Monthly Archives: March 2020

March in Review

The Site

What a month.  There was nothing much of note new on the site, but gaming life and blogging time and all of that was subject to some changes as the COVID-19 pandemic confined so many of us to home.  Fortunately my job is doable from home, but being there at my desk all day long does suck some of the joy out of gaming or writing.  If I’ve already been in my chair for nine or ten hours, there isn’t a lot of joy in staying there for a few more to play a game or write.

At least I can go sit on the couch and play Pokemon Sword.

My new Switch Lite

Good thing I got that for my birthday early in the month, as they are sold out now.  I have not yet succumbed to the mounting pressure to get Animal Crossing: New Horizon though.  My daughter loves it, but she isn’t sure it is a game I would like.

Otherwise it has largely been a constant series of, “Wait, did that happen this month? It seems so long ago now.” moments as the world falls further into whatever it is that we have going on now.

One Year Ago

I dug up my old Macintosh PowerBook 190cs, which I didn’t even remember I still had, and thought about writing about some of the games still on it.  However, I was unable to get it onto the network, so screen shots were difficult to obtain and I ended up running out of steam on the whole thing for the time being.

Activision Blizzard was hedging a bit on what effect their layoff of 8% of the company might produce.

Perfect World Entertainment officially killed of the Foundry in both Neverwinter and Star Trek Online, ending their player made content experiment.

Steam decided that they really did need to curate games on their site, a decision pushed by their inept handling of Rape Day.  The Epic Game Store, always eager to capitalize on Valve’s foibles, declared that there would be no porn in their store.

Gamigo killed off the Rift Prime retro server due to lack of popularity.  It remains my opinion that the Storm Legion expansion killed the game the first time around, so having it do it again was no surprise.

A data center move brought down and kept offline Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online for longer than expected.

Over at Massively OP they were talking about “niche MMORPGs,” a term as ill-defined as most in the gaming world.  Honestly, one could argue that MMORPGs are a niche genre.

Over at GoG.com we got a version of the original Diablo, and while it felt primitive it was still very playable and pretty damn good.

Niantic finally allowed players to change teams in Pokemon Go, allowing me to swap from Team Mystic to Team Instinct.

I was giving Path of Exile a shot again with their Synthesis update.

On the LOTRO Legendary servers the Mines of Moria expansion opened up.  That sent me off to Eregion in search of legendary weapons and such.

In EVE Online the March update brought new restrictions to Alpha clones.  They could no longer run level 4 or 5 missions.  People could buy skill books straight from their character sheet… for a bit of a markup.  CCP was also tinkering with null sec anomalies.  They were worried about too much ISK in the economy.  Skill Points though?  They were just handing those out.

There was a video of Burn Jita 6 in full 4K.

CCP Guard announced he was leaving CCP after 16 years of service.

In New Eden there were two notable ship losses, the first Komodo titan to die and a rare Gold Magnate.  I also got a ship blown up as part of my Myrmidon Experiment, though that was a much less expensive loss.

There was also the EVE Ather Wars tech demo, which went well enough, even if it did not get as many players in space as the company had hoped for.

But Katia Sai was being celebrated for visiting every system in New Eden.

I was pondering the proposed level squish for World of Warcraft.  My guess was that Blizzard would be too risk-averse to do it, but I was proven wrong later in the year at BlizzCon.  Blizz also revived Wintergrasp, the huge battleground from Wrath of the Lich King, which was fun to visit again.

Runes of Magic turned ten and I reflected on its place in the tale of the genre.

But the big news was EverQuest turning 20 years old.  I reflected on its history and celebrated its anniversary.  I covered what the team had to say, which included some good news as well as a bit of hubris.

And I was still doing my own play through of some EverQuest content.  I got a mercenary for my cleric, traveled to distant zones via dangerous paths, and even hit level 50.  It was a lot easier to get there than it was back in the day.  It was quite the tourist excursion!

Five Years Ago

I hit level 50 yet again.

The Elder Scrolls Online dropped the subscription business model.

The Crowfall Kickstarter campaign was still running.  I was wondering if they had a mid-game plan.  They really didn’t, but the campaign still brought in $1.7 million, double what was asked.

EA closed down Maxis as an entity within its organization.  It is what EA does best.

It was a Turbine roast as an insider spilled the beans on problems that have plagued the developer of Lord of the Rings Online.

Rift hit its four year anniversary, but it felt like it had been around for longer than that.

I was wondering what a progression server would look like with EverQuest II.  But it was Sweet 16 for EverQuest, which was getting a new progression server for its birthday it seemed.

