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Two months after its official launch in North America and Europe, ArcheAge has been met with a mixed reception. Reviewers praise the game for its unique approach and sandbox style Play It Your Way: 4 Sandbox Games That Reign Above the Rest Play It Your Way: 4 Sandbox Games That Reign Above the Rest A poorly executed sandbox game is a waste of time, but when it's done right, it can transport you to an entirely new world full of wonder, excitement, and experiences. Read More . Dedicated players gripe and stress that game balance and hacking issues are severely crippling (or even killing) it. There have been many ups and downs, and Trion is looking to turn a new page with the release of ArcheAge’s third continent.

Having played the game for the first month of release myself, my personal opinion is that ArcheAge is one of the best MMOs that I’ve ever played, from a gameplay perspective, with one of the worst administrative teams behind it. The game is amazing, but certain things that have been going on with ArcheAge on the publisher and developer side are inexcusable. Now that the dust has settled and the queues have withered, here’s what other MMOs can take away from its launch.

Do Not Break Your Promises

Up first is something that you should have all been taught before you were sent you off to grade school. When you tell someone that you’re going to do something, you do it. When you tell thousands of paying founders that they can expect an in-game feature, you deliver.

Trion Worlds broke this rule, and they should be called out on it. As I recall from Cohh’s stream, which happened to be one of the most popular ArcheAge streams when he still played the game, Trion pulled everyone’s leg on this matter. As a founder, leader of a huge guild, and someone who was looking forward to guild castles, he was not pleased.

ArcheAge was released on September 16, 2014 in North America and Europe. With this release came the expectation of guild castles, one of the most alluring features of the game. Guild castles were said to exist within an expansion continent named Auroria, which was only recently revealed to be shipping out to NA and EU on the 4th of November.

Auroria

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That means that guild castles are about 50 days late. Now, it seems like that shouldn’t be such a huge problem. ArcheAge is a free game. We should all give Trion time to release content when they see suitable, correct? There’s two core issues here:

  1. Trion never gave an explanation as to why guild castles were being held from release. Trion, the publisher, is holding guild castles back. XL Games, the developer, has already developed and pushed out the feature. Trion is simply refusing to release it, and they aren’t telling anyone why. For all we know they could have a perfectly good reason, but why not keep your loyal founders informed?
  2. There is an optional monthly subscription to this game. If you want to compete at the highest level, which we should assume that anyone who will be rich enough to construct a guild castle does, then you pay for this subscription (either through real money or in-game currency). Delaying guild castles nearly two months is highly controversial and has been viewed as a way for them to retain subscribers for a prolonged period of time. Guild castles aren’t out by October 16th? Welp, looks like those day-one subscribers are going to be opening their pockets once again.

Failing to deliver on a feature of the game is one thing. Coming across as shady and deceptive is another. Trion took a huge step in the wrong direction with this move, and some players even stopped playing the game because of it. Was this a grab at profit by Trion? The worst part is that we’ll never know.

The Economy is the Lifeblood

Even a casual and inexperienced MMO player can agree with this. One of the most interesting things throughout the course of an MMO’s life is to see how the economy develops.

World of Warcraft Getting Started With World Of Warcraft: A Complete Newbie’s Guide Getting Started With World Of Warcraft: A Complete Newbie’s Guide Here’s what you need to know if you’ve never tried World of Warcraft before. Read More went through its twists and turns. Reforms, like forcing the auction house to be global, were eventually suggested. Some even encouraged Blizzard (the company behind the game) to start selling gold to players. Once a virtual economy becomes polluted, the task of saving it becomes overwhelming. Some games completely die out due to it. It’s not fun to play a game where there is a top 1% of players who control and dominate 99% of the wealth. Just like the economies of the real world, there is a designated staff of people responsible for handling these problems. Just like in the real world, they often fail.

