Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Spectator Sports: Aion

Due to the nature of watching the rankings on MMO's, I have what I like to call "speed dial" for the various forums and blogs of the MMO's I track. It is interesting to see the views of different players as I rank their games on the tracking services. Whether they be a standard supporter, forum troll, or fanboi blog, the discussion is ripe for commentary.

I like to call it "Spectating"

This round I am stalking: AION

Aion fascinates me, due to the fact that there is an underlying group who continue to call the game an utter failure. Yet, contrary to this, I see an MMO that is thriving, at least in this genre. MMO's, as we all know, is one tough business to hold onto. So many games have their detractors, but we can only go so far in knowing what is fact or what is fiction when discussing said games.
As I continue to track Aion on the services, such as X-Fire and Raptr, the picture is of a game doing quite well (at least in this business). According to NCSoft, their financials list the game as "flat"...thus not losing money, nor gaining. But, it IS a revenue stream.

Work continues to be done to the game in North America and Europe at a steady pace to alleviate initial issues such as perceived grind and a more Asian feel to the game. A recent patch put out last week approached crafting and issues with materials, costs and adding new recipes.

So, based on this data, why would anyone call Aion a "failure".

Gamerdrone did a post at launch called "10 Reasons why Aion will fail" stating these as concerns.
  • PvP-oriented Gameplay 
  • Flight is a Gimmick 
  • Visual Style 
And more..

Why would someone immediately be calling the failure of a game considered to be doing well? And explain to me how items looked upon as strengths or considered "good" to a certain group would lead to Aion's failure?

If I head to the forums, I can look at Aionsource (a fan site) and see a relative good set of posts, with maybe one or two "fails" within. Compare this to last weeks forum list of Warhammer Online, where the majority of the forums were full of disgruntled players, locked threads and what not; this is tame in comparison.

If we head to MMORPG.com and their ratings system, the picture starts to become a little clearer. With a lowly 7.8 by player standards, we see one aspect stands out: Service.
With a 6.8, this is bringing their overall rank lower than expected. It seems NCSoft is the core of the failure calls. No matter how good the game may be, the service seems to be the number one concern. Looking at the forums, you can see the discussions all leading to NCSoft not knowing what they are doing (according to their opinions).

So, though there may be a consensus on the game doing well, an underlying hate of the company itself continues to bring Aion down lower than it needs to be in the eyes of the spectator.
The best bet for anyone who questions whether Aion may be any good is to ignore the vocal minority as they are often referred to, and load up and see for themselves. Too bad the "company" makes this difficult by not even offering a trial. 

Luckily the main game can be gotten for a lower price, and if you have held out due to what you may have "read", just decide on your own for this one. You may have to accept that you may not be treated well by the company taking your money. Luckily, based on all indicators...you will be entering a healthy, populated game.

Just know that numbers sometimes speak louder than words when it comes to Aion.


Victor said...

The NCSoft Customer Service thing is perhaps the one thing that makes me very hesitant to pay a sub.

Guild Wars is one thing.... but repeated investments in a company that doesn't give excellent service... not a good-sounding idea.

Longasc said...

Aion is "Asian" in style, which simply doesn't work for a lot of people.

I also could not stand it for long, the mob grind in the Abyss drove me away and I have no intention of going back. But the combat and pvp balance and world pvp of Aion are top notch, even if us westerners are not used to that and do not care that much for.

I guess Guild Wars 2 will face a similar issue, playing together without grouping is something Joe the average MMO gamer apparently cannot fathom anymore!

The without doubt bad service of NCsoft gets mixed with latent and sometimes even blatant racism against Koreans. "Koreans go home" and less friendly chants when playing Guild Wars in the first months after launch were disgusting. Almost all Koreans did not play GW after a while, I wonder if this was partly the reason for that.

The other issue is WoW as measure for everything. No matter how idiotic it has become. I do not think Cataclysm improved the "world" of Warcraft, it dumbed it down even more. Making the dungeons a little harder made people cry, lol.

Even if Aion does not do it for many people in the end, there is a lot western designers can learn from eastern MMOs, especially Aion. For example how to animate characters.... ;) LOTRO's animators would not even have been considered to work on an eastern budget grinder. :>

PvP and MMOs: Aion has PvP in the world. How many western MMOs dare to do that? We put everything into instances by now and play the whole "world" solo. An alien observing us from the moon might point out that we are the odd ones when asked about MMOs preferences, not the Asians.

One should also not forget that Xfire and Raptr track Americans and Euros, and I have some friends that still play Aion and lo behold, they are many.

I would say the Aion criticism of a lot of people is stuck in their own preferences, the MMOs they know, mostly a WoW/EQ mud in every regard.