The Soapbox: NCsoft’s bizarre silence on Aion’s server merges says everything you need to know

NCsoft done messed up. Again. Yes, I know the studio has already had a few black eyes for other things throughout the years, but this recent punch hit closer to home. So close, it involved multiple family members. What happened? A debacle called Aion server merges. Yeah, I know all server merges tend to feel pretty rotten and are fraught with troubles by default, but there is a right way and a wrong way to go about them. And boy does it ever feel like NCsoft was all gung-ho for the wrong.

For example, as much as the ArcheAge server evolution affected me negatively, it was still is a shining beacon of doing more right — and that’s saying something! That merge left me feeling as if I could return to regular play sometime. The way the whole thing played out for Aion has chased an eager paying player away as well as a long time vet from the game, and who knows how many others who will be affected.

If nothing else, another black eye does not bode well for goodwill and trust, things NCsoft was pretty short on anyway.

The backstory

To understand the escalated frustration for this whole ordeal, you have to know the situation that led up to it. My son was eager to start playing Aion again. Between a two-year mission and school, he’s been gone from the game for quite a while. But he was super eager to dive in because he remembered how much he liked the mechanics and now that he had time and funds, he wanted Aion to be his game. Then he tried to log in.

We’re not going to pin the repeated launcher and website fiascos squarely on NCsoft — maybe there was some WiFi problem at his school or whatever. So we won’t lay all the blame there even if it deserves it. No, the frustration started to mount when my son was unable to use his account (or find out the problem thanks to launcher and website issues). After we both tried, I went in on my account to collect all the names of his characters from my friends and legion list to send in a ticket and see what happened. The legion list is where I learned that while I had all the name-change notifications from the first merge we lived through, none of his characters were in the legion any more. They didn’t leave; they just didn’t seem to exist anymore. About the time we get the customer server answer that his account was indeed deleted, I came across the 2015 post warning about migration and deletion. This all happened at the end of my son’s aforementioned two-year mission where he had no access to computers for doing any such migration. I feel bad that he missed that, and a tad guilty I didn’t get his accounts taken care of while he was gone.

So there is setback number one: He lost everything he ever had in-game. Everything he worked for, everything he collected, just gone. He tried to shrug it off and decided he wants to make a new character and start over (without all the buffs and bonuses he used to have access to). Then we hit snag number two: He can’t access my servers. Say what? So to help out I check his account and yes, he has access to only two servers. Ones I don’t remember. That makes me log into my game (which, remember I was just in two days prior), and discover that there were only two servers now, and all my characters were named 2s97743A, 5s1200BD, and such. I felt blindsided.

Shhhhhh

Yes, it turned out that Aion merged servers, and even though I was playing less than two weeks prior, I had no idea about it. No idea. Admittedly, I don’t play Aion daily, or right now even really monthly. But I did just play. And I do still follow the game, if not for personal playing time then for work. So the whole fact that the announcement of server merges was completely missed shocked me. Surely such a world-changing endeavor would be discussed at length. We’re talking announcements, tweets, Facebook posts, in-game notifications, and more. Do you know what I found? One news post on the official site. And that was after digging back! No tweets. No on-server notifications. No Facebook posts. I went back and checked my recordings, looking for any pop up, any line in chat. I found nothing. I scrolled back through the social medias many, many months and found nothing. No mention at all. How in Hades can something this big, affecting every Aion player, be kept so quiet?

In an industry where communication is pretty easy to come by, from social media to streams to press releases, I’m telling you I was shocked at the lack of it here. I’ve been a part of many server mergers, and lack of communication is an egregious error on a studio’s part. Few players will likely be happy about a merge, but merges without warning or with few details will create negative emotions out the wazoo. So a studio should do as much as it can in its power to make sure the message gets out there. You need to post more than once. You need to utilize your social media. You send a mass email to all your account holders if you need to. Sure, the news won’t make people all cheery and full of warm fuzzies, but it’s more than a mite better than the feelings when you blindside them.