An issue exists within ArcheAge that is relatively unique to the game. There are patches of claimable land on every server. There are a fixed number of servers and a fixed amount of land. Long story short, the players who were able to log on the game within the first 24 hours of launch claimed these land plots. That’s it. They’re gone. The only way to obtain land from here is to purchase from these land owners. Land owners are greatly advantaged with being able to create their own houses and farms. Wealth snowballs. Cheaters live like kings.

This same argument can be made, in other areas, for practically any other MMO. For example, the first guild or clan to complete a particular in-game dungeon might be months ahead of the next group, and the loot they obtain from this dungeon may enable them to progress through the game and snowball themselves into wealth that overpowers smaller players. That’s not always an issue, however. That’s how competition works in these games. However, economic balance and a level playing field does become a problem when this matter is coupled with our next issue.

If it can be Hacked, it will be Hacked

Put plainly, ArcheAge was released at a vulnerable state that tiptoes the line of carelessness and neglect. Some of the exploits and hacks that have been shown publicly, on their own forums and the ArcheAge subreddit, are ridiculous. It’s not as if all of the bright minds of the MMO hacking community have come together to target ArcheAge. It’s simply because it was coded in a way that does not prevent them from doing this. Many people, including myself, feel as if this is the biggest threat to ArcheAge’s health and reputation.

Let’s go over some of these hacks.

Land-claiming hacks

As aforementioned, land is probably the most precious resource in ArcheAge due to how limited it is. However, that’s an obstacle easily avoided by a land-claiming hacker.

Land Hack

These hacks constantly allow players to immediately teleport to, and claim, a plot of land the instant it becomes available. It doesn’t matter if these properties are on the opposite side of the map. If five pieces of land become available in 30 seconds, anywhere on the map, someone using these hacks can claim them.

This is probably the epitome of an unfair advantage and economic nightmare in ArcheAge. Hackers take these pieces of land, hold them hostage, and create this sort of unnatural economic environment that completely ruins the experience.

Teleport hacks

One of the most common ways of becoming wealthy in ArcheAge is to do trade runs. Trade runs require that you go to one location, pick up a trade package, and take it to another location. When you have a trade package, you are a huge target for other players to murder and you move incredibly slow. Trade runs can literally take hours.

With a teleport hack, it takes seconds. Remember how we talked about the economy being the heartbeat of many MMOs? What happens when thousands of hackers are exploiting trade runs in this way and the market becomes flooded and unbalanced?

Speed hacks

Every game that has every been played has probably had someone speeding through it. Reputable games are quick to handle it or detect it.

Again, in a game where racing to claim land and completing trade runs is such an integral part of the gameplay, this can’t be happening.

It’s as if the game has no sanity checks anywhere in the code. The client is trusted in so many areas where it should be checked by the server. It’s a mess, and I hope they fix it. This Reddit post makes everything painfully clear.

Get your Bans Straight

In the process of trying to deal with hackers, botters, and other problems within the game, Trion has slipped up in many ways.

Arguably the largest problem is how many innocent and unsuspecting people are being banned, and they’re not being told why. They aren’t receiving adequate support from Trion’s support team, and they aren’t sure what to do.

ArcheAge Bans

Trion has been delivering these heavy waves of bans for weeks now. It goes without saying that even someone who deserves to be banned is going to complain and claim they didn’t, but it’s become a real issue in ArcheAge. They are actually banning players who have done absolutely nothing wrong, many of whom have just started the game.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand that false positives are bound to spring up and players will fall victim when automated measures against hackers and botters are implemented. However, you have to be ready to handle this. The first three pages of Trion’s official forums shouldn’t be filled with ban complaints and gold spam.

On top of that, for a game that has been so heavily exploited by hackers, Trion GMs seem to be quite alright with giving even the most severe of offenders a slap on the wrist.

ArcheAge Unban

This sends a message of, “Hey, it’s worth a try. If I get one shot, maybe I can make a ridiculous profit. If I do get banned, I get out of jail free.” Again, this is so dangerous and toxic for the game’s economy. You can’t do that.

Being a Publisher to a Foreign Developer is Rough

Now, after four straight headlines that seem to harshly scrutinize ArcheAge and Trion, let’s take a step back.

