Archive for the ‘MMO News’ Category

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Before You Think Subscriptions Are Back In Style…

August 21, 2013

ESO

With the news of payment models for Wildstar and Elder Scrolls Online coming out this week, I see a lot of people have been weighing in with stunned reactions.

But I can’t say I understand the surprise. I’ve made mention before that the “Launching with a subscription and then transition to free-to-play a few months down the road” seems to be emerging as an efficient business model in itself. Make all the big money up front, and as your player population inevitably dwindles after a while when the shiny has worn off, flip the switch to F2P. On top of that, you also get the benefit of having two “launches” to maximize your publicity as well as the “second rush” that comes with the sub-free players.

Call me overly-suspicious, but as fantastic as these two games look, I don’t think either Carbine or Zenimax (or, at least, their business departments) are under any delusions of grandeur thinking they will break the mold, and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if they already have their contingency F2P plans in place as a fallback. From a business standpoint, that’s actually quite a very clever route to go, the cousin to the familiar “early adopters pay more to experience everything first” concept. They have no idea if their game will have lasting appeal, but they do know it’s attractive enough that a significant number of gamers will want to jump on board to see what it has to offer — and more importantly, they know this particular audience won’t mind forking out the money to do so right away.

So if one banks on the fact that a good fraction will be willing to pay a subscription for even the first month or two, then why in the world wouldn’t you launch with a sub, especially if you can have F2P all set up as a plan B? It’s not brave, it’s shrewd. You can only win, especially if the heightened number of subscribers hold out for longer than you’d hoped.

Of course, I could be wrong. And I’m also aware the theory borders on cynical (or giving companies too much credit). Still, it was what went through my head as I read these news releases, with not a trace of shock at all. And as to how Wildstar and ESO having a subscription impacts my level of interest and enthusiasm in these games? Probably not at all. As ever, my pattern is to “go all out” when I play an MMO. Which means, in the time span of a single month, I prefer to focus on no more than two games, and I’m definitely not the type to sample 4-5 different ones in a week. Believe me, I’ve tried that, and I just can’t keep up.

So subbing — even for a free game, if the option’s available — has just always felt like the easiest and most obstacle-free route to fit my style. Wildstar and ESO? Yeah, I think I’ll play the hell out of both games when they first come out; I have no doubt I’ll play enough to make whatever box or subscription price worth it in the first couple months. After that, I can always cancel. In other words, business as usual!

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Defiance: Time-Limited Episode Missions

April 14, 2013

episode mission

Thanks to catching the tail-end of a twitter conversation a few days ago, I was reminded to complete all the current Episode Missions in Defiance.

Good thing too, since they won’t be around in-game after the 15th. Because of Trion and SyFy’s collaboration on this cross-media project, the timeline content in both the game and show have to mesh and be in sync — so it would follow logically that at least some of the content will be time-limited. The two particular NPCs involved in the current quests, for example, will be gone after the first episode of the show airs Monday night, since it wouldn’t make sense for them to be in the San Francisco Bay area anymore. So, it’s bye bye for now, Nolan and Irisa!

On the one hand, these are exactly the kind of dynamic world changes I would expect to participate in on a cross-media undertaking such as this; part of the draw for me was being able to see events in the show affect the game, and hopefully vice versa. Of course, this will mean working more diligently to keep track of these connections and do content like episode missions on time, but I’m also fairly certain stuff like that won’t be popping up every week, allowing me ample opportunities to catch up. Speaking of which, last night’s polishing off of the episode missions wasn’t bad at all, taking me no more than two hours to complete, especially since I did them in a group with my husband and a guildie.

There are four of this type of quests in all, designated by a star-inside-a-square symbol on the map, and easily accessible to new players as far as I know. All of us had already done A Little Competition earlier in the week, so we hit up the next mission The Searchers, which appeared the first in a chain. This was followed up by The Heist (which contains a solo portion) and The Departed. That these missions are special are obvious right from the start, with longer and more elaborate cutscenes, as well as more challenging enemies and cooler-looking instances. They’re also fun as hell.

