Basically, the month slipped by and ends tomorrow and there were several things I think I should have mentioned, if only to set their place in the timeline of what happened this month. So on to summaries and links and bullet points.
- LOTRO Planning a “Mini” Expansion
Standing Stone Games announced that Lord of the Rings Online will be getting a mini expansion pack titled War of the Three Peaks next month. SSG will be treating it like an expansion in that it will be available in three different versions:
- Normal Edition – $20
- Collector’s Edition – $59
- Ultimate Edition – $99
SSG has been less than forthcoming as to what players will get for the extra $39 or $79, aside from the possibility of boar mounts. Reaction to this mini expansion has been mixed.
I’m holding my own opinion on value until SSG comes out with more details, but my past experience with Adventure packs, an idea that shows up at Daybreak every so often, only to be disavowed, places my expectations low.
- EVE Online Mineral Redistribution Plan
CCP put out a dev blog on Friday about the next steps in their economic work, calling it a “redistribution” plan. However, it reads much more like a continuation of the “starvation” plan that they have been working on so far, with more things being removed from various areas of space and reducing yields on what remains. The forum thread regarding this change exploded, which was no surprise. Likewise, the chat in the live stream discussing the changes blew up as several devs tried not to pour gasoline on the fire and failed. (You can watch a re-run of the live stream or read a transcript if you’re that interested.)
Cutting through much of the general rage about the changes, it seems like CCP is trying to solve super capital proliferation via minerals. However, supers use the same minerals as T1 subcaps, so T1 stuff is going to feel the same resource squeeze. Updates that are all pain for no gain never fly well with the base.
The changes are supposed to come mid-October, so look for people to be mining heavily until that happens in an effort to try and insulated themselves from the already spiking mineral prices.
- EVE Online Ship Models
CCP has a deal going with Mixed Dimensions to make models of EVE Online ships that players can buy, who have just added more hulls to those available.
I have always been a bit dubious about the ship models thing since the battleship models from more than a decade ago, not to mention the floating Nyx model that was a bust. But maybe this time enough players… who always say they want these sorts of things… will actually pony up and buy them. For me, however, the prices are a bit rich. And I have that Rifter model from the 10th anniversary special in any case.
- Microsoft buys ZeniMax Media
Microsoft agreed to pay $7.5 billion to acquire ZeniMax Media. That name might sound familiar as they own id Software (Doom franchise), Arkane Studios (Prey, Dishonored), MachineGames (Wolfenstein franchise), Tango Gameworks (The Evil Within), Bethesda Softworks (Elder Scrolls and Fallout franchises), and ZeniMax Online Studios (The Elder Scrolls Online).
While there will be no immediate change to any of the studios or their titles, it does raise the question as to what in the future will be exclusive to XBox and what will be available on other consoles or even on the PC.
- Sony PlayStation 5 Pre-Orders Open Up, Hilarity Ensues
As foretold by every similar experience in the past, the pre-order process was swamped by people looking to get the new PlayStation 5 console, slated to ship in November, and by people looking to grab one to scalp on eBay to take advantage of desperate consumers as the holiday shopping season begins. If you Google what happened, the word “fiasco” seems to be a common thread in much of the reporting. Some of the confusion was caused by retailers putting pre-orders up for sale a day early. Sony apologized for what happened and promised to do better in the future.
- Microsoft XBox Series X and S Pre-Orders Open Up, Hilarity Ensues
Later in the week Microsoft opened up pre-orders for the coming XBox Series X and S consoles, slated to ship in November, leading to another rush to get in first to claim a unit, either to own or to scalp later. While things were less chaotic (the news stories rank the event somewhere between “mess” and “debacle,” which is better than a “fiasco” I think) there were still issues and all units were quickly sold out.
The added dimension here is that the XBox One X, a previous generation console, saw a spike in orders at the same time, so it is quite possible that at least a few people are going to be very disappointed to find out that they were duped by Microsoft’s naming scheme into ordering the wrong unit.
- Foreclosing on your Farmville
Zynga announced that they will be shutting down Farmville at the end of the year.
Farmville, the big break out game for Mark Pincus and Zynga and the poster child for Facebook “social gaming,” which at its 2011 peak had more than 80 million players, was also the standard bearer for annoying garbage games that made you pester your Facebook friends or straight up pay cash to advance and help define the whole genre as spammy pieces of shit.
Of course, that is what you get when your founder doesn’t even really like games all that much.
The surprise here isn’t so much that the game is shutting down but that it was still up and running. Then again, literally the most profitable thing that Zynga has done during its entire existence was buy property in the SF Bay Area. I am told that selling their building earned them more than all of their games combined over the last decade. And, as they lucked into the social gaming on Facebook trend, they managed to luck into the peak, pre-pandemic real estate market in SF. Good for their investors I guess.
I expect I will come up with a few choice words for the game, the company, and the genre to mark the final passing of the game in December.
- EA Secretly Craves Lockbox Regulations
I’m throwing this one in here at the last minutes just to keep me from writing another two thousand word screed on the self-destructive behavior that greed drives this industry towards.
According to a story over at Massively OP, EA decided that advertising their FIFA 20 lockboxes in a children’s toy catalog (Smyths’ Magazine) was a good idea. My bullet point for this section is obviously sarcasm, but only just. The only other reason I could imaging EA thinking it was a good idea to effectively throw some red meat in front of legislators keen to declare lockboxes gambling targeted at children is that they believed that the current pandemic and political unrest would provide sufficient cover for their plan… their plan to target lockboxes at children.
This is so dumb, like a dumb sandwich with a side order of dumb and a 16oz cup of dumb to wash it all down level of dumb, that I had to stop and check other sources to make sure this wasn’t a hoax because somewhere in the back of my head something was saying that even EA could not be this dumb.
And yet, here we are.
I mean sure, I guess that the ESA declaration on lockboxes last year, who among the signatories you will find EA, didn’t specifically say that targeting children was bad. But I guess I didn’t think that needed to be said. As I wrote a year ago, this is how you get your industry regulated.