Bree Royce

    - Massively's Editor-in-Chief

    Bree is an unrepentant escapist with a predilection for MMOs. When not compulsively proofreading cereal boxes and newspapers, she can be found modding, PvPing on the auction hall, and touring the Next Big Thing with her guild on a quest for the elusive perfect game. At Massively, Bree spends her hours slavishly copyediting, dueling with PR, co-hosting the podcast, and tinkering in the darkest dungeons of the site code. She currently pens Working As Intended, Ask Massively, Week in Review, Not So Massively, Betawatch, and The Think Tank and contributes to The Daily Grind. Twitter: @nbrianna   Personal Blog: Skycandy Favorite MMOs: SWG, CoH, GW, WoW, GW2, Glitch, AC

  • This is Massively, and farewell to it

    Well, folks. This is it. On November 2nd, 2007, began. "This is Massively," Mike Schramm wrote, "and welcome to it." Today, on February 3rd, 2015, ends. For the last seven years, three months, and two days, we've sought to be not a mirror but a lens through which to view the vibrant MMO industry. We conveyed news, opinions, streams, videos, comments, jokes, snark, and yes, even mourning for the far too many MMO sunsets we've all endured. Now the sun sets on us too. This last week has seemed surreal. Consumed as we are by page views and comment counts, we sometimes forget that our audience is flush with remarkable gamers who care deeply about the MMORPG genre and the people in it -- even us. How strange that only in saying goodbye have we fully bridged that gulf between writers and readers. It's felt like meeting PvP rivals at a con for a beer and realizing that fun and earnest people stand behind those avatars. In person, you're all pretty damn cool.

  • WRUP: Trolls and all

    Welcome back to Massively's What Are You Playing, the game in which we tell you what we're playing this weekend and you point out to me that it hasn't been six months yet. But what are you going to do about it -- fire me? Man, this kinda stuff still makes me grin, and I will miss you, my favorite trolls and all. Why are we still doing this? Because this is what we do.

  • Massively-that-was

    I have sad news for the Massively staff and community today, news most of you already knew was coming. This week, we learned our AOL overlords have decided that they no longer wish to be in the enthusiast blog business and are shutting all of them down. This mass-sunset includes decade-old gaming journalism icon Joystiq, and therefore, it includes us. February 3rd, 2015, will be the final day of operation for Massively-that-was.

  • The Think Tank: Repairing the 'social' in MMORPGs

    Our writeup of the Why aren't MMOs more social? panel from PAX South last weekend racked up almost 500 comments, and for good reason: Interaction is at the heart of making MMOs more sticky. But is it going away, and if so, why, and how do we get it back? That's the subject of this week's Think Tank.

  • The Daily Grind: What's the ideal guild size in an MMO?

    Last week, a Massively commenter mentioned that he was in a 700-person guild in The Elder Scrolls Online. Yep, you read that number right! He inspired an impromptu discussion about the problems inherent in a guild of that size, such as the difficulties of managing it, the potential for dozens of smaller cliques, and the frequently negative impact a big mob of people can have on a server community and a game's development. Personally, I found that a 50-person guild was a real challenge to lead well; I prefer a much smaller group, 20 members or so, just enough that I feel I know everyone well and there aren't competing cliques of people creating drama. Conveniently, that's the kind of guild I'm in, too. How about you? What's the ideal guild size in an MMO? Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

  • The Daily Grind: Are there any MMO dailies that don't make you cringe?

    You know what I don't think MMOs need more of? Dailies. I think most core MMO gamers are tired of a mechanic that exists, transparently and unashamedly, to keep us completing repetitive tasks on a daily basis and keep us logging in, and in some cases, paying our subs. Even a well-constructed daily achievement system and totally benign daily login rewards can be irritating. But out on the fringes of the MMO space, gamers are just discovering the allure of the daily. VG247 pubbed an editorial last week arguing that GTA Online ought to copy -- wait for it -- Destiny's "intrinsic" dailies and rewards; without them, the writer opined, players are "reminded that the grind is most certainly real." Call me jaded, but I say themepark dailies are usually just as grindy as whatever formless grind they're meant to replace, and I suspect the players who need something to do at the "end" of online co-op shooters would probably be happier with a sandboxier MMORPG to begin with. But surely there's some sort of dailies that we do like. Are there any MMO dailies that don't make you cringe? Which game can boast the best? (And can we tell GTA Online to copy those, please?) Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

