Sunday, May 10, 2015

Gaming News: Steam Suddenly Ending Modder Payment System, WoW Numbers Drop, A Cheater's Public End

By Bixyl Shuftan

There were a couple notable stories this week in the world of Massive Multiplayer Games. The  news about World of Warcraft's numbers revealed that the boost provided by their latest expansion is now over. When "Warlords of Draenor" came out, the response was electric, subscriptions going from less than 7 million in June 2014 to more than ten in November. The latest statistics released show that by March 2015, numbers had plummeted as fast as they had risen, down to 7.1 million.

So why the plunge? Different players will give different answers. One heard more than once was that once a player reached Level 100, maxed out the Garrison, and witnessed Garosh Hellscream's end, there wasn't that much to do. But even with this drop, World of Warcraft remains the top MMO.

Links: MMO Champion, Gamespot, Nasdaq, IGN

In another MMO, a cheater was delt with in a very public way. Over a few weeks, players gathered evidence of a JT Darkside using exploits  to dominate other characters in Player versus player combat, teleporting away, dealing massive damage, etc., "with these programs running, the character could travel around the map at extraordinary speeds, teleport inside structures to take them from opposing factions, and apparently both hit hard as well as be hard to kill."

As youtube videos were the big evidence against him, in a fitting end to Darkside, his fate was shown in a youtube video on a post by security cheif Chris Cleary in the Guildwars forum. The video showed Darkside being stripped of his clothes down to his underwear, giving the viewer a friendly wave, then plummeting off a ledge to his death. The character, and one other belonging to the player, were deleted. When someone asked about his account, Clearly posted, "We don't need to see it (evidence) in-game. Sometimes good video evidence is good enough for me to track down who it was. In this case, the video was enough for me to findout who it was and take action. Thanks for the video, and to accompany your video, I give you this video of his account's last moments. Oh yah, he's also banned."

The response was a number of cheers from gamers, "Perfect way to embarrass these idiots who seem to find it fun cheating."

Links: Guild Wars 2 Forums, Eurogamer, BBC News, Massively OP,

Late last month was a move by Steam that got quite a bit of attention. They announced a new system that would allow the makers of game mods to sell them on Steam Workshop, starting with Skyrim, which has among the most mods of any game on the market. While the move excited some people whom felt this would encourage new content, others reacted badly, feeling they'd have to pay for what they were getting for free.

The system didn't remain up for long. After only four days, Steam announced the system was being taken down. In a statement, Steam explained than in the past their efforts to allow "community creators to receive a share of the rewards" had been "in the past, they've been received well. It's obvious now that this case is different." They had been taken off guard by the numbers of those complaining.

There was one other issue, though it didn't get as much buzz as people having to pay for mods. The question was also raised about how much the modders themselves would make. Only a 25% would go to the modder. The rest was split with Steam's owner Valve and Skyrim's owner Bethesda, 30-45 respectively. Hamlet Au blasted this decision to give modders such a small percentage, "it suggests that Bethesda looked at it's sales data, noticed the financial success of it's most talented, dedicated, grassroots developer fans, and decided that was a bad thing. I'm not even finished with how bad this is: It suggests that talented independent gamers do not deserve great success, despite countless hours of free work, risked on the great likelihood that they would earn little or no revenue for their plans. It suggests that only professional game developers deserve to be reasonable compensated for game development. It suggests that Bethesda thinks it puts more value into Skyrim than the hundreds of thousands of it's most passionate fans who make and use Skyrim mods."

Hamlet Au compared Bethesda's apparent attitude to modders to Linden Lab's feelings to content creators making more money than the Lindens themselves, "They brag about it." He brought up a speech by then CTO Cory Ondrejka in which he mentioned one businesswoman, " 'She makes more money than me,' said Cory. And he was proud of that."

Both Bethesda's attitude and the sudden removal of the mod sale system "has deeply hurt the long term value of Skyrim," Hamlet Au thought. He felt the game, now four years old, could have "easily thrived for a decade or more."

In the meantime, those modders hoping to get at least some money for Skyrim mods will have to look elsewhere. Perhaps some will hear about the successes of Second Life's content creators and come here.

Links: New World Notes, Steam CommunityArs Technia, Kotaku, Bethblog, Steamed,

Bixyl Shuftan


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