I get that the company did inform players, once, technically. But it didn’t do remotely enough. My nagging concern is that the situation was purposeful. Not sharing this info better makes it seem like the studio seriously wanted to hide it. How can you hide a merge from people? It’s not like they won’t notice logging in after the fact. And the feeling of surprise does not inspire happy thoughts for the company.

It gets worse

Ironically, if it were just the unexpected merge, then I wouldn’t have been as frustrated as I was — and I was pretty peeved. That’s because of what happened after the merge. You see, when I logged in I was greeted with a message that informed me that because of the merge, I had both Elyos and Asmodian characters on the same server since Israphel and Tiamat merged together. This message informed me that I would not be able to make any new Aion characters (remember the goal was to begin playing with my son as mentioned in the beginning). Why, you ask, couldn’t I even with available character slots? There’s the rub.

I couldn’t make any new characters until I paid to move all of one race to the other server. No, I was not being instructed that these characters just needed to move but that I had to pay for that process. I’m not even going to go into the fact that these paid transfers have requirements like being level 25 that prevents a couple of my favorite ones from even being eligible, or that the maximum kinah requirement could prevent me from giving one character all my goods and money so I only have to pay for one instead of all five. The fact that I have to pay to move each and every character — or delete them — in order to just make a character infuriated me. And adding insult to injury, you couldn’t even log into a single character to start the process or even play until you typed OK to acknowledge you understood this fact. All of this without warning.

Now people may mention that free servers moves were available before the merge. Well, if they didn’t get notice out about the merge, how would they get notification about these free transfers? As I saw, this information was only available as a link on the one post, so if you missed the post, you missed that.

Now, this unadvertised merger FAQ I’m talking about does indeed mention another free server transfer starting October 25th. This actually made me madder because if you don’t know about that FAQ, you only know that you are expected to pay for transfers, which isn’t the case. The intro message I was forced to sign to play made no mention whatsoever of any upcoming free transfers. So first I am upset that I will be forced to pay, and then I am even more upset that NCsoft is outright hiding the free option from players. Without that free information out there, who will know? And since it won’t even start for nearly two weeks after the merge happened, how many folks will be tricked into paying for a number of transfers before then? This feels so purposefully deceptive to me that it infuriates and disgusts me. Not cool. You don’t treat people this way.

Still going

Now, there’s also the fact that Elyos and Asmodians from the same person are playing on the same server. The whole point of the faction warfare is preventing players from doing this so that there isn’t an easy prevalence of fixing the war using insider knowledge, sabotaging, kill trading, and other such things. Yeah, people made alt accounts and did that, but how much easier is it to do that on a single account? And the fact that I can actually continue to play as both races makes me sure that there will be people who will do exactly that. In my mind, that completely ruins the entire PvP part of Aion. After some digging, I found NCsoft has a plan or this (emphasis mine):

“After the merges, players will faction conflicts will be able to continue playing their characters with the conflicts for server weeks. We will shortly resume free character transfers for faction conflicts for a limited time. These transfers will retain the unlimited Kinah, however the GP restriction will be lowered back down to the 7k. Once this transfer period has ended, the remaining active accounts with faction conflict will be force-transferred and the standard character transfer limitations will be implemented. If your characters are force-transferred, we will not be able to honor requests to transfer them, so please make sure you take advantage of the free transfer queues while they are available.”

So, if you miss out on this — and people likely will since no mention is being made of any of this! — you will be SOL. You might have the wrong race forced out, tearing you away from your legion and your friends. And you won’t even be able to pay to fix it!

Here’s just a smattering of the other lovely changes that greeted Daevas post-merge. You lose the ability to wear rank-restricted Abyss armor when you lose that rank thanks to the move. Housing, which is hard to get at times and expensive, is lost (you do get compensation, but you have to do the whole housing bid wars to get it again).

