On ArcheAge Unchained

1,176 words.

I used to play ArcheAge. There was a time when I got a ridiculous amount of blog traffic on my ArcheAge posts, which to this day, I still can’t explain. (This post on PvE content after level 30 was a top performer for some reason.) I remember being very excited about ArcheAge. It was actually a great game.

Then I stopped playing. I was never particularly angry about it, I just didn’t agree with their decision to force people to subscribe to maintain a house and property. And once you lose your house and property, there is no compelling reason to play ArcheAge.

Okay, I might have been a little bit irritated about it. You see, I bought a pre-order edition of the game. They were called “Founder’s Packs” back then, in those heady days when we still thought we were going to get our money’s worth out of pre-ordering games. The ArcheAge Founder’s Pack might well have been the last time I pre-ordered any kind of MMO.

You know how much I paid for that thing? I don’t really want to remember it. I’d rather block out that memory. Let’s just say that as a comparison, I paid $99 for the Landmark Founder’s Pack. I paid more than that for the ArcheAge Founder’s Pack. It included a whole lot of stuff, don’t get me wrong. I remember studying it and concluding that it was actually a pretty good value for the money, a claim that now sounds like the kind of self-delusional rationalization routinely espoused on my Twitter feeds daily about whatever the newest games are. But at the time it made sense to me. I think I may have written a blog post about it. I don’t really want to look for it.

Flash forward to today. Or a few days ago, because I forgot about it until I listened to the MassivelyOP podcast today. Gamigo, the new owners of Trion’s stuff, announced ArcheAge Unchained. I don’t know what the public reaction has been. I haven’t seen anyone write or talk about it, besides what they said on the aforementioned podcast. Justin and Bree sounded very positive about it. But I had a slightly different reaction.

I haven’t talked much about Gamigo since the buyout. I don’t think I’ve written a single thing about it, actually, beyond perhaps a handful of tweets. I’ve largely lost interest in RIFT since it became clear that it’s impossible to play the game near the level cap without the bonus experience points you get from a subscription. My character become “stuck” between levels. I completed all the quests at my level and ended up nowhere near where I needed to be to advance. I think this was around level 67-68. I haven’t played much since then.

Back to ArcheAge Unchained. Gamigo announced a new buy-to-play version of ArcheAge where you can play on a brand new server without any of the restrictions from the current free-to-play servers. Basically it sounds like you buy the game once, and you can play indefinitely on this new server just as if you have a subscription on the live servers, including all the necessary labor points and property ownership that actually makes the game fun to play. The fine details are a bit sketchy though.

First let’s talk about the good. If this is indeed a buy-once-play-forever model for an ArcheAge server, this is a fantastic deal for people who have never played the game before. If the price point is anywhere around the $30 I once paid for Black Desert Online, it’s hard not to recommend it for new players. ArcheAge is an MMO that is almost certainly worth a $30 one-time fee. Get in on it quick, though, because as you may or may not know, there is a limited amount of property space available in ArcheAge. If you want “prime real estate,” you have to get in there quick.

This is what you'll be stuck with if you don't get a good property site.

Now let’s talk about the bad. This is clearly a move to get new or returning players. I happen to fit the mold of a “returning player.” But see, remember that part up above where I said I paid a whole lot money already to pre-order the game? I certainly haven’t forgotten that.

I actually kind of like ArcheAge. It’s a visually beautiful game. The combat mechanics are fun. It has a reputation as a gank box, but in reality it’s really easy to avoid PvP if you simply do this little trick I like to call “paying attention to your surroundings.” And even if you do get ganked, you don’t lose a thing, unless you happen to be carrying a trade pack. But it’s really easy to pick trade routes that are not dangerous.

(Interestingly, after perusing my old ArcheAge posts, I was a lot kinder about the good qualities of the game just now than I was back then. Rose-colored glasses, I presume. Happens to the best of us.)

I got sidetracked there. The point is, it would be fun to play ArcheAge again, to setup a little house and a little farm. So I studied all the information about the announcement. I looked quite closely for a sentence or two that said, “And yeah all you people who already paid a ton of money can just come back and play!” I didn’t see that anywhere.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’ve probably already jumped down to the comments to type this. “But you paid that money to Trion Worlds. You haven’t paid Gamigo anything. It’s a totally different company now. Of course you’re going to have to pay again.” That’s what you’ve already typed down there. I know how you commenters are, reading one or two sentences before launching into your tirades. You can’t fool me.

And you would be right to make that observation. Gamigo is under no legal or moral obligation whatsoever to offer me anything special after paying a crap-ton of money to Trion Worlds to pre-order an ArcheAge founder’s pack.

But man, it sure feels like a tremendous let-down anyway. It feels like a punch right to the solar plexus, an anatomical term that I don’t even understand, except that I’ve read a million times before that it’s something you punch. (That was my way of “hanging a lantern” on an incredibly cliched written phrase, which I normally would be quite embarrassed about writing.) It does not feel like a “Welcome back to our game! We’ve missed you!” Not even a little bit.

So as much fun as it would be to play ArcheAge again, even just for a few weeks, there’s no way I’m going to buy the game a second time to play it. If they don’t offer even just a token discount for people who pre-ordered Founder’s Packs, I can’t imagine anyone else like me returning either. It will strictly be new players on that new server.

Now where are all my ArcheAge screenshots?

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