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  • SOE removes option to purchase subs with Station Cash

    by 
    Justin Olivetti
    Justin Olivetti
    06.08.2012

    In a stealth move, Sony Online Entertainment has quietly removed the ability to purchase non-recurring subscriptions from its MMOs' marketplaces. Players in both EverQuest and EverQuest II noticed the change while in the game and went to the forums for official confirmation. Previously, players were able to use Station Cash (SOE's universal game currency) to snap up single-month subscriptions. This allowed frugal players to acquire discounted subscriptions, as SOE occasionally has a sale on Station Cash and throws in-game deals for spending it. Community Manager Piestro confirmed the removal in a forum post: "Hey folks, just jumping in to let you know this was indeed an intentional change. This decision was partially based on the very limited utilization of this feature." This removal comes at a bad time for players who did purchase subs this way, as SOE is giving bonus Station Cash to players redeeming game cards this weekend. [Thanks to Don for the tip!]

  • Spotify director Sean Parker: Apple tried to keep Spotify out of the United States

    by 
    Darren Murph
    Darren Murph
    05.30.2012

    Daniel Ek (co-founder of Spotify) and Sean Parker (Director at Spotify) just took the stage here at D10, with Walt Mossberg asking the two about the company's impact in America, negotiations with record labels and -- perhaps surprisingly -- its links with Apple. Outside of confirming that there's still around 10 million Spotify users worldwide (with around three million of those being of the paid variety), the duo also confirmed that it's working daily to improve the catalog. Said Ek: "We're up to 18 million songs, growing at 10,000 or 20,000 songs per day -- it's very much a growing catalog." Walt was curious as to why iTunes had upwards of 30 million tracks, and why all of the services simply don't have the same library, but both players were quick to brush off the topic and pivot directly to the importance of playlists. Ek stated: "If you look at iTunes, the vast majority of songs haven't been purchased by anyone -- it's driven by hits. We see 80 percent of our whole catalog listened to." Following that, Parker contributed: "The playlist is now the CD. It used to be a few songs were wanted by the consumer, and the rest of it was garbage. It's the new mixtape, but accelerated on a massive scale." As it turns out, Spotify actually sells "bundles" (which are glorified playlists) as pay products in Europe, and when Walt asked why these weren't available in America, Parker obliged: "We just haven't released it yet." In other words, they're coming soon.

  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has 1.3 million active subs, new content packs coming

    by 
    Matt Daniel
    Matt Daniel
    05.07.2012

    We all know that the Star Wars: The Old Republic galaxy is a huge place, but thanks to some new numbers from EA's 4th quarter financial reports, we now know exactly how huge it is. According to the report, SWTOR is home to 1.3 million active subscribers (down from 1.7 million as announced in March). On top of that bit of information, the report also reveals that two new content packs will be available for players sometime in the first financial quarter. We don't know a thing about these content packs yet, except that they're (at least tentatively) titled Legacy (presumably the current Legacy patch) and Allies, so conspiracy theorists, start your engines. Let the speculation begin!

  • Apple gives MobileMe holdouts an olive branch, extends 20GB iCloud offer to September

    by 
    Jon Fingas
    Jon Fingas
    05.06.2012

    Still skittish about jumping from MobileMe to iCloud, even after Apple promised you a free copy of Snow Leopard to ease the pain? Have no fear: Apple has quietly extended its offer to upgrade those paying for 20GB of MobileMe space to a matching amount on iCloud the next time they renew. You now have until September 30th to make the leap at no extra cost, instead of the original June 30th cutoff. And if you've been paying for 40 to 60GB of MobileMe storage, you can get 50GB of iCloud space on the same terms. It won't take away the sting of losing iDisk, Gallery or iWeb at the end of June, but if you're the sort who routinely needs a lot more storage than a free 5GB iCloud account -- and don't like the alternatives -- you now have that much more breathing room.

  • New York Times sees higher circulation numbers, digital paywall smiles knowingly

    by 
    Sarah Silbert
    Sarah Silbert
    05.01.2012

    Given how aggressively The New York Times pushes its digital packages -- we've long since dropped our subscription yet are still bombarded with offers -- you'd hope the paper was at least seeing some results. Well, never fear: it is. A report by the Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) found that the Times has seen a healthy increase in circulation, with the Sunday edition selling 2,003,247 copies (up 50 percent from last year) and the weekday editions racking in an average of 1,586,757 (up 73 percent). The ABC attributes much of this gain to the NYT's addition of digital access to paper subscriptions, and we're sure the paywall, which limits non-subscribers to just ten free articles a month, has something to do with it, too.