  • PAX South 2015: Guild Wars 2's Heart of Thorns is an expansion

    ArenaNet has just announced that Guild Wars 2: Heart of Thorns is indeed an expansion. Speaking from a packed main theater at PAX South 2015, ANet President Mike O'Brien formally confirmed the rumored expansion, saying it will take players "deep into the heart of the Maguuma jungle" and will avoid traditional expansion powercreep and gear treadmills by not raising the level cap. The expansion will introduce new group challenges, new profession specializations, and an account-based "masteries" system for character progression through the new territories. Game Director Colin Johanson told cheering fans that new legendary weapons and precursors are inbound, as are epic quests that help players acquire their precursors. The expansion will include one new class, the Revenant, which is a heavy armor class that channels the spirits of the mists and famous characters from Guild Wars lore. Each existing class will receive new mechanics and weapons that "fundamentally" change how they play; for example, Rangers can become druids and Necromancers will be able to use greatswords. WvW will also finally get some love, and there will be a new GvG game mode called Stronghold, which of course means... guild halls! The official site is live now, and the brand-new trailer is now below the cut. Massively's Larry Everett and Mike Foster are live at the event; we'll have more from San Antonio later this afternoon. Fans can follow the festivities on Twitch.

  • WRUP: Dropping all the subs

    Welcome back to Massively's What Are You Playing, the game in which we tell you what we're playing this weekend and you guess, to the day, when WildStar will join ESO in dropping its sub. Winner gets the admiration of his peers!

  • RuneScape's sub fee hike goes into effect March 1st

    Jagex announced a sub rate hike for long-running sandbox RuneScape back in November, and this week, the studio has declared that the new fees will go into effect beginning March 1st. While the game is still free-to-play, the optional sub will increase from $8 US to $9.49 US; the official site includes a conversion chart for the international community and multi-month subbers. For existing Premier Club customers, Jagex posted a reminder about grandfathering in the old rates as long as the sub is maintained: Don't forget - as long as you're a member and don't lapse out for more than 14 days, you're eligible to keep your current rate of membership. Subscribe now to secure access to all of RuneScape's members' content at current prices. The studio is also talking up its inbound ports expansion; there's a fresh trailer on the mechanic after the cut.

  • Working As Intended: The MMOs we lost in 2014

    Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about how Vanguard's early stumbles foreshadowed the changing MMORPG industry. In January 2007, when Vanguard lurched its way to launch, the genre was barely a decade old; it was booming, and it had never suffered hardship on a massive scale. In the west, we'd seen only three "major" MMOs sunset (Motor City Online, Earth and Beyond, and Asheron's Call 2), and only one MMO, Anarchy Online, had "gone F2P," though we hadn't yet thought to call it yet because it was such a rare and new thing. In fact, it wasn't until 2008's first big wave of AAA, post-World of Warcraft MMOs launched and mostly flopped that MMORPG players gave much thought to the future of the genre and how WoW had reshaped (and possibly broken) it. Maybe not even then. Here in 2015, sunsets are commonplace, and the vast majority of modern MMOs have adopted some sort of subscriptionless model. Last year, we lost more than a dozen MMOs, including Vanguard itself, all of them wiped from the face of the earth (at least until someone decides to resurrect them), and several more under development were canceled, leading to concern among industry watchers like those of us who pen for Massively. Let's try to get some perspective and revisit the MMOs we lost in 2014.