Blizzard announced that they were going to go ahead with their PLEX-like idea, the WoW Token.  The instance group was in the Iron Docks and farting around in garrisons.

CCP was talking about the next stage of the proposed sovereignty changes for EVE Online.  There was the Scylla release, which was overshadowed by Fanfest.  Also, the members of CSMX were announced.

In New Eden I attempted to fly an Ibis from Immensea to Deklein.  Then there was a rumor of war as the usual suspects attacked our sovereignty in Fountain.  That called for a big old move op which, in post-Phoebe New Eden, meant caps taking gates.  Then there was that system our foes took.  And once they were evicted from Fountain, it was time for a punitive expedition to Delve.

And The Mittani declared that the power blocs of New Eden would never die.  We shall see.

My daughter and I tried out Diablo III on the PlayStation 3.

I put together a review of my Kickstarter history… I should do that again.

Finally, it seemed as though some of the MMO news sites were paying attention to bloggers again… at least briefly.

Ten Years Ago

With the March 2010 month in review I was able to announce that the site had passed the one million page view mark.  A minor milestone.

FarmVille.  We all tried it as research for Shut Up We’re Talking #60.  We didn’t inhale.

ran through GDC and had dinner.

I was waxing nostalgic for some flavor of Rome.

EA was saying very stupid things about how many subscribers Star Wars: The Old Republic would need.  It is never too early to set the bar for failure.  Also they were threatening to taint 38 Studios.

I was also wondering about greater challenges in MMOs.  Must all paths be equally easy?

I held an April Fools contest, which got a few entries.

Pokemon HeartGold and SoulSilver launched and, after some delay,  I was picking that initial Pokemon.

I was still invested in Star Trek Online… I was trying…. well, they were giving us lifetime subscribers some perks.

In EVE Online I hit 50 million skill points.  I also had my first Tengu.

World of Tanks was staring to announce some of their progression trees, starting with the Russian and American sets.  Those have changed a lot since then.

The instance group was beginning to embrace the Dungeon Finder.  However, after Mauradon we found we still had to do a chunk of external legwork to prepare for our Sunken Temple run.  I also got a chopper along the way, on my birthday no less.

And, finally, that whole Derek Smart/Alganon thing was just kicking off.

Fifteen Years Ago

Monolith, backed by Sega and Warner Brothers, launches The Matrix Online in the US.  It hits Europe a month later. The title is soon taken over by Sony Online Entertainment, which runs it until its closure in 2009.

The Bloodline Chronicles adventure pack is released for EverQuest II.  It is free for Station Access subscribers.  Among other things it gives the game destructible walls.

Twenty Years Ago

Sony launched the PlayStation 2. Available initially only in Japan, it had ten launch titles.

Most Viewed Posts in March

  1. Alamo teechs u 2 play DURID!
  2. How Many People Play EVE Online?
  3. Overseer Feature, Progression Servers, and Free Heroic Characters Coming for EverQuest Anniversary
  4. The State of Voice in 2020 with a Poll
  5. The March Update Brings Market and Moon Changes to EVE Online
  6. New Servers and Server Merges and More with the EverQuest Anniversary
  7. The Windstalker Leaves Norrath
  8. The Passion of the Overseer
  9. Visiting the Katia Sae Monument
  10. An Uldaman of Vague Memories
  11. Blizzard in the Badlands
  12. Seeking the Hydrocane

Search Terms of the Month

camelot unchained massive refund requests after terrible announcment
[Somebody knows what they’re looking for]

online rpg apple iie
[That is going to be a bit or a stretch. A MUD maybe?]

does concord intervene during killing spree in eve online
[All normal CONCORD rules apply]

null sec infrastructure to spawn mining belts
[infrastructure hub]

what plane in war thunder has the most bombs
[Going to guess it is the B-29]

wilma flintstone memes
[I don’t even]

Game Time from ManicTime

Time tracking shows I spent most of my play time with WoW Classic.

WoW Classic – 64.13%
RimWorld – 13.25%
Pokemon Sword – 10.93%
EverQuest – 5.10%
EVE Online – 4.32%
EverQuest II – 1.92%
World of Warcraft – 0.34%

You would think I would be further along, but I always find time to potter about.  Also, Pokemon Sword isn’t tracked by ManicTime, being on the Switch and all, but the save page in the game gives you an elapsed time played report with each save, so I can include it in the mix.

EVE Online

While I did not spend that much time in New Eden in March, the time I did spend was fairly active.  There was a move op north to Venal, followed by some fights, and then a move op home.  Structures were shot, ships exploded.

