Mu: Origin – the Mobile Game no one Asked For

So apparently Mu: Origin is launching in Western markets real soon. The English language closed beta is already available and some videos are already up on the net. I had a chance to play the game a bit myself and after spending 20 or so minutes with it, I can safely conclude it will be a complete bust in the West. It plays like any other nonsense Chinese browser game. If you haven’t played a Chinese browser game, they’re all the same. The core elements of these games are 1) the game plays itself. These games almost all have built in bots that do absolutely everything for you. So even though these games bill themselves as MMORPGs, they’re basically no different than clicker heroes. 2) The PvP in these games are incredibly pay to win. Chinese developed games are notorious for their pay 2 win elements. It’s almost like they have no shame. Continue reading

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Getting Better at MOBAs – Climbing Ranks

I typically blog about various MMORPGs, but this week I want to talk about MOBAs. I’ve been playing MOBAs for a long time. I’ve played the original DotA on Warcraft 3 well before it was called “DotA All stars” and even played the first ever MOBA called “Aeon of Strife”, which was a custom map of Starcraft. I also consider myself a highly skilled player, as I’ve achieved very high rankings in every single MOBA I’ve played – Masters division in league of Legends, 4400 MMR in DotA 2, and 1950 MMR in Heroes of Newerth (pre clamp). I haven’t played too much Heroes of the Storm, but Hotslogs puts my normal MMR at over 4K which is “Diamond”. So suffice to say, I’m pretty decent at MOBAs and I’d like to help others improve their game. Continue reading

ChangYou is Back? Steel Ocean Launches on Steam

Many Western gamers may not know much about ChangYou, but they’re one of the top 5 or 6 biggest game developers/publishers in China. They experimented with Western expansion with the launch of Dragon Oath(called TLBB in Asia. Also their flagship MMORPG) in the U.S. and Europe, but unfortunately, the game didn’t do so well and they quickly abandoned it. Currently Dragon Oath’s website and game servers are still up, but the official website hasn’t seen an update in years. ChangYou also bought a company called RaidCall to try breaking into the Gamer VOIP market, but this also failed. ChangYou isn’t the first Chinese company that made a push into the West. Perfect World Entertainment made a much more successful push into the West and ended up launching a large library of games here. They even bought Cryptic Studios, which makes Neverwinter and Champions Online. Perfect World was definitely more successful in the West than ChangYou, but it looks like ChangYou is giving it another try.

steel-ocean-game-modes

On November 12, 2015 ChangYou launched a World War 2 naval combat game called Steel Ocean on Steam. I’m not particularly fond of these World War 2 games, as I tried playing Navy Field 2 and didn’t like it much, but Steel Ocean looks visually impressive. It doesn’t look nearly as good as Wargaming‘s World of Warshipsthough, at least visually. Even though I have no interest in Steel Ocean, I’m intrigued to see that ChangYou hasn’t given up. They just took a multi-year long hiatus after shutting down their completely failed games in the West (think Zentia, Sword Girls, and Renaissance Heroes).

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It’s odd to see a company make a big push into something, do nothing for 6-7 years, and then all of a sudden try again. So many Asian companies try launching their MMORPGs in the West, but few succeed. Take a company like CyberStep for example. They’re one of the few Japanese MMO developers and they localized several of their games into English. None of their games are particularly successful, but they have a small portfolio of niche games including Onigiri and GetAmped 2. Despite their limited success, CyberStep hasn’t given up on the Western market. Instead, they keep updating their games and slowly introduce new ones. They even launched Onigiri, an anime inspired MMORPG, on consoles earlier this year. Onigiri isn’t anything special, but it is one of the only free to play MMORPGs currently available on console (along with Neverwinter). They’re also working on a new game called Cosmic League, which they announced recently. I think Cyberstep has taken a much better approach to Western expansion than ChangYou. It’s worth mentioning too that ChangYou is a billion dollar company with much more resources than most of the small Korean and Japanese MMO developers, so they had every advantage possible, but still failed. Hopefully this new effort by ChangYou yields better results. I’m hoping Steel Ocean does well.

