Bless Online interview: On soft launch, monetization, classes – and no lockboxes
Earlier today, we posted up Bless Online’s new trailer and big news: That’s it’s launching on Steam early access as a buy-to-play title this coming May. As part of the announcement, Neowiz agreed to answer a few of our most pressing questions about the infodump. Read on for more about the game’s planned monetization, what constitutes early access, and the state of PvP servers.
MassivelyOP: Can you disambiguate a bit for us here – is Bless’ early access more like a paid beta with wipes or a true soft launch? When exactly should regular gamers be jumping in if they do not want to help test, and how much testing and server wiping is going to go on?
Neowiz: Bless Online’s early access period on Steam is closer to a soft launch. There won’t be any wipes once it begins. While we’ll be listening closely and gathering feedback on how to improve Bless for the full launch, those who aren’t interested in focusing on testing will still be able and welcome to jump in and enjoy the game in its early access form.
Part of today’s announcements include the news that the game will be buy-to-play. Does that preclude an optional subscription or VIP recurring fee at some future date? Other MMOs have done just that, after all!
Not necessarily! We are going with the buy-to-play model as we believe it will be best for both the game and for players. In the future if we feel that players would benefit from something like that without negatively impacting the game experience, it could be considered.
You’ll have a cash shop as well, correct? What can we expect to see in it? Are we looking at something like the Black Desert cash shop with with very pricey items that sometimes have impact on gameplay? What about lockboxes/lootboxes/gachapon items? How are you going to avoid pay-to-win in the cash shop?
Yes, there will be a cash shop. You’ll see lots of items there, including cosmetic skins, clothing, pets, and more. There will also be items and boosts. We’re going to stay away from pay-to-win by making sure that items in the shop don’t have a significant in-game impact. There won’t be any loot box-type items.
Will future content patches and expansions be free to buy-to-play as well?
When we release any kind of future content, including things such as new races or classes, those will be free to players who have bought the game.
Can we talk classes for a moment? Last week, we got to reveal half of the races launching with the game, but we don’t have a lot of information on the classes. Will we see everything the Korean version of the game has, or will some content and classes be held back?
For early access there will be five classes available. Mystic and Assassin are currently being reworked as a part of exciting new combat changes that we’ve been making for Steam version of Bless Online. We plan to update the two classes before the full release.
Here’s one we didn’t get to talk about during the last interview. Over the years, we’ve watched different Asian studios navigate deployment in the West in wildly different ways, everything from FFXIV, where cards are played closed to the chest of SE, to Black Desert, where Pearl Abyss leaves most of the day-to-day to an EU branch. Where does Neowiz see itself fitting in on that spectrum? Obviously, it wants a more hands-on approach since it took back over the western port to develop it internally, but how will that work for communication in the run up to launch and beyond?
We see ourselves falling somewhere in the middle. The Korean headquarters team will be mainly involved and in touch with the western release to make sure it is a great experience on Steam, but will also have a global team in addition to the Korean headquarters to quickly respond and communicate directly with the audience.
In a follow-up, Neowiz also answered an extra FAQ on separate PvE and PvP servers:
There will not be separate PvE or PvP servers, but we understand that many players do not wish to partake in PvP until it’s on their own terms. To help with this, there will be a consumable item that players can buy in-game to make them non-PvP enabled. This will work all the way to the level cap, last for a time, and has no cooldown. At the level cap, the item will still be obtainable, but via the Cash Shop. A large part of the later game content is PvP oriented (like our sieges), so we’re hoping players will try to engage in the conflict between the two factions then. Still, if they wish to avoid PvP, they’ll be able to buy the consumable in the cash shop, and you will also be able to earn cash shop currency via in-game activities as well.
Thanks very much for the clarification! So, who’s pumped for the May release?