A series of very unfortunate events have caused a slow decline in the ArcheAge population. A certain amount of attrition is to be expected in any MMO. However, if what people say and post on forums and Reddit are to be believed, many are fed up with the constant stream of hacks and exploits coming to light in the NA release. Apparently, none of this is new news for AA that has been out in Korea for almost 3 years and in Russia for 2 years. If that’s the case, then I have to wonder at the due diligence on Trion’s part in signing on as the NA publisher with this many holes in the code base.
Combine the constant stream of ‘oh shits’ and in the eyes of many players, a few critical mismanagement steps on Trion’s part, a lack of end game that hasn’t been tarnished by the hacks and exploits, and you have a recipe for paying players waving goodbye. I don’t have to listen to what people say or read the forums, I can see it with my own eyes. I’m on what was the most populated server and it is slowly emptying out. Now throw the new WOW expansion into the mix and… Need I really say more?
Impacts to my Game
Only a few of the train wreck of issues have impacted me directly – the NA release of Auroria. Not even a prayer at getting land with all the issues and lockouts caused me to rethink my commerce and trade plan. Of course, I’m impacted by the land hacks and exploits that have busted the economy on top Trion and XL attempts at “fixing it” but on the whole, life for me in AA continued on.
I still enjoy what I found appealing about the game during Alpha – gain XP/level however you choose, decent PVE quests, interesting instanced content, OMG variety of trade professions, player housing, farming and an active economy where crafting matters. Sure there’s grind but show me an MMO that doesn’t have it. I skip the grinds I don’t find worthy of my time.
However, my game play isn’t unscathed. The player base mood is in a rapid and rabid freefall. AA holds so much promise. It’s painful to watch mishap after mishap unfold, knowing there isn’t another MMO like this to run to as an alternative. It feels like every day there’s a new exploit or game mechanic trollololol making its way around. It’s a sad situation. Lots of “honest” players are departing, leaving those of us who are trying to hang on, trapped in a den of thieves. And I don’t mean the acceptable PVP and Pirate kind, I mean the lowlife hacking, cheating, scummy kind.
It's not the End
This doesn't have to be the end of AA by any means. It wouldn't be the first MMO to continue after a VERY ROCKY beginning. However, very few of the games that do recover, ever do so to the point of being considered a "successful" MMO. They may survive for a time - APB and Vanguard for example. Yet, they'll never be what they could have been and aren't likely to have the revenue stream necessary for high quality content updates. They're more likely to linger - live off of lots of fixes, tweaks and minor updates - not the kind of game I commit years of gaming time to. FFXIV is the only MMO I'm aware of that's risen from the ashes of a failed start and maitain a subscription.
AA's payment model may give it more legs and life than a Vanguard type recovery. Except that I don't know who puts real money into a game with exploits that directly impede any value gained by having subscribed or contributed real money. The hacking and exploits are at the level where they completely eclipse any of the subscriber perks with the exception of owning land. There were issues up until a few days ago directly taking money out of Trion's pocket via a Market Place exploit. I'm not sure it gets much worse.
Some days I think, "AA will be my Vanguard". Low population game with features I adore but not enough players or new content to be my primary MMO. I know of players that stayed in Vanguard for years, I didn't even play live after I was in BETA. But now I get it, I feel about AA they way they must have for Vanguard. Much that I enjoy and can't get anywhere else or at this point, I just might. It's unfortunate that what I enjoy about the game pretty much requires a subscription - needed to own land. But that's not me. I'm prefer one MMO and one character at a time. I'm only dibbing and dabbing when I don't have a primary one to call home. And I was hoping AA was going to be home. I was banking on it being that at least until Star Citizen's RGP and persistent universe are released.
Playing w/o Paying
Several former guild mates are selling off their property before dropping their subscriptions. They're not bailing yet but are no longer committed enough to be paying players. Trion has so little control over the code I don't know how they're going to fix issues that have been busted for this long!?! I may look into supporting my account via in-game gold using APEX instead of subscribing. I know that I can generate enough gold to do it. It's more a question of is that what I want to turn my game play into?? I guess I could turn that into a challenge if nothing else and blog about what it takes for those considering the same. Hmm...