  • WoW's new Blood Elves arrive in update 6.1

    Our sister site WoW Insider reports this morning that World of Warcraft's Blood Elves, left off the roster of races that received model revamps with the Warlords of Draenor expansion last November, will finally meet their new faces. Actually, it's just the bodies: The male faces aren't entirely done yet and currently share the same facial geometry. "While we're excited to share with you our progress on these new models, I do want to stress that the models, textures, and animations are not entirely finished. Bug fixing and iteration can and will occur, and that's where you come in!" writes Blizzard QA on the US and EU forums, soliciting costructive feedback. MMO Champion has full-size, head-to-toe bikini shots of both the female and male models because of course it does. Also arriving in update 6.1 are class tweaks, new heirloom gear, garrison expansions, follower mission fixes, and the chance to buy (with gold) those followers you missed while questing. The first iteration of the update landed on the PTR in early January; the patch's launch date on production servers has not been announced.

  • The Think Tank: Analyzing Elder Scrolls Online's B2P model

    Yesterday's reveal that The Elder Scrolls Online will go buy-to-play in March has prompted much speculation about the nature of the cash shop, the ethics of the switchover, the continued viability of the game, and the quality, cost, and frequency of the promised DLC. In today's Think Tank, the Massively staff will discuss the decision. Is B2P the right call for ESO? Was the exceedingly long delay of the console launch a huge mistake? What do we expect from the DLC? And is "Tamriel Unlimited" in fact the worst rebrand ever?

  • Raph Koster is collaborating on Crowfall [Updated with video]

    So here's a funny story: Yesterday, the Massively writers were shooting the breeze in team chat when the subject of sandbox devs who were not also closet-gankers came up. "When do you think Raph Koster will finally make a new sandbox?" I asked, half kidding and half wistful. "Never," Jef answered. Then we commiserated for a bit. It turns out we were remarkably prescient because that day is... today. ArtCraft, the studio working on the nebulous PvP MMO Crowfall, announced today that Koster, the backbone of sandbox legends Ultima Online and Star Wars Galaxies, has been collaborating with the Crowfall team on the game's design for a year already as a "formal advisor and design consultant." "Raph and I have been working together for about a year on the design architecture for Crowfall," ArtCraft's J. Todd Coleman wrote. "At the heart of this game, we have two core systems: dynamic territorial conquest and a player-driven economy. Marrying these two concepts is the holy grail of MMO development, and Raph is arguably the best person in the world to help us solve this puzzle." Koster gets a blurb of his own in the PR: "There isn't anything on the market like Crowfall, and it has been a long time since some of these design ideas were explored. There's a very specific audience out there waiting for a game like this -- the conflict, the real economy -- that has been looking for new steps beyond the games of ten years ago." Your move, MMO genre.

  • PAX South 2015: Jennifer Hale will host Guild Wars 2 panel, herald 75% off sale

    So you already knew about Guild Wars 2's big event at PAX South this Saturday, the Point of No Return panel, which has players crossing their fingers for an expansion announcement. If you can't go in person, you can watch the whole shebang on Twitch for the low, low price of nothing. And that deal just got even sweeter, as ArenaNet has just declared this morning that gaming icon and voice actress Jennifer Hale, known to GW2 fans as the voice of Queen Jennah and to everyone else as the voice of approximately eight million other characters, will be hosting the livestream. Meanwhile, the studio has vowed to slash the price of the buy-to-play MMO to $9.99 on Saturday and Sunday in honor of the hoopla, marking the biggest sale for the game it's held to date. Characters in-game will be showered with sales on boosters and a free double-experience bonus that lasts all weekend. Massively GW2 expert Anatoli Ingram speculated about the possible expansion and analyzed the final season 2 episode in his most recent columns.

  • The Daily Grind: Will you play Elder Scrolls Online once it's B2P?

    Yesterday's news that The Elder Scrolls Online is going buy-to-play in time for its console launch surprised... well, not many of Massively's readers. You pretty much saw it coming. Some folks around here said this move was a certainty even before launch and consequently refused to buy it, deciding that patience would pay off. (And it did!) But what about now? I admit I'm much more tempted by a game that isn't charging an unwarranted fee and isn't abusing a cash shop. B2P is a great model for gamers, especially when they avoid lockbox crap (yay!). How about you? If you didn't play ESO when it launched last April, will you give it a try in March when it's down to just a box fee, a mild cash shop, and more traditional DLC? Every morning, the Massively bloggers probe the minds of their readers with deep, thought-provoking questions about that most serious of topics: massively online gaming. We crave your opinions, so grab your caffeinated beverage of choice and chime in on today's Daily Grind!

