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Exclusive Columns

Columnists - The Social Hub

In this bi-weekly column, Christina Gonzalez records her thoughts on the ups and downs of online communities.

The WoW Token Rollercoaster - Price Hikes or Effective Option?

General -  Column

When we last looked at the topic of WoW token for World of Warcraft, Blizzard hadn’t yet unleashed the new subscription option onto the market. Now, after more than a week of availability in North America, the option has seen a rollercoaster in the market as those looking to make some cash came up on the demand for the first time. With the tokens costing $20, does this really provide a good service, giving players more options?Posted Apr 20, 2015 by Christina Gonzalez

How MOBAs Leave Players Behind

General -  Column

While you can often pick up a first person shooter again a while after stopping, changes to a MOBA’s itemization/passives, abilities, hero remakes, and even simply a frequently changing meta can make returning to a MOBA a daunting task. Read on for this week's Social Hub as to what could be done about this problem. Posted Apr 6, 2015 by Christina Gonzalez

Crowfall’s Disappointing Move

General -  Column

With crowdfunding, it’s important that a game appeal to the potential audience, but also that the developers are able to deliver the most complete project in a reasonable fashion. Yet, with a game like Crowfall, riding a successful Kickstarter campaign as of this writing of over $1.3 million with days to go, one of my biggest pet peeves in the genre has popped up again, and is a huge disappointment: gender locked classes. Posted Mar 24, 2015 by Christina Gonzalez

With WoW Tokens The Community Wins

General -  Column

Blizzard is heading back into real money trading with the introduction of the WoW Token for World of Warcraft. The recent announcement that players would be able to trade gold or real money for a token worth 30 days of game time in the shop or auction house. Predictably, the sky began falling to some players, while others saw the new option as logical.Posted Mar 9, 2015 by Christina Gonzalez

Star Citizen’s Ship Rentals Are A Good Thing - And Worth Criticizing

General -  Column

With over $72 million in funding raised from crowdfunding, Star Citizen is no doubt an ambitious project that has grown over time. That hasn’t happened without its share of criticism. People wonder where the game is by now. Others criticize the developers for consistently releasing new ships to buy for a game that, as yet, isn’t out. These ships aren’t cheap, either.Posted Feb 23, 2015 by Christina Gonzalez

Only 6% of F2P MMO Players Remain After the First Year?

General -  Column

Free to play MMOs are in a significant position in the market today, as things have shifted toward a fewer strings attached model over time. First mostly limited to imported, cheaper games funded entirely through cash shops, today' s free to play game may be from a AAA developer or a small, independent one. A new report released last week looks at player retention---how many players continue to play a given game—in free to play MMOs and features some important numbers.Posted Feb 9, 2015 by Christina Gonzalez

We No Longer Truly Value MMOs (but Maybe That’s Okay!)

General -  Column

When a game’s payment model shifts, as happened last week with The Elder Scrolls Online becoming the latest game to undergo such a change, there’s always a pattern. The conversation almost always turns to the concept of value in comments flung around the internet like “That game wasn’t worth $15 a month” and “The game wasn’t worth a subscription”. Posted Jan 26, 2015 by Christina Gonzalez

What MMO Developers Can Learn from Dragon Age: Inquisition

General -  Column

I’ve spent a good number of hours in Dragon Age: Inquisition since that game’s release. By now, many players have gotten enough of a taste to criticize some of the game’s flaws. By far, some of the more prevalent criticism is in how the game’s vast, open areas, and sidequest types make it feel like an MMO. Contrast that to how many MMO players feel like MMOs have now veered over and feel too much like single player games. Posted Jan 12, 2015 by Christina Gonzalez

Heartfelt Tribute Shows Community in MMOs is Still Relevant

General -  Column

When people talk about their experiences gaming online, especially in MMORPGs, it can often feel overwhelmingly negative. It’s not uncommon to hear that MMOs are irrelevant, too expensive, cash grabs, superficial, and at worst, have ‘communities’ in name only, full of either apathy or trolling. Take your pick. Yet, while the genre has seen shifts over time, there is still something about MMORPGs that remains unique, and brings out the best in online community.Posted Jan 5, 2015 by Christina Gonzalez

Trust - Why DayZ is Early Access done Right

DayZ -  Column

Just over a year ago, in December of 2013, a little game known as DayZ was released to the public on Steam Early Access. Just last week, an anniversary notice, video, and a 2015 roadmap were released to show where the game has been and indicate where it is going. Along with that came an update to the experimental build. Altogether, the game has sold 2,830,000 copies as of December 16th, 2014.Posted Dec 22, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

Why Nostalgia is Necessary

General -  Column

It’s a very common sentiment to hear from people that they want more complex, hardcore MMOs. This is something that even though the age of the hardcore, demanding MMO, where things took forever to happen, where fast travel wasn’t happening, and where lines built up around other players or in-game areas for buffs or completion, is mostly locked in player nostalgia these days.Posted Dec 8, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

Can Goats Teach MMOs to Be More Fun?

