Heroes, Human Resources, And Hong Kong: The Top 10 Stories In F2P Gaming In 2019 – MMOBomb
2019 was … actually a yr. It was the most effective of occasions and the worst of occasions, however most significantly … it was time. Like, by definition. That’s what a yr is.
In phrases of free-to-play gaming, 2019 was eventful, although possibly not fairly as instantly impactful as years previous. In reality, the primary entry on our record beneath is about one thing that didn’t occur, whereas many others are about video games and corporations that did one thing which may not have apparent penalties after they occurred however most likely will over the approaching years and decade.
2019, then, was maybe a yr of potential – doubtlessly good or doubtlessly dangerous relying on who or what you’re speaking about. That made this record a troublesome one to provide you with and order, as I attempted to strike a steadiness between each present and future impression, with only a smidge of consideration paid to how “big” the story appeared at its inception. Let’s see how I did, beginning with …
10. Nexon’s sale that wasn’t
The yr kicked off with a bombshell announcement. On Jan. three, we realized that Nexon founder Kim Jung-ju was trying to promote his share of the corporate, amounting to roughly 50% of the corporate, for one thing within the vary of 5 to 10 billion dollars. As the weeks and months went on, seemingly each massive leisure firm was linked to the sale: Tencent, Electronic Arts, Kakao, and even Disney had been rumored to have an interest.
It took half a yr for the saga to be resolved, and when it was … nothing occurred. Kim selected to not promote his stake in Nexon after bidders did not provide you with the $9 billion he was reportedly looking for. Nexon wound up merging Maplestory servers, canceling an MMO, and shuttering two workplaces in North America, however it did purchase Patrick Söderlund’s Embark Studios in August, so the yr wasn’t all dangerous.
2020 Prognosis: Like many corporations, Nexon might be feeling the warmth from many rivals in its area and struggling to discover a new hit (Kartrider: Drift ain’t it, and MapleStory 2 doesn’t look so scorching). I’d estimate that the corporate will carry on preserving on, all through 2020, although I wouldn’t anticipate any massive information over the following yr.
9. ArenaWeb has layoffs, different departures
Nexon’s yr, no less than, could possibly be labeled as “neutral.” ArenaWeb most likely would have liked to have a grade like that. In February, the Guild Wars 2 developer suffered the primary spherical of main layoffs in its historical past, dropping about one-third of its pre-layoff 400-person work drive. That reportedly led to the cancellation of aspect tasks that lots of the former workers had been engaged on.
Then, in October, ArenaWeb co-founder Mike O’Brien himself departed the corporate, forming a brand new sport studio referred to as ManaWorks. Other departures occurred all year long, most notably Lead Living World Designer Jason Reynolds in November, simply as the brand new season was kicking off, leaving many people to marvel: Who’s left?
2020 Prognosis: Guild Wars 2’s income has been fairly steady for the reason that launch of the final enlargement, so the decreased work drive would possibly truly be a slight profit within the quick time period, seeing as the way it cuts bills. In the long run, although, it’s onerous to be optimistic in regards to the prospects for future video games from ArenaWeb, which, unique Guild Wars apart, looks as if a one-sport firm for the foreseeable future.
eight. Begun, the auto-battler wars have
That’s sufficient dangerous information for now – properly, till the following entry, no less than – so let’s discuss one thing good. In this case, it’s the brand new sensation that’s sweeping the nation (and the world): auto-chess, a.okay.a. auto-battlers. Between Epic Games’ Auto Chess, Riot Games’ Teamfight Tactics, Valve’s Dota Underlords, and Blizzard’s Hearthstone Battlegrounds, this new style of video games exploded in a giant manner in 2019.
The idea is pretty easy. You buy models, organize them on a board, and then you definitely get paired up in opposition to one other participant and their models. They combat routinely, so all of the technique is in choice and placement, and the winner takes a bit of life factors from the loser. Matches have quite a few gamers, often eight, and the winner is the final participant standing.
And right here’s the gorgeous half: Gamers don’t seem like bored with it but! While we are able to’t observe each sport’s participant base, we are able to no less than see that Dota Underlords nonetheless seems to be good on Steam, and even Blizzard’s comparatively late entry appeared to be properly-acquired.
2020 Prognosis: Some of the great emotions might stem from the truth that the market isn’t but oversaturated with copycat titles. Remember how cool battle royales appeared just some years in the past? While we’d anticipate for some low-high quality clones to hit the market in 2020, don’t be stunned if a serious participant or two determine to get in on the motion. Marvel? Warhammer? Dungeons & Dragons? It wouldn’t shock us.
