WildStar: Producer Says F2P Model Not Dead; F2P “Not A Magic Bullet” (PCGamesN.com)

It seems like such a waste of effort to have to explain why you’re NOT going Free 2 Play for a new AAA MMORPG.

Two years ago, the gaming community turned up their noses at F2P declaring an MMORPG had “failed” and was “worthless” if it swapped to that business model, let alone if that was the business model at launch. “Pay 2 Win” was freely associated with most every F2P game. Even now, there are quite a few MMORPGs that still have subscription models in some format: WoW, EVE, EverQuest II, RIFT (you can still subscribe for extras), TERA (same thing as RIFT), SWTOR (tons of bonuses for subscribing), FFXIV:ARR, and Elder Scrolls Online (launching next year), to name several.

I find it odd that gamers now expect F2P for AAA MMORPGs at launch? If it’s a good game, I have no issue subscribing for $15 a month. If it’s F2P and not P2W, I have no issues paying $15-$20 a month via cash shop items.

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Not Jeremy Gaffney.

We’ve talked a couple of times to Carbine Studios’ Jeremy Gaffney in the last few months. He’s currently promoting his promising subscription MMO, Wildstar, and on each occasion he’s made the same broad point: in the massively-multiplayer market, things are not necessarily as they seem.

“Games that look very successful in free-to-play may or may not be making profit,” he told us most recently. And then added, cryptically: “Games that look unsuccessful in subscription may actually be more profitable.”

“Different games with different business models work in a very different fashion,” he said of his new game’s chances in a bustling field. “If you look at City of Heroes [which Gaffney produced] compared to Guild Wars, it looks like City of Heroes is a smaller game.

“And it is, fewer people play City of Heroes, they peaked out at – I don’t know the numbers – something like 200,000. But 200,000 subscribers paying $15 a month, if you do the math, that makes about as much money as selling 6 million boxes, if they last long enough.”

Gaffney cited a “couple of reasons” for Carbine’s decision to steer clear of free-to-play for Wildstar. Both lie in the “variability” of the payment model.

“There’s variability as a player because you don’t know if you’re going to get sucked in and pay $1,000 a month, because some people do. As a publisher it’s a juggling act because most the games I’ve seen end up devolving to the point that 1 or 2% of the players are paying $100 or more a month and they’re actually funding most of the free players, which can be up to 70 – 80% playing completely for free.

“As a publisher [that variabililty] can be distracting because when you’re making money you never know when that’s going to go away. As a player it’s distracting because generally you have a very different experience if you’re playing for free – and if not, then why the hell pay?

“So free-to-play’s not a magic bullet.”

Instead, Carbine have adopted an Eve-like business model: CREDD. Players can buy CREDD items for real-world money from the developers, and trade them with a second group of players for in-game gold. This second group can then cash in their CREDD for game time and, if they’re earning enough gold, play the game for free indefinitely.

“A bunch of games have done similar systems,” said Gaffney on the system’s inspiration. “Eve’s is probably the most popular and the best known. So many people don’t know what PLEX is and so it’s tough to describe. It’s such an efficient way of taking players that want to pay a lot, who want to put extra money in the game, and then that directly funds other players game time and so it’s a lot more direct.

“So essentially one set of players create their time, [another] use money to pay for the sub, and it’s a win-win and it pisses off gold farmers because it’s a legal source of trading gold with other players and so gets in the way of gold farmers.

“And we like pissing off gold farmers, too.”

Hear hear. But what do you make of Gaffney’s assessment of the MMO market? This is a man who’s been around since Asheron’s Call, so tread respectfully.

RIFT: F2P Model Finds Major Success, Thanks to Raptr (VentureBeat.com)

For folks who continue to think that “going F2P” means a game has completely failed, RIFT is a stellar example of how changing a subscription model can instigate a massive success. RIFT saw an over 300% increase in daily active players after the F2P announcement. I hope they have learned a ton from this and deal with upcoming ArcheAge appropriately!

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A screenshot from the Grim Awakening content in MMORPG Rift

Here’s a fact that will surprise no one: People like getting free stuff.

