Why we all need AA to be successful

I should have a “specific to me” post about my ArcheAge experience when I’m around level 30 (currently 23), but today I want to talk more ‘big picture’ about the game and the genre, because I think a lot of interesting things are happening.

Trion hinted that they have well over 2 million active players right now, which is double the number they had signed up for beta. As both beta and release are ‘free’, that’s pretty interesting. What caused a million+ people to get into AA now rather than show interest when it was in beta? Positive word-of-mouth, just general release hype, or something else?

The 2 million number is also interesting, as that’s also the number of subscribed accounts FFXIV has last we heard. With WoW down to 5 million or so and dropping, are we really that far away from the day WoW is no longer the biggest MMO out in the West (I think MMOs in the East have already surpassed it, but the East isn’t a place I keep an eye on for such things.)? One can only hope, as it will mean the genre is out of the shadow of that once-great, now-bleh title.

Another funny bit about AA and FFXIV; they both beat WoW, but in different ways. FFXIV is vanilla WoW done right for 2014; its focused, and what it focuses on it does very, very well. AA is a 2014 version of what WoW could/should be; it has a bit of EVERYTHING, but that everything fits together to form a virtual world rather than a collection of lobby activities, all without insulting the ability of the player.

Moving to AA specifically, what does this mean for the genre if the game is able to retain players like FFXIV has? What if AA has 2 million+ subs after 6 months? For one I think it would drive home the fact that launching the game as F2P was a mistake by Trion, especially because of how poorly the F2P crap has been layered over the otherwise solid foundation of the game (remember AA was developed and launched as a sub MMO initially). That said, if AA is successful, might it become the first MMO to move OUT of the F2P minor leagues? One can hope.

And if AA is successful, along with some of the other upcoming virtual world titles, does this mean the genre has finally turned the corner and will return to what it should be? That part still seems a little too good to be true, but at least there is some hope, unlike what we had in prior years. Cautious optimism everyone!

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
This entry was posted in ArcheAge, Final Fantasy XIV, MMO design, RMT, World of Warcraft. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Why we all need AA to be successful

  1. Percy says:

    Huh.. I’m surprised you said that AAs potential future amazing success would prove that Trion launching f2p was a bad idea. I was thinking the exact opposite.

    Granted my pov is that of an outsider looking in. But it seems like a lot if people decided to try the game because it was free. Then then hit queues, fell victim to the hype/desire to be a part of it and upgraded to patron status. I would think that if AA was not f2p initially a large chunk of the 2 million current players would not have even bothered.

    I think AA is the first major mmo to -launch- as f2p as well right? So it’s got that going for it.

    Plus it’s still early days. Things may be very, very different in a month or two. Maybe even more so when the WoW expac hits.

    • SynCaine says:

      F2P is responsible for the queue issue (AA biggest problem right now, especially if those new server aren’t needed or ideal later), along with the labor system (arguably the second biggest problem/annoyance).

      All of the good stuff? It works because AA was originally NOT intended to be a F2P title, and again some of it is dragged down by F2P ‘additions’.

      F2P hasn’t made AA better. It’s made it worse. AA itself seems, so far, to be very solid, and those ahead of me in levels keep stating I really haven’t seen the best stuff yet. If that’s true, and things hold up, AA doesn’t need the freeloaders, and the negative impacts to design that they bring. Weaker MMO titles go F2P because they don’t have a choice, it seems, as of right now, that Trion/AA did, and Trion made the wrong choice.

      • silvertemplar says:

        Yea, being one of those players that skipped AA entirely in beta, and now a complete F2P player in there, i could see a ton of signs that you really should be subbing.

        The LP system whereby F2P players only earn points while online is what i feel caused a lot of a /rage and queues. Trion is spending a lot of time trying to find and kick “afk’ers” (not botters, just people who is earning LP passively). Irony is this game have so many time-sinks (waiting 3 hours for a certain plant to mature) that standing around just idling would come naturally.

        So as a F2P, to do anything in this game you need to use LP, so by the time your play sessions ends, you got nothing. You don’t earn LP offline, so what can you do to prevent logging in the next day and starting with 0 LP ? /afk … it is going to remain a problem imho.

        In a way it’s very clever, the LP limitation is going to drive most active players to subscribe. I sure will once they sort out of the queues and all the other issues around patron status (i am not going to pay for patron time and then sit most of the month unable to log in, Trion is not doing a good job in assuring me that i will get to play better/faster as a patron at this point, Founders are still raging on the forums. )

        • Raelyf says:

          The system they use to boot AFK players is harsh. I alt-tabbed out yesterday for 5 minutes after getting my third skill tree to check the wiki for info and came back to a 2 hour login queue.

        • anom says:

          Watch as it slowly goes full p2w cash grab as people start to rotate thru

  2. Anonymous says:

    I just can’t get motivated to try this game because of the art style and f2p.

    It should at least make for some more interesting reading than the usual on rails theme park stuff.

  3. John says:

    Are you really comparing 2 million active players on a F2P game with 2 million and 5 million subscribers on the P2P games??? Not all players are interested in betas, so the +1 millions seem normal to me.

    Also this is a dead period for MMOs. Wildstar and ESO are off the usual shiny first 3 months of new MMOs (I doube if the shiny lasted so long either). Wow is on a year+ content patch and 2 months before the expansion.

    So as you can understand, all the wow players + the f2p MMO tourists are in the peak of boredom right now.

    Do I want Archeage to succeed? No. I like all the sandbox aspects of it but not the “forced” pvp. If it was a pve sandbox, I would be a founder and a patron right now and I also think it would have much more than 2 million players…

    • SynCaine says:

      Potentially FFXIV right now has more subscribers than WoW, since WoW’s 5m aren’t all subs (they count Asia in that number, and WoW Asia isn’t a sub MMO). But yea, FFXIV’s number isn’t apples to apples to AA or WoW, correct.

