which Jung makes a case for why this title should have broad appeal. He runs down the features list, including PvE content, PvP battles, and solo and team challenges. The level cap is also mentioned as where the game "truly begins."

You can watch the full dev diary after the break.

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RIFT beefs up the minion system

Fantasy, Bugs, Game Mechanics, Free-to-Play, RIFT

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rift
RIFT's new minion system is arguably one of the more popular additions to the game in some time, with players sending out their loyal subjects to bring them back treasures and fame. However, Trion Worlds says it still has work to do, and in a new "State of the Minunion" post, the studio lists a few areas that it's improving with the game's next hotfix.

The new Fae Yule minion mission pack, with a series of quests that tell a story, will have some of its minion rewards buffed up with better stats. The hotfix will also tackle a few bugs and add minion-releated achievements. Finally, adventure rewards are being fine-tuned and improved, although it has been difficult for the team to handle this as it has been "an extremely extensive change touching dozens upon dozens of loot tables."

Choose My Adventure: World of Warcraft and the shadowy priest

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Polls, Expansions, New Titles, PvE, Hands-On, Choose My Adventure, Subscription, MMORPG

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It's been one week since Choose My Adventure's voters sent me on the path of darkness in World of Warcraft, daring me to cast off my healing roots and adventure forward as a Priest who deals only in shadow. I've gained a couple of levels, tinkered with my garrison, and killed hundreds and hundreds of orcs. I've even managed to work out some of last week's confusion, finding a spell rotation that works for me and laying waste to any PvE enemies that cross my path.

I've also completed about a million quests, Warlords of Draenor-style.

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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

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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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Landmark's PvE arrives today; SOE shifts to EQ Next full-time in 2015

Interviews, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Sandbox, Norrathian Notebook, Landmark

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We've waited a long time for the chance to have our faces eaten off by vicious monsters in Landmark, and now that opportunity is almost here! After a bit of delay, the infamous PvE patch is heading into our favorite sandbox today. This is seriously going to be a game-changer. Of all the patches throughout the whole year, this one is the biggest -- surpassing the August PvP update and even the original alpha launch, at least according to Creative Director Dave Georgeson. And he's not kidding! I got to check out Landmark's new mobs, linking and triggering, armors, props, and more with Georgeson and Senior Producer Terry Michaels. I didn't think it was possible to be even more excited for this patch, but I am! Can I hear a squeeeee?!

Oh, and for everyone who is waiting anxiously for EverQuest Next news, here's a tidbit from Georgeson you might enjoy:
When we get to those game mastering systems [after the start of the year] that means we are working on EQN full time. Because those are the systems we need for EQN, and that's what we're building when we're building those game mastering tools. So we're so close to transitioning the team almost entirely to EQN, and then we'll take the elements that we build for EQN and port them over into Landmark, but our focus will shift almost entirely to EQN after the new year.

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

Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Miscellaneous

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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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Massively's Best of 2014 Awards: Best Update or Expansion of the Year

MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Miscellaneous

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Massively 2014 Awards
Massively's end-of-the-year awards continue today with our award for the Best Update or Expansion of the Year. Every patch, be it small freebie update or traditional paid expansion, was eligible for this category, as long as it released in 2014. All of our writers were invited to cast a vote, but not all of them chose to do so for this category. Don't forget to cast your own vote in the just-for-fun reader poll at the very end.

The Massively staff pick for Best Update or Expansion of 2014 is...

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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

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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

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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

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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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The Daily Grind: What was your best open-world PvP experience?

Culture, PvP, Opinion, The Daily Grind, Miscellaneous

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black desert
As someone who usually stands on the outside of the whole PvP scene, I'm often curious about the appeal and goings-on of fighting endlessly against other human opponents, especially in MMOs. People seem to talk highly of open world battles and epic moments, although my experience has been limited to being corpse camped on a World of Warcraft server and taking part in many confusic and hectic keep battles in Warhammer Online.

So sate my curiosity today and tell me a time when you had your best open-world PvP experience. What happened and why was that such a treasured memory?

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!

Onigiri MMO coming to consoles next year

Betas, Fantasy, Free-to-Play, Consoles

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onigiri
The Japanese mythology MMO, Onigiri, is officially on its way to the Xbox One (and PlayStation 4) next year in North America and Europe, Windows Central reports. The title, which is developed by Cyberstep, will be free-to-play and is already live on the Xbox One in Japan.

Onigiri came out on the PC in 2013. The console version may have patches slightly lagging behind the PC version, but it will otherwise be identical in form and function. There will be no cross-over play between platforms.

While Windows Central says that this will be Xbox One's "first MMO," that overlooks the already-released Destiny and The Crew as well as other titles on the way, including Elder Scrolls Online, PlanetSide 2, All Points Bulletin, Neverwinter, The Division, and Warframe.

Global Chat: Die, DPS meters, die!

EverQuest II, Lord of the Rings Online, Culture, Opinion, Global Chat, Miscellaneous, HEX, Skyforge

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gw2
Hey you! Yes, you! Are you sick of damage meters ruining your life? Do you rebel against the virtual man by questioning such long-established gaming tropes as levels? Then have we got the column for you!

In our last community blog round-up of the year, we've collected some fine pieces of discussion, debate, and introspection -- not to mention a first impression or two to tide you over until 2015. We've also got an essay about the joy of healing, what it's like to play an MMO as a bear, going back to the Isle of Refuge, and more!

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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

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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

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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.

See Bless Online's character creation options

Betas, Fantasy, Video, Classes, Free-to-Play

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bless online
Getting a closer look at character creation options when a title is deep in testing is always useful, especially to those of us who lack access to the beta. Steparu.com took Bless Online's character creator out for a spin as the title's closed beta test revved back up, and you can enjoy a sneak peek as a result.

Steparu noted that it doesn't look as though classes are gender-locked, although players may be wedded to a faction once they roll up their first character. You can watch the character creation video after the jump, and make sure you bounce over to Steparu.com for more videos on several of the game's classes.

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Elite: Dangerous launch Dec. 16, 2014
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PAX South Jan. 23, 2015
GDC March 2, 2015
FFXIV: Heavensward Spring 2015

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