7. Bless Online shuts down, Bless Unleashed begins up
Bless Online was our straightforward go-to sport all year long once we wanted to speak a couple of doomed sport that was clearly doomed and everybody knew it was doomed from the beginning. (Fortunately, we nonetheless have PlanetSide Arena round to fill that area – oh wait.) After being teased for actually half the last decade, it lastly launched within the West in May 2018 – as a purchase-to-play sport. That didn’t final lengthy, because it went free-to-play in November of final yr – and that didn’t final lengthy both, because it shut down for good in September, after averaging simply double-digit gamers its previous couple of months.
The sport could also be gone, however the identify stays, within the type of Bless Unleashed, a free-to-play MMORPG coming to the Xbox One someday in 2020. While you’d be proper to be skeptical, contemplating what a catastrophe Bless Online was, early phrase from gamers within the numerous betas is that Unleashed is way improved over its cousin. With so few true MMORPGs on the horizon in 2020, it’s comprehensible that gamers can be trying ahead to it – however that was the case in 2018 when Bless Online launched too.
2020 Prognosis: Bless Unleashed gained’t gentle the world on fireplace, however it could possibly be a stable sport, supplied Bandai Namco doesn’t bungle the money store. You’d wish to assume the Bless devs have realized their lesson, however contemplating what number of occasions Bless Online was launched and shut down over time, in numerous territories, nothing might be taken with no consideration.
6. Destiny 2 goes free-to-play
Remember when that tremendous-hyped MMO with a funds within the a whole bunch of thousands and thousands went free-to-play shortly after launch? I’m referring, in fact, to Star Wars: The Old Republic, although the identical might additionally apply to Destiny 2. Oddly, D2 didn’t appear to draw the identical ridicule from players that SWTOR did, maybe as a result of 1) it was higher acquired at launch; and a pair of) its F2P monetization is definitely fairly good.
In any case, Bungie introduced F2P for Destiny 2 in June after which adopted swimsuit in October, alongside the launch of the Shadowkeep enlargement. After severing ties with Activision-Blizzard, it’s now accessible solely by way of Steam, the place it’s been among the many prime video games since its arrival. It was, indubitably, the highest paid sport to go free in 2019, and maybe the highest “new” free-to-play sport general for the yr – with the attainable exception of our subsequent entry.
2020 Prognosis: If SWTOR can maintain chugging alongside for seven years after going F2P, there’s no purpose to assume Destiny 2 can’t do the identical. Or possibly, halfway although the last decade, we’ll all be taking part in Destiny three. Hopefully, Bungie may have realized to allow us to carry no less than a few of our progress over.
5. Apex Legends’ shock launch and early success
Our record of prime F2P video games to stay up for in 2019 didn’t embrace one of many largest video games of the yr. That’s not our fault; no person had any thought Respawn Entertainment was engaged on Apex Legends till proper up earlier than it was introduced. Well, we’d guess the individuals at Respawn knew, however … you realize what I imply.
When it did launch in early February, it lit the gaming world on fireplace, thanks partially to an aggressive advertising marketing campaign that noticed Respawn paying massive-identify streamers to advertise the title. It didn’t harm that the sport itself was properly-acquired, too – a shock when you think about that we thought we’d reached peak “battle royale fatigue.” Its ping and respawn mechanics rapidly discovered their manner into Fortnite: Battle Royale, and it’s firmly established itself as one of many prime titles within the BR panorama.
2020 Prognosis: That mentioned, the yr wasn’t all good. After its shock launch and meteoric rise, Apex Legends appeared to say no because the yr went on, with every month-to-month report from SuperData seemingly dropping its income additional and additional down. I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s “dying,” however Respawn and EA will seemingly attempt to pull some new methods out of their hats to reinvigorate the sport in 2020.
four. Riot pronounces new video games
“When will Riot put the ‘s’ in Riot Games?” For its first 10 years, the developer was solely recognized for one sport, albeit a giant one. That all modified when Riot celebrated League of Legends’ 10th anniversary in October, asserting a trio of latest video games and at last making its identify extra correct.
Legends of Runeterra is the one we all know essentially the most about, a collectible card sport that pulls from the world of League of Legends. Unlike its fellow MOBA-to-CCG, Artifact, Runeterra isn’t trying to re-invent the wheel from a monetization standpoint (although it does have some good concepts on that entrance); that, together with the truth that it was truly proven at its debut and gamers acquired to attempt it out in closed beta type shortly thereafter, has most likely contributed to its hotter reception.
In addition to League on cellular units, Riot additionally introduced Project L, a preventing sport utilizing League characters, and tactical shooter Project A. And there’s a LoL-based mostly anime sequence, Arcane, within the works. And the corporate based Riot Forge, which is able to allow third-get together builders to create video games set within the League universe, two of which had been introduced on the 2019 Game Awards.
