Time to prepare the second wave – how will Aion survive past the honeymoon period?



Blog 12 10 09 - serennia aion hype


As the end of the free trial for Aion is coming to its final few days, what does NCSoft have to do to prevent falling into the same trap that Age of Conan and Warhammer Online went through – losing a good chunk of their subscribers when the free trial ends?

It feels inevitable – NCSoft will see a rather large chunk of players who believed that Aion was “THE ONE” for them but ultimately ended up being disappointed. It happened with Age of Conan (dear god, they must have lost a good few hundred thousand after a month of claiming over a million subscribers) and Warhammer Online.

Even as we speak, there are blog posts, reviews, forum posts, comments and notes being released all over the internet about what people think about Aion. From the eyes of veterans of MMOs, from people taking their first steps on their virtual avatar.

Obviously, comparisons would be drawn primarily from Aion’s main rival – World of Warcraft. The levelling, the graphics, the gameplay, the sounds, the effects – it’s all up for grabs and so far, Aion has made the telling blows, drawing blood from Blizzard. Where both Age of Conan and Warhammer Online stumbled and ultimately fell, was that neither game was as polished, as refined, and as appealing to the average player than WoW. Both were heavily bug-ridden for weeks after release and the initial hype and excitement from players was replaced by a heavy heart and a weary mind looking for a release from their virtual surroundings. Stepping in from a game that has had over five years of patches, bug fixes, game balance changes and hotfixes, players of both of these games experienced bugs and oddities galore – and immediately began clamouring for changes to be made, changes that ended up being too little, too late.

NCSoft have so far been given an easy ride by players. Although there is the expected fair share of bugs and balance issues to be dealt with by any fledgling MMO, NCSoft missed much of the crucial make-or-break points by having them dealt with in not only an extensive beta phase during this summer, but 6 months of experience in dealing with such issues due to their early release in Korea back last year.

It is probable that Aion will survive the first few months with a stable player base and with their game intact, and this is down to NCSoft being a Korean company. Their first release in Asia meant that they got much of the teething issues out of the way where there is a small but very experienced consumer base that expect incredible quality and set a very high bar for a game to be hailed as a success. The 6+ months that followed, NCSoft began to whittle away the dead wood and remove the wood worms, the player base in Asia providing the lab rats for their game changes and bug fixes. What we have in front of us now is not a game that is completely new. This most definitely is the key factor that separates the failures that were Age of Conan and Warhammer Online, and the success that Aion will be.

Provided that they don’t screw up on a major scale, of course.

Source: World of Ming

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