So be sure to hit them up; there’s still plenty of time before tomorrow night. You get some decent rewards out of it too, including a couple of outfits and an amazing purple-quality assault rifle. Not only is that my weapon-of-choice, I’m also now proudly sporting a spiffy fur-collared mauve jacket (also known as the official uniform of “We Love Irisa” fan club!)

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The Secret World: Sub Gone, Join Usssssss

December 12, 2012

On 12/12/12 12:12 Norway time, Funcom officially did it — flipped the switch on The Secret World making it subscription-free, or in other words buy-to-play. If you were one of the lucky ones who picked up the game a few weeks ago during one of the many crazy video game sales, I’d be feeling pretty damn swell right now.

Those familiar with the game probably already know that everything had been set up for this from the get go, but leave it to TSW developers to tie the whole thing to the end of the world. As for me, it’s pretty much going to be business as usual. I’m already playing at least once a week, so I’m keeping my sub for the perks: an item which doubles XP for one hour each day, a membership gift, and — here’s the biggie — discounts and bonus points to spend each month in the Item Store.

Assuming I don’t need to be shelling out every month for a game update, can you say, new outfits, outfits, OUTFITS, OUTFITS, OUTFITS?!?! That’s right, bring it on, Syp! We all know last week’s post about fashion show competitions was directed at me.

Speaking of which, I guess now is also the perfect time for me to once again plug our guild’s weekly Monday TSW nights. Depending on who shows up and what needs to be done, on a typical session we help each other through quests, dungeons, and if we have time, watch my character Laeyn dance Gangnam style in her underwear at the Albion Theater:

[SCREENSHOT REDACTED]

Seriously though, if you haven’t had a chance to try this truly amazing and creative MMO, you now have little excuse not to. Given its genre and unique mechanics, I can’t promise the game will be everyone’s cup of tea, but Knights of Mercy will absolutely be happy to welcome any returning or new players on board. I assure you, we loooooove fresh blood!

YUMMY…MUAHAHAHAHA.

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SWTOR: Going Down A Path I Cannot Follow

August 1, 2012

(Yes, I made a prequel reference. I realize I deserve to be taken out back and beaten savagely now, but I could not resist.)

It’s official. Yesterday, the news broke that one of the biggest MMOs we’ve seen in years is going free-to-play later this fall, though not too many, least of all us current players, are surprised.

Disappointment abounds though, from EA execs to yours truly. I wish the best for the game, but it does appear — after being continuously subbed since its launch — that this is to be the beginning of the end of my time with Star Wars: The Old Republic.

It’s not that I think a free-to-play model isn’t a good move for SWTOR or that I’ve suddenly decided it’s a bad game or going to be a bad game — the same way I’ve never thought switching to a F2P hybrid model has been bad for Lord of the Rings Online or Star Trek Online. On the contrary, I think it has worked out smashingly for Turbine and Perfect World, respectively.

I’m simply going by history here. Looking back at past experiences, my play time in the two games mentioned above dropped dramatically and ceased completely very soon after the announcement and switch. Maybe things will be different this time, but the data is against me. I can only extrapolate from that and apply it to what I think might happen with me and SWTOR — that I will continue to sub and play as normal from now until the switch, but afterwards I can expect to see my play time taper and diminish.

I really have nothing against F2P. I think it’s a great system which allows for a great deal of freedom and flexibility. I also know that I can go back to SWTOR whenever I want — in fact, it’s an inevitability, if they continue to update the game. But it never fails; rather than draw me in, F2P just tends to make me drift away.

While I love free MMOs, my problem is never having enough time to play them. These days, when a couple hours of game time is all I can manage each night, priority rightly goes to the MMOs to which I pay a subscription fee. I realize the hybrid model means I can always maintain a SWTOR sub even after the switch, but while I’m sorely tempted, being currently neck-deep in The Secret World and having both the Rift and World of Warcraft expansions (all sub games) and their promise of fresh content on the horizon, my economic mind is urging me to save money where I can.

