Train2Game News: GamesAnalytics report assess GTA Online

GTA VPredictive analytics specialists GamesAnalytics, has today published a special report which explores the Free-2-Play (F2P) potential of Grand Theft Auto Online.

The latest release of the game took Rockstar’s blockbuster franchise in an ambitious new direction, with a multiplayer world and in-game economy and the Benchmark report assesses whether GTA Online would also make a successful standalone F2P game.

The report has been produced using GamesAnalytics’ evidenced based research methodology, where 50 game design aspects across six main categories including Monetisation, Retention, Engagement and Virality are assessed against industry best practice F2P game design from over 80 F2P titles.

The report found that GTA Online surpassed the best in genre scores for categories including Retention, Game Mechanics and Engagement. However, if the game was released as a standalone F2P title then the report identifies mechanics that it would benefit from improving key mechanics to achieve high levels of Monetization and Virality.

Based on the reporting findings, GamesAnalytics highlights five recommendations in the report to help achieve best practice F2P design:

1. Improve the currency structure with first / second payment structure
2. Introduce a VIP structure to fast track progress and reward members
3. Develop a trading mechanism to help increase community aspects
4. Utilise no lose gambling mechanics
5. Build in reward mechanics for social sharing

Mark Robinson, Co-founder and COO GamesAnalytics, commented on the report: “GTA Online is clearly a quality bestselling premium game and this Benchmark report shows its F2P potential as a standalone game. The assessment does however highlight when designing F2P games all areas of Player Relationship Management need to be taken into consideration in particular mechanics that maximise virality, monetization and retention.

F2P game design is evolving across multiple platforms and genres. GamesAnalytics’ tools and services help publishers and developers understand best practice game design and integrate learnings upfront in the design and development process.”

These could be helpful suggestions to bear in mind for your own F2P game if you choose to take that route.

Train2Game News: Shining Force MMO

Shining ForceunFun Games, creator of the longest-running MMO series “First Star Online” is releasing Shining Force Online this Thursday evening.

This is a free fan-made MMO created because of a message board post lead developer R. Mulvany saw 8 months ago.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next”, says Mulvany. “I thought about doing a remake. I heard about the Sonic 2 fan remake being shut down and that was a shame – it looked fantastic. I was googling about and found a Shining Force fansite where – years ago, they tried to make a Shining Force MMO. This wasn’t the only attempt. Searching, I found 6 other tries that also never happened. Maybe it was cursed, I don’t know, but I wanted to take a crack at it.”

Shining Force Online will be one of the launch titles on Arcade County, a free gaming site from unFun Games which features some of the most unique web games around. You won’t find any tower defense or Angry Birds ripoffs there. It’s all about doing things no one has thought of before.

Shining Force Online will release this coming Thursday 28 November in beta form. The world will not be complete, but there will be 100+ maps and a good deal of quests. Mulvany warns that there will most likely be growing pains and a potential server wipe if exploits are discovered.

“This is a very story-driven game. You will play through a story complete with cutscenes, character that die, and twists along the way. We won’t have the entire game ready at launch. We’ll be in beta for a few months. The way the engine works – we’ll open up new worlds and content literally on a daily basis. Even if you don’t patch, it doesn’t mean we didn’t add tons of content while you were away.”

Players will only need to create an account on www.arcadecounty.com in order to play Shining Force Online. The game can be played on the web or via a downloadable game client for PC, with a Mac version coming in a few weeks.

To learn more about Shining Force Online, check out the game’s page at: http://www.arcadecounty.com/games/shiningforceonline

Train2Game News: GTA V Online

GTA VToday a small downloadable title update will be released on PlayStation Network and Xbox Live. Once installed, you get direct access to begin GTA Online, which will be unlocked in the GTA5 game menu.

It’s set a few months prior to the events of GTA5’s single-player story. To prevent griefing, Rockstar has designed house party invitations specifically to be a friendly social affair where players can visit each other’s houses without fear of having them ruined or losing their vehicles.

“If someone invites you into their property, then it is considered a friendly visit and you will not be able to shoot up their place or steal their cars from their garage,” Rockstar said.

“By the way, in any given lobby, if you and another player own the same piece of property, you will each be able to enter your own personal instance of that property at any given time,” Rockstar continued. “You will also be able to enter each other’s instance of that property if you exchange and accept an invite. This way, multiple instances of ownership of the same property within a lobby can co-exist.”

Rockstar then, again, addressed the thorny issue of GTA Online micro-transactions, which was revealed last week.

“To allay some concerns we’ve heard on this subject, we can assure you that the game is designed such that the option of purchasable GTA$ should not disrupt the playing field – and there are a few mechanics in place to help ensure that,” Rockstar explained.

“All players still have to rank up with Reputation Points (RP) in order to get access to purchase high-end items. No one can begin GTA Online and simply spend a lot of money out of the gate to get a leg up. You will have to earn your stripes and play to unlock access to the aspirational clothes, guns and other items.

“Please also remember that in GTA Online, hustling to afford the finer things by earning GTA$ doing robberies, stick-ups, winning races and other profitable activities is a fun gameplay experience rather than ever being a ‘grind’.”

Rockstar also pledged to tweak all areas of the game to make I fairer and iron out any balancing problems.

You can jump into GTA Online via the fourth (bottom) slot in your GTA5 character wheel right now in the United Kingdom after downloading the small update. You can read more about what is available in GTA V on Rockstar Newswire

Train2Game News: Next Xbox could eliminate pre-owned games

XBOX720One of the latest reports to come out in regards to the next Xbox suggests that you will need a constant internet connection to play games.

The report announces that Microsoft will move to make Xbox Live an integral rather than optional feature of the next Xbox, with retail games being made available for download. Physical boxed titles will remain on sale in shops via 50GB Blu-ray discs, but “activation codes” will require verification online, the report adds. Once verified, discs will have no function beyond the initial users – effectively eliminating the second-hand games market as it’s currently known.

The information is said to come from sources with first-hand experience of Microsoft’s next generation console.

“Given its experience with 70 million-plus 360 console stats, Microsoft has accumulated enough user data to make the decision to go online-only with its successive hardware one that adds up,” the report states.

“Microsoft’s hand has been guided by the PC gaming landscape, and viewed through a particular lens it makes sense, even if unbelievers will take some convincing.

“Ultimately, Microsoft has asked itself a simple question: who wants to play games on a next-generation Xbox and yet doesn’t have access to the internet? The answer: not enough to make a considerable difference.”

The next Xbox, codename Durango, is said to utilise an AMD eight-core x64 1.6GHz CPU, a D3D11.x 800MHz graphics solution and 8GB of DDR3 RAM but to date the consoles hard drive capacity is said to be undecided.

Both next-gen consoles are said to be set for release before this Christmas, although PS4 is unlikely to launch in Europe until “early 2014”.