Aeria Games is an online game publisher owned by ProSiebenSat.1 Media and based in Germany. It is known for MMOs like Echo of Soul, Eden Eternal, and Scarlet Blade.
Shards Online is no more: The game is now officially called Legends of Aria. Better still? It's now being marketed by Citadel Studios as a full-fledged MMORPG.
Citadel's Derek "Supreem" Brinkmann says that the name change will be a big help to the game ahead of its Steam early access -- that Shards had a "stigma" for being limited by small maps and low player counts, as you'd expect from a game focused on custom shards in a classic UO style. Legends of Aria, on the other hand, will launch with a heavily expanded map and no player limits at all -- in other words, it's a real MMO.
"It's the same game, it's just a bigger scale, a bigger scope," he assures backers -- everything in the old game, including modding, is still happening in Aria.
The trailer and address from Citadel is below. Stay tuned for this weekend, too, as we'll be meeting with the studio at PAX East!
What happens when a global publisher of MMORPGs acquires an MMO news site? We're about to find out, as the Gamigo Group announced that it has purchased MMOGames.com to "enlarge its portfolio of portals."
MMOGames.com has covered many online titles, including those under Gamigo's umbrella. The Gamigo Group, which also handles Aeria Games and marketing platform Adspree Media GmbH, said that the purchase was aimed at "improving monetarisation" of the news site and increasing Gamigo's advertising presence. Gamigo said that this move helps it achieve its goal of "an end-to-end marketing package," but for readers, it will no doubt raise questions over the possible conflict of interest present when a video game publisher owns a video game news site.
MMOGames Editor-in-Chief Nick Shively told Massively OP, "Despite the recent acquisition by Gamigo, the MMOGames staff retains its editorial freedom and will continue to uphold its journalistic integrity. There have been no requests to the editorial team that would create a conflict of interest and we intend to continue delivering quality MMO news, reviews, and feature articles."
It looks as if Bless Online's Korean operators are merging servers again, though they've opened one too, so the total tally will seemingly hold even. Pmang says that it's opened a new server, Lumen, and merged the Tania server into it, completely with compensation rewards for those affected.
This won't mark the first time we've seen merges for the Korean-born MMORPG; we reported a round of "server integrations" in both February and June of 2016. The last round brought to the total down from at least 10 to just two, where we apparently still sit -- just with a different two.
Over here in the west, we're still awaiting news from Aeria Games, which is expected to publish the game here later this year, though the release has already been hampered by delays. The studio strongly rejected rumors in December that the game's launch had been canceled, telling Massively OP that its devs are still "working closely with Neowiz on the gameplay improvement aimed for the North American and European version!"
We deal with a lot of rumors here, and while we generally filter out the entirely implausible ones, usually there are a lot of rumors that might be true until it turns out they're completely true or utterly false. This time, however, the Bless Online rumor mill has produced a rumor that turns out to be nothing at all.
Over the weekend, the teaser site for Bless Online being published by Aeria went down unexpectedly, with no official word as to why. That prompted players to panic and spread rumors that the title had been quietly dropped off of the schedule. However, other fans on Reddit were skeptical of the rumor, and with good reason.
We reached out to the studios involved ourselves; here's what a representative for Aeria told us:
"This maintenance is due to a migration to a new data center for all our services from game to portal, so there is no need to be worried. It'll improve the experience of the players. However, we are still working on it and the website will be back online soon! On the side, we are working closely with Neowiz on the gameplay improvement aimed for the North American and European version!"
As we learned last month, Bless Online is being delayed into 2017 as the team continues to work on bringing the title over to the west. So what is the hold up, exactly? Why aren't we getting our grubby mitts on it in time for the holidays?
Aeria Games explained some of the reasons behind the delay this week, saying that developer Neowiz is concentrating on improving game performance and adjusting the combat system:
The game performance is currently being improved for large scale contents such as Siege of Castra and Raid. The loading times for persistent world content are also being improved for textures and monsters to be loaded more quickly. This should provide a more seamless experience to all of you.
Bless Source has got its mitts on a new English language Bless Online trailer promising the game's "coming 2017 with a completely overhauled action combat system," though it's decidedly low-rez and we're not entirely clear on its provenance just yet.
The vague and distant date won't surprise anyone: Back in September, Aeria admitted that it had postponed announcing betas and the launch "because the project is bigger than expected and the game needs a couple of tweaks to be able to penetrate the western MMO market and to have a stable and sustainable future in there." At the time, the studio also pinpointed the combat system as needing a major rework for tab-targeting: "The combat system as of now feels unresponsive and the action combat is not on par with current generation action MMORPGs."