EverQuest

With the 21st anniversary going on I decided to poke my nose in while my all access subscription was still running.  I used the heroic upgrade on my cleric from last year’s anniversary, which promptly made his spells an unfathomable mess.  But I did end up playing with the new Overseer feature.  While it has a mobile game air to it, the EQ version has more depth than the EQII one does, so I do keep logging into play it.

EverQuest II

I fear my momentum has faded in EQII.  After grabbing the expansion last year and driving a few characters up to the level cap, both for adventure and crafting, I sort of lost interest and wandered off.  I did a bit of the Overseer thing, but it isn’t all that compelling.

Pokemon Go

My drive to the level cap slowed down somewhat.  The friend rewards, which are worth 100,000 points when you hit the highest level, drove me the last couple of months.  However, daily gifts have tapered off as people hole up at home and can’t get out to Pokestops.

Level: 38 (83% of the way to level 39)
Pokedex status: 526 (+14) caught, 556 (+11) seen
Pokemon I want: Lucario, which is tough because I never any in the wild.
Current buddy: Dewatt

Pokemon Sword

As noted previously, I got Nintendo Switch Lite and a copy of Pokemon Sword for my birthday, which was about a week before we all had to go into hiding, so that is some timing.  I am three gym leaders in so far and it is shaping up to be a pretty solid entry in the genre.  The villainous team is a little more buffoonish than normal, but we’ll see how that plays out.  I just have to get myself setup to pull screen shots from the game so I can post about it.

RimWorld

RimWorld got the Royalty expansion, which adds a new dynamic to the game.  I have that out and played through some.  But even if you do not get the expansion, the launch of it also brought a bit update patch for the base game that includes a lot of nice improvements.

World of Warcraft

As usual, my time spent in retail WoW was mostly around Darkmoon Faire, though I did log in to grab a map of Gnomeregan for a post, and found that I had forgotten that they had nerfed some of the outside area as well.

WoW Classic

A lot of time spent playing WoW Classic.  I was grinding for a mount and working on some alts, but the big effort was around UIdaman where, after three weeks, we took down Archaedas.  Now comes the time to prep for Zul’Farrak.

Coming Up

It is Blapril, so expect some blogging reflective posts and as much linking out to other participants as I can manage.

It is also April Fools tomorrow, though given the current state of the political scene in the US, I am not sure anybody will notice.  Much of the last couple of months has involved public figures saying things that should have ended with “April Fools!” but somehow did not… more so than usual.

EVE Fanfest should have been kicking off soon, but that was cancelled in what seemed like forever ago, though it was just a month back.  Still, it has been reported that CCP will have some news and a new trailer for us.

And it seems like a fine time for video games, especially online games.  But April promises to be as relentless with bad news as March was, so the end of the month will probably feel like another year has gone past.

The February MER and Initial Mining Changes

We ended up with a late in the cycle monthly economic report for February last week.  Some times they pop up in the first week and some times in the last week.

EVE Online nerds harder

While I have quit posting about the MER every month, in at least a general news sort of way, this was an MER I was waiting for as February saw the introduction of the plan to reshape the mining landscape of New Eden, kicking off with a radical nerf to asteroids.

The net result was fewer asteroids to mine in belts and anomalies, and the yield from the remaining asteroids was set to be much lower.  So I figured we might see some impact on the MER for February.

To assess impact however, you have to have context.  If I just tell you there was 28.6 trillion ISK worth of ore mined in February, that number has no anchor, no way in which to tell if that is big or small, up or down, or what might have had an impact.  So I grabbed the data from three MERs to see if we could see a trend.

For December the mining total was 30.2 trillion ISK, with the top ten regions being:

  1. Delve – 3.79 trillion
  2. Esoteria – 1.89 trillion
  3. Oasa – 1.35 trillion
  4. Malpais – 1.16 trillion
  5. Domain – 1.16 trillion
  6. The Forge – 1.02 trillion
  7. The Kalevala Expanse – 966 billion
  8. Querious – 965 billion
  9. Outer Passage – 933 billion
  10. Sinq Laison – 799 billion

The top four are null sec regions and are the locus of activity for four big groups, Imperium, TEST, Fraternity, and PanFam.  After that we get two high sec regions, Domain and The Forge, which also happen to host the top two trade hubs in the game, Amarr and Jita.  Then there are two subsidiary null sec regions for PanFam and Imperium, then a remote corner of null sec, then finally another trade hub region.

We’ll call that the new  normal for now.  During the Chaos Era the high sec regions around trade hubs rose on the lists, but have settled back down some.