The end is nigh

Answer me this: Who would want to come back and play after all that? It seems pretty unlikely. I am betting that the loss of players from this treatment isn’t going to do much to help stem the loss that resulted in the need for merging in the first place! Maybe, just maybe you could forgive NCsoft and go back. Maybe I could. I do have lots of history with the game — a few relationships built from it, characters I still love

Oh, but wait. Salt was just rubbed in the wound. This pretty much drives that last nail into the coffin; NCsoft knew very well how important this knowledge was to players, and yet they still didn’t make the effort to ensure players would get it. From the FAQ: “Server merges are a big deal and will result in potentially significant changes that may directly and indirectly affect you.” Low blow. This isn’t the way to treat people. Thanks NCsoft. Thanks a lot, to you and the horse you rode in on.

Everyone has opinions, and The Soapbox is how we indulge ours. Join the Massively OP writers as we take turns atop our very own soapbox to deliver unfettered editorials a bit outside our normal purviews (and not necessarily shared across the staff). Think we’re spot on — or out of our minds? Let us know in the comments!
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39 Comments on "The Soapbox: NCsoft’s bizarre silence on Aion’s server merges says everything you need to know"

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Nick
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Nick

This articule is truly bizarre; so much so to me that this is my first post here on this website. These merges were announced in 2016, and have had stickied forum posts since at least July 2017. There were FAQs and multiple threads. It was also announced on the front page of the website.

Twitter announced when the merges happened and tweeted the naming policy after the merge. I guess you have an argument with Facebook…but this must be a new millennial thing that someone who supposedly is invested in a game doesn’t bother with the game’s actual website or forums for at least 4 months, arguably an entire year since the initial announcement, and then goes on a rant here.

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Bruno Brito

And here’s the Millenial Rant Post.

Nick
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Nick

While you may find yourself clever and feel you turned my argument on it’s head in one flippant sentence, I suggest you learn the difference between supporting a viewpoint and a rant. Thanks.

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Jack Pipsam

Oh trust me I know this feeling.
I lost my entire NCSoft account because I hadn’t a clue about the migration thing, my Aion collector’s edition, gone. Characters, everything, gone.
Really sorry to hear about your son’s account.

Never had that issue with anyone else, log back into an SOE game years after last and characters still right where I left them. NCSoft is the absolute trash of the MMO industry corporation wise.

This Aion thing, it reeks of a company without care.

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Gracen Ownby

Lmao I can hardly believe this rant. First, you complain of a characters being lost, as if a notice wasn’t sent out to all the accounts when it happened. There was no reason for NC to keep so many old accounts. Furthermore, it’s not worth complaining about because a lvl 55 or 60 account is completely irrelevant.

Then you complain of connecting to the servers as if that isn’t a common issue.

Then you expect NC to go against game mechanics and allow you to create more than one faction on account and complain that they don’t give you free transfers. Why would they give you free transfers when you can make free accounts? Furthermore, whatever character there is, it’s so irrelevant you might as well delete it.

This is a post from someone who has no god damn idea what is going on in endgame and cannot comprehend how huge of a difference the merge makes. Furthermore, the way the merge has been implemented, including gear requiring decreased officer ranks, allows the game to be much more enjoyable than it has been since early 4.0

Aion vet my ass, you have no idea how Aion thrives on a sieging and PvP system, which has been reimplemented and reimproved with the merge, and you should write an article when you actually understand what is going on in the endgame.

Every Aion player loves it but you.

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Bruno Brito

“Every Aion player loves it but you.”

I find that hard to believe.

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Koshelkin

She doesn’t complain that she can’t create characters from more than one faction. She complains that the merge forced her chars from different factions together and now has to wait for the free transfers. Free transfers which are, in turn, badly communicated, which she considers almost deceptive as the only viable alternative is a paid transfer.

Not everyone is a hardcore player, immediately getting all the news. Her main argument was that NCSoft failed to properly communicate the merges and thus leaving more casual players with a bunch of problems.

And if connecting to the servers is a common issue than I’d really worry about NCSoft’s dedication to the title.

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kgptzac

If this doesn’t prove that whoever is running the management of this game not being smart enough, I don’t know what will.

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Diego Lindenmeyer

as expected from NClolSoft

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yoh_sl

O Rly?
NCSoft being complete and utter douche nozzles? Shock and horror I tell you.