Across the pond, South Korea's Bless was updated with The Blazing Fire patch earlier this month; a bit closer to home but still a language-gap away, Russia's Bless open beta began this past weekend.
Wishing Bless were already here in the west? Want to join me in staring wistfully at the Korean version's steady stream of updates while we wait for Aeria to get it in gear? Let's do it!
The latest patch, dubbed The Blazing Fire, introduces the Mystic class, a druid-like class that "uses the forces of nature, flowers, water, grass, [and] animals." The level cap was bumped up to 50 just in time for the addition of the new Burning Desert region, which is aimed at level 46-47 players, along with a lab-themed, five-boss, level 50 dungeon.
Prep your trust Google Translate and go check it out on the official site.
Last year was rough on Echo of Soul. The Korean fantasy MMO ended up closing down in both its native country and China in 2015, while the western version (published by Aeria Games) has been puttering along with mediocre reviews.
Could a small comeback be in the making? MMO Culture reports that Kakao Games has picked up the publishing rights to Echo of Soul in Korea. It is planning on conducting an open beta test in October, one year after the game was closed in the country.
The new operator isn't merely planning to turn back on the server and call it a day. Kakao announced that it will be improving the game by adding new features, more maps, and a Paladin class for testers to try.
Have you ever heard of Alliance of Valiant Arms (AVA)? It is a team-based FPS title that's been on the market in various regions since 2007. Up until this summer, Aeria Games had been handling the operation of the game in the west. However, this past July saw the transfer of the title from Aeria to En Masse Entertainment.
Yesterday marked the relaunch of AVA under En Masse's benevolent rule. The studio said that its "grand opening" means more than just turning on the light switch, as the team prepped a launch day patch with several new features.
"Our grand opening update is packed with additions and improvements, including graphical and UI updates, a new snipers-only map, and the release of Fortune Stars Season 7," said En Masse.
You can watch Alliance of Valiant Arms' grand opening update trailer after the break.
Aeria has put off plans to announce Bless Online's western launch schedule following the close of Gamescom earlier this month, according to a statement made by company rep Carsomyr on the Bless Source fan forums this morning.
"Unfortunately, we couldn’t come up with a fix[ed] launch date and milestones like close beta tests and open beta tests because the project is bigger than expected and the game needs a couple of tweaks to be able to penetrate the western MMO market and to have a stable and sustainable future in there," Carsomyr explains. "The game has a great lore behind its world, solid gameplay and a big potential to become a sustainable and long lasting MMORPG in the western market. In order to make that happen though, we need to deliver a more polished and complete product. We are still talking about what the change needs are and what needs to be done before the game comes to the western market."
Aeria's Twin Saga MMORPG enters open beta in the west as of today. The company says that closed beta saw 700,000 logins and 250,000 of player testing, but the open beta will be a bit different.
"Starting with the Open Beta, players will be able to play the new Dragonknight class: warriors forged from the draconic powers of flame, light, and wind who bear the fearsome strength and combat prowess of their namesakes. In addition to the new class, players can take advantage of a higher level cap — now set at 65 — and a number of new dungeons to explore. [...] Adventurers can choose from ten powerful classes — with the freedom to switch classes without changing characters—and can deal devastating damage with amazing combos and spectacular Ultimate Moves."
One of the game's claims to fame is the Terracottage system, which grants players a mobile house on the back of a turtle. Massively OP's Justin Olivetti got the scoop on the housing system back in June.
There are founders packs for folks who want a jumpstart, but the game is F2P otherwise.
There's a new trailer too!
We hope you got everything you wanted done during the Twin Saga stress test, because it's done with now. The servers are coming down, characters are going to be wiped, and everything that was on the servers will be lost, like tears in rain. And, hey, it accomplished its primary goals, as the team behind the game has a clear picture of where the servers are weakest and will need to be reinforced.
So when does the open beta start? There's no firm word yet beyond "soon," although fans are encouraged to keep their eyes open for an announcement about just that. For now, just fill your mind with happy memories and get ready for when the open testing arrives.
If you're eager to jump into Aeria's anime import Twin Saga and want to go in bedecked in all the game's fineries, then winning today's raffle might help you out, as Aeria has granted Massively OP three Pioneer founder packs to give away to our readers!
The Pioneer packs are worth $19.99 and include early game access, open beta name reservation, a founder's title in the game, a special forum title, 200 loyalty points, 20 astral crystals, 10 loot charms, 10 friendship gems, 5 revival potions, and a rookie starstone pack. Aeria says that the only regional restriction is that the packs are English-language packs, so if you're playing on an English-language server, you're eligible.
Read on to enter to win!