In January there was a total of 34.5 trillion ISK in mineral value mined, with the top ten regions being:

  1. Delve – 4.09 trillion
  2. Oasa – 2.15 trillion
  3. Esoteria – 1.79 trillion
  4. Domain – 1.41 trillion
  5. The Kalevala Expanse – 1.28 trillion
  6. Fountain – 1.15 trillion
  7. Querious – 1.13 trillion
  8. The Forge – 1.11 trillion
  9. Malpais – 1.09 trillion
  10. Sinq Laison – 854 billion

Mostly the same cast of characters.  Outer Passage dropped out and Fountain, another Imperium subsidiary region.  There was also a war going in the north centered on Venal which may have drawn off some PanFam and Fraternity players.

And finally we get to February, the month of the change, when mining value totaled 28.6 trillion ISK in value and the top regions were:

  1. Delve – 2.40 trillion
  2. Domain – 1.68 trillion
  3. Oasa – 1.44 trillion
  4. Esoteria – 1.13 trillion
  5. The Forge – 1.11 trillion
  6. Feythabolis – 861 billion
  7. Sinq Laison – 821 billion
  8. Lonetrek – 791 billion
  9. Malpais – 748 billion
  10. Fountain – 729 billion

The top ten regions generally look to be down when compared to previous months, though the null sec regions listed all host organizations that went more fully to war around Venal in February.  That was when the Imperium deployed the new Goon Expeditionary Force there.

Meanwhile, the mining total for New Eden, while down some, doesn’t look to be down as far as one might expect given the radical nature of the nerf.  Why is that?

I think there are three things that play into that.

First, the change went in mid-month, so we do not have a full month of a starvation economy to look at yet.  If that is correct, the March total number should dip even further.

Second relates to how those numbers are calculated.  As I have oft repeated, minerals and ore are not ISK faucets.  They have no value in and of themselves.  There is no “minerals” line on the sinks and faucets graph.  You cannot vendor them for ISK.  So their value can only be measured by the market price.

How CCP comes up with that number is still opaque to me.  Their data shows it is based on two baskets of prices, one for high-en minerals and one for low-end.  But the specifics I do not know.  But I do know that if the price of minerals goes up then if people mine the same amount of minerals, then the value of the total amount mined will still go up.

So what has happened to the price of minerals?

February 2020 – Economic Indices

Mineral prices, that yellow line at the bottom, appears to be ramping right up from its nadir in November 2019.  Mineral prices are way up, as is the primary producer price index (PPPI) which is a measure of the cost to produce items and which tends to follow the price of minerals in its ups and downs.

That rise in mineral prices has likely softened the drop of the overall mined total as, even if there were fewer asteroids to grab, and they yielded less when processed, the market value of the end result was higher.  Tritanium, the most common mineral, was floating around 6.25 ISK per unit just before the change, while it was running over 7.60 ISK per unit at the end of the month.  That doesn’t seem like a radical change, but it had been down around 5 ISK in November and you need a lot of trit if you’re building things.

So, I suppose for this, we will have to see how things follow on with the March MER to get a good idea as to how hard this hit.  Or maybe April.

Why April?

I said there were three things that might play into this, and that was only two.  During February and March moon mining has remained a source of basic minerals.  That is changing.  CCP has announced that after all current moon chunk cycles are complete, basic ore and minerals will be largely removed from moon mining operations, the only exception being R4 moons, which are currently not worthwhile for much beside basic ore and minerals.  Those are getting nerfed too, but they get to keep a little of the basic stuff.

And you only have to fly through Delve with mining platforms visible on your overview to get a sense of how much moon mining might be adding to the basic mineral flow.  So while the March MER will be interesting, it seems like April will show an even greater change.

The End of Liberty Squad

I first posted about Liberty Squad back at the start of last year.  The group was formed as a USTZ effort to deploy out of Delve and find fights in other null sec regions.  When I joined up we were off to Geminate to pick fights with Pandemic Horde.

The Liberty Squad forum bee

There was always a bit of a problem with Liberty Squad in that the membership had a large overlap with Reavers, such that either one or the other could deploy, but both could not… unless they went somewhere together… as they mostly the same people.  But that wasn’t a huge issue as Asher, the head of Reavers, is a lot more involved in coalition-wide operations these days, being one of the rare sky marshals to run a campaign and not quit the game in exhaustion once it was done.

Anyway, we got word earlier this month from Cainun that the leadership of Liberty Squad was going to take their corp out of GSF and go try something new.

By now, I expect many of you have either heard some rumors, or noticed some movements. Come this time tomorrow, the Terrifying League of Dog Fort will have left the alliance. With them go Thomas, Zed, Mapache, and myself, on a new misadventure of our own making. Liberty Squad will be without leadership, and I expect will be closed as a result. Some have expressed an interest in trying to step up to take over the reins, but those possibilities are not mine to decide, or attempt to influence.

