RIP Lost Ark? Players Are LIVID Over IP Restrictions, Content Changes and More!
In news that has surprised almost nobody, Amazon and Smilegate have went and screwed half of the world out of playing Lost Ark.
On the screen right now you’ll see a list of countries that Lost Ark will be available in. If you do not see your country listed, then you won’t be able to log in nor play the game when it releases on October 21st. Oh yeah, good news, the MMO is coming out on October 21st/December 31st!
Taking a look at the steamdb website, you can see that the store release date was altered from “Fall 2021” to “October 21st, 2021,” and then changed later in the day to “December 31st, 2021.” So that’s promising news!
A user on Twitter went and tagged the official Lost Ark Twitter, asking why Australia and New Zealand weren’t included in the list of regions with access to the game. To which they were responded to with what was more or less a “We didn’t want to pay for publishing rights.”
While there are several countries that have blocked Lost Ark due to their respective bans on lootboxes, the vast majority without access are merely because Amazon did not purchase publishing rights for each individual region in question.
You might be wondering why that is, given Amazon’s deep pockets. Many players are taking to social platforms and forums to speculate, but at the end of the day, does it even matter?
We do not have the publishing rights for AUS or NZ.
— Lost Ark (@PlayLostArk) June 11, 2021
Now don’t dismay just yet. While, yes, Lost Ark will only be available in a select number of countries, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to play it.
Much like the guide I have up for the Russian version of Lost Ark – the North American and European versions of this game will be accessible so long as you access it via an IP originating within a whitelisted country. Meaning that if you want to play the official Western version of Lost Ark, you’re going to require a VPN.
I would advise a VPN like ExitLag, as that’s what I’ve urged our community to use for over a year now. It just works better than the alternatives.
But if you can’t pay for a quality VPN, then… yeah, you’re outta luck and you won’t be able to play. Which is, in essence, Amazon killing Lost Ark and any potential it had to be a global success before even being given the opportunity!
That isn’t everything, though. While a lot of you have been waiting years to be able to play this, and were met with a slap in the face, the game itself is not going to emerge unscathed.
In an article on their website titled “Bringing Lost Ark to the West” Amazon went on to detail a number of things, including their approach to the game. Lost Ark is an enormous game – having invested well over a hundred hours into it myself, I can attest to this.
It’s an amalgamation of both the MMO and ARPG genres, bringing the best of both respective genres together into a stunning game packed with thousands of NPCs, tens of thousands of lines of dialogue, and almost unending freedom to explore, either by land or sea.
First, let’s address a statement they made: “We are partnering with Smilegate RPG to adjust areas of the game to better meet player expectations in Europe and North America.” They don’t go on to elaborate what areas in specific they were referring to, but it’s a safe bet to assume it’s to do with rates of progression.
The direct accumulation of XP, money. Important aspects of the game that were tuned to fit the South Korean playerbase, but might not necessarily be as well received by a Western audience.
It’s worth noting that they did go on to confirm that “Maintaining Smilegate’s original vision for this award-winning game is extremely important. Our intention is to provide the authentic Lost Ark experience for our players and all of our localization efforts are being conducted through the lens of preserving the spirit of the original game.”
Further through their blog post they addressed the business model for the game. Lost Ark has been a free to play MMO in every region it released in. And unlike Neowiz with Bless Online, Amazon are keeping Lost Ark free for players.
Yes, there are Founder’s Packs ranging up to $100 that include some skins, titles, character creation slots and quality of life improvements, and yes, there are people already crying that not only are those improvements “pay to win,” but the 3-day headstart you get is also “pay to advance.”
And while both of those claims are entirely subjective, I want to draw attention to the fact that they state they are “working through the details” as to what will be obtainable in-game, and what will be accessible via the cash shop.
Currently, things are in open-negotiation, but they confirmed they’ll have more details later this Summer.
I do want to add a very small little note here, however, and point out that Amazon want to introduce XP boosts and other potentially “pay to advance” items into New World next year, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume there might be additives of a similar nature further down the line.
They then went on to discuss the content, and the upcoming Alpha test for the game.
Yes, the Alpha test was supposed to begin on June 11th at 12PM PST, but after several hours, players with active Alpha access are still unable to access the game, with the Lost Ark Twitter claiming they’re experiencing issues that they can’t elaborate on right now, and that things will be back up…. well, eventually.
And don’t get me wrong, things like this are to be expected. Naturally, you have people crying on Reddit, on Twitter memeing the company, but this is what Alpha and Beta tests are for.
One issue I had with their Alpha reveal, was that they were missing several of the classes that are present in-game, 2 of which are core classes from the game that were present initially in every other regional release of the game: The Arcana, which is the class I played for over a hundred hours, and the Destroyer.
I’m sure there’s a valid reason for removing multiple of the classes from the game, but it’s still a little disconcerting! They did state that they’ll be releasing regular updates concerning the game over the coming weeks pertaining to classes, continents, dungeons and more after the game officially launches in October.
As we approach the end of their blog post they go on to address various additions and alterations made to the core game.
They state “there may be some content in game that is unexpected for some Western audiences. Sometimes this can include cultural references, imagery, or nuances that are unfamiliar to us.
While our goal is to preserve the authenticity of the original game, we also feel localization updates can be made to make the game feel more approachable and representative of our Western players.
We’re also actively working on changes that we believe will make our audience feel more at home in Lost Ark.
Some areas of focus have been character creation, knowing players of all types want a character they feel represents them – (such as more options for default costumes, hairstyles and skin tones). Additionally, we’re working to increase NPC diversity throughout the world of Arkesia.”
It’s.. definitely interesting that Amazon are taking the time to make alterations to a number of areas of the game, such as character creation, NPC diversity and even concerning the core story.
I’m not sure whether these changes are necessarily warranted, either. And I guarantee you a lot of players are going to be upset that this isn’t going to be a faithful port.
Now at the end of the day, Amazon Game Studios and Smilegate had the opportunity here to localize an MMO that players have been eagerly anticipating for years now.
An action MMO that could actually make an impact in the genre as a whole, one that could have hundreds of thousands – maybe even millions of people playing concurrently.
But Amazon and Smilegate agreed to IP block quite a bit of the interested playerbase and unfortunately, regardless of how excited North American and some European players are, the game will still not reach anywhere near the heights it could have otherwise.
Lost Ark has been crippled before even having the opportunity to take off. From IP blocks, to releasing in a window where we have so many other MMOs like Swords of Legends, PSO2 New Genesis, Elyon, New World and Endwalker, to frightening the playerbase by putting what might be considered “pay to advance” into Founder’s Packs.
A number of mistakes have already been made, and if New World is anything to go off of, there are going to be even more made as we make our way to the full release of the game.
Mrs Stix and I will be playing Lost Ark. We both love the game immensely. We’ll also be streaming it once it releases into Beta testing – if we get given keys, of course.
But due to the fact that a lot of our viewers won’t be able to play with us, it’s definitely going to hinder some enjoyment we would have gotten out of the game otherwise, and I honestly believe these issues are going to be part of the reason this game ultimately fails over here in the West.
I’d love to be proven wrong, though. I really would. And I’d love for Lost Ark to succeed, truly. But I just don’t think it will.