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Acidon's View

Here you will find my opinion on the state of gaming online. Right or wrong, I give you my view. Game on.

Author: Acidon

ArcheAge - Setting a Dark Precedent for Future MMOs

Posted by Acidon Saturday November 8 2014 at 6:35PM
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(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".

 

It was originally released by XLGames in Korea, then published in Russia, and Trion Worlds is the publisher for the US and EU regions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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?

 

AA = $$

 

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??

 

~Acidon

shava writes:

The Bartle Test has proven inadequate for F2P games for years.  I published a blog on this on Gamasutra years ago, trying to explain the difference between the "social game" neuromarketing model and the Bartle test.

 

http://www.gamasutra.com/blogs/ShavaNerad/20100510/8730/Skill_Luck_Wonder_Puzzle_Story__What_Neurochemical_Rewards_Attract_What_Audience.php

 

But this is what gamers have pushed the companies into.  AAA games can't count on a market of subscribers who stick with a game for more than a couple months before the next "ooo shiny" comes along.  Gamer community fashion is to rush to level cap without really reading or experiencing any of the carefully crafted AAA content, then dis the game in every kind of social media (reddit, twitter, blogs, whatever) for how it sucks, and move to savage the next big thing like a school of piranha.

 

So it's a requirement to capture some following in the same way that Zynga and all the rest do.

 

What you need to understand about AA is that it portrays a basic tension in human nature -- greed vs. cooperation.  It's hard to play the endgame without a large organized guild, one that has, within the group, people who do everything from the farmville like carebear agriculture, right on to the hardcore PvP.  But at the same time, there are a thousand temptations to fritter away resources at every turn.  An end-game guild needs to be some combination of very rich, socially charismatic, and disciplined as hell.

 

Think about that for a bit, mull it over, and think about Korean society.  It might give you a slightly different perspective on the game.

Sat Nov 08 2014 8:05PM Report
Acidon writes:

But this is what gamers have pushed the companies into.  AAA games can't count on a market of subscribers who stick with a game for more than a couple months before the next "ooo shiny" comes along.

Exactly this.

What we are experiencing is further ramifications of the massive influx of average people into the MMORPG world from 2004 to the present.  I believe that the vast majority of the people that pushed for F2P so hard are within that group.

That said, not everyone in that group is "bad" .. That would be a horrible over-generalization.

 

Like I said in my blog, ArcheAge is just a stepping stone to horrific monetization of MMORPGs.  What was once reserved for (like you mentioned) Zynga type games, FB Games, Cheap Browser Games is now creeping into our genre. 

"can't wait" to see what's next.

o7

Sun Nov 09 2014 2:24AM Report
shava writes:

Yup.  This is what happens when a general market co-opts your privileged hobby.  You're no longer a niche and at the mercy of market forces -- this is to say, PROFIT.

 

Earlier efforts in MMOs were trying to be profitable but didn't have a large enough market to really "make it" in the way they wanted to.  What this did is make them vulnerable to management's skewed decisions, in the absence of good information on how to make them profitable, that resulted in bad shutdowns of games -- or worse (imo) fiascos such as SWG's NGE which destroyed good communities.

 

Now, the community is sketchy from the get go, because the profit motive is built in, appealing to that mass market with advance knowledge.

 

If you are yearning for the kind of small community of tight loyal players you found in MMOs of years past, you are going to have to look for games where you can have private servers -- Minecraft is probably an excellent example of this.  Or, alternatively, look at the MOBA community, where people form tight, operationally melded teams.  Or at the institution of the multigame guild (my personal choice) where the glue is a VOIP server (Teamspeak, Mumble, whatever).

 

We can't turn back the clock -- we saw something in the late 90s that turned out to be popular beyond our wildest imagining, and as a result, our playground has been overrun by jerks, crowds, idiots, and greedy bastards.  It's give up or learn how to cope.

 

Archeage is actually a game which filters out the greedy gits in interesting ways.  Yes, they can pay to win individually, but they can't pay to win *organizationally* -- you need a large organization to excel in some aspects of this game.  American individualists and people who solo through MMOs are floundering through some of AA and just not "getting it," and raging/ragequitting because their style does not fit the expectation of the heroic qualities of the game.  The game (IMO) expects a heroic type to play well with others within a well-oiled guild, and many Americans, in particular, just don't contribute and understand teamwork and organization.

 

To me, this makes AA a fascinating game.

Sun Nov 09 2014 7:53AM Report
faided writes:

I would like to say that I disagree that this is setting a "dark precedent" for the future of the MMO space.  For many years portions of the player base have complained about wanting shorter leveling times, and easier access to content.  

In fact, we even live in a society filled with instant gratification permeating most aspects of it many would argue.  In such I feel these is a more of a natural evolution of the genre itself. We started with pay to play only, free to play wasn't even on the table. 

In 1997 no one at Origin or even once they were owned by EA dared put an item for sale as separate from UO as an additional cost (save for x-packs). Now we live in an MMO space where you can purchase a Max level character, and if you have the money and not the time you can obtain items ahead of those who wish to grind out said time.

In the end, you will never please an entire player base which ultimately will end up being those who are either tolerant of the system you have employed, or enjoy it.

Wed Nov 12 2014 6:41PM Report
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