Video game publisher Trion Worlds and gaming community Raptr recently joined forces to promote the free-to-play (F2P) relaunch of the struggling massively multiplayer online role-playing game Rift. Using the Raptr Rewards loyalty program, Trion gave away free copies of Rift and in-game items to the social network’s more than 18 million players. The two companies then worked together to analyze player data collected since first announcing the F2P transition in mid-May.

Not surprisingly, these numbers are pretty great.

Trion Worlds says the number of daily active players jumped 300 percent after announcing Rift’s free-to-play transition, a 133 percent increase over several other major online titles at the time. Once the F2P transition completed in June, players who had been inactive for more than 14 days came back at a rate of 900 percent. Trion also says the game’s overall revenue increased more than five times.

A MMO finding success after going free-to-play is nothing new. Back in May, Electronic Arts president of labels Frank Gibeau revealed during an earnings call that Star Wars: The Old Republic more than doubled its monthly revenue after making the switch. But what is unusual is a publisher teaming up with a social networking site to promote such a transition. Jim Butler, Trion Worlds’ senior director of global marketing, says the partnership was invaluable.

“I think the one thing that it’s helped is just in visibility,” he said. “You know, instead of Trion going out there and saying, ‘Hey, look at all the cool stuff Rift is doing.’ Now we’ve got Trion and Raptr going out there and saying, ‘Oh, my god, look at all this cool stuff that Rift and Trion are doing.’ It just increases our reach for everything that we’re doing.”

The Senbora Raid Boss in MMORPG Rift.

The promotion was undoubtedly beneficial to Raptr as well. Director of marketing Donnie Wang says the site’s Rift community more than doubled in size after the rewards program launched.

“It was definitely interesting to really try to help Rift not only engage both their existing and lapsed players but also trying to reach out and getting new players to come into their game before they were ultimately going to make that switch to free-to-play,” he said.

Acquiring new players and reacquiring old ones is a constant battle for MMOs. There’s a natural ebb and flow to subscriber numbers, Butler says. Every disruptive event, whether it’s a new console launch or a rival’s content patch, impacts it.

“One of the things about MMO gaming is that a lot of gamers play multiple games,” Butler says. ”What happens is there’s kind of a cycle, a method to their madness, where they’ll come back and they’ll play Rift and then suddenly they’ll go off and play their other MMO, the one that is their deep, dark secret, and they’ll play that because that game had a new content update or whatever else. Then they’re waiting for something else to happen to bring them back to Rift or yet another MMO that they play. So, you know, acquiring and then reacquiring is just part of the natural process by which the MMO business goes.”

A couple show off their vanity Gothic clothing in Rift.

While Butler believes Trion would’ve had great success with Rift’s relaunch with or without Raptr, he says their partnership made everything better, and the publisher plans to keep working with Raptr to expand the rewards program to more of its games.

Wang also believes the partnership is a natural fit. The two companies share a similar philosophy, he says, a player-first approach to community building. “Developers shouldn’t necessarily think first about how to monetize off of their players,” he says. “Think about what’s best for the player first and then the money will come later.”

“That’s the big secret in getting players back,” Butler says. “Listening to the community, giving them what they need, giving them what they want. And starting the cycle all over again.”

Neverwinter: Call to Arms – Orc Assault Event (August 9-12)

Hmmm. Big new announcements every week and special events every other week or so? Feels like Neverwinter’s stretching a bit thin and trying too hard. New event plus big Zen discounts on items? You’ve got a solid title on your hands. Adjust the Zen prices where they really *should* be and you won’t have to firesale items twice a month.

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Call to Arms: Orc Assault Event

neverwinter,mmo,mmorpg,games,gaming,game,d&d,dnd,dungeons & dragons

We’re excited to announce the new event, Call to Arms: Orc Assaultis now live. This event involves a Skirmish event in the Tower District that you may be familiar with – but there’s a twist! The rewards are now more plentiful and this special Skirmish event is available for players level 5-60.

How will it work? Players will be able to queue up for this event using the in-game Queue system any time they wish! Once players are inside the skirmish, they must successfully fend off waves of incoming orcs to protect the Tower District. If they are successful, they will be rewarded with a chest which may contain some valuable items including a unique “Orc-style” weapon which they can use to transmute, or change the appearance of, their weapons. Also, fortunate players may be rewarded with a new variant of Wolf companions to fight alongside them along with Savage Enchantments and more!