  • Amazon Appstore shatters $20 ceiling for in-app purchases

    by 
    Zachary Lutz
    Zachary Lutz
    04.17.2012

    In a move that's likely to grab the attention of more than a few Android developers, Amazon has announced that its arbitrary $20 limit for in-app purchases via the Appstore is no more. The company announced this change in an email to developers, which follows a tweak to the Appstore's parental controls. In-app purchasing is rather new territory for the Amazon crew, which first unveiled the necessary APIs just last week. There's no word on what new monetary limit is now in place, but make sure to watch your spending, kids -- some of these apps are incredibly habit-forming.

  • Hulu reducing monthly subscription prices in Japan by 33 percent

    by 
    Edgar Alvarez
    Edgar Alvarez
    04.12.2012

    Looks like Huluers in the Land of the Rising Sun may have something to cheer about, as the entertainment service announced earlier it's lowering its monthly fees. Hulu claims the reason behind the dropped prices comes from having "listened to user feedback and assessed current market situations" -- or perhaps from taking note of the million-plus customers it gained with a similar strategy in the US. With the new charge, Japanese folks will only have to shell out 980 yen (around $12) per month, a hefty reduction considering the previous fee of 1480 yen. Naturally, before the current clientele throws a temper tantrum, Hulu's promising a 500 yen refund to make up for the recent shift in prices. You can learn the rest of the deets on the Hulu blog, which is linked down below.

  • Amazon adds in-app purchasing to Appstore for Android devices, Kindle Fire

    by 
    Zach Honig
    Zach Honig
    04.10.2012

    Amazon's Appstore has offered a typical application acquisition experience, save for one important detail: in-app purchasing. Beginning today, devs can now take advantage of the familiar revenue booster already available in the iOS App Store and Google Play, through the use of the Amazon Appstore In-App Purchasing API. The service will enable Android device and Kindle Fire users to pick up expansion packs, virtual gaming currency or manage subscriptions from within individual applications, with the same one-click purchase experience available in Amazon's online store. A handful of top devs like Disney and Conde Nast have already hopped on board, but those of you who haven't received an early nod from AMZN can now join in on the fun as well. Click past the break for a brief video intro from the e-tailer, along with a handful of testimonials in the full press release.

  • Aion opens a new server, eliminates subs, and reactivates accounts today

    by 
    MJ Guthrie
    MJ Guthrie
    04.04.2012

    Today is a big day for players anticipating next week's launch of Aion's Ascension and the title's conversion to free-to-play. Once server maintenance is completed, players will have a new server, subscriptions will be discontinued, and the doors will reopen for inactive accounts. Starting today, players will be able to log into the new Kahrun server to create characters and reserve names; however, actual play will not be possible until the launch on April 11th. Catering to the Central Time Zone, all sieges, arena timers, and the like will be based on CST. All accounts are also changing from subscriptions to the Truly Free model, eliminating all billing. Still have a month, three months, or even a year of time left? In compensation, NCsoft is crediting players by converting all remaining game time to NCoin at a ratio of 40 NCoin per remaining day. Don't panic if you don't see the credit immediately; it might take a couple of days to process everything. On top of all this, all inactive accounts in good standing are reactivating today to give Daevas a chance to prepare for 3.0. So dust off those wings and jump back in!

  • China officially tops one billion mobile subscribers

    by 
    Donald Melanson
    Donald Melanson
    03.30.2012

    We heard last year that China was approaching 900 million mobile phone subscribers, and it looks like it's now finally hit the big one. The country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology confirmed today that, as of the end of February, there were more than a billion mobile subscribers in the country (1.01 billion, to be specific). As the AFP notes, that's individual subscriptions, which includes users with more than one phone, but any way you slice it that's a whole lot of cellphone users. Of those, 144 million are on 3G networks, which is fully double the number from April of 2011. Not surprisingly, much of that growth comes at the expense of landline phones, which have dropped a further 828,000 in the first two months of the year to 284.3 million. Internet use also continues to be on the upswing, with more than half a billion people having internet access of some sort, and 154.96 million having broadband access (up nearly five million during those same two months).