Seriously, why does anybody trust these dirtbags? I suppose I could say the same of EA, Activision, Konami, etc. People are dumb as a sack of hammers. I don’t feel pity for you.
This is what happens when you support people who are willing to screw anybody and everybody over just so they can mug you.
Don’t like this crap? Stop supporting bad business practices.

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Armsman

The fact your son was unable to do anything about the 2015 character deletion is unfortunate <— And that you can't blame NCSoft for..

But the rest just goes to show what a sh*tty company NCSoft actually is, and remains to this day. [And no I ain't talking CoH because if you know my posting history, even though I had played and liked the game, the decision from NCSoft made perfect business sense. Still doesn't change the facy NCSoft is a sh*tty MMO developer with HORRIBLE CS. :)]

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Utakata

The elephant in the room still is that deleting account is a shitty move on behalf of the game company, regardless of the explanations, warnings and hindsight that comes after the fact. I would be moving onto another game…or even find an emu to play on if I can’t let the game go. Upper management needs to burn for this. Just saying.

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Paragon Lost

NCsoft truly is a shitty company. Ugh.

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Robert Mann

Yeah, there’s much stupid here.

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

Ok. Someone here in the West musta kicked NCSoft’s dog.

Who was it?

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Terren Bruce

Ugh that’s awful. I would absolutely be done with that game if that happened to me.

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Denice J. Cook

Wow, eesh. Back before CoH got shuttered, Aion was another of my fav MMOs. I was a real NCSoft girl in those days. Of course, I haven’t logged into Aion, GW2 or any other NCSoft game since the CoH closure announcement came in August of 2012 (which NCSoft timed to hit the press a week *after* Guild Wars 2’s early start had launched– which smacked of a desperate money grab that ticked me off even more).

I doubt I will ever play Aion again anyway because of my distaste for its publisher, but I repeat….eesh, anyway.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

Salt in the wound indeed...

surfs up.gif
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Utakata

…I can almost here ’em go crunch from watching that. /shudders :(

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MesaSage

When you make mistakes big enough to piss off MJ, you done goofed.

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Greaterdivinity

That’s awful, but I can’t say entirely unsurprising. NCsoft has never really done a good job running their imported games in the West.

This is a bummer, I know Aion has been on shaky ground for years and years, but this is pretty impressively terrible handling of the merges. I keep the game installed in the off-chance I ever get the motivation to try to dive back in and actually get a character to max level (I always manage to get to my 40’s and then trail off) and I still dig a lot of the visuals, but after this I’m seriously debating just uninstalling to free up some hard drive space.

Korean devs/publishers, stop reinforcing all the negative stereotypes of you that exist in the MMO space : (

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Legend Of Vinny T

“But the plans were on display . . .”
“On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
“That’s the display department.”
“With a torch.”
“Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”
“So had the stairs.”
“But look, you found the notice, didn’t you?”
“Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.”

Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

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johnwillo

I quit Aion after trying to deal with their customer service (one of my characters had spontaneously generated huge bushy, blue eyebrows). They told me that I must have done something wrong and hung up, literally while I was in mid-sentence. I hadn’t yelled, or sworn, or anything. They were just done with me; so I was done with them.

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Bryan

NcSoft yet again proving how much they love NA players I’m only assuming they do better in Asia as they seem to be successful there… Man really no plans to play an NCsoft game again at this point, loved CoH tried Aion and Wildstar when they came out but meh…

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

They do far better in Europe! Because Gameforge is running the show there. Gameforge. Yeah. Even Gameforge manages better PR and community management.

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Greaterdivinity

comment image

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Denice J. Cook

ROFL. And you do realize that Europeans far and wide whip out torches and pitchforks when Gameforge’s name is even mentioned out there, right? :P

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

I do! That’s what makes the comparison so poignant. :D

pepperzine
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pepperzine

Ouch. Sorry you have to deal with those shennigans MJ

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Castagere Shaikura

Funny reading this as i decided to checkout Aion again two days ago. I saw alot of players everywhere and non were complaining about the merge. In fact most seemed to think it was great for the game. Granted i didn’t lose any characters at all. I do remember something about a merge was going to happen awhile ago and players needed to prepare for it or something.

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