And, to celebrate this new event, we’re introducing a new sale with 30% off many popular items in Neverwinter’s Zen Market. What’s on sale during this limited-time period?

  • Adventurer’s Helper Packs
  • Character Slots
  • Companion Active Slots
  • Companion Idle Slots
  • Manycoins Bank Slots

Sale and Event BeginsAugust 9, 2013 at 10 A.M. PDT (When is that in your time zone?)

Sale and Event EndsAugust 12, 2013 at 10 A.M. PDT (When is that in your time zone?)

Are you ready to take down the orcs of Tower District for some awesome rewards? Discuss it on the officialNeverwinter forums.

Neverwinter: 2 Million Players, Tons of Infographics

Wow. Two million players? I feel that number’s a bit skewed since they’re claiming the just launched “over a month ago”, but folks have been playing the game in a rather open beta for months. That said, the capitol on my server has 6k-7k players on every single time I log in. Impressive to be sure. I wonder how many active players still exist and what that number will look like in another 30 days as far more folks reach endgame and see what (little) there is to do at level cap.

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neverwinter,mmo,mmorpg,action,games,gaming,game,forgotten realms,d&d,dnd,dungeons,dragons,dungeons & dragons & dragons

Neverwinter launched just over a month ago and we’ve already received many positive reviews from critics and fans alike. We’re also very honored to achieve numerous accolades from a variety of gaming sites.

Take a look at why critics are raving about Neverwinter in our trailer below:

We’ve also reached another incredible milestone: 2 million players – that’s right! 2 million unique players are fighting in the Forgotten Realms against Valindra Shadowmantle and other iconic Dungeons & Dragons creatures.

What other milestones have we achieved? Check out this infographic!

neverwinter,mmo,mmorpg,action,games,gaming,game,forgotten realms,d&d,dnd,dungeons,dragons,dungeons & dragons

And, this is just the beginning for Neverwinter. We’ve got the Fury of the Feywild Module which will be live on August 22, 2013.  Can’t wait until then? You can explore Sharandar on our Preview test shard right now!Are you excited about our milestone and the upcoming Module? Discuss it on the official Neverwinterforums.

The Secret World: Game Director Letter – July 2013

The big announcements are the integration of the new Augment and Scenario systems, plus the unveiling of the first half of Tokyo. If you’re a fan of TSW, Issue #8 should be great!

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Game Director Letter – July 2013

 

Hi all,

The warmth of summer is upon us and most of the dev team is back from their vacation and raring to go on Issue #8. I’ll keep this update short and sweet.

First of all, I wish to thank everybody who joined in the celebrations of the first anniversary. It was a huge success, some technical glitches aside, and it was amazing to see the way the community came together to form a great hunt which purged The Secret World of the Guardians of Gaia almost as soon as they appeared.

It’s also been a great learning experience for us and will help us to direct large scale events in the game in the future. Thank you to everyone involved, and let’s make sure that the second year of The Secret World will be as amazing as the first!

There have been quite a few community questions regarding the Fusang Pet – it will be available through another event at a later date for those who missed out on it during the anniversary.

Moving forward, we are splitting the development team into two different areas of focus – the systems driven updates for Issue #8 and the content heavy new Tokyo playfield for Issue #9.

Issue #8 begins at the Council of Venice, the location where players will be able to access the Scenario system. From there, players will need to earn certification for entering Tokyo by running a certain number of scenarios. The plan is to ship Issue #8 with a number of Scenarios, some of which will be free and others which will be available for purchase in the Item Store just like in other Issues.

The Augment system, which allows you to improve almost all of the abilities in your arsenal, will also ship with Issue #8. The Augments, which require crafting to create, are made from base drops which players can collect during the Scenarios.

The Augment system and Scenario system go hand in hand and, in reflecting the growing versatility of the player with regards to Anima, as you increase your skill in Augmentation, your ability to store Ability Points will increase. Some of the more expensive Augmentation upgrades can cost several hundred AP.