      Wildstar is also the opposite of FFXIV. Both games aimed at a specific area of a themepark, but one game did it well, the other utterly failed.

      Same deal with ESO and AA. Both tried to go for the ‘everything’ model, but ESO couldn’t tie it all together, while it seems AA might.

  4. Dotcalm says:

    I guess I should check this one out. I was more than a bit turned off by the labour system, and am enjoying myself immensely in FFXIV, but I do yearn for a pirate’s life at times.

    Any suggestions/tips for starting out?

    • SynCaine says:

      Roll on Ollo, the asian ‘race’. Other than that nope. You can’t do anything to ‘start wrong’, and the initial time is heavy on the questing and light on everything else.

      • Dotcalm says:

        I’ve also heard some bad things about having to download a separate program to combat botting that is causing issues?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Frankly I think you should not get so excited about AA’s numbers until couple months later. I see the current hype no different from hypes from ESO or Wildstar, given AA’s performance in Korea I doubt many would talk about it 3 or so months later…

    • SynCaine says:

      Perhaps, but at least AA attracted 2m to try and play at launch. That’s far higher than what ESO or Wildstar attracted, which is notable for what is ultimately an open world PvP MMO that is heavily ‘sandbox’ past the initial quest grind.

      • Anonymous says:

        But ESO and Wildstar are sub games while AA is free to play. ESO’s beta attrackted 5 million players when it is free…SWOTR has been doing well since it converted to free to play as well.

        • SynCaine says:

          SW:TOR is doing so well EA still hates to mention it on investor calls…

          Good point on ESO beta being at 5m if that’s true, I don’t recall that press release but wouldn’t be too surprised if its true.

        • weritsblog says:

          Actually Syn, they did mention SWTOR in the last investor call.

        • SynCaine says:

          About how its floating yes? Or was that the previous call?

          In all fairness yes SW:TOR isn’t quite the epic disaster anymore, but rather now it’s now yet-another-F2P MMO that couldn’t make it as a sub game. Great. Quite the accomplishment given the budget, IP, and general pedigree of BioWare prior to TOR. Let’s put it right next to LotRO on the success chart, just above random asian MMO X, Y, and Z.

  6. Jase says:

    I’m very happy to have AA free to play. I’ve bought 3 different MMOs in the last 5 months each of which I stopped playing with in days. I don’t wait to waste another 50 bucks on a game I can’t try first.

    • SynCaine says:

      Hasn’t caused me any issue, and it auto-installs when you run Glyph (I think). Not a huge fan, but nothing you can do about it other than not play.

  7. Alleji says:

    Can you post the source on WoW’s 5 million subs? Latest I could find was 6.8 in august…

  8. Hal says:

    I tried to get into the open beta. Took 3 days to receive the account verification email. With that level of demand, I decided to wait until release and play with my friends.

  9. waxwind says:

    While I understand the reasoning behind wanting ArcheAge to be successful, personally I kind of hope it won’tbe . I feel the game is still too handholdy, too generic, too game-y, and the sandbox features feel too much like little more than fluff on top of a WoW-esque themepark. Add to that F2P and Asian themed aesthetics, and you have a game I hope nobody will imitate because it turns out to be a success.

    But that’s just my opinion. You have fun with the game if it really is to your liking.

  10. Anti-Stupidity League says:

    When I tried AA it looked fracking ugly – is it supposed to look like that or do I need to edit my graphics configs in some way to actually play it without wanting to vomit all the time?

    • silvertemplar says:

      I dunno AA looks ok to me, especially the water. It’s certainly not on TESO level though, it’s clearly 2011-2012 MMO graphics level (similar to Tera/Aion maybe? ) .

      That said, i think what breaks the skyline a bit is the way player housing/farming is “presented”. You see these scarecrows with very unnaturally / blocky placement of whatever it is they are farming …i.e. seeing plants placed like that is ok, but chickens and other livestock? Looks terrible, seriously are we growing animals like plants in this game? Just need a bucket of water and they grow?

      Then there’s the housing themselves, in my early stage of the game they are pretty bland and a bit too homogenous (everyone’s house is exactly the same looking building) and most are still halfway built…combined with the rather absurd way livestock are handled it looks like an 8-bit game from the 80s if you run through these housing districts…..

      …but the questing parts seems relative pleasing to me at this point i must say.

  11. maljjin says:

    How’s the game performance wise? I tried to play in beta, I wasn’t really impressed with the gameplay, but my main concern was the performance. Game didn’t seem optimized and it was killing my computer. My machine is a couple years old, but I’m usually fine and can play on the higher end of the graphic spectrum.

    Can’t wait for your personal impressions Syncaine. Game felt to me the leveling would be such a chore and I wasn’t sure the hope of something interesting later woulf keep me going.

    • SynCaine says:

      I run it maxed out at 1900×1200, my machine is three years old and getting replaced this winter.

      When I initially installed it I had some pretty bad load lag, but once I moved it over to my SSD, that went away. Otherwise I’m at 60-80 FPS without any drops, including in the more populated cities. For my specs search out my Digital Storm post about my machine; only thing to have changed is the graphics card (7600 GTX now).

  12. Azdul says:

    Be careful what you wish for.

    If AA will still be successful 6 months from now, expect 150$ founder packs and poor post-launch support to become the new norm.

    Anyway – pure themepark high budget MMO model is dead, and writing was on the wall for years. You can only blame long development cycles for WoW-style MMOs launching in 2014.

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