What is Abyss Online? 2024 MMORPG
Back in September, 2023, I first heard about Abyss Online, an indie developed PvP sandbox MMO. Like most indie MMOs – the several dozen in development at present – I added it to a backlog of games I’d one day check out, granted sufficient progress had been made.
However, as part of a new “What is MMO” series I plan on doing, I thought, y’know what? Let’s go ahead and take a look. What’s the worst we could find?
Admittedly, I shouldn’t have asked myself that because what I found was both cause for alarm, and simultaneously piqued my interest.
Abyss Online is an indie MMO. Indie MMOs don’t have the best track record in the industry – very few indie MMOs ever fully release, typically running off with money investors and backers put into their game, or running out of money all together, and ceasing operations.
While I’m not saying Abyss Online is going to end up a scam, I will advise players to do their due diligence and always be cautious when backing or supporting a studio with no history of successful releases.
On their website, Abyss Online labels themselves as an “expansive online RPG.” Not an MMORPG – there’s no “massively multiplayer.” There’s no “multiplayer” listed in any capacity. “Online RPG” describes an RPG world that is persistently online – not accessible offline.
However, in October 2023, during Gamescom in Singapore, they listed themselves as being an MMO. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt here and assume they haven’t realized that there is a contrasting difference between an “online RPG” and “MMO,” and hope this isn’t to mislead potential players.
The game didn’t always go under the “Abyss Online” moniker. Rather, it was built as “Metagates.io,” META being an acronym for “Most Effective Tactics Available.”
They sold NFTs. They sold Founders Packs and game items via Blockchain. But ultimately decided that this wasn’t the direction they wanted to take, and removed any and all crypto elements – citing “no real gamers would play any crypto game,” which is true.
I don’t know a single person that has told me “Y’know what, Stix? I would love if ArcheAge 2, the Riot MMO, Ashes of Creation, Blue Protocol were a blockchain MMO.” Not a single person. Because they’re actually sane.
Their implementation – or even thought to introduce any crypto elements are of immediate cause for alarm to me. Sure, the crypto market has been in a rapid state of decline over the last year. Was that the reason?
It’s unlikely we’ll ever know, and honestly that’s okay. Metagates is no longer a thing. They have since taken core assets and technology from Metagates and replaced it with Abyss, with a stronger focus on gameplay instead of crypto. A good step in the right direction.
MMOBomb actually held an interview with the CEO of the studio developing Abyss Online, Nick Liverman, and they asked him why this information wasn’t made public. The answer.. was concerning.
Instead of being transparent and admitting they had already existed as a game in the past, they chose to hide it. This was, as Nick put it, not his fault.
Rather, he trusted the experts he had paid when they said they should omit any connections to past crypto scams because – for whatever reason – they believed it would be more positively received if someone found it out and spread that information out of context rather than tackling it head-on, with their own narrative.
It’s impossible for me to give any input here – yes it sounds very shady. I don’t know why anyone would opt to do this. Hiding things just makes you look guilty when you’re inevitably found out. And you always are.
They claim they’re not a scam – and I’m moderately inclined to believe them. From what I’ve seen and read, they do seem passionate about creating something tangible.
That’s about everything worth noting with regards to their history and the current state of the game. If you’re still watching, you’re probably wondering what kind of game it is. If not, then you’re probably back in NIKKE farming Waifu’s and I totally get that. I’m grinding the Anniversary myself.
It was confirmed that they will not be free to play. Rather, they’re opting for a premium buy to play business model. I really don’t think this is the way to go.
I genuinely haven’t seen an indie MMO that I think is of a quality that would warrant a premium purchase. Indie game? Sure. Indie MMO? No. And while Abyss might be the first, you’re asking players to take a risk on something that has been proven repeatedly to be a bad decision.
Their reasoning for this is that they want to polish their anti-cheat and DDoS systems before exploring with free to play months, otherwise they’ll be overrun with cheaters. Over the last year, we’ve seen several MMOs release as buy to play titles.
All of them have a handful of players left, and are converting to free to play business models because the alternative is announcing an end of service. I’m not a fan of the ‘ol switcheroo, releasing as a buy to play title, then relaunching as a free title. Bless Online did this, and to this day players make fun of Neowiz for it.
It feels cheap, but I get it. Studios need a return on their investment, and this is one of the easier ways to go about obtaining that. But it is at the expense of their players. Although that’s just my opinion. Because on the other hand, this provides paying players a way to support the devs by purchasing their game.
And that’s fine if they know the game will transition from a premium title to a free title at some point, but is disingenuous to players that are unaware of it.
The devs have plans on holding regular test phases every month. PvP tournaments, dungeon runs, bug-hunt events. There is a test-client on Steam for interested players, which allows you to see the game in real time before investing any time or money into it.
I think this is another step in the right direction, as it’s difficult to trust an indie MMO without hands-on experience with the game in question.
Questing will be a little different to what we’re used to in MMOs. It seems as though they’ve implemented a learning algorithm that will tailor NPCs and their respective personalities, including quests, potentially leading you to entirely new quests – that other players don’t have, new areas that other players can’t access yet.
More and more studios are implementing systems like this and I think it makes for a highly customizable experience for players, but also leaves the world feeling a little disconnected. I think it’s a very cool idea, and I genuinely can’t wait to see new MMOs implementing it as a feature so Mrs Stix and I can compare how our worlds differ.
It utilizes a hybrid combat system, blending action and targeting together.
The game is in Alpha testing right now so admittedly the combat does look a little rough but that’s subject to change and judging a game based off of Alpha footage is a little absurd, given the time between Alpha, Beta and launch is potentially years, if not decades, as some indie MMOs have proven.
From their Pre-Alpha trailer released a few days ago, the game looks early in the stages of development. It doesn’t look bad – it looks like it needs a few years before it’s ready for actual play, but Steam lists it will be releasing in to Early Access on April 18th, 2024.
I do not think this game is even remotely close to being in a ready state, and I don’t believe 4 months is really going to make any semblance of a difference. I’m not the only one with this concern, as others have made their thoughts public on Youtube.
Do I think Abyss Online is a scam? No. I think they have genuine ideas, goals, aspirations, but have no idea what they’re really doing – setting unrealistic goals like “releasing in April 2024,” “listening to people when they tell us to hide our past instead of owning up to it,” and much more.
Will this game ultimately release, or will they fall victim to the indie MMO curse the genre has become known for? I can’t say. I do genuinely wish them all the best, and hope this small spotlight either helps them in terms of feedback, or redirects additional interest to them as a game.
Any and all criticism and praise is equally as valuable in the development of a game your community can enjoy in my opinion. And they definitely have a long way to go.