Then, there is Tokyo. This is the one that people have been eagerly awaiting for a while, and we aim to meet all of those expectations. We’ll be pouring all of the lessons we have learned over the past year into Tokyo and we’re very excited to start letting people into the zone.

As I have mentioned previously, Tokyo will be broken down across several updates. Issue #9 will contain the first half of the zone – including an expanded section of Venice and a return to a location that everybody will recognize immediately.

Other updates will contain the second half of the Tokyo zone, and other important parts, such as the Tokyo Lair and the Orochi Tower, which has both a solo and component and a group dungeon. Tokyo also includes a location which will reveal the next zone where we will be taking the story.

We’re very excited about the work we are doing on Tokyo and the zone is a massive urban landscape which really highlights the setting and the strength of The Secret World.

I look forward to telling you more about it, over the coming months.

Cheers,

Joel

Neverwinter: Special Rare Drops Weekend (July 26-29)

This weekend only, Neverwinter is offering chances to win Gift of Tymora boxes as additional loot from killing mobs. One of six different reward types is possible from each box including Astral Diamonds and rare armor and weapons! It’s a bit weird that the Neverwinter folks JUST posted this earlier today given the event STARTS today, but…it is free stuff. Good luck!

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neverwinter,mmo,mmorpg,games,gaming,game,dnd,dungeons and dragons,d&d

Tymora, the Goddess of Good Fortune, has seen the bold bravery of adventurers in Neverwinter and has decided to reward the risks they took with a chance at good fortune! Starting this Friday, 7/26, adventurers may be rewarded with Gift of Tymora boxes in addition to any loot they pick up!

BeginsFriday, July 26, 2013 at 10 A.M. PDT (When is that in your time zone?)

EndsMonday, July 29, 2013 at 10 A.M. PDT (When is that in your time zone?)

What’s inside these Gift of Tymora boxes, you wonder? Rewards may be one of the following:

  • Fools’ Crown of Neverwinter
  • Rare Weapon piece
  • Rare Armor piece
  • 10,000 Rough Astral Diamonds
  • Profession resources (UncommonRare, or Epic)
  • Useful potions for your character level

We’re excited to bring you this fun, exciting, and rewarding event for all the Neverwinter fans out there! Please note that these boxes will not drop inside Gauntlgrym because Tymora felt it a bit much to clutter the battlefield with her sparkling gifts. Are you ready to slay creatures of the Forgotten Realms for a chance at some rare drops? Let us know on the official Neverwinter forums.

TERA: Double Drops Weekend (July 26-29)

As if brand new foodie weapon skins weren’t enough, TERA’s also having a double-drops weekend! If you were looking to get back into TERA, wanted to roll an alt, OR just looking to farm some good old gold, this weekend is THE time to play.

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TERA Weekend Sale 7-19-13

What’s better than awesome loot from your favorite mobs? Twice as much awesome loot! Double-drop weekend is here!

From July 26 at noon PDT to July 29 at noon PDT, collect as much treasure as you (or Totes!) can carry from instance dungeons. Don’t miss out on this chance to fill your pockets!

TERA: Kill ‘Em Dead…With Food!

TERA’s done an excellent job of offering several extremely unique sets of weapons for every class since launch. The Shish Kebab for Lancers and the Sushi Go’Round for Sorcs are my favorite! You can go here for the original announcement or head over here to see the items in all their glory in the cash shop!

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Introducing Foodie Weapon Skins

TERA Foodie Weapon Skins Released

Kick your weapon up a notch with summer-food-themed skins for all your favorite weapons!

Every class gets its own special foodie weapon skin, perfect for picnics, barbecues, county fairs—and that extra moment of shock value in PVP.

  • Chocolate & Strawberry (Warrior)
  • Shish Kebab (Lancer)
  • Swordfish (Slayer)
  • Bento Ax (Berserker)
  • Sushi-Go-Round (Sorcerer)
  • Bananana (Archer)
  • Panda Ice Cream Bar (Priest)
  • County Fair Corn Dog (Mystic)

All of these weapon skins are available now from Valkyon Outfitters and Valkyon Outfitters Online. Be sure to also check those picnic basket loot boxes, which have a chance of dropping a random weapon skin or one of these other cool foodie items:

  • Chef’s Toque
  • Head Shrimp
  • Fish Head
  • Turducken Hat

Bon appetite!

