Not So Massively: PAX Prime, MOBA tournaments, and Star Citizen hits $17m

Not So Massively: PAX Prime, MOBA tournaments, and Star Citizen hits $17m
It's PAX Prime week, and that means it's time for competitive MOBA tournaments! League of Legends led the pack with its North American Regional Playoffs to determine which team will represent the region in the world championship. Third-person MOBA SMITE ran a full stage event for its $20,000 5x5 North American Invitational Tournament and showed off new character Zhong Kui for the first time. Dota 2 fans were outraged to find that the game was no longer available on the freeplay computers, prompting accusations of its being purposely uninstalled to promote competing games.

Guardians of Middle-Earth launched on Steam this week to a deluge of complaints, negative feedback, and refund requests after it emerged that the game's peer-to-peer networking isn't working well on PC. Sneaky Games announced its intention to release console MOBA Arena of Heroes on the OUYA crowdfunded console, and developers looked at the game's upcoming Patch 1.4.

Star Citizen's showing at PAX and recent release of the hangar module have helped push the game's crowdfunding tally over the $17 million mark, making it all but certain that the team will reach the ultimate $20 million goal. Diablo III officially launches on PS3 and XBox 360 tomorrow, and developers revealed that a PS4 version is already in the works. And Path of Exile's developers passed on PAX Prime this year and instead worked on the next update, which introduces the Endless Ledge event and a strange new Empower support gem.
Top Stories title image
Star Citizen's hangar module is live
Star Citizen's journey from crowdfunding champ to actual game is officially underway. Cloud Imperium just unveiled the hangar module, the first of several planned mini-releases designed to get early adopters testing various aspects of the title as it's being developed.
Diablo III: Reaper of Souls loot designed to make auction house a 'last resort'
There's been no love lost between Diablo III players and the game's real-money auction house. And while Blizzard Entertainment has no plans to remove RMT from Diablo III, the studio's upcoming Reaper of Souls expansion features a redesigned loot system built to get players out of the trading game and back into the grind.
SMITE introduces Zhong Kui, tweaks Guan Yu
It's time for another SMITE update, and you guessed it, Hi-Rez has introduced a new god to its mythology-based MOBA. Zhong Kui, otherwise known as The Demon Queller, is version 0.
Government bans female League of Legends characters at Iranian tourney
League of Legends players will be short a few fighters at Iran's World Cyber Games tournament that's scheduled to begin on September 12th. The Iranian government has its knickers in a knot over some of the MOBA's more scantily clad femme fatales, and so tourney participants will have to do without the services of champions including Ahri, Miss Fortune, Lulu, and dozens of others.
The Soapbox: Actually, that really isn't an MMO
Mike Foster argued that online gaming has evolved over the past few years and that the term MMO should be expanded to cover other online games like MOBAs. I disagreed in this week's edition of The Soapbox.

League of Legends title image
Riot Games had a huge showing at PAX this week, securing a large area of the convention center the live final of the League of Legends North American Regional Playoffs. The six top North American teams from the North American qualifiers clashed in an epic series of matches to determine which of them would go forward to represent the region in this season's world championships. The first day of the tournament saw favourite Counter Logic Gaming completely dominated by rival Team Solo Mid and Curse narrowly losing its place in the semi-finals to Dignitas.


Dota 2 title image
Dota 2 fans were outraged this week to find that the game had been removed from the PAX freeplay area. The freeplay computers were set up with a special Steam license that should have included Dota 2 and the game was installed last year for attendees to play. StarCraft 2 was also unexpectedly missing from this year's roster, making League of Legends reportedly the only online-capable game in the freeplay area.

PAX PC Room Deputy Manager Vapok put these complaints to rest, confirming that the rule instituted several years ago is that all games that are playable at the event must have locally installable servers or pay to sponsor their own bandwidth. Since Dota 2 has no local server option, it appears that the game wasn't available because Valve didn't opt to sponsor PAX's bandwidth this year as it wasn't having a tournament.

SMITE title image
Though the game is still in beta, developer Hi-Rez Studios has been supporting a growing competitive scene in its third-person MOBA SMITE. The game was at PAX this week with a full stage event for its $20,000 5x5 North American Invitational Tournament.



Guardians of Middle-Earth title image
Guardians of Middle-Earth officially launched on Steam this week after being ported to PC by Zombie Studios and was immediately met with a torrent of negative feedback. Players are reporting unplayable levels of lag, and it has been confirmed that the PC version uses peer-to-peer networking rather than dedicated servers. Players have also reported unresponsive controls, a severe lack of graphics options, and several game-breaking bugs.

Even though the game was originally developed for consoles, the PC version has a bug that occurs when using a controller and makes your character try to move toward the centre of the map after every action. This bug has since been fixed, but many of those leaving feedback on Steam are threatening to seek refunds. Publisher Warner Bros. Interactive has not released any statement on the problems, but Zombie Studios as assigned a community manager to the Steam forum.


Arena of Heroes title image
Indie developer Sneaky Games revealed this week that its mobile MOBA Arena of Heroes will soon be coming to OUYA, the crowdfunded home console powered by Android. The team has finally got its hands on an OUYA devkit and has already begun working on porting the game over to the system. In the new video dev diary below, developers Thuggins and Compy discussed changes due to arrive in Patch 1.4. The game has been given a big graphical upgrade, scrolling combat text will now show which abilities are used against you, and the AI code has been significantly optimised.


Star Citizen title image
Star Citizen's showing at PAX clearly made a splash, as a surge of pledges during the event has pushed the crowdfunding total past the $17 million US mark. This milestone unlocks the Battlecruiser ship class and pushes toward the recently revealed $18 million reward of a private solar system for early backers. If funding reaches $19 million, players will be able to compete to own and operate a limited number of space stations across the galaxy.

Pledges were likely helped along by this week's release of the hangar module, which not only lets fans see their ships for the first time but also acts as a marketplace for decorative hangar items like posters and trophies. This week's Wingman's Hangar takes a look at the hangar module and covers everything that happened at Gamescom 2013.


Diablo III title image
The PS3 and XBox 360 versions of Diablo III are officially scheduled for release tomorrow, but several stores have reportedly started selling the game early. Developers revealed this week that work on the PS4 version is already underway and PS Vita integration is a distinct possibility, but so far they haven't confirmed plans for an XBox One release.

If you're looking forward to the Diablo III Reaper of Souls expansion but just can't wait until it launches, fansite Diablofans has a handy roundup of all the information we currently know on the expansion. The article includes previously unknown information on the Crusader's skills, details of the new Diamond gem, and information on the new Nephalem Trials feature.

Path of Exile title image
Rather than spending the week having fun at PAX, the team at Grinding Gear Games has been hard at work on new content for Path of Exile. The next patch will introduce an enigmatic new Empower support gem that will only reveal its bonus once it's been sufficiently leveled up. Details of the effect the gem has on other skills haven't been revealed yet, and it's possible that each gem will have a different bonus. The latest patch introduced a new Endless Ledge event designed specifically for Race Season Four; these hour-long events will start players out with a chest full of skill gems and items and challenge them to see how far they can get in the allotted time.

Join us every Monday for Not So Massively, our roundup of the top news from popular online games that aren't quite MMOs. If you think there's a game we should be covering in Not So Massively or you've found some interesting news you think deserves attention in the next roundup, please mail the details to brendan@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.