Trion Worlds is the publisher of ArcheAge. That means that they ship out patches, handle launching and installation, and localize the game for us North American and European folks. XL Games, a Korean studio, is the developer. They are the people who made the game. They did all of the coding. They decide what the game is and ultimately have the final say on what new features will be added, how problems within the game are dealt with, and so on.

Maybe it’s a sloppy analogy, but imagine reporting in to work every day to your boss. Let’s say there are multiple problems within the workplace, the company seems to be on a consistent downhill slide, and the work environment is really suffering. This boss—the overseer of all of the local operations—is generally going to take the heat for it. However, it’s awkward when this “boss” is only there as a messenger and recognizable face, because the head executives of the company don’t speak English. They work behind the scenes, avoid most harsh criticism, and squeeze everything they do through this one person. People criticize him instead of the people behind him. That being said, the office boss still has his own responsibilities to the company.

It seems like a tough position for Trion to be in. However, that isn’t expunging it of all responsibilities. Trion still says what patches reach the US and EU. They are still in control of the flow of the game to these regions. They still deal with payment problems and customer support. They are the middleman, and by no means innocent when things go haywire. However, a good number of the people with their pitchforks raised towards Trion should consider that XL Games is part of this, too. If the game is easily hacked and exploited, it’s their code. If the economy sucks, it’s (in large part) their problem for not balancing the game properly. If we’re bored of the game after a month, that’s on them.

ArcheAge Chart

While I can’t speak on how close the relationship between XL Games and Trion Worlds really is, the fact that these two companies are located on opposite sides of the world is obviously nothing like having a side-by-side partnership (or even better, going independent). Only Trion can truly elaborate on the difficulties that this business relationship comes with.

Conclusion

This post isn’t meant to bash Trion or XL Games. It isn’t meant to shovel dirt on ArcheAge and label it as a bad game. It’s not a bad game. As many new MMOs do, ArcheAge suffered a rocky launch. Some issues have been handled, and others are still being worked on. Some of these mistakes are unavoidable, like wrongful automated bans; others, not so much. People freely teleporting around the map? Really?

One thing that is certain is that ArcheAge can and will be a better game when these problems are stomped out. I think it’s an incredibly unique and interesting MMO, and I hope to see it grow. Despite the bullet-points in this article, I still recommend that you give it a try. It’s a really fun game if you’ve got a group of friends, and I’ve got my fingers crossed that the bad times are slowly being pushed behind it.

Looking for some other awesome MMOs to play? Check out our list of the 10 best MMORPGs that you can begin playing today (for free) The 10 Greatest Free MMORPGs To Start Playing Now The 10 Greatest Free MMORPGs To Start Playing Now The landscape of MMORPG gaming has never been better than it is today. Some may pine for the good old days when games like Ultima Online, Everquest, and Dark Age of Camelot dominated the scene,... Read More .

Image Credit: Fattierob via Reddit

  1. ARCHEAGE FOR THE FU**ING WIN!!!
    May 3, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    F2P is so porly underestimated these days. the whole point of F2P is to play the game. for fun for free. who doesn't want to play a game for free than paying for it. people that pay money in games that are originaly free are just stupid. yes, it may take you long to lv up in the game and yes you may be limited to what you can do. but, thats a good thing, it means you get more gameplay time out of the game. also, in my opinion, your more "hardcore" than pay to win gamers.

    In archeage, i have been playing for about 3 weeks now, and i have already hit lv 40 out of 50. i haven't been ex farming from crafting and i haven't brought APEX from the market. i have only been playing the game normaly, with my friends, who also play for free. also, i haven't done any trading packs since i have been playing. ( mainly because i didn't know you could do that for a while ^ ^) but thats the whole fun of it, playing a game for free, and not knowing what your going to be getting up to.

    also, archeage has only been out for a short time and your having a go at it. not ever game will be perfect on the day its realesed, even after a mounth after, there will still be things that they will have to work on.

    overall, i say if you pay for a game when it's for free, your better of just paying to complete the game and then buy a different game to play.

    p.s. f**ck P2W gamers!!!!!!!!!

