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Hi-Rez: Steam free-to-play games have a discovery problem

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Hi-Rez: Steam free-to-play games have a discovery problem

Smite seems destined for years of prosperity. A simpler, third-person take on the MOBA, it’s backed by Riot Games owners Tencent, $600,000 in Smite World Championship prize money, and the plaudits of our Fraser in his Smite review.

But it’s not on Steam. According to developers Hi-Rez, that’s because it’s harder to promote a game on Valve’s storefront if it’s free-to-play.

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Orcs Must Die! Unchained ramps up the aggression, chucks in more players and will be F2P

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Orcs Must Die! Unchained ramps up the aggression, chucks in more players and will be F2P

Orcs Must Die! and its sequel both follow the same formula, mixing up tower defence mechanics with action RPG shenanigans - the only major difference between the two being the co-op made added in the latter. 

For the third game in the series, Orcs Must Die! Unchained, developer Robot Entertainment is mixing it up quite a bit, throwing in competitive multiplayer, 5v5 matches, bots and a free-to-play model. 

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European Commission want free-to-play to describe only games "free in their entirety"

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European Commission want free-to-play to describe only games "free in their entirety"

The European Commission - the tremendously important body which proposes and enforces EU law - are meeting with tech companies and national consumer protection authorities today and tomorrow to talk free-to-play. Specifically, they’re worried about the rising cacophony of complaints from parents who’ve incurred unexpected and quite dramatic bills thanks to in-app purchases in purportedly free games.

The Commission’s suggestion? If you call your game free-to-play, you really have to mean it. No IAPs, no nothing.

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Nosgoth is free-to-play not pay-to-win says community manager

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Nosgoth is free-to-play not pay-to-win says community manager

Square Enix community manager George Kelion attempted to assuage any fears that upcoming free-to-play multiplayer arena game, Nosgoth, would be pay-to-win in a recent blog post.

“So, Nosgoth is a free-to-play game - but it's not pay-to-win," said Kelion. “We made the decision to go to free-to-play to break down barriers and let as many players into the game as possible." He goes on to explain how currency will work in Nosgoth, as well as how purchased items will affect the game. 

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A new hope: The Old Republic subscriptions "decline" as free-to-play "continues to grow"

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A new hope: The Old Republic subscriptions "decline" as free-to-play "continues to grow"

I don’t know what it’s like to be a subscriber of an MMO that suddenly goes free-to-play, but it must be pretty galling. Every month, I imagine, it becomes tougher to convince yourself that whatever in-game privileges you might have add up to another $10 your peers aren’t paying.

It must be somewhat easier in The Old Republic, where despite change for the better, free players are still visibly second-class citizens. Even so, as free-to-play numbers climb, subscriber rates are plummeting in the opposite direction.

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Star Wars: Attack Squadrons is a free-to-play space combat title

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Star Wars: Attack Squadrons is a free-to-play space combat title

Sometimes, after I've fallen asleep, I wake up in a world where there's a new X-Wing vs. TIE Fighter and a new Rogue Squadron, but it's all a dream, cruelly mocking me. But my dreams of Star Wars dogfighting might not be too far from becoming a reality, with The Old Republic getting a space combat expansion, and now this: Star Wars: Attack Squadrons. 

Details are vague, but what we do know is that it's being developed by Area 52, a new studio comprised of "industry veterans", according to their website, and the game will be a free-to-play space combat game featuring dogfights between 16 players. I'm already preparing by making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. 

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Hawken gets a new map and some Christmas cheer

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Hawken gets a new map and some Christmas cheer

Hawken's Last Eco map is rather nice. It's got trees and nature and probably squirrels, which is a welcome change of scenery from the dry deserts and urban jungles the mechs normally find themselves battling in. But you know what would make it even nicer? Christmas trees! Candy Cane! Festive nonsense!

Even mech pilots like to celebrate blizzards, heating cost increases and indulgence. So Last Eco is now appropriately Yule-ified and you can slap some wrapping paper on your mechs or even employ some snowman repair drones, which sounds like a blooming hoot. 

And since it's the season of giving, there's a brand new map available to boot. It's a bloody Christmas miracle is what it is. 

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Path of Exile brings all the boys to the yard

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Path of Exile brings all the boys to the yard

Path of Exile's been around in one form or another for a good long while, even though it only recently launched officially. It's managed to gather quite a following, with Grinding Gear Games counting 4 million registered users and 250,000 daily users, which isn't to be sniffed at.

I'd love to know how many hideous monsters and leaping goatmen get slaughtered every day with that number of players hacking their way through the game's many dungeons, but counting that high would likely be too much for a simple human brain.

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From Spec Ops: The Line to a AAA free-to-play shooter

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From Spec Ops: The Line to a AAA free-to-play shooter

What happens when you make a thoughtful, distressing shooter lacking solid multiplayer and people don't play it? Well, you make a AAA free-to-play shooter. Spec Ops: The Line made me feel terrible, guilty and exhausted. I should probably feel like that more often when I mow down countless enemies with an assault rifle, but I so rarely do. It was a bit special. But there isn't much room for single player shooters with a focus on the psychological impact of war. 

So Yager is back, but with something that sounds rather different. The studio is currently recruiting for an unnamed F2P shooter, advertising several positions including those specific to a multiplayer component. The listing also mentions "armor and military gears", hinting at this being another military title. With gears. Insightful, I know. 

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Rift player numbers "way up" after free-to-play switch; "All early signs are good"

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Rift player numbers "way up" after free-to-play switch; "All early signs are good"

Rift had its cataclysmic event in expansion Storm Legion, when planar gates were opened and Colossi descended on its servers. And then it had another six months later, when it joined the legions of older MMOs abandoning their increasingly dangerous subs-marine for the free-to-play lifeboat.

Turns out the new Rift (“No Trials. No Tricks. No Traps.") has done rather well for Trion Worlds since then.

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Oo-err: The Elder Scrolls Online is a subscription MMO; "Other people doing it wrong doesn't mean we can't do it properly"

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Oo-err: The Elder Scrolls Online is a subscription MMO; "Other people doing it wrong doesn't mean we can't do it properly"

Lord of the Rings Online. SWTOR. Tera. Rift. That’s a chronological list of MMOs that were subscription-based when development started on The Elder Scrolls Online, now turned free-to-play.

Zenimax Online and Bethesda still follow the old way, though: they reckon a flat monthly fee is the only way to avoid “sacrifices and changes we weren’t willing to make."

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Wildstar to adopt Eve-like business model: "Earn your CREDD in the game from other players and you never have to pay a sub."

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Wildstar to adopt Eve-like business model: "Earn your CREDD in the game from other players and you never have to pay a sub."

Wildstar is a promising new prospect from Carbine Studios, the outfit formed by a number of senior WoW figures in 2005. It stands apart from its peers for a couple of reasons: not least its low-gravity double jumps and player-built fortresses. But also because it’s a new MMO that isn’t free-to-play.

Yup: Carbine are plumping for ye olde monthly subscription model. But here’s the clever bit: they’re tying it to a currency system that’ll mean dedicated players never have to pay a penny.

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Rift is now free-to-play. All content available to free players; cosmetic and convenience items available for purchase

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Rift is now free-to-play. All content available to free players; cosmetic and convenience items available for purchase

Trion have broken from the mould of other free-to-play MMOs by choosing to avoid paygates and pay-to-win items. Instead, all the content is available to free players, with only elements like extra character slots and cosmetic items coming with a price tag attached.

It’s a progressive approach, one outlined in a new free-to-play features trailer.

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