Giveaway: C9 – Raebin Expansion Free Items

Thanks to MMOBomb and WEBZEN, there are thousands of keys available for a special loot chest for Continent of the Ninth’s (C9) expansion: Raebin. Be sure to visit MMOBomb’s official offering page to collect your giveaway key!

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To celebrate C9 Continent of the Ninth Seal latest expansion, MMOBomb have teamed up with WEBZEN to give away a promotional Chest with free in-game items. To get your key you just need to click on the button below. Don’t miss out on this exclusive offer!

How to get and use your Key:

1. Log in to your MMOBomb account to get your key. If you don’t have one, register for free HERE.
2. Copy and paste your key to a safe place as you may not be able to retrieve it once closing your browser.
3. Visit HERE to download the game client. (Please skip steps 2-4 if you are already a C9 player).
4. Choose a server and create a new character.
5. Visit http://c9.webzen.com/events/redeem and enter the item key. Click “redeem” and begin your adventure!
6. Make sure you never miss a giveaway, follow our updates via FacebookTwitter!
7. Have fun!

The Key Includes:

Each code can be redeemed for a free Promotional Chest which includes:
• 10 – Resurrection Scrolls
• 5 – Extreme Training (100%) 1 hour
• 1 – Town Travel Level 1 (3 days)
• White Beach Wear Gear (7 days)

C9 Gameplay Video:

Marvel Heroes: Doomsaw’s Latest Dev Blog

A few days late on this one, but there is a LOT of reworking going on in the Marvel Heroes universe, along with plenty of upcoming new heroes (Human Torch, Emma Frost, Luke Cage, Squirrel Girl, Nova, etc.) and unique items that should be pretty awesome. I’m glad to see such a fun game getting a ton of attention post-launch.

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Doomsaw Dev Blog: July 19th 2013

Hello all,

Friday dev blog time. I’m going to write efficiently since we have a lot to do this weekend to make the game great for you.

Defense System

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We’ve done a lot of work on the new defense system this week. We are calling it the survivability system since defense is a part of it, but not all of it.

Some changes we’ve have made internally or are in process of making:

  1. We are going to a percentage based defense system with diminishing returns. This is very similar to what most games have. We’ve done a ton of research (and used our personal experiences) to make sure this is being done perfectly, so it’s fun and fair.
  2. There will be no heroes that can only be “tanks” in the game.There will be melee heroes who all need to be able to survive in the game. Some heroes will have “tank” powers that they can level up (taunts, damage reduction, etc), but nobody should be forced to tank unless they want to. EVERY melee hero should be able to dish out tons of damage while surviving in melee and most melee heroes (Hulk, Thing, Colossus, Thor, Spider-Man, etc.) should be able to use certain abilities that temporarily reduce damage for extreme survivability if they wish to do so – completely at their option. If you want to do some tanky stuff you can, but you aren’t forced to do it.
  3. Extreme damage scaling is being phased out of the game. You won’t see enemies doing 500% bonus damage unless it’s specifically designed as part of the fight. For example, the completely-redesigned Limbo (A.K.A. Midtown Patrol) does not use this tool to create challenge, instead it uses Supervillian groups to create challenge, which is much more interactive and balanced (and insanely fun), while still being difficult.
  4. Ignores Defenses is now out of the game completely. It won’t return unless a boss has a specific power that uses it with appropriate warning. We are looking at “Deals more damage” to ensure it’s challenging but reasonable. We will be adding more enemy powers that are more interactive that don’t punish melee to such an extreme degree.
  5. We are adding and adjusting powers to be more and more engaging and more of a test of skill. It’s not cool to one-shot a player with a regular attack, but it’s completely fair to one-shot a player if they don’t move out of the fire after a few seconds warning.
  6. We are looking at adding mitigation powers with long cooldowns for some heroes, particularly melee. These powers will allow us to make some very cool boss abilities and give players and emergency button under certain circumstances.

There are a few other under-the-hood adjustments we’re making, so at the end of the day you will have heroes that play exactly how you want to play them. You still need to be smart, but you don’t need to fear a guy with a machine gun in a warehouse if you’re the thing and you don’t need to fear hitting someone in the face with your hammer if you are a Norse god.