    • Kurtis Thomson
      July 15, 2015 at 7:33 pm

      you have missed one thing without the people who put money into the game you have no game.

  2. Wild Horse
    February 2, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    This game was miles away from been special or outstanding and I'm not even going to talk about the points you made as they are not all my concerns, at least the plots and castles I could care less about, security and the abuse that went on because of the cheating that did concern me.

    But, for me, this game was a total failure for many other reason, the first and foremost important reason is the amazing amount of chaos that exist within this game regarding grinding/leveling. Can't level, can't grind without having to CONSTANTLY look everywhere around you because the game has unrestricted pking to a point where it becomes a savage thing and takes away any and all fun playing a game.

    1 hour of security... and the rest is insanity. Get pked for no reason, you're not even bothering anyone, and BOOM! Go back to respawn which is MILES away from where you were grinding and while you make your way back BOOM! Pked again.. and again.. and again... you get my drift.

    Traveling was moronic to say the least, restriction on travel imposed, item needed to travel, item which was just way too costly to acquire.

    All in all, this game was depressing on all accounts but if you are going to make a mmo and call it free to play, don't lie to people because this game was far from being F2P and you are going to make a mmo use your brain and don't EVER make the game a unrestricted land for "bullies a galore" where people who just want to play and grind can't do either.

    • Craig
      February 2, 2015 at 8:36 pm

      While I do understand the points and how the constant "harassment" through PvP is probably annoying, one thing you have to consider is that this sort of environment is actually what attracted people to the game.

      I went to ArcheAge because I was looking for an open-world experience. WoW doesn't cut it for me. I don't want to play a game where I log on, queue up for a dungeon, and go from there. The fact there was so much risk and exploration involved in ArcheAge, not even by choice but by REQUIREMENT, really struck me as quite interesting. I love having to travel around and appreciate the world map myself. Nonetheless, I will admit that reaching a shoreline after traveling a real-time hour with a trade pack only to be one-shot by someone is infuriating.

      Your point about the F2P is label is true also. I believe that's all determined by one's opinion of what "F2P" really means. Many will tell you that Hearthstone is also a F2P game. The argument is usually, "Hearthstone is free to play because a free player can do everything that a paying player can do." Of course, but it's so skewered. The amount of hours you have to put in grinding packs to compensate and get up to the level of someone who has spent $50 on packs is outrageous. That isn't "F2P" to me.

      I've not played ArcheAge since this article, but many have told me their security issues have been cleaned up a bit. Let's hope so.

  3. DanielD
    January 18, 2015 at 8:04 am

    This article hit the nail on the hammer on some points here:

    Game's terrible. I was a founder who fed into the $150 trap with having a clue about TRION but it will be both my first and last game title under them.

    For one, moderation is absolutely horrible. Lot of low-lively "players" are on this game between a mix of immature and the self-entitled. Forums are filled with players abusing threads with absurd QQ requests that are either inflammatory, very negative or over-all player to player attack posts. I've witness multiple times since purchasing this game multiple forms of harassment including gender, races, and bullying newer players. There were even incidents of players posting pornography on forums not once, not twice, but three times. The game may be pvp but unfortunately there are those who abuse it and TRION has done very little in regards to it. There's a TOS that is hardly enforced and unfortunately lot of players ended up becoming frustrated or having to fend themselves while TRION acted invisible to these issues.

    The second is the amount of botting epidemic in the game. Never in all my gaming experience have I seen a mass grouping of bots spamming back to back in all world-chats and occupying the game. Even to this day the game is still filled with bots yet the company acts as if they can't do a thing about it on their own servers and has been incompetent about it. It was so bad at one time bots were dropping spam on the game's forums. Nothing was done about it for the longest.