It has been a fantastic 18 months building, and running this squad regardless of its ups, and downs. Our Uemon deployment in particular, will always be one of the more fun periods I’ve spent playing this game. It has been a pleasure running this squad, even with all you meme-riddled bastards making every drake related remark imaginable every 15 seconds on fleets. I wish all of you the best in your search for fun, and enjoyment in this terrible little game we all play. :911:

FC grants you eternal permission to always bring your Drake from now on, fly well.

And so it goes.  I actually met most of that group at EVE Vegas last year.  They all got Liberty Squad buttons from me, including a special Canadian Drake one for Zed.

My EVE Vegas buttons

It is a bit sad to see that group go.  I flew with them many times and their fleets were a lot of fun.  But when your friends want to run off and try new things you wish them well and hope they find what they are looking for.

With this announcement there was an attempt in the forums to drum up support for a new group to be called Freedom Squad.  This made me chuckle a bit both because USTZ groups seem to always have to play on faux patriotism as a gimmick and because we had a Freedom Squad back in the day, the remnants of which became the core of Reavers.  However, this attempt was shut down pretty quickly by a director.

The thing is, creating a group to cater to those of us who just want to deploy to foreign parts was nationalized by the coalition with the formation of the Goon Expeditionary Force earlier this year.

I’m not sure which one is our forum bee yet

I think that came about because there is always some of us who want to know when the next war or whatever is going to happen and the coalition finally decided to harness that drive officially rather than leaving it to the sometimes random attention of smaller, self-formed groups that tend to depend on a small leadership group.

Which doesn’t mean those groups are going away.  Reavers and Space Violence and Black Ops are all still around.  But none of them are open to all comers these days.  They are selective.  So the GEF scratches the deployment itch for all and sundry who just want to go on the road and shoot structures… or get fights, which also happens some times.

Things change.  People move on.  Spaceships remain.

CCP Removes Most Basic Ore and Minerals from Moon Mining

CCP finally announced the long awaited/feared/expected Moon Mining update to the New Eden mineral starvation plan.

An Athanor pulling a moon chunk

Back in the middle of February, when Fanfest was still on and the Corona virus was something happening mostly on cruise ships and in other countries, CCP landed a radical hit on mining output.  The asteroid count in mining anomalies was reduced and the ore yield per asteroid was cut dramatically across the board.  The only thing left untouched were moon mining operations, though we were told we should expect the following soon:

  • Complete removal of all basic ore types from all moons
  • Adjustments on ore volume extracted per day, per moon
  • Adjustments on moon ore type yields of basic minerals

And today’s announcement came back with most of that.  I’m not sure about the middle item, but perhaps that gets effectively changed with the other updates, which were:

  • All basic ores (Veldspar, Scordite, Pyroxeres, Plagioclase, Omber, Kernite, Jaspet, Hemprphite, Hedbergite, Gneiss, Dark Ochre, Spodumain, Crokite, Bistot, Arkonor), will be removed from moons. In some cases, they have been replaced with Moon Ore.
  • All basic materials (Tritanium, Pyerite, Mexallon, Isogen, Nocxium, Zydrine, Megacyte) will be removed from moon ore DNA (refining materials output table below) with the following exceptions:
    • R4 moon ores (Bitumens, Coesite, Sylvite, Zeolites) keep their original yield of Pyerite & Mexallon (Tritanium was removed).

I will have a post on Monday about the mineral starvation plan so far via a look at the February monthly economic report, but it looks like the sparks might not really fly until we see what the April numbers are.  Expect the prices of minerals and everything made from them… which is everything… to rise.

The changes went into effect immediately, so that is the way things are now.  Any moon chunk pull that was in progress got to keep the old ore/mineral output, but all new pulls get the new thin soup.

Reactions in the forum thread about this change are about as expected.

Blapril is a Promise that Blaugust is Bound to Keep

Pardon that mangled quote but I always feel like I have to find a different title when a bunch of people are writing about the same thing.

And, if you’ve been around the blog neighborhood, you may already know what I am talking about, and that is Blapril.

The Blapril commeth

Blapril is Blaugust come early.  Blaugust is the annual festival of blogging that Belghast runs, but with so many people at loose ends and with the general oppressive sense of the world, he thought it might be time for a community activity.

And while I am not thrilled with the name… everything is down hill from Blaugust I suppose, which works so well… I do applaud the idea.