Short-Term Hero Upgrades

Within 2 weeks, we’ll be pushing live a series of upgrades to EVERY hero. The feedback threads have been extremely helpful in helping us identify parts of each hero that are considered weak or unfun by players. We’ve also advanced our thinking on what makes a fun hero and are upgrading every hero to meet that enhanced criteria.

Some heroes may have minor tweaks and some will have many powers adjusted. A big focus will be making sure every hero has multiple builds and that melee can melee.

Long-Term Hero Upgrades

A smaller group of heroes will be receiving large upgrades to their power sets. Guys like Hulk, Thor, Colossus (and quite a few other melee) will get a lot more options to increase build options, fun and melee survivability. Example: Thor should have a brutal melee build, a “caster” build and a highly effective and interesting hybrid build that combines both elements.

Ranged heroes will also receive quality of life improvements and may also receive new powers or adjusted power to give them new build options. Deadpool needs the option to have a powerful melee build, Punchclops needs more build options, Hawkeye needs more build options and so on. We’ll talk more about this in the coming weeks.

New Heroes

The New Heroes Team has been working day and night on Human Torch. He’s gone through several iterations of improvements and is in good shape. He has 25 powers, some of which still need visual effects and animation tweaking, but all are working well and synergize nicely. He feels crisp, powerful and fun, like as heroes should be.

Emma Frost still needs rounds of iteration before she’s ready, then our focus will shift to Squirrel Girl, Luke Cage and finally Nova. Nova will be interesting, since decisions will need to be made based on the current Marvel storyline. We’ll talk more about that in a future blog.

Movement Buffs in Hubs

In the next patch, players will be able to use movement powers in hubs. It was turned off temporarily due to some teleport issues, but those issues are fixed and we’re ready to go live. We are all extremely happy about this, since superheroes shouldn’t have to walk when they have flight, leap, teleport, etc.

X-Men Mansion

I’ve heard through the grape vine that some very evil people are planning to attack the X-Men Mansion. I hope you will help defend it when it happens.

Buffs and Debuff Display

This is something we’re considering as an option for players. It could be turned off by default for new players, so they don’t get information overload, but toggled on for advanced players if it’s something they are interested in. This is something that we may start to see in September after we finish work on some of the bigger systems.

Unique Items

As you can imagine, we are in development of unique items. These will be “brown” (like medals) and have the level of rarity you will expect from uniques. We’ll start previewing these in the coming weeks.

Super-Team Items

We are introducing a new item slot, right below costume, for Superteam items. These items will be able to be used by heroes who have been members of a superteam in Marvel lore. So, an X-Men item could be used by anyone who was ever a member of the X-Men, a Marvel Knights item could be used by the appropriate heroes, etc. We will even have a Guardians of the Galaxy item just for Rocket Raccoon (for now). We’ll also be shipping a few SHIELD items that can be used by any of the heroes to give even more variety to choices.

The powers on these items will include some individual buffs and always at least one group buff (if not more). These won’t be the most powerful items ever created, but we expect they will add some fun and flavor. We expect to release them in the big August patch or shortly after.

Relics

I’m excited about these items. Relics will also add a new item slot to a character sheet.

Relics work like Badass-ranks from Borderlands. You can stack relics together and have them increase infinitely, with slightly less bonus added each time you add to the stack. This is something that “single-hero” players will definitely enjoy. There will be a wide range of relics that buff damage, survivability and utility of all types. We’ll start previewing these babies in the coming weeks.

Item Affixes

In the coming weeks, we’ll also be iterating on item affixes to remove and adjust the lame ones and add more cool affixes. This requires some programming, but it’s something we want to do continually as the game grows.

Future Items

Many future items are planned, from living items to ultimate items. We are following the philosophy that not every item needs to just be more powerful, but be powerful in certain situations with certain builds. The cosmic item you get today may still be your favorite item in a month or you may find something more appropriate for you. We are not strictly going for power creep, but more flexibility and giving you the ability to min/max your character as you choose.

Having said that, some uniques will be pretty awesome…

Have a great weekend.

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