How you’ll be able to spend money in Blade & Soul

blade-soul-wuxia-1Blade & Soul, an Eastern martial arts MMORPG from NCsoft, was announced for Western audiences as a free-to-pay title, but what exactly that would entail was left ambiguous. The official blog has now shed a little light on what gamers can expect from this highly anticipated title; Blade & Soul will use the same NCoin for its cash shop that the publisher’s other F2P titles utilize (Aion, Lineage II and the upcoming addition of Wildstar). What may set it apart from other games is a separate in-game currency that can be earned by players and used to buy many of the same items that the cash shop offers (such as potions, account upgrades and costumes).

blade-soul-wuxia-2A premium 30-day membership will also be available to make life easier for players willing to lay down some cash. It includes new movement animations and a variety of perks which will increase as you spend more money. The developers also offered another reassurance that their goal is to offer items which don’t impact power, “the benefits of membership are specifically developed for Blade & Soul West and will keep in line with our philosophy – no power boosts here”.

What do you think? Sound reasonable enough?

MMOnday: Why should we pre-order?

 

Dear Gaming Companies,

Why do we need to pay for your games before they’re ready to be delivered? Are you not confident that your product’s quality will speak for itself upon release and that people getting their hands on your content may kill hype for your title? Why is it fair for you to start accepting our cash when you can’t even give us a release date… or a time when your game will be out of “beta testing”?

Sincerely,

Retry Level

Guild Wars 2 brought a lot of attention to a dire situation in gaming today: the pre-order plague. MMOs are perhaps even more egregious offenders in some cases; some free-to-pay titles have priced pre-launch access bundles at $200 (we’re looking at your ArcheAge). Since companies are out to make a profit and the more money they can secure the better, this isn’t a trend that’s likely to stop. Telling people to forgo pre-ordering and them listening would be nice, but not likely to happen.

Instead it would be great if at least a few companies decide to take the higher road. Being able to pre-order for a head start on launch day is easy to forgive, but taking money for expansions that have no firm launch date is ridiculous. Not to mention those awful retailer-specific bonuses which cause gamers to lose out on content because they refuse to buy multiple copies of the same game at different stores.

What are your thoughts?

The price of Heart of Thorns is too damn high

At least, according to angry online fans of ArenaNet’s Guild Wars 2. The game’s upcoming expansion didn’t get a launch date, but it did reveal the pre-purchase options and put them up for sale.

There will be three editions, with Standard ($49.99) being the expansion and access to the original game and nothing else. Deluxe and Ultimate editions thrown in a few extra goodies, as well as an account character slot so that players who have used all of theirs can start a new adventure playing the Revenant class. Any pre-purchase will get you guaranteed beta access in upcoming events before the expansion’s official launch.

The “Standard” edition is getting flack for its lack of an extra character slot, inclusion of the core game and overall price. Some loud and angry online voices contend that since there’s a new class being introduced an additional character slot should be mandatory. This argument, however graces over the fact that the new class is only one facet of the expansion, which primarily focuses on the expansion of the game world into a new area which introduces brand new mechanics for players. Character slots are also not necessary for all players, only those who have created the maximum number and don’t wish to delete any. Handily enough, you don’t even have to open your wallet to get a new one… anyone can exchange in-game currency for cash shop gems which can unlock a new slot.

Others have demanded a cheaper version that doesn’t include the bonus of unlocking the core game, apparently believing that their original purchase grants them the right to a discount compared to new players. This, unfortunately, is a short-sighted argument that neglects the fact that enticing new players to an MMO is actually good for everyone, not just for making money. Populated online worlds are the fun ones to live in and ArenaNet has smartly opted not to make new players pony up $60 for the original game and then another $50 for the expansion.

Finally, the asking price for the base expansion has ruffled the feathers of some who thought they might be able to pick it up for less. Looking back at the last two and a half years of Guild Wars 2 shows that the original price covered much more than what was in the box when the game launched. Constant updates, with no subscription costs, which spanned two major story arcs as well as new additions to giant World vs World wars and numerous quality of life improvements make it hard to argue that anything less than $50 would be reasonable. If you’re having trouble coping with the price, just think of it as a gaming “investment” for the next year or two… or even three. Guild Wars 2 isn’t an expansion-happy game and you’ll be able to enjoy Heart of Thorns without paying monthly.

Hopefully the fervor will die down soon.

MMOnday: TCG, the next frontier

Trading Card Games (TCG) have always been popular, particularly Magic: The Gathering which garnered millions of fans and was banned from many schools across the US, along with Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards. Some are drawn to the strategy involved in creating decks, others the collection aspect, and still others from the social elements involved in sitting down and competing against other players.

Magic has video game roots going back all the way to 1997, but the real fun began back in 2002 with Magic: The Gathering Online. The popular physical card series finally had a MMOG to call its own and fans could now interact all over the world. The game is still alive and kicking today, with the Leagues feature set to return after a 6 year hiatus. Although MTGO is a Windows-only title, Magic: The Gathering: Duels of the Planeswalkers expanded the series onto consoles and later onto iOS.

With such a storied history, it is perhaps surprising that Hearthstone, Blizzard’s relatively recent attempt to take on the online TCG field, has been able to make the genre look so much more appealing than MTG has over the past 10+ years. On paper, it certainly sounds as though the older, already established TCG franchise should have been harder to dethrone than it was. So what exactly did Hearthstone bring to the table that Magic hadn’t? A simplified experience. Blizzard made sure its debut didn’t require reading a novel-length rule book and familiarizing oneself with complicated card mechanics that were sometimes situational at best. And people loved it (MTG fans, I have heard, still prefer their hardcore game however).

So what’s coming next? An Elder Scrolls online TCG, apparently. Their free-to-pay card battler will be debuting to take on Hearthstone and is called The Elder Scrolls Legends. The game will also draw upon an established fantasy universe. Perhaps the game will strike a balance between the simple rules of Blizzard’s title and the more convoluted set touted by older games such as Magic.

What other online TCG games can we expect in the future? Is this a new fad for fantasy franchises?

Blizzard caves to angry fans demanding to get high

In Blizzard’s latest World of Warcraft expansion, Warlords of Draenor, flying has been a contentious issue. Although airborne travel with capable mounts had become a staple in the MMO, Warlords forced players to remain grounded in order to experience the game more fully. After the studio made it clear it had no plans to introduce the mechanic into the expansion at a later time, hordes of players voiced their concern that ground travel was hindering their play experience and today an official blog post made it clear that flying would be available in an upcoming patch due to feedback.

At the heart of the initial plan to restrict flight in Draenor (even after players reach level 100) lies the design goal of providing the best moment-to-moment gameplay possible in the outdoor world. […] However, while we firmly believe that keeping your feet on the ground is a key part of discovery in WoW, we also recognize that breaking free from those restrictions can be fun and rewarding as well, especially for those who’ve already fully experienced the game’s world content. With that in mind, we’re planning some changes in the near future that will allow players to enjoy their hard-earned flying mounts in Draenor—in a way that doesn’t compromise the excitement of ground-based exploration. – World of Warcraft Blog

It certainly is a relief to hear that flying is coming down the pipe, although unlocking it sounds like it will take awhile. As I discussed in an earlier MMOnday, I purchased the Flying Reaver mount in World of Warcraft and am quite fond of its flying animation. It will nice to be able to enjoy it while questing in Draenor.

What do you think? Did Blizzard make the right call? Or will there be less participation in events due to people flying over them?