I also tend to be the all-or-nothing type of MMO player, which is probably why I don’t particularly mind forking over $15 each month if it will buy quality content and everything I need to enjoy a game. In the words of my friend and fellow blogger Belghast (whom, by the way, put thoughts to words far better and more coherently than I ever could in his latest blog post), a subscription model is upfront and honest. I know I will never have to worry about encountering a roadblock and having to hit up the item store for the solution. I personally cannot imagine myself playing SWTOR this way, paying piecemeal to get restrictions removed.

For an “all-in” person like me, it tends to be a sub or nothing. That doesn’t mean I won’t find myself resubbing to SWTOR at all, but if my past experience with LOTRO and STO are any indication, it’s questionable whether or not I’ll be able to dedicate myself to the game with the same fervor again (though apparently, my purchase of a Collector’s Edition and the many months of being subscribed adds up to a good number of Cartel points which should last me a while). And let’s face it, when it comes to allocating my limited game time to a free MMO this fall, if anything that privilege will likely go to Guild Wars 2.

That said (and I’m clearly speaking from a bias here), despite witnessing one of the most highly anticipated big-budget triple-A game announcing it’s F2P plans after only a mere 8 months, I don’t think this necessarily spells the end of the subscription MMO. We currently have sub games including niche MMOs that are still flourishing, underscoring a need to keep in mind that each and every situation is different. To me, the message behind this whole situation with SWTOR isn’t so much that F2P is inevitable; rather, it is simply a company doing what it is best for their game.

Who knows how much, how long, how often I’ll find myself in the Old Republic, but no matter what, I wish them the best of luck.

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Screenshot Of The Day: My Life Is Now Something, Something Complete

July 18, 2012

I know this blog has been inundated with other topics lately, but I am subscribed to Star Wars: The Old Republic and still playing. My heart therefore weighed heavily upon me yesterday with the news about another round of layoffs at BioWare Austin, and the departure of the game’s executive producer Rich Vogel. My thoughts are with those affected by the restructuring.

It does sadden me and worry me a little that things seem to be falling apart over there, with the numerous cuts and falling sub numbers. I don’t know about you, but as a SWTOR player I feel in great need of a pick-me-up right about now.

For me, it’s this:

Ever since last June when we first found out about Blizz, obtaining an adorable Jawa companion had been one of my ultimate goals. In a way, it sort of reaffirmed my decision to play a Bounty Hunter.

For the last couple months, playing my BH Xavindria to level 50 has been my project. I think I mentioned recently that she’s on Hoth right now, a bit shy of wrapping up Chapter 2. Well, I still haven’t finished, but what I did manage to do was complete the planet storyline, and you know what that means — I was finally able to unlock Blizz as a new crew member!

I wish SWTOR all the best. But no matter what happens, I know I’ll be okay.

‘Cause I’ve got my own little tanking Jawa. I’ve got Blizz. Xav’s life is now complete.

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MMO Hopping, My New MO

June 28, 2012

There were many reactions this morning to the Guild Wars 2 release date of August 28, 2012. Wanna know mine?

It was, WHY OH WHY MMO GODS MUST YOU DO THIS TO ME?!?!

Granted, I’m pleased as pie that I’ll be playing GW2 in about two months, but at the same time I can’t seem to help but feel a rising panic in me, knowing I still have so many goals to meet so many games, but so little time. This news…is going to lead to some rearranging of those goals. I know that when GW2 comes around, I’ll probably be dropping everything else for a while, and who knows when I’ll get back to them?

My plans to play The Secret World, for instance. That’s still a go, but in one fell swoop, the news of GW2′s release date has altered the status of the game from “something I’ll enjoy in tandem with Star Wars: The Old Republic” to “a placeholder until GW2 comes out.”

I’m not kidding, I actually felt quite bad about thinking that.  Oh, but why deny it? I’ve long given up on the notion that I can stay with an MMO for the long haul. No longer do I look at an upcoming MMO and think about its lasting appeal and what that means to me for the long-term. I even have doubts about GW2. After all, the way I’ve been going through games in the last couple of years, that viewpoint has become irrelevant. In these times, a few months with a game is considered a good run.