More MMOs Embracing Free to Play

More and more games are starting to embrace the free to play model. The biggest free to play relaunches of the last few months were Guild Wars 2 from Arena Net and Wildstar Reloaded from NCSoft. Prior to its free to play relaunch, Guild Wars 2 was a buy to play game, meaning you bought it once and never had to subscription fees. Wildstar on the other hand was a more traditional subscription title, sort of like World of Warcraft. Both games are now free to play and that’s a great thing for broke college students like myself. I honestly never had any intention of playing either of these games, as I didn’t want to buy them, but now that they’re free to play I’m actually hooked on Guild Wars 2. I haven’t played Wildstar yet, but I did download it! It’s not just MMORPGs that are going free to play.

Guild Wars 2 MMORPG
Guild Wars 2 MMORPG

Block n Load from Jagex went free to play in early October, 2015. If you haven’t heard of Block n Load, it’s basically Team Fortress 2 / Dirty Bomb meets Minecraft / Sky Saga. You have the hero based FPS gameplay of Team Fortress 2 with the sandbox building of titles like Sky Saga. It’s a bit hard to visualize, but essentially 2 teams of 5 face off against each other and whoever destroys the enemy base first wins. Each hero in the game has a role to play. Some heroes specialize in attacking, while others are best at laying traps and defending. The game is developed by Jagex, the company behind RuneScape. Prior to going free to play, Block n Load was a buy to play title that averaged 300 users online at any given time. Since going F2P, the game has averaged 3K users online with over 8K players during peak hours. That’ an incredible jump, and I suspect Block n Load will maintain momentum, mostly because the game is genuinely fun and unique. It’s a strategic game that actually requires team work. In a way, it reminds me of MOBAs like Heroes of the Storm, because players NEED to communicate to win…

Team Fortress 2

I honestly think free to play is the future of PC gaming. So many games have embraced free to play including classic games like Lineage 2, Aion, Rift and more. There’s no reason for developers to launch subscription or buy to play game games anymore, especially since free to play games tend to make more money than their pay to play counterparts.  Free to play games make up a majority of MMO revenues. The average free to play user is worth anywhere from $1 – $4 per year, with paying users worth quite a bit more.

What’s interesting is that mobile MMORPGs tend to be free to play too. Dofus from Ankama Games is launching a mobile version, but unlike the desktop version, the game won’t have a subscription option. Other mobile MMORPGs like Order and Chaos 2 and Blade: Sword of Elysion are free to play as well. I don’t think there are any subscription based titles on mobile, and I don’t think there ever will be. Considering that mobile gaming will make up a bigger and bigger chunk of online gaming, the percent of free to play vs pay to play will shift even further in favor of free to play.

I wonder what the next big MMORPG to embrace free to play will be. Perhaps World of Warcraft? Probably not. I think it could be Final Fantasy XIV. I know that they’ve already said that they have no intention of going free to play, but I think they will in the coming years. Anyone else care to speculate?

Skyforge MMORPG Review

While Skyforge is pegged as an “AAA Sci-Fi MMORPG” focused on combat an action, it often comes off as an only somewhat different MMO that is too limited to stand out from the pack. Now this isn’t to say that there aren’t unique and interesting elements to this game, but where these elements exist so do player caps and overly-complex systems or quirks. Continue reading

League of Legends Special Event: Bilgewater

League of Legends is currently hosting the ongoing Bilgewater event, featuring lots of ways for players to engage in the pirate themed storyline. Bilgewater features several acts with each new act revealing background on champions Twisted Fate, Graves, Gangplank and Miss Fortune. Free and exclusive event-only icons are up for grabs if players complete tasks dependent on which champion they side with in each part of the story.

Continue reading

Survival Games are In

Survival games on Steam on an tear. Just look at the top most played games on Steam and you’ll quickly find numerous survival games on the top 20. Ark: Survival Evolved and Rust are amongst the most played games on Steam. I’ve played Rust a decent amount since it originally launched into early access about a year ago and the game has changed a lot over the years. It’s a great game, but I’m still surprised by the sheer popularity of the sandbox survival game genre. People seem to absolutely love these survival games. Even the unfinished and incredibly buggy DayZ routinely has over 10,000 users online concurrently. Continue reading