A German company that publishes several dozen smaller MMOs across the world.
Over this summer, we’ve been getting tips suggesting that the Tad Williams Otherland MMORPG was in serious trouble, as first it went dark on Steam and then it returned, silently, with an 8GB patch. Drago Entertainment did not respond to requests for a comment then, or perhaps it could not if it didn’t control its press relations, but either way it’s finally posted something to its Facebook page today, and although it doesn’t address the Steam outage directly, it’s definitely good news going forward.
The studio explains that it was originally brought on as the developer by the investors who own the game in the wake of the RealU studio’s closure, but it was hamstrung by the publisher, who you’ll recall was Gamigo, though Drago doesn’t name names.
“Shortly after the soft launch of Otherland as a free-to-play game in September 2016, the publisher decided to hold back on most releases and information in preparation for a major relaunch planned for June this year,” Drago says. “The game not being relaunched as planned has seen the investors sit down with the publisher to voice their concerns and to keep a long story short, it has been decided that the investors will continue Otherland on their own.”
Following the cancellation of the western version of Bless Online, Neowiz surprised everyone by announcing that it would be publishing the game here in the west on its own. Then last week, it announced a “Rebuild Project” for the whole game, which is expected to allow Neowiz giant do-over on everything from making gear feel more important to character progression, plus the revamped combat, unique class skills, better mount and pet content, a non-sucky crafting system, a tighter UI, and new PvP content. We’ve presumed that upgrades to the game overseas will eventually make their way to the version being promised for the west, particularly given that it was supposedly canceled originally over “quality standards” and “technical difficulties [that could not] be overcome.” Indeed, the long delay was at least in part a result of the combat system do-over Aeria said the game needed.
Since then, the entire official Korean site has been taken over with a huge “REBUILD” banner and Neowiz has published a fresh dev blog outlining the project’s seven main goals and homing in on the first: character growth. Google Translate isn’t exactly trustworthy here, but the gist seems to be that the studio finds the leveling up process both opaque in terms of power and limited in that gear capped progress. Under Rebuild, items themselves will pick up durability and reinforcements, what sounds like an evolution system for weapons, plus a disassembly system for junk.
Check out the whole thing on the official site — just bring your Korean dictionaries!
Back in June, Neowiz and Aeria Games/Gamigo confirmed that they’d mutually ended their partnership to make Aeria the western Bless Online publisher. While initially the studios stated the MMO had been canceled for our region and wasn’t coming westward at all thanks to “quality standards” and “technical difficulties [that] cannot be overcome,” Neowiz quickly moved to suggest that it would be publishing the game here in the west on its own, presumably with the combat system do-over Aeria had begun and Neowiz said it was continuing.
Now we have a better idea of just what that means.
Yesterday Neowiz announced what it’s calling the “Rebuild Project” for the whole game, which will allow the studio to “abandon the current structure and make it from scratch,” gutting some of the game’s underlying systems and content and adding new. Specifically, Neowiz says it’s making gear feel more important to character progression, revamping combat, retooling class skills and unique feel, creating variety and fun for mounts and pet content, adjusting crafting to not be “useless,” and improving the UI experience. New PvP content (a capture-the-flag map?) is also under development for August; the screenshots in this post show the new area.
Last week, both Neowiz and Aeria Games confirmed that Aeria is no longer serving as the western Bless Online publisher — worse, Bless appeared to be entirely canceled for our region. “Gamigo announces that the MMORPG Bless Online will not be published in Europe and North America,” read the formal announcement. “The collaboration had to be cancelled because after extensive testing the game did not meet the quality standards of both Neowiz Games and the gamigo group. […] Together with Neowiz we have come to the conclusion that the technical difficulties cannot be overcome, so we agreed not to complete the game for our respective markets.”
Done deal, right? Apparently not so much. “The game will not be published” turns out to mean “we will publish the game ourselves.”
“You must be curious about future Bless in EU/NA as we ended our contract with AG,” Neowiz told MMORPG.com. “NBS believes the EU/NA Bless fans are very valuable to us so we commit to deliver game updates directly to you. We will surely present you with improved Bless in the future.”
Your favorite game is going to die. I wrote about that. Some games are never even going to get to launching in the first place, unfortunately. But then there are these titles: games that went the distance when it came to development, marketing, promotion, testing… but somehow didn’t quite manage to stick the landing past that. These are the games that, in Transformers terms, are the hi-then-die cast of the MMO space.
That doesn’t always mean the games are bad, mind you. Some of these games were great fun. But through a combination of business model issues, publisher issues, player population, and just general weirdness, these titles couldn’t make it to a year and a half in the wild. Heck, some of them couldn’t even make it to a year and a quarter. And if you want to peruse this list and wonder why all of these titles are gone but Alganon is somehow still operating… well, we’re just as confused as you are.
The Neowiz statement that Aeria Games is no longer serving as the western Bless Online has now been backed up by Gamigo, Aeria’s parent company, though contrary to the translated reports from yesterday, Gamigo says it wasn’t a unilateral decision by Neowiz — and it appears that the game has been canceled for our region entirely, not simply shelved for a new publisher.