Belghast has a full post about the event here with the usual options.  The schedule, which you may indulge in or ignore as suits you, is set out as follows:

  • March 29th – April 4th – Blapril Prep Week
  • April 5th – April 11th – Topic Brainstorming Week
  • April 12th – April 18th – Getting to Know You Week
  • April 19th – April 25th – Developer/Creator Appreciation Week
  • April 26th – May 2nd – Staying Motivated Week
  • May 3rd – May 9th – Lessons Learned Week

That gives you six weeks of potential blogging motivation.

To get involved you can do some or all of the following:

  • The first step is to fill out the Sign-Up Form for Blapril 2020 which can be found here. Only those who have signed up will be given credit towards the awards.
  • Next make sure you are active on the Blaugust Discord and the link for that can be found here. This is the third year we have been active on Discord and it is a community that has managed to stay evergreen throughout the years. Maybe even share your content each day in the appropriately named “share-your-content” channel.
  • When you share your content on social media please use the hashtag #Blapril2020 for tracking purposes and to make it easier for those watching the event to find fresh content.
  • Mingle with your other Mentors and Participants because this is a community event, and part of the fun is getting to know the community. These folks represent a social structure that you can lean on for advice in the coming years. I personally deeply value my ties with other bloggers that I have built up over the last decade of doing this thing.
  • If you are so inclined there is a “gaming-together” channel on Discord for impromptu grouping in various games while the event is going on.

If you have a blog already, sign right up and get involved.  If you don’t have one, now would be an opportunity to get one going.

The participant list so far is:

That isn’t a huge number.  A lot of those people were still hanging around the Discord channel and chatting from last Blaugust.  But it isn’t too late to get involved.

SuperData and the Opening of the Coronavirus

March has become the “stay at home” month for many of us, even in jurisdictions where there has been no official order to do so.  Events have been cancelled, movie theaters shut down (drive-ins are back in vogue though), and we are not going out to do many things we might have otherwise.

And so home activities have gone up.  Netflix and other streaming services are seeing a boost in activity as are video game platforms.  Video game usage is up, Steam has seen a record number of people connected, and XBox Live has fallen over a couple of times due to the sudden surge.

And into this comes the SuperData Research digital revenue chart for February 2020.

SuperData Research Top 10 – February 2020

In February things were starting up around Covid-19.  I was in Portland, Oregon in the middle of the month and once we got back events were starting to get cancelled and the movie box office was already starting to tank.

Unfortunately, we cannot tell much from the main SuperData chart, as it is just a ranking without numbers.  The gaps between games as well as any change for a particular game, is unknown and unmarked unless titles change positions or falls off the list.

So we see the usual suspects on the chart.  At the PC end, the same top four remain in the same order.  CD:GO made it to fifth as Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot had its debut month on the chart then fell off.  World of Tanks surged a bit with some updates and events in February.  World of Warcraft stayed on the list despite troubles reported last month.

And Fortnite returned to the PC end of the chart.  Last month, as Bhagpuss pointed out, Epic Games was bitching to anybody who would listen that the SuperData numbers had to be wrong, though they declined to supply their own numbers and wouldn’t tell us where they thought they should be on the chart or even if they had the data to make that assessment.  Basically Tim Sweeney being Tim Sweeney.

As with the PC end of things, the console and mobile columns of the chart, aside from some jockeying for position, remained mostly made up of the same players, with the same titles topping the lists.  Jedi: Fallen Order and Pokemon Go both made their way back on to their respective charts.

So it will be interesting to see if, come the March numbers, if any of those mostly static lists change any.  Will something new take the public by storm?  Animal Crossing: New Horizons maybe?  Or will people remain set with their old standbys and just spend more time and money there?  Word is that Pokemon Go is already making bank.

The only detail we get is in the bullet points that SuperData provides with their posting.  The opening one did say that digital revenue was up:

  • Digital games spending totaled $9.2B in February, up 4% year-over-year. Much like in recent months, mobile revenue (up 16% year-over-year) made up for lower console and PC revenue (down 22% and 6%, respectively). A release schedule largely devoid of AAA games resulted in limited spending on console games. In comparison, February 2019 featured the launches of major titles like Anthem and Apex Legends, which contributed to the year-over-year revenue drop across the free-to-play (down 49%) and premium console segments (down 17%).

But that was a small bump and mostly in mobile, while the PC and console were down.  But SuperData is not unaware of what is going on in the world and the next three bullet points were related to, or might be related to, the current world situation.

