Lost Ark - IP Restrictions and how Amazon are Working Through it
A lot of potential Lost Ark players were quite upset to learn that they’ll be unable to play the game when it launches later this year, and their frustrations with this reveal from Amazon and Smilegate is 100% warranted.
We’ve all been waiting on this game since it was initially announced a few years back, but unfortunately acquiring publishing rights everywhere around the world is a much more daunting task than one might expect.
But all hope is not lost, as one of the developers, Windsward, made a public post on the official Steam page with the title, “What regions will we support?” And while that post had more or less reiterated what we already knew, it was his responses to player concerns that are of interest for players in unsupported countries.
Now let’s address the initial post first before delving deeper into this.
“We understand there are additional regions that are excited and eager to play Lost Ark. However, the list above represents the regions that we have the publishing rights to. Thank you for understanding.”
Specifically, that they have “publishing rights to,” not “that we are publishing within.” There is a very distinct difference between possessing the rights to publish within a region, and purposefully omitting the region all together.
This is not at all on Amazon as a company, rather, it is on Smilegate, the developers of the game. This is further addressed by a follow-up response from Windsward, who is henceforth going to be referred to as “Wind.”
A user named Dae asked why “New Zealand and Australia weren’t on the list.” Wind responded by stating that “You aren’t on the list because those regions weren’t included in the publishing rights we were granted. We don’t have full global publishing rights.”
While players had been anticipating Lost Ark releasing globally, they definitely do not possess the rights to. When entering into this arrangement with Smilegate, Smilegate themselves would have dictated which countries Amazon were able to publish the game in.
And while there are definitely some countries out there that may have otherwise been included like Belgium, local laws prohibiting loot boxes are responsible for the loss of publishing rights within those regions specifically.
This is where things begin to get interesting. A user named Leufff, with 3 F’s, posed a question: “What can we do as a region to help bring this game to us? How can we show that we’re an active community and deserve our own server.”
At this point I would’ve assumed we’d get the typical response of “There’s nothing we can do about it.” But Wind actually went and addressed this directly, stating that they are “collecting the feedback and will escalate to the right teams.”
Yup, Windsward himself confirmed – regardless of how authentic his reply was – that he would be collecting feedback left from potential players and taking it up with the teams responsible. Which means that they hear your frustration. They’re actively aware of your plight, and at the very least, I hope they’re doing what they can to make things right.
But that isn’t where things end. Players saw this as an opportunity to begin leaving feedback of their own, spanning approximately 4 pages without any further interaction from Windsward.
Until a user named Shirolicious asked him if he could “at least collect the feedback and engage in talks with Smilegate for the countries within Europe that are now excluded from your supported region list.”
To which good ‘ol Wind responded with a clear, yet simple “100%, I will.” Again, I’m not entirely certain how genuine this reply is or if it’s merely a means with which to satiate an angry playerbase.
But I feel like it’s a safe bet to take him at his word and assume he legitimately cares enough that he’ll not only take these concerns up with the appropriate teams, but make sure they engage in discussion with Smilegate in an attempt to secure the game releases in every region it possibly can.
Further through the thread, another user named Digibluez, who clearly doesn’t understand how publishing a game works went on to complain, stating “what is this regional nonsense, why is it not global release.”
Again, Wind reiterated that that is “not how the publishing rights for Lost Ark have been handled by the developer,” again, confirming that the choice to omit certain countries from the list of accepted regions was not at all Amazon’s, but rather, Smilegate’s.
We have yet to get a confirmation as to why that is, as being an Australian myself, I wouldn’t expect Smilegate to want to publish Lost Ark themselves, let alone use an Australian publisher as the middle-man.
Windsward then went on to make a new post in the thread stating “For all the folks in regions that we do not have the publishing rights to Lost Ark for, we do hear you. I am escalating your feedback and hopes to the right legal and executive teams. These contract matters aren’t simple and I do not know what is possible, but I am sharing your asks.”
Once again, reiterating that he is, specifically, doing what he can in an attempt to ease your fears for the game, and help as much as he possibly can.
They’re actively aware of player outrage over restricting the game in so many countries around the world, and they’re doing everything within their power to open negotiation with Smilegate in an attempt to secure publishing rights for as much of the world as is feasible.
He even went on to address the concerns of Belgium and Dutch players, stating “At this time, we are unfortunately unable to guarantee support for players in Belgium and the Netherlands due to local regulations. Meaning Dutch and Belgian players cannot participate in the technical Alpha taking place from 06/11 to 06/16.”
Although if you look at how meticulously he’s been phrasing things, you’ll notice that he stated not only “at this time,” alluding to the fact that this may not be a permanent thing, but also that they will be unable to participate “in the Alpha taking place this month,” as opposed to “in the game once it launches.”
He’s being very particular in how he responds to these comments, as to not give away too much information. Which leads me to believe he’s aware of the active negotiations going on within not only Smilegate, but also the regions that have chosen to instate this IP block.
Finally, in a clip taken from the Twitchgaming channel 2 days ago, one of the developers, Cy, went on to state that once again, they “definitely see you, hear you, we know that Lost Ark right now, we don’t have the rights to publish the game in those countries and those regions, but as we work with Smilegate, we hope that changes in the future.”
In summary, Lost Ark is an upcoming top-down isometric action MMOARPG.
This is a game we’ve been waiting for for years now. Players expected when Amazon announced the game would be coming to the West, they meant “all” of the West, not “some” of it.
Amazon have confirmed that while there are plenty of regions left without access, that is only temporary, and they’re working with Smilegate to secure regional access in countries where they lack permission to publish currently.
Whether that pans out remains to be seen, but only time will tell whether their efforts are in vain. But note that this is not Amazon’s fault, and that just because some of you are blocked as of June 2021, doesn’t mean you will be when the game officially launches later this year.
I’ve been pushing out Lost Ark content for 4 years now, and will continue to do so going into the future as well. This is a great quality game – definitely not the “savior of the genre” like a lot of Steam reviews are claiming, but nevertheless it’s a very fun game to waste time in.
And I hope to one day see thousands of you playing alongside us.
Until then… all we can do is wait.