This is tentative, but here’s what my MMO life will probably look like for the rest of the year and beyond: TSW, GW2, Rift: Storm Legion expansion and possibly World of Warcraft: Mists of Panderia expansion. And I wouldn’t be the least surprised if others are in a similar boat, have similar plans. Can’t just expect people to stick with one MMO anymore, and I don’t even know if we ever did. It may have been the case when the choices were limited, but if you’re like me, you’ll only have the time and energy to invest into one or at most two MMOs at any given time. And yet, at the same time, you’ll still want to experience everything great that’s out there.

There in lies the dilemma. In recent years, we’ve seen so many new MMOs, it feels like there’s one or two popping up every day. The playing field has become saturated, but for them all to co-exist and thrive they will each need a certain threshold of players. The problem is, I think while the MMO playerbase has grown, it has not grown anywhere near fast enough to keep up with the rate the new games are being pumped into the market. Obviously, we can’t play all these games at the same time. The result is a chunk of the population that goes from game to game, leaving a game once the new car smell has worn off to check out the next big thing.

Yep, that’s me right there.

I accept that I’ll always be a little bit of a game hopper, as much as I want to find an MMO I can stick with for a good long time. I was never really that good at juggling games, and even before I’ve ever only been able to maintain a presence in at the very most two MMOs before my activity in one soon eclipses that in the other.

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SWTOR: Destination Ebon Hawk…And A Slight Rant

June 14, 2012

Free character transfers are now available in Star Wars: The Old Republic, though only on select servers so far as they gradually roll out this doozy of an undertaking. My home of Sanctum of the Exalted turned out to be an origin server as BioWare dropped the bomb yesterday that we are all getting free transfer passes to Ebon Hawk.

After a long period of debate (okay fine, it wasn’t that long and it wasn’t that much of a debate) our Republic Mercy Corps/Imperial Mercenary Corps guilds decided that What the hell, we’ll take it! Of course, no guild ever wants to be forced into a situation like this, but really, what can you do when your server will only continue to drain of players after such an announcement?

And what a perfect storm of charlie foxtrot proportions it turned out to be at first, as population redistributions usually go, so I can’t really say I was surprised. Things came together relatively well in the end for the RMC/IMC, perhaps better than they could have gone, but it did take its toll.

For a mercy, the character transfer process itself took only minutes to complete from start to finish. My characters all made it over just fine with their names intact, so I guess it pays sometimes to come up with weird-ish names for all your MMO characters. I was, however, prompted to rename my Legacy (everyone gets the opportunity) which turned out to be a bonus as I’d always wanted to change mine.

My sympathies, however, to those who lost their character names. I really mean that. I can’t even imagine going more than half a year (or more, for my fellow betans) by one handle and then having to change it, as I become attached to names as strongly as I get attached to the characters themselves.

At this point, I seriously question why all games can’t go the route of allowing you to choose any character name as long as you maintain a unique account handle (à la Star Trek Online, etc.) Or at the very least, I feel BioWare could have looked into releasing the names of inactive characters. After all, they are the ones who gave us all these tools to set up our personal legacies, they of all people should know names matter to players, they matter a lot. Add to that, we’re on an RP server, too. Ultimately, I understand how these disruptions became the last straw for many people, and it impacted our guild in more ways than anyone will ever know.

Will the move be worth it? Only time will tell, but both the Republic and Imperial fleets were alive and hoppin’ last night. I even encountered a queue. A BLOODY QUEUE. In the words of a fellow guildie, it was like stepping into some bizarro SWTOR world where all the names are a little different and there are actually — *gasp!*– people around.

Players are already reporting an easier time finding groups for hard modes and faster queues for PvP, so the initial headache may be outweighed by the benefits –  if things stay this way. I’m feeling a little conflicted at this point. Have you or your guild been affected by free character transfers (yet)? Did BioWare do things right?

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