  • The spread of COVID-19 had a limited impact on gaming habits in North America and Europe in February, but this is changing. The most significant containment efforts like business shutdowns and travel restrictions did not ramp up until March. Many titles have since had an influx of players and spending as consumers have turned to games as one of the few entertainment options available.
  • There are signs Japanese consumers gravitated to games over other activities in February. The Japanese versions of Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle and Monster Strike both saw jumps in revenue and user numbers. Dragon Ball Z Dokkan Battle in particular had its Japanese revenue more than triple from $24.8M in January to $78.0M in February.
  • Counter-Strike: Global Offensive monthly active user numbers climbed to 24.0M, their highest levels ever. Player counts for the nearly eight-year-old title have trended upward consistently since the switch to a free-to-play business model in December 2018. An update to the game in late November 2019, which featured a battle pass and cosmetic character skins, has resulted in monthly revenue that is approaching the game’s previous all-time peak in July 2017. Despite the renewed interest in the title, its surge in player count may not be sustainable given the runaway success of Call of Duty: Warzone and the pending release of Valorant, an upcoming free-to-play shooter from Riot Games.

I expect that next month their analysis will include their own interpretation as to how COVID-19 has impacted the market.

As has become the custom for this post, I will add the NPD February video games chart.  As always, NPD is US only, combines PC and console sales, and doesn’t always include digital sales.

  1. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2019 (2)
  2. NBA 2K20 (6)
  3. Grand Theft Auto V (5)
  4. Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot (1)
  5. Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 (75)
  6. Mario Kart 8* (8)
  7. Ring Fit Adventure (9)
  8. Madden NFL 20 (3)
  9. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate* (7)
  10. Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (4)

* Digital sales not included

The following number is the position the game was in last month.  I have tended to ignore that number, but this month I saw that Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 had jumped up from 75th on their list, implying that NPD keeps much more detail than they share.

I will be interested to see how this chart changes next month.  If it were physical sales only, it might go completely weird, but as it combines some digital with physical, we might just see Nintendo titles disappear from the mix even as Animal Crossing jumps up onto the SuperData chart.

The remaining bullet points from SuperData:

  • A free giveaway of The Sims 4 for PlayStation Plus users led to the title’s console players outnumbering PC users for the first time (2.5M vs. 2.2M). The title has long earned the lion’s share of its revenue from the sale of in-game content, so the giveaway presented a low-risk way to attract new audience members and potentially convert them to spenders down the road.
  • The social casino title Coin Master achieved its highest earnings ever ($87.1M) as it rose to eighth place in the mobile revenue charts. The game from publisher Moon Active combines slots gameplay with town-building elements. It now vastly out-earns other mobile social casino titles like Slotomania and DoubleDown Casino and celebrities like Jennifer Lopez have appeared in ads for the title.

And so it goes.  We shall see what the March numbers bring and if certain incentives… Blizzard has a 100% xp bonus going for retail WoW right now for example… change anything.

Archaedas in the Foyer

The past weekend found us all at home.  Since we all live in locales that were under community lockdown guidelines… “shelter in place” they call it… thanks to COVID-19, we seemed to have ample opportunity to play.  Nobody had any reservations for dinner, a show to see, or a sporting event to attend certainly.

So we got together on Saturday afternoon to take another run at Uldaman and met up again in the Badlands.  If nothing else, we still had quests to finish up.  Uldaman is good at keeping your quest log supplied.  Our party for the afternoon was:

  • Viniki – level 44 gnome warrior
  • Ula – level 43 gnome mage
  • Skronk – level 43 dwarf priest
  • Moronae – level 42 night elf druid

The still seemed shy of what we might need for Archaedas… but, quests!

Before we went in though, we had to get out quests aligned.  Viniki had gotten ahead with one in the Badlands, so we spent a little bit of time getting everybody back on the same page.  That meant finding a dead dwarf then slaying some troggs.

The troggs are over there

The annoying bit was having to run back to Loch Modan to get the quest update, but three out of four of us have mounts now while the hold out, Moronae, is a druid, which means he has a travel form, so it didn’t take as long as it might of to get the quests set.

Another week in Uldaman

The missing one was Agmond’s Fate, and it was another “collect a few things” quests, in this case it was four urns.  But like the power stone drops and the fungus, there didn’t seem to be many urns about.

It didn’t help that, once again, things were a bit busy outside of Uldaman.  We were not the only ones sheltering at home.  We did find out way to one quest objective outside the instance, a large stone chest.

Well, we got this at least

But otherwise we were in competition with other groups for mobs and drops and harvestables and whatever.  The place was stripped clean, like the paper goods aisle at the store.  So the instance seemed to be our best bet.

So dramatically lit too

Inside we followed what has become the usual path.  We cleared through the troggs, met up with the lost vikings, got the bits for the Staff of Prehistoria, slew Revelosh, and set up to fight Ironaya again, just because.  Seriously, we could just bypass her, but calling her out doesn’t take much extra time and we all live in hope of a nice blue drop.

