Disclaimer! Since putting obvious and multiple warnings that this post numbers are based on personal observations and that they are not hard numbers, and since people obviously don’t know how to read anymore, I have taken the liberty of exagerating every number in this post. Also, I will refer you to the About page for my policy concerning spelling. Thank you for your time and understanding.
Do I dare go there? Expose myself to the flames of the fanboi, the undiluted pure evil of the haters? Do I dare play the doomsinger? Singing about the end of all things as the signs and portents are revealing themselves.
You bet I do.
My prediction for Aion is that it’s bound for one of two fates. Either it will become a niche game with a dedicated core of gamers keeping it alive, like WaR, AoC or others before them, bound for greatness but ending below expectations, Or, it will crash and burn in a spectacular fashion leaving NCsoft to wonder how exactly another of their game failed (see Auto Assault).
Signs and portents
I want to say right now that Aion is eerily following same the path of WaR. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and look at the signs. Before going further I want to also say my numbers are based on observations I made looking at different stats sites and just people I know. These are by no mean hard numbers.
1st sign – Cannot retain players
Around 1428% percent of the player base is unsuscribing after the first month marker. If you read blogs,forums and look at Aion server stats you get around that number. Just looking at my Aion guild I’d say the turnover rate is very high as is to be expected for a new game but most of the turnover is people unsuscribing and not coming back. There’s a lot of gripes and comment but a few keep coming back:
-PvP is bad: Even those staying are saying the same. By all accounts Aion PvP is not the great contest of arms and wits it was advertised to be. Gross class imbalance, abilities not working in pvp( spirit master pets for example are not working right with flight involved), imbalance of numbers, levels, etc… A lot of players will say it’s normal for that kind of pvp, or that it’s because people are not max level or any other reason you can think of. The point here is not who’s right or wrong. Almost everyone is finding something wrong with pvp and when pvp is your selling point then the majority of your players need to find it awesome. Wich is not happening right now.
-Too grindy: I’m less inclined to call this a game killer since it’s part of what will keep some people in the game. However a significant portion of the player base is having trouble with it so it might be that the game is really too grindy
-Crafting is worthless, broken: I completely agree with that one. Any game wich motivates me to go watch TV for an hour while I craft is doing something wrong.
-Finally there’s the infamous crysystem.dll bug driving people away as they cannot participate in mass pvp or group activities. Based on my very unscientific sampling of real life friends, blogers, guilmates I’d estimate to 38799% the percentage of players encountering the bug, meaning 1 in 3 player. I mean this blogs gets a lot of hits from people looking for answers for that bug and Google directing them to my post on the bug.
-If we combine everything, there’s about 9999% of the starting player base who will not play more than two months. It is enormous! I know some people will say it’s impossible but WaR did go from 700k subscriber to 300k in the space of a month and a half when it released, a 58% drop. Will Aion be worse or better there’s no sure way to know but you can already see and feel the drop in the game.
2nd sign – The web, forums and blogosphere
Look around the web, the forums and the blogs. There’s very few people right now saying Aion is “The Game”. Most are either closing down, switching games, blasting the game or otherwise being negative. Every game has its detractors and fans but it’s the balance of the two that’s more indicative of a game health. Right now there’s more bad than good out there being said.
3rd sign – Aion shallow endgame.
I’ve searched high and low for information about Aion endgame. Besides a few bosses and a raid nothing was popping up. I mean that the only end game to be seen was Abyss, bosses and a raid that wasn’t exactly one. Pvp seems to be out the question as a steady activity due to the problems cited earlier so we have to look at PvE. The info I got at first was far from encouraging, tank and spank and nothing else. So I guess that killed pve too.
But then I told myself, this game been out in Korea for a year, let’s see what they have to say.
Well since I don’t read Korean it was hard to find info but it’s there if you look hard enough. What did I find? Exactly what I said earlier. By all accounts I found, Aion PvE endgame is at best a side activity, nothing there. So it’s pvp only. Most Koreans at endgame are either farming the abyss for ranks or ganking people through rifting. So if you’re looking for more than rank grinding or ganking your pretty much screwed.
Is Aion destined to the fiery pits of failed MMOs? It all depends on what NCsoft considers to be enough profit. How much players do they need to keep the servers going will be the main factor. I don’t think that everyone will stop playing it but rather it will probably have a subscriber base along the lines of WaR or AoC.
Despite all I just said Aion is still a great game. At least until you grow tired of it. It’s polished, got nice storytelling and more than enough “this is awesome” moments to keep you playing a few months. Will it last as long as WoW did for many gamers myself included? Probably not. One of WoW strength is diversity, something that Aion seems to be lacking.
I’d say, play it, enjoy it but don’t expect it to last forever. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a good movie and then leaving with a good feeling so it’s not wrong either to the same with an MMO. If like me your done with WoW and looking for something while you wait for your next big MMO Aion will fill the space nicely.
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