  • DC Universe Online makes Legendary members even more legendary

    by 
    Eliot Lefebvre
    Eliot Lefebvre
    03.29.2012

    Do you want to be a living legend? It certainly beats being a dead legend, since you can enjoy it more. And if you're a Legendary member of DC Universe Online, you already get access to a variety of accompanying benefits. But starting on April 3rd, Legendary members get an even bigger legend with several new benefits aside from free access to all DLC. So what will you get? PC players will receive a monthly stipend of 500 Station Cash, while PS3 players will see a similar influx of 500 Loyalty Points for use in a new in-game store. For both platforms, you'll get the ability to unlock rare lockboxes for free and a full set of Replay Badges every month. Replay Badges allow you to reset all of your instance lockouts, giving you a chance to play back through content more frequently -- and with 150 of them free each month, your exploits as a Legendary member will be the stuff of... well, you can guess.

  • New York Times nears half-million online subscriber mark, halves free article allowance to celebrate

    by 
    Zach Honig
    Zach Honig
    03.20.2012

    The New York Times just gave you more reason to consider making the jump to a paid online subscription -- beginning in April, that free article allowance will see a 50-percent cut, from 20 monthly articles to just 10. This modification comes one year after NYTimes.com launched its infamous content paywall, and following an announcement that the publisher has signed up 454,000 digital subscribers. Paying readers will receive a 12-week subscription that they can gift to anyone on the fence about swiping for access, and smartphone and tablet app users will continue to have access to the "Top News" sections for free. You'll also be able to read articles linked from other sites on the web, including your inbox, and can access five free posts a day that appear in search engine results. Completely unfettered access will range in price from $15 to $35 per month -- you'll find full details in the PR just past the break, and at the source link below.

  • Battle.net Balance boots up

    by 
    Justin Olivetti
    Justin Olivetti
    02.07.2012

    Diablo III may not be out yet, but that's no good reason not to be filling up your virtual coffers for the day that it hits the streets! Blizzard has thrown the switch on Battle.net Balance, activating its online payment service that allows players to charge up their Battle.net funds to purchase various Blizzard game services. The new Balance system can be used to buy World of Warcraft game time (although you can't set up a recurring subscription with it), in-game pets and mounts, paid account services in WoW such as character transfers, digital copies of Blizzard titles, and the opportunity to buy and sell items on Diablo III's auction house. It's important to note that not all regions will be able to participate in Diablo III's real-money transactions, however. Once real money has been funneled into Battle.net Balance, it cannot be converted back into cash. Blizzard does state that in some regions, players will have an option to get cash back on Diablo III auction sales via PayPal. The company also mentioned that there is a cap on how much any player can have in his or her Balance account and that there are potentially region-specific expiration dates for Balance funds.

  • RuneScape increasing subscription prices on February 1st

    by 
    Matt Daniel
    Matt Daniel
    01.24.2012

    In a new post on the official RuneScape site, the game's vice president Daniel Clough has announced that, beginning in February, RuneScape membership prices will be rising from $5.95 US per month to $7.95 US per month. If you're already a member, don't worry! Anyone who is a registered member prior to February 1st will still be able to subscribe to the game at the current fee of $5.95 US per month, and the rate will not rise as long as the subscription isn't cancelled. So if you were thinking about shelling out for a RuneScape membership, act before the end of the month in order to lock in the current, lower pricing model. For the full details, click on through the link below to the RuneScape official site. [Thanks to Sean for the tip!]

  • RIFT introduces 3-month, 6-month, and yearly subscription plans

    by 
    Matt Daniel
    Matt Daniel
    01.12.2012

    It's a new year, and the folks at Trion Worlds want you to spend it in Telara. In order to entice players to stick around, the studio has announced three new subscription plans for those who are tired of dropping $15 US every month. RIFT players can now subscribe for three months for $12.99 US per month (that's $38.97 US, billed every three months), six months for $10.99 US per month ($65.94 US every six months), or one year for $9.99 US per month ($119.88 US every year). But wait, there's more! For a limited time only, Trion is offering players a discount on the yearly subscription package. Instead of paying $9.99 per month, players will pay $8.25 per month for a total of $99.00 per year. So if you're one of the many RIFT players who have been waiting for multi-month subscription options, all you have to do is head on over to your account page and make the switch. For more details, check out the game's official subscription information page.

