ArcheAge: Unchained is Going Pay to Play
Another day, another questionable design choice made.
That pretty much sums up my opinion after learning that ArcheAge is going to adopt a subscription-based business model after transitioning over to Kakao.
Today, however, I want to remain.. as objective as I possibly can. The goal? Discuss my thoughts on the change, what it means for the future of the game, the general reception the announcement has received among the community and ultimately what changes will take place.
So, yesterday Kakao released a blog post over on the new ArcheAge website titled “reintroducing ArcheAge Unchained”
They went on to state:
“We’ve thought long and hard about the idea behind ArcheAge: Unchained and what is needed to fulfill your vision of what Unchained represents. We’ve made some pretty significant changes to how the service will be provided, what will be available in the cash shop, and how various functions such as ArchePass and Patron will work”
“In order to remove the possibility to increase in-game power with real-life currency, we’ve opted for a monthly subscription method. Many of the previously paid benefits and Marketplace-only items will be automatically included for free or acquired through in-game methods with Manastorm Crystals.
This gives even more value to the subscription. Also, any paid items will be purely cosmetic. The monthly subscription will be set at 9.99($,€) for 30 days. A discount can be obtained by purchasing subscriptions for longer periods of time.”
Let’s stop there for a moment.
For those of you unaware, ArcheAge and ArcheAge: Unchained have separate business models. ArcheAge is free to play and heavily pay to win. ArcheAge: Unchained had a premium box price, meaning you had to purchase the game.
It only required a one-time purchase, though, with Gamigo promising you’d never have to pay a single cent ever again. For any updates. Any future content. Then a year later, they revealed their “Garden of the Gods” DLC. They charged players for this, completely going against what they had claimed when players first purchased Unchained.
Now, in an effort to combat pay to win, Kakao are claiming the game is not only going to require a purchase, but will also charge you a monthly recurring fee to play, much like World of Warcraft or Final Fantasy XIV.
To say the community is.. divided over this change is an understatement.
On the one hand, every player will be given free game time – a minimum of 60 days if you purchased ArcheAge: Unchained. You’ll receive an additional 30 days if you’d purchased Garden of the Gods and a further 60 days if you had purchased the Gunslinger class. This is a total of 150 days, or 5 months.
Furthermore, all players both new and existing will receive a 30-day free trial, meaning up to 180 days of free time in total.
Yet after those months are up, you’ll be locked out of ever playing the game without first re-subscribing to the game.
Some players are ecstatic that it’s going pay to play, as they believe this will provide it with the business model it truly deserves to excel as an MMO. Others.. are absolutely livid that a game they bought with the promise of being able to play forever, will, in fact, not be playable forever.
I genuinely do not believe, after putting at least a hundred hours into ArcheAge, that it is anywhere near worth being quality enough for a subscription-fee. The only MMOs that can still pull that off are WoW and Final Fantasy XIV.
And I’m aware that Kakao is a new company, so theoretically they’re not obligated to honor Gamigo’s promises.. but this, to me, seems in very poor taste. Haven’t ArcheAge players suffered enough already?
One thing to note concerning pay to win: Kakao did confirm that the marketplace will now only offer cosmetic items, with the removal of every type of boost from the store.
Furthermore, like Gamigo initially promised, all future content will no longer be gated behind paid DLC. Rather, both ArcheAge and ArcheAge: Unchained players will have full, unfiltered access.
The Patron system is going to be upgraded, and will be completely free to all ArcheAge: Unchained players as part of the monthly subscription. They’ve been a little vague at present as to what the upgrade will feature, but they did promise they’ll announce and elaborate on it at a later date.
All players will be given an entire month of ArchePass benefits. After which, players will be able to continue to purchase it at the cost of 500 Loyalty Tokens, which cannot be purchased with real money.
Diligence Coins are going to be replaced by Manastorm Crystals, which are awarded via the Premium ArchePass. Again, only available by playing the game.
And finally, 20 Loyalty Tokens are awarded by logging in every day, meaning that if you log in for 25 days straight, you’ll have enough to afford the ArchePass.
So. I’ve been on Reddit. I’ve been on the official forums. As I noted earlier, players are divided. Some people believe this is a positive, and others a negative.
Honestly, the alterations being made aren’t bad. I don’t see any reason to attack Kakao for making changes like this – sure, it might be them attempting to cash in on the game before they shut it down ahead of the ArcheAge 2 launch in the near future. Or it could be exactly what the game needs.
I do not in any way, personally, think turning ArcheAge: Unchained into an MMO that requires a subscription is the way to go. That is a terrible idea. However, if this somehow results in ArcheAge becoming a higher quality title.. then you know what? More power to them.
Although I’m firmly of the belief that ArcheAge just.. isn’t what players remember.
I recall how excited players were when Unchained was announced. A non pay to win return to form. And while enjoyment was most definitely had over the course of the first couple weeks.. players quickly came to the realization that the game.. was a drastic departure from what they recalled.
What was once one of the most freeing MMOs was now a mess of repetitious dailies. ArcheAge: Unchained did what it promised. But the game had changed so much that it really didn’t make that much difference.
To end this, I will note that ArcheAge and ArcheAge: Unchained will be launching under Kakao on December 2nd, 2021. I know the topic of fresh start servers has been discussed, and yes, there will be additional fresh start servers opened the very same day for players wanting to start this new journey from the beginning.