  • PAX South 2015: Massively's Larry Everett to guest on MMO community panel

    For MMO fans headed to Penny Arcade's inaugural PAX South in San Antonio, Texas, this weekend, there's one panel not to miss: Where Did Multiplayer in MMOs Go?. Massively's Larry Everett will guest on the community-oriented panel, which runs from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. local time on Friday in the Bobcat Theater. You can probably figure out the topic from the title, but here's the official blurb: In early MMORPGs, interacting with other community members in places like taverns and main cities were a necessity for advancement and survival. Today, interacting with random players has become a rare event instead of the tools for survival. Is this what we all wanted to happen? Join Alex Albrecht alongside Larry Everett and Patrick Mulhern to discuss the future of communities in MMORPGs. Larry will join Zerg ID Co-Founder Alex Albrecht, Lorehound Editor-in-Chief Patrick Mulhern, YouTube Gaming Strategic Partner Manager Meg Campbell, and Camelot Unchained Community Manager Jenesee Grey for the panel. Massively's big sister Joystiq will also be represented at the show; Joystiq Editor in Chief Ludwig Kietzmann and Community Manager Anthony John Agnello will host the In(s)ane Joystiq Quiz on Saturday evening at 8 p.m. local time in the Falcon Theater.

  • Das Tal devs: 'We don't even own a gauntlet'

    Yesterday, we posted about an article penned by Das Tal Head of Communications David Wells in which he threw down the proverbial gauntlet, as we put it, at ArcheAge's feet; he laid out many of ArcheAge's faults and explained how Das Tal, an admittedly indie sandbox, could improve on the format and avoid some of ArcheAge's infamous mistakes. This prompted a fiery debate, particularly among ArcheAge's fans and frenemies, over sandbox design in the indie and AAA space. Das Tal Managing Director Alexander Zacherl hopes to expound on that treatise with a letter to players of his own; he emphasizes that Fairytale Distillery's intent was not to provoke a duel with ArcheAge but to improve the studio's corner of the genre. We've agreed to publish that letter in full today. Read on!

  • Elder Scrolls Online to nuke subs ahead of June 9th console launch

    ZeniMax has this morning formally announced what the internet has been suspecting for months: The Elder Scrolls is going buy-to-play and dropping its required monthly subscription on March 17th for PC players, the same deal that will go live on June 9th for console players when it launches on PS4 and Xbox One. Rebranded as The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited, ESO will still have an optional premium subscription membership called ESO Plus, which will provide "exclusive in-game bonuses, a monthly allotment of crowns to use in the store and access to all DLC game packs." The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited includes all the great gameplay from the original PC/Mac game, plus all the updates and content additions, including the exciting new Justice and Champion systems. All existing PC/Mac game accounts, open or closed, will be updated to the Tamriel Unlimited edition in March and former players will be invited back to the game at that time to experience all that is new in the world. New players will make a one-time purchase of the game and play, without restrictions, for as long as they like – without game subscription fees. Tamriel Unlimited will be supported with special, optional downloadable content available for purchase and an in-game Crown Store for convenience and customization items. Regular updates and new gameplay will be offered to all players to enjoy free of additional charges. The studio will host a livestream at noon EST today to further explain the announcement, but for now, you'll have to be contented with The Confrontation cinematic trailer -- that, and your smug satisfaction if this announcement validated your own hunch.

  • Crowfall teases fealty system, ad/disad mechanics

    Upcoming MMO Crowfall is rolling out new teases this week, including some concept art of guild banners and a screenshot of character creation, which suggests an advantage/disadvantage system no doubt intended to tug the heartstrings of former Shadowbane players. But what has our attention is the newly unveiled fealty chart, which definitely whisks Shadowbane or Asheron's Call immediately to mind. "This isn't a guild org chart," Crowfall's J. Todd Coleman cautions. "We support guilds (and guild structures) but we've laid a different system on top of that, which ties player fealty directly to land ownership. More on that system, and how it ties to siege conquest, will be coming soon." Coleman promises "a more substantial update coming later this week." We've included all three images below.