General -  Column

With the announcement of games like Grass Simulator, and I Am Bread, it seemed like the horse that is the quirky, physics-based simulator game was about to be getting its proverbial execution and subsequent beating. Yet, Coffee Stain Studios, developer of Goat Simulator, unleashed Goat MMO Simulator update upon gamers last week, showing that you can invigorate a game in an unexpected way. The best part may also be that it’s free DLC for the original game’s owners. Posted Nov 24, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

WildStar’s Gambit and the Community’s Power

WildStar -  Column

WildStar is going through a time of transition. There’s no way around it. Server populations have been on the decline. Key Carbine team members like Jeremy Gaffney, Chris Lynch, and Stephan Frost left for various reasons and that was before NC Soft let roughly 70 people go. The update timeline was officially stretched. About a month ago, the Shade’s Eve Halloween event and the Christmas event, Winterfest, would not be held at all. Megaservers were announced and implemented. Posted Nov 13, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

The Spotlight Falls on Draenor

World of Warcraft -  Column

With Warlords of Draenor almost upon us, World of Warcraft is riding a bit higher these days. Player numbers are up, and the hype is kicking in for the release in just a couple of weeks. Yet, Warlords of Draenor is being released in a different MMORPG mood and market this time around, even for Blizzard. Warlords promises a mix of advancement and nostalgia, and it really couldn’t come at a better time.Posted Oct 28, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

Room for Creativity – Is Sandbox the Only Way?

General -  Column

With changes coming to several games, and the release of others like ArcheAge, I’ve been thinking about player-driven systems and the space a game’s story leaves for players in between. Do things like story, scripted elements, and even predetermined politics necessarily stifle player involvement and fun? Is a sandbox the only way to give players room to feel in charge of their own destinies, or are there alternate paths to make this happen?Posted Oct 13, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

Titan Seemed Made For All & That Was its Downfall

General -  Column

Hearing the news that Blizzard had canceled the MMO project it had codenamed Titan after seven years of development, I can’t say I was surprised. What I really was was curious just what the game was planned to be. Leaks emerged soon afterward, and if they are to be believed, Titan might have been a game that offered something for every type of player. Yet the ambitiousness of the project could also be why it ultimately failed before ever being fully realized. Posted Sep 29, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

The Community is Your DM in Upsilon Circuit

General -  Column

With most players opting to play solo at least some of the time, the rest of the player population becomes a series of props to some, PvP fodder to others, and to the rest, members of the guilds and groups they play with. At PAX, a game in development called Upsilon Circuit looks to do something different. Blending action RPG, a dash of MMO, and reality TV game show, along with a touch of audience participation, the greater community’s role is emphasized even more. Posted Sep 15, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

Free to Play, ArcheAge, and LoL - Is Riot’s Model Better?

General -  Column

Last time around, I discussed free to play and so-called entitlement in the MMO community. While I do think that some are called out or made to feel guilty for simply enjoying what developers and publishers are putting out, that could’ve perhaps been a narrower discussion. Again, this time around, payment models get another look, and it’s in part due to some recent topics that have come up in both the greater gaming community and among MMO players. Posted Aug 18, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

We Are Not ‘Entitled’

General -  Column

The whole notion of MMO gamers being “entitled” is way overblown. There, I said it. We’re at the point where we’ve seen a couple of major releases this year so far, and we’re seeing talk all over the place --from gaming publications, to social media to forums--about whether the releases that came with subscriptions attached should or will go free to play, and how long that will take. Posted Aug 4, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

The Wrong Way to Do Free to Play

General -  Column

Warhammer 40,000: Eternal Crusade and the developers’ decision to limit free players to the deliberately weaker Ork Boyz is a troubling precedent in the freemium game space. It’s not unheard of for some games to limit your race choice based upon how much you are or aren’t paying. This is the situation in the upcoming PvP-oriented game, and it’s concerning.Posted Jul 21, 2014 by Christina Gonzalez

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