(Originally posted on my MMO blog, MMOGasm)
ArcheAge launched on September 16, 2014 while head-start began on September 12th. It is a MMORPG that claims to be a Hybrid of the traditional "Themepark" and "Sandbox" style MMOs, often referred to as a "Sandpark".
On the surface this game seems like a nice effort to stray a bit from the style of MMORPGs we have received over the last decade.
Here is a snippet of the official description on Trion's ArcheAge website:
ArcheAge is an epic fantasy MMORPG free of predefined paths and progression. You’re free to choose your own path and play your way from the starting continents of Haranya and Nuia to the lost shores of Auroria, the birthplace of magic.
You can wield incredible powers drawn from 120 unique Class combinations, master over 20 crafting vocations, build houses and manors in the open world, farm, trade, forge alliances, and lay waste to all who stand in your way. Or you can turn your back on it all and live as a pirate, ransacking traders and pillaging the high seas for plunder and gold.
So, why then do I believe this game sets a bad precedent for the future of MMO Games?
Up until now, Triple-A (AAA) MMO Games have been fairly consistent with their payment model. You have Pay-To-Play (P2P) which requires a monthly subscription fee, Free-To-Play (F2P) which are free games but have a "Cash Shop" through which you can purchase in-game items for real money, and finally Hybrids which have an optional Subscription fee if you want to be a premium member, and offer items (mostly cosmetic) in the Cash Shop for Free and Subscription players alike.
The "shady" money model of games like Farmville have pretty much stayed with Facebook Games, Browser Games (many of which look exactly the same) and so on. But AAA Online Games have stayed far away from those money-making tactics.
That has now changed. Now, I am not claiming that ArcheAge has the same tactics. What I am saying is that it sets a precedent for companies to "creep" up to that point of no return.
Think about that for a moment.
How has ArcheAge done this? Within the game there is a "currency" called "Labor Points". Everything but fighting takes Labor Points. This includes opening Loot, Harvesting Resources, Trade Packs, Farming, Crafting (And this game is HUGE on crafting), and essentially anything else other than fighting.
You have a cap on Labor Points. If you subscribe every month, your Labor Point regeneration rate is doubled, and you have a reduced regeneration rate when you are offline. If you are a Free Player, You regen a small amount while in-game but none when you are not logged into your character.
Now, I have no problem with Subscribers having a perk like this (in general). Not at all, in fact I support subscription based games. What I take issue with is that even if you are Paying Every Month as a "Patron", you STILL have this built-in limitation on what you can do in the game. As a Subscriber this mechanic should not even exist. You are paying every month for perks and should not have your fun / progression grind to a halt because you have run out of Labor Points again.
But wait! You can buy a potion in the Cash Shop to give you a very large amount of Labor Points. Granted, you can only use one every 12 hours (that time limit was drastically reduced but then put back after much public outcry), but that still gives an advantage to someone who is paying in the Cash Shop on top of paying every month as a Patron.
I could go on for hours about why this is such a bad thing that so many people are accepting because they want to play the new shiny game.
The more people that accept this, the more desensitized the general gaming population becomes. Which does what? It makes further changes in this direction easier for people to swallow - because they are hit with slow moving changes.
Mark my words. This will be known as the beginning of a horrible trend in the future in regard to the monetization of AAA MMO Games.
For those that defend this system due to Archeage having no decay on equipment, do you really prefer labor points in favor of a good decay system? Really??