[G-N] Allods Online is Official Pay-to-Play
Ever since 2001 when Nexon debuted the free-to-pay business model and other companies bashed them and told them it would not work but then they saw Nexon’s success they reverted over to free-to-play without once saying “Sorry Nexon for doubting you” or “Thanks Nexon for the idea of F2P!”, we have moved from seeing the majority of game being P2P to the majority of games being free. We’re also now seeing some popular P2P games making the move over the F2P like Dungeons & Dragons Online and The Lord of the Rings Online, both from Turbine.
However, there are still some games which are being advertised as “free” and when you join you are forced to purchase items from the cash shop. I’m not referring to Nexon and MapleStory, I’m talking about Allods Online, published by Gala-Net on the Gpotato game portal. If you thought Nexon’s cash shop was bad wait until you read what Astrum Nival, the Russian developer of Allods Online and Gala-Net, the publisher, have been doing to Allods Online.
Despite the sensational article title, Allods Online has rolled out it’s latest patch, Revelations of Gipat, and with it, the game may as well drop the facade and call itself a pay-to-play MMORPG. The patch went live last week (on Wednesday, July 7th, 2010), and within a matter of days the game population has dropped significantly. Why? Because Russian developer Astrum Nival has made it abundantly clear that it will only support paying players, and the patch itself illustrates this point all too clearly.
Remember the annoying “Fear of Death” mechanic introduced when Allods entered open beta? It was an irritating 25% de-buff players were hit with whenever they died, which could last up to an hour, and could only be removed by either waiting out the penalty, buying Myrrh with in-game gold, or buying and consuming “incense” with real money from the game’s cash-shop. The entire ordeal was an obvious cash-grab, designed to get players to buy into the cash-shop, and players were outraged. Well, apparently, Astrum Nival and publisher Gala-Net were “listening” to it’s fan-base’s woes. Instead of giving players a temporary de-buff that could be removed or even ignored without having to pay real cash, the new patch has removed Fear of Death altogether and replaced it with something much more crippling, and worse still, permanent.
That’s right folks, say goodbye to Fear of Death, and say hello to Teps Curse, a penalty that permanently inverts the stats on a random piece of epic, legendary, or rare piece of equipment you have equipped whenever you die. Best of all, the only way to remove the curse is, you guessed it, to buy an item from the cash-shop – The “Scroll of Purification,” specifically. If you don’t want to get screwed over by the curse, you can buy and equip a curse-preventing “Holy Charm,” also from the cash-shop. Oh, and by the way: getting hit with the curse is completely random. You may get hit with it, or you may not. In either case, you will consume a holy charm regardless of whether or not you would have been cursed. But it’s all for the sake of safety, right?
But wait folks, it gets even better! Players have been given a very noticeable damage nerf, meaning it takes forever and a day to kill an enemy at your level! And enemies after level 20 have been given a huge stat-boost, meaning they can kill you faster that you can click your mouse! So of course, the only way to not suffer insta-death (and possible cursing) in PvE and PvP is by popping that stat-boosting incense. Which, of course, you still buy from cash shops. What a wonderful, cyclical system! It’s like a self-contained money-milker.
The really sad thing, however, is Gala-Net’s stance. An exclusive Q&A with Darren “CHOMP” Allarde (associate producer of Allods) and Shelby “Miss_Sadie” Goad (community manager) on the MMORPG-oriented Massively, puts things into alarming perspective:
“Darren: Prior to Cursed Items, Fear of Death was the penalty. Because of feedback we’ve received from players we moved towards a death penalty system where we didn’t have 40’s standing around for 50 minutes doing nothing . Cursed items was introduced as an alternative death penalty as well as a new monetization strategy for the game..”
Of course. All in the name of business. After all, why bother with massive amounts of vanity items and accessories to encourage players to spend their money and be different, like a good cash-shop. No, let’s create absurd gameplay elements that are deeply intertwined with the cash shop, fabricated for the sole purpose of goading players to spend real money! Capital idea!
Allods Online is going to run out of feet to shoot themselves in. it is absolutely disappointing that and MMORPG with such promise would devolve into a money-grab such as this. If Astrum Nival wanted Allods Online to be a pay-to-play title from the beginning, why not say so from the beginning? They are instead doing everything possible to make the Allods experience as uncomfortable and disheartening as possible. In the words of Caiden from MMOHut in his “MMO Disaster Ideas” article, “Cash shops should reward people for making purchases, not penalize those who don’t.”