  • Star Trek Online offering perks to subscribers before the business shift

    by 
    Eliot Lefebvre
    Eliot Lefebvre
    12.02.2011

    Season 5 is now live for Star Trek Online, but the actual conversion to free-to-play is still a little further ahead. That means there's a grace period during which players can be given a few extra little perks for sticking with the game. Said perks have been outlined in the most recent Path to F2P blog entry. Until January 2nd, the classic Constitution-class ship and the Klingon Qorgh Refit are free to players who log in and claim them from the C-Store. Subscription deals are also being offered through December 19th for players who subscribe for longer than one month. Picking up a three-month subscription will come out to around $36, and a six-month subscription will run about $66, both cheaper than the regular pricing. You can also pick up a lifetime subscription as well, if you're willing to drop $200 up front. While some players will doubtlessly be taking advantage of the shift to stop subscribing and keep playing, there's certainly no shortage of deals being offered to keep subscriptions after the switch.

  • Introducing Memo Touch, a tablet designed for elders with short-term memory loss

    by 
    Zachary Lutz
    Zachary Lutz
    12.02.2011

    Here's a product you don't see every day: a tablet designed specifically for senior citizens -- albeit with rather limited functionality. The Memo Touch is designed as a reminder tool for those who struggle with short-term memory loss, and can be used to deliver gentle cues when its time to take a medication, go to the doctor and the like. It's collaborative, too, as family members may add calendar events, phone numbers and to-do items, or even share photos and personalized messages, all from the product's companion website. Based on the Archos 101, the Memo Touch sells for $299 and requires a six-month ($174) or 12-month ($300) subscription. For those who don't take to the new-fangled gadget, the tablet carries a three month return policy, where purchasers may opt to receive a refund or have the tablet restored to its Android roots. Hey, it's one more way of keeping that rascally parent under your thumb, anyway. Overbearing children will find a full press release after the break. Now, where'd we put that damn tablet?

  • World of Warcraft profits on the rise in China

    by 
    Anne Stickney
    Anne Stickney
    11.17.2011

    Sister site Massively reported earlier today that World of Warcraft isn't just doing fine in China, it's doing extremely well. According to Gamasutra, the Chinese WoW operator NetEase just posted its Q3 revenue for the year, and the profits are doing nothing but rising. This is a little surprising given the information from the Activision Blizzard investor call earlier this month, which reported a loss of subscribers, mainly in the east. Regardless, NetEase posted revenues of 2.0 billion Chinese yuan, up 39.8% -- a substantial number. In China, it seems that World of Warcraft is still a force to be reckoned with, dropping subscriber numbers or not.

  • Earthrise killing subscriptions, going free-to-play in 2012

    by 
    Justin Olivetti
    Justin Olivetti
    11.15.2011

    The struggling sci-fi sandbox Earthrise is no longer interested in competing in the subscription market, and is instead veering toward a free-to-play model in 2012. As of December 1st, all players will be able to experience the game without a monthly charge as Masthead Studios prepares for a F2P version. Masthead CEO Atanas Atanasov says that the move is an effort to retain customer trust while the developers shore up the game's weaknesses: "We decided to let all our players unlimited gaming experience until we all are satisfied with the experience in our game. At the moment Earthrise features one of the best visuals, content, and gameplay of all sci-fi MMOs on the market. However, it is missing polish and has annoyances that spoil the fun in the game. We are learning from our experience and that is why we will remove monthly charges until we bring the game to a quality state that is satisfactory to us and our players." Once the title is brought up to par, Masthead will transition it to a true F2P model, although Atanasov assures players that it will not incorporate pay-to-win purchases. Until Earthrise goes F2P, new accounts will be invitation-only as Masthead restricts the number of incoming players. All current subscribers will be able to invite a few of their friends during the transition, however. [Source: Masthead Studios press release]

  • Ask Massively: This is a sneaking mission edition

    by 
    Eliot Lefebvre
    Eliot Lefebvre
    11.10.2011

    Let's get something straight: Even though I'm late to the party with Metal Gear Solid 4, I'm a fan of the series. It's not perfect by any means, but it's one of my favorite franchises of all time. That having been said, why is it always a sneaking mission? Just once, I'd like to be told that this is a march-in-with-an-automatic-gun-and-shoot-people-in-the-face mission. But no, solo sneaking mission, every single time. I know, it's the series hallmark, but since my second playthrough is already going to be a bloodbath with a stealth unit equipped, part of me wants to do that on the first playthrough. Just once. Appropriately enough, this week's questions for Ask Massively involve stealth in MMOs. They also involve subscription fees, but that doesn't really segue naturally. If you've got a question you'd like to see in a future installment of the column, feel free to leave it in the comments or mail it along to ask@massively.com.