2020 Prognosis: Forget having a busy yr – with all these tasks within the works, it’s going to be a busy decade for Riot Games.
three. Riot offers with lawsuits, walkouts
Less constructive information for Riot got here within the type of the fallout from 2018’s exposé of the “Culture of Sexism” on the developer. This spilled over into – and acquired some type of closure in – 2019, with a walkout over pressured arbitration, a stern speaking-to from the state of California, and the hiring of a brand new Chief Diversity Officer.
Finally, in September, Riot settled a category-motion gender discrimination lawsuit, the phrases of which had been later revealed to be $10 million, doubtlessly payable to all feminine workers who labored on the firm over the past 5 years. Riot additionally pledged to overview pay for all workers and enhance its programs for reporting harassment and discrimination, in addition to take a deeper have a look at its hiring practices.
2020 Prognosis: While the worst is perhaps over for Riot, tales like this popped up with disturbing regularity all through the latter half of the last decade. Expect it to proceed into the 2020s, as sport corporations and the individuals who run them come to grips – voluntarily or in any other case – with their lack of maturity and their duties to all workers.
2. City of Heroes returns, form of
City of Heroes shut down in 2012 – or did it? Officially, sure, however unofficially there was a rogue server working the sport for a choose few people, with out the data or help of NCSoft. In April 2019, the lid was blown off this semi-secret, the supply code for the sport was made accessible publicly, and immediately everybody was working their very own City of Heroes server, providing a multiverse of choices for gamers hungry for a style of the unique superhero MMORPG.
NCSoft’s tackle all this was surprisingly balanced. Rather than shut every little thing down instantly, the corporate apparently opened up talks with essentially the most distinguished server admins, that are ostensibly nonetheless going to at the present time. The rogue servers are nonetheless up and working, so far as we are able to inform, so you’ll be able to take your heroes for a spin if you happen to like, however I wouldn’t blame you if you happen to had been a bit skittish about every little thing crashing down if talks with NCSoft hit a snag.
2020 Prognosis: To be trustworthy, even “at the speed of legal,” as one of many admins put it, I assumed this could be resolved by the top of the yr and we’d all be taking part in a semi-legit model of CoH by December. That hasn’t occurred but, however I can’t consider it’ll run one other 12 months. You’ll get your spandex-and-capes repair by the top of the following yr. Or, like I mentioned above, issues gained’t get resolved and every little thing shall be C&D-ed into the Phantom Zone.
1. Hearthstone bans pro-Hong Kong gamers
If there was an award for quote of the yr in gaming, it wouldn’t come from some government or developer touting their product or a journalist making ridiculous and inaccurate predictions (I’d by no means …). Instead, it might go to skilled Hearthstone participant Ng Wai “Blitzchung” Chung. “Liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our age” – or one thing like that, relying on translation – sparked the largest controversy of the yr, not solely in free-to-play gaming however in gaming typically, even to the purpose of getting Congress to take discover. And in 2020’s political local weather, you realize you tousled when each Democrats and Republicans condemn you.
For making his politically charged assertion throughout a Hearthstone broadcast, Blitzchung was banned from Hearthstone aggressive play for a yr, and the 2 casters had been issued lifetime bans. Following a backlash from followers, these sentences had been decreased, however Blizzard nonetheless felt compelled to clamp down on in-match cameras and publish-match interviews, thanks partially to a school group additionally expressing help for Hong Kong, for which it will definitely additionally acquired a ban.
Blizzard President J. Allen Brack issued an apology, each within the days after the occasion and at BlizzCon a couple of weeks later, saying that the corporate might have “done better” with the way it dealt with the punishments, notably the velocity at which they had been handed out. He additionally claimed that “our relationships in China had no influence on our decision,” which few individuals took at face worth.
2020 Prognosis: You know the way in virtually each different entry on this record, I’ve talked about how issues will change going ahead? Here’s the unhappy half: In the grand scheme of issues, I don’t assume it will actually have an impact, not on Blizzard or the remainder of the gaming business. Sure, Activision-Blizzard may need a slight downturn in income for This fall, thanks to varied boycotts and no matter, however that’s going to be dwarfed by the cash coming in from China, which is why Blizzard got here down so harsh on Blitzchung within the first place. If there are going to be any adjustments, it is going to be to the lip service corporations pay to “keeping politics out of our games,” which they’ll be completely happy to disregard if it’s a political trigger a) they agree with; and b) gained’t value them a big variety of gamers/sum of money.