Fighting Ironaya again

I like that screen shot because Ula’s spell is in flight and because I got off a disarm on Ironaya, which always pleases me for some reason.  Ironaya’s revenge was to drop some mail bracers, and nobody in our group needs that.  Her chamber was, as usual, empty.

Again, the paper goods aisle at the store…

I like that they went so far as to put cobwebs on the shelf to emphasize their emptiness.  I was hoping they might at least have an urn.  But we were denied.

We carried on, following the left wall mostly, taking down Galgann and Grimlok in their turns.  We bypassed the Ancient Stone Keeper and went from Grimlok straight to the Hall of Crafters.  It was time to get things cleared for the big fight.

All those groups in there again

Here is where a couple weeks of practice began to pay off.  After all of the fights… and a few deaths… last week, we had finally settled on a routine that worked for us.  The rhythm for these groups was for Viniki to engage and get aggro and Moronae to call the target marker color the the current DPS focus.  Previously we had tried targeting off of Viniki or having me call the target, both of which have problems.  I use push to talk on coms, and mid-fight my fingers are sometimes too busy to get that extra key, while targeting off of Viniki can fall apart because he has to change targets to hold aggro on whole bunch.  But Moronae taking the lead on that made everything much smoother.

So we plowed through the three groups in the first room, did the golem event easily enough, then did the next set of groups, all without any major issues.  That brought us to Archaedas again.

There he is

On last week’s post Rebeard left a comment suggesting a different strategy for fighting Archaedas.  This involved starting the fight and then running back up to the room with the golem event and fighting Archaedas there.  That was supposed to slow down the arrival of the adds so that, towards the end, when he summons the his final minions you can kill him before they show up and ruin the party.  So we set up to give it a try.

Ready to start Archaedas

The whole thing nearly fell apart seconds into the event.  We started the event and then paused to make sure Archaedas would follow.  As it turns out, the doors to the chamber close and we just barely managed to squeeze out through them.  I believe you can open them up again, but I didn’t stick around to check and even if you can, doing so with Archaedas beating on your seemed like a bad plan.

And then, with Archaedas hot on our heels up the stairs to the golem room, he began beating on Skronk.  Skronk was losing a lot of health and Archaedas seemed to be able to shrug off my taunts.  Somehow we managed to get up to the top of the stairs and into the golem room and get things sorted.  The fight began.

On the plus side Ula, Skonk, and Moronae all leveled up along the way before we started this fight, so we were better equipped.  But being away from Archaedas’ room only slowed down the arrival of the first add.  After that it was the same routine, hitting Archaedas, swapping to burn down the latest add, then on to Archaedas again.  There was a question as to if we would know when we should go all out on him, but his shout of “To my side, brothers! For the Makers!” seemed to be the hint we were looking for.  We focused on Archaedas and were so very close as the big golems arrived and started pounding on me.

Getting so very close

And then he collapsed and the fight was over.

Almost over, one non-elite arrived late

Strewn about us were the corpses of many adds… though they seemed to fade quickly even as the fight was going on.  During the fight we pulled out all the stops.  Moronae hit Skronk with innervate part way through the fight and I managed to consume three superior health potions along the way.  Not a short fight.  So we lined up to take our screen shot by the fallen Archaedas.

Victory in Uldaman

That accomplished, it was time to run back down stairs to the treasure room.

The treasure room has opened

I have to say, the treasure room in Uldaman is one of the biggest teases in the game.  You run into that room and see a giant chest and piles of gold and gems and what not, but what you walk out of there with is… not much.  You go through the final quest bit, get a bit of lore

Ding! Your discs are ready!

The chest contained a couple of leather items, and Moronae only wanted one of them.  Our loot drops for the run were not great.  But we finished the instance, killed the boss, and got into his vault.  One last screen shot there, then it was back to Ironforge.

The treasure is so bright we have a backlighting problem

Back in Ironforge, after a bit of run around, we got the real prize for the whole venture… a 14 slot bag! (Plus some potions to replace the ones from that last fight.)

The best quest reward

And so we were done.  Viniki still has two unfinished Uldaman quests in his log.

Urns and fungus

But I am not sure either is worth finishing up.  After three weeks there it might be time to move on.  Next on the list is Zul’Farrak, home of the famed Carrot on a Stick trinket.  I think I still had that and the Argent Commission in my trinket slots well into The Burning Crusade.

And, as I have done with past instances, here is a replay of the group’s experiences from both the distant and the recent past:

Oddly, February and March seem to be when we visit Uldaman.  No other months will do I guess.