“gamigo announces that the MMORPG Bless Online will not be published in Europe and North America. The cooperation between the Korean games developer Neowiz Games and the gamigo group has been terminated by mutual agreement. Unfortunately, the collaboration had to be cancelled because after extensive testing the game did not meet the quality standards of both Neowiz Games and the gamigo group. Jens Knauber, COO of the gamigo group, regrets this development: ‘Together with Neowiz we have come to the conclusion that the technical difficulties cannot be overcome, so we agreed not to complete the game for our respective markets. This has not been an easy decision for us and we put a lot of thought into this step. On the other hand, we have a number of interesting new releases coming up to complement our already strong portfolio, so our players can look forward to several new games in the near future.'”
Rumors that suggested Aeria Games has been dismissed as the western Bless Online publisher appear to have been confirmed today.
Korean gaming site Inven is reporting that Neowiz, the Korean-born developer and publisher of the MMO, has “canceled the service contract agreement between the two companies […] smoothly after consulation,” meaning that Gamigo and Aeria will no longer be publishing the game in the west.
We’ve seen a few headlines this morning suggesting that Bless’ western service has been entirely canceled, but we cannot confirm that. Neowiz says it will be focusing on the Japanese service “for now,” but does not say whether it has plans to find a new western publisher.
Rumors are flying this morning that Aeria Games has been dismissed as the western Bless Online publisher. MMORPG.com reports that it received “fairly substantial information” from an anonymous source to that effect. “Gamigo representatives were in Korea last week where the agreement was cancelled due to quality confirmed,” writes the blog. “This has also apparently been confirmed via internal communication with employees coming from the Vice President of Product Sascha Zehe.”
This is not the first time we’ve encountered rumors about the state of Bless’ import. Back in December, the game’s official teaser site vanished abruptly, causing a panic that the game had been canceled. Aeria, however, said it was just a data center migration. Still, we haven’t seen much public progress on the game since last autumn’s announcement that Aeria was completing gutting Bless’ combat system for a do-over. It was intended to release here this year, but we’ve seen far more movement from the Russian and Japanese branches.
We’ve reached out to Aeria and Gamigo for a statement and will update when we know more.
Bunnies and eggs! Flowers and grass! Lots and lots of chocolate as we hoard every Cadbury thing we can find! (Or maybe that’s just me?) Yep, Easter is this weekend, making it a convenient time for MMOs to shower us in stuff to keep us indoors and playing instead of outside marveling in the end of winter. We’ve collected a few of those events down below!
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.”
Sometimes even the most die-hard MMORPG player finds him or herself a little tired of constantly looking at the back of a head and a running butt. We yearn to slip the surly bonds of the world to explore the cosmos in our very own rocket ship to see what is out there. E.T., are you taking house calls? Can we hang for a little while? I brought Reese’s Pieces!
Getting this experience isn’t quite as easy as, say, finding an MMO that caters to the dragon-slaying crowd. It’s well-known that sci-fi MMORPGs are in the minority, and only a fraction of those center around or contain some element of space flight and combat. However, over the years we’ve seen online games here and there allow us to live out our fantasies of being a space jockey, whether in the form of a trader, a fighter pilot, or an explorer.
Today, let’s look at 10 MMOs, past and present, that helped us get our spaceship on!
The Tad Williams-inspired sci-fi MMO Otherland shuts down today for a week of open beta. When it returns for its planned September 8th launch, it does so as a free-to-play game. Writes Gamigo,
“In preparation for the Open Beta, Otherland has received numerous updates during the previous weeks introducing new functions to the game. The tutorial has been updated, the game’s performance has been fundamentally improved, and various additional quests as well as new factions have been implemented in the story. Most importantly, the extensive crafting system has been completely reworked, with the addition of hundreds of new recipes. The battle system is undergoing a heavy re-design as well: the improved enemy AI will provide an even more action-driven gaming experience that will be further sustained by more fluid motion patterns and revised skill sets.”
The game has already had a weird time on Steam, having disappeared from the platform for a solid two months this past spring. Its early access packs are currently on sale from 30%-50% off their original $19.99-$49.99 prices.
Massively OP’s Andrew scoped out the preview version for us last year, as did Massively OP’s MJ via stream, which we’ve included below.
While we still wait here in the west for Bless Online to make the leap to Europe and North America, we do know that the title is coming very soon for Russian players.
Neowiz has started to sell Russian founder packs, which might give an indication of what other regions are in for when the game arrives there. These packs include access to the beta, a head start to the live game, mounts, various consumables, premium currency, and more.
Bless’ arrival in the west was “delayed slightly” due to the recent merger between Aeria and Gamigo. The studio assures fans that it is coming, however: “The important thing though is that we have a strong team and enough resources to bring Bless to the western market.”
Whether or not you can read Cyrillic, chances are you can get the gist of a pair of new Russian trailers for Bless Online. Check them out below and let us know what you think!