Press Event Playtest – Monetization and Cash Shop
Have you been following Bless in our last two articles that covered everything from the combat changes to Neowiz’s perspective on creating content for everyone? Bless Online’s recent press event overloaded the media and influencers last Friday with so much information, and with the task of addressing it all has been a beguiling task, but the final piece of the MMO pie, and arguably the most important piece, Monetization has yet to be broached. In the Korean and Japanese versions of Bless, the game is decidedly free to play, but how has Neowiz changed their position for the western audience, and how will that change affect any cash shop they plan in the game?
Pay2Win. I said it and that’s what everyone wants to know about, right? Is Bless Online going to be a free to play, pay to win game? In short, the answer is no. After speaking with the developers and getting some thorough confirmation, Bless Online is diverting away from the notion that you can pay your way to excellence, and they are doing this from the get go by implementing a Buy to Play model. Don’t mistake this to mean that there won’t be a cash shop. On the contrary, Neowiz has a cash shop planned, but aside from cosmetics and some other account services, they had few details as to what may show up in the cash shop. During my test session I hopped into the menu and opened the cash shop only to find that it was completely empty.
When asked about what we might see in the cash shop, it was confirmed that gems, such as the ones I mentioned in the combat article, would definitely not be available, nor would any additional conversion opportunities for gems, as right now there is a maximum limit on the number of gems you can convert a day and that doesn’t appear to be changing. Most importantly, with this buy to play model, there was another type of currency conversion that they confirmed. In game currencies will be allowed to be converted into cash currencies that can then be used in the cash shop, which means players that spend enough time in game collecting currency can “cash out” said currency for cash shop items, effectively making no cash shop items off limits to players that only buy the box.
While we have no specifics as to what else we can expect in the cash shop aside from costumes, account services and mount aesthetics, and Neowiz themselves aren’t sure what else we may be seeing, we can’t confirm that what ends up there won’t end up being game-breaking, but in the very least the developers did confirm nothing will be off limits or gated around paying players only.
Now that you understand the underlying monetization plan for Bless Online, you may want to know what you have to pay to hop into the game, and what you get for what you pay. Neowiz released information on several buy to play packages that they consider “founder packs”, all with various perks to them. The Base Game will cost 29.99 and comes with everything you can expect from the base game. All 7 races and 5 classes will be available for play including 9 dungeons (some dungeons repeated with some changes), and this version will only be available on or after May 30th.
Neowiz has also added founder’s packs at several different price points. The cheapest founders pack is 39.99 which includes founders access, which means you will get into the game two days earlier on May 28th. You will also receive a 30-day subscription to Bless Onlines Premium service. The premium service will give players skins and other cosmetics every month in addition to possible boosts to leveling. While the premium service isn’t necessary to play the game, it is meant to add enough convenience that may entice players to pay the 15 dollars a month to subscribe.
Bless Onlines Deluxe edition will give you an additional 30 days of the premium service, 60 days total, while also giving you exclusive mount and pet skins, and some Lumena which can be used to purchase whatever you want for 69.99. Finally, the Collectors Edition pack includes 90 days of the premium service, a premium customer service, which includes premium support, a “twinkling wing” effect, which is likely just a sparkle cosmetic, 3800 Lumena, and in addition to the mount and companion skin of the deluxe edition you will also get an exclusive costume and exclusive weapon skin. You will also get a gift copy of Bless to give away to a friend and a credits title of “The Founder”.
Final Words on Bless Online
As an avid MMORPG player for many years, we have learned through the pain and anguish of being burned more times than we can count that anything said by a development team should be taken with a grain of salt. Keeping that in mind, the underlying premise from the Neowiz team was reiterated time and again that the game will not be a pay to win game, and that the cash shop will be cosmetic and convenience based. Whether or not one chooses to believe that personally comes second nature to whether or not my time with the game was actually enjoyable.
The combat system feels fresh, with a lot of nuances for strategic play. The PvP system has both large scale battles of 100v100 and as small as 3v3 which appeals to me on both ends of the spectrum. The pet system, while not going as far as I would like with pets being more active in combat, still entices the collector in me to try and catch them all. There were still several systems I just didn’t have the time to get into during my play sessions, such as crafting, and while the biggest gripe I’ve heard up to this point is that there is no fishing minigame, the taming mini-game more than makes up for it, at least for now. All this culminates into an MMO that is appealing, and worth a look for any MMO player looking for a new world to explore.