    The third is TRION.

    https://trionworlds.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/204435807-Code-of-Conduct-Violations-Excessive-use-of-inappropriate-language-towards-a-CSR

    The forums are unmonitored and often times than not a lot of hate or frustration is voiced there and tons of immaturity. A game that's rated for M looks like it's being played by those who haven't graduated from middle-school. Other game forums aren't so bad but the number one issue is the lack of violation and re-inforcement of the TOS/Rules. Flame-wars are common and players can be generally nasty to each other in ways that would have gotten accounts banned long time ago.

    In the meanwhile, TRION is silently screwing players over who bought the game with the 10% discount that was advertised and never honored and denied by the company. RNG boxes are commonly enticed in the Cash-Shop and content is deliberately held back and nerfed with patches so old that even the russian client is up to date. Land is deliberately kept scarce in order to force players to stay in the game or 'loose' it with no hopes of getting it back if they return. The entire game is revolved around a RNG system with labor-points that are dependent on patron status to get anywhere in the game. There are plenty of positive things TRION could have done with AA but instead have done little other than nerf, hold content back and support player to player scamming. Servers go down without notification and notice and the MAJOR part which a lot of players have been complaining about is the shut-down communication between TRION and the public since launch. The company is no good and its unfortunate AA ended up being converted from a good game to a bad one BECAUSE of mishandling from the publisher who is hosting the game. If anything TRION is that one company with the kid that spilt milk on his friend's shirt on broad daylight and claims that he 'didn't do it' instead of owning up to it.

    http://forums.archeagegame.com/showthread.php?12024-Official-Scams-are-ok-in-Archeage

    I would not recommend this game, especially for any parents out there who think this game might be 'okay' for their kids. The game creates a hostile environment. It feeds off of emotional investment and credit cards to get anything usuable in the game to advance. As much as it looks fun on the surface, please be aware that the game has a heavy rng system that takes 2-3 real life days to replenish certain items in crafting and a sub-system called Labor Points that can run out and render playing useless. Conveniently, there are items called Worker's Compensation that is linked in the Cash-Shop. Although the game is PvP there are players who cheat, scam and over-all create a poor environment in which TRION does very to little about except if it comes to Cash Shop. Expect racism, sexism, gender discrimination and harassment greed and envy to go on in this game without or very little consequences.

    If you want a game with a better company and environment I would suggest Guild Wars 2. There's no open-world PVP but the TOS is enforced, the company has a good reputation and up-keep and player's can't get away with the mucus like in AA.

  4. Angel
    January 3, 2015 at 8:17 am

    Ah, I just started this game and it seems like I should stay away. News flash these people do not care about us.... all they care about is their money that we keep giving them. And btw that guy should have been banned.... Sigh and I thought I was getting away from a co like Nexon T.T.... Will there ever be a good mmo ever again that hasn't been tainted or ruined by people with no lives or CEO's who don't give a flip about its players? I think I'm going to stop playing MMO's and go play a 3ds- at least then I get the game I want and all the features that come with it without having to worry about all these issues.

  5. Altherix
    December 30, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Game is a cashgrab for both Trion and XL Games. Auroria launch proved that for me which went like this.
    1.) Patch game to unlock Auroria and all content.
    2.) Patch has a bug that either doesn't allow customers to connect to your servers, or after they get disconnected they can't connect locking them out of the game. Keep in mind, the servers aren't allowing players to connect, not the player's client or internet.
    3.) Land/Castles in Auroria are claimed by those lucky enough to stay connected. "How did you get that castle? I got lucky and most of our guild were connected during Auroria Launch.
    4.) Huge outcry by your customer base to rollback the servers considering this bug and try it again.
    5.) You tell your customer's to go *&*(( themselves.

    Yeah, it's a cashgrab, nothing more, keep in mind this is only one of many, many time Trion/Xl Games have told their customers, "Sucks to be you, now go eat a bag of penises"

  6. Max
    December 22, 2014 at 11:35 am

    Stay away from AA it's a truly MMO crap.
    Try GW2 if you want a great game.

  7. aecune
    December 17, 2014 at 6:01 am

    Unlikely that the bad times are behind it. The developers have shown little interest in fixing fundamental problems.

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