Ashes of Creation confirms subscription model, allays fears over IP blocking and region locking

    
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More overseas publishing information has trickled out of Ashes of Creation this weekend thanks to players funneling info from Discord to the forums.

Readers will recall that Intrepid announced last week that it had chosen My.com to publish the Kickstarted MMORPG in Europe and the CIS region; that ignited a firestorm of criticism and panic over the move, prompting a statement and Discord chat that clarified what’s going on: specifically, that Intrepid would still publish the game in the North America and would retain creative control of the project elsewhere. At the time, localization and region-locking issues weren’t crystal clear, however.

That’s apparently changed following a monstrously long meeting between the indie studio boss, Steven Sharif, and the new My.com partners at the tail end of last week.

“I have arranged my trip to Amsterdamn to My.com HQ for this Friday, I will confirm no region locks and address community concerns with the team,” he told Discord followers. “Today I have confirmed business model will be subscription with no box cost, cosmetic only marketplace (will match NA).” He also noted that “Intrepid will handle packaging of the game client as well” and that there will be neither IP blocking nor region locking.

Source: Official forums. Thanks, BrotherMaynard!
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Yaner

I’m sorry for your loss EU.

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Rolan Storm

In this case I do not care who publishes it. Region lock was main concern for me. Also $9.99 would have been nice, yeah. Or region-based price scaling like SWTOR does.

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Diego Lindenmeyer

i doubt that no region locks and p2w when MY.com is involved xD

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Raimo Kangasniemi

I would ask from those complaining about My.com, what would they prefer instead?
It’s not like there would be high quality publishers available in Europe.
It’s a middle-brow publisher, so to speak, and the alternatives are same or worse.

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Yaner

About anything would be better to be honest. Could do what Bless did and self-publish on Steam. May lose some money, but they are going to lose royalties to My.com as well. At least this way people won’t have to worry about My.com’s shady crap.

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Sana Tan

I’m confused, can I play from South America?

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Brother Maynard

Intrepid’s intention is to launch AoC globally, so yes. South America will be probably connecting to NA servers, which will be operated directly by Intrepid.

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Sana Tan

Thanks!

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A Dad Supreme

Since they are basically an indie company, I would love for them to set a precedent with a $9.99/month model.

The game looks fine but it’s clear it’s not AAA, and it would go a long way to showing they aren’t trying to gouge people with the usual $14.99/month fee.

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Siphaed

Gouging? Inflation over the last 2 decades indicates that $14.99 is on the LOW end. A proper subscription cost for a AAA game would seem more like $20-$25 easy now.

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A Dad Supreme

Yes gouging. The actual definition.
See, just because “everyone else” charges X for a video game doesn’t mean they are justified in doing so.
Example: a A Tale in The Desert is an MMO. It’s been around for many years with a sub. Yet, they don’t charge $14.99 just because “everyone else does” and “inflation”. There is a certain value that the game has and the people who make it rightly understand what it is, and it’s NOT $14.99/month.
Ashes looks like a decent game but not anything extraordinary or revolutionary. I’m actually interested in it vs any other “traditional” MMO that’s out or coming out right now. But there is no way I’d pony up $14.99/month for it just because “everyone else charges that”.
They didn’t have the same expenditures everyone else had so now they have to recoup research/development in a normal sub price. They also already got a bunch of free money from people to make it in the first place, unlike other companies so again, not justified to be charging as if they had bankrolled it themselves.
I don’t know the support level they will give the game or hardly anything about it as an indie project in a world where indie projects usually suck hard and then fail.
Point is, I would see anything over $10/month for this type of game given the circumstances of it’s creation as a clear gouge and would be unwilling to support such a game.

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Sally Bowls

I think the issue is that player price sensitivity is bimodal; there are a lot of people who will pay $15/mo and a much larger group that will pay $0/month. Once a game decides to leave the $0/month harbor, my guess is they lose some people, but not enough so they don’t make more money, to go all the way to $15/month.

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A Dad Supreme

I’m just adverse to paying a “standard” fee for an untested product that meets none of the usual guidelines to justify said price.
I didn’t like paying a monthly fee for WoW, FFXIV, SWTOR, FFXI, EQ, etc but I understood it was a necessary evil so that those companies could the millions of dollars they poured into researching and developing a game. In some cases (as with Camelot U) a company had to create and develop a whole new engine in order to make the game. All of that costs serious money.
In the case of Ashes, they got all the initial funding for free from donations. There is no “recoup” costs associated with any of that. They now have a well-known publisher.
I see no reason that for this particular game to start out with the usual fee other than “well, everyone else charges that so…”. In an age of F2P and B2P, this shouldn’t be an automatic thing of a set sub price “just because”.
Basically for the company, it’s pure profit at this point so why be greedy and charge unnecessarily extra when a lower cost point would/could be more advantageous?
After they’ve proven they have a quality product, perhaps then consider a price increase. But as MMOs go, they usually charge too much upfront for a sub vs what a game’s value truly is (trashy title/poor product) then they back down to F2P.
Starting at a lower sub price could circumvent that and show other companies they don’t always have to charge “the max” for indie products.

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Sally Bowls

I share – well greatly exceed – your skepticism of KS games in general and particularly those of the “nostalgia niche.” And I get the “unproven indie games should start out lower than AAA.”


OTOH

I can have outrage and expectations, but in general the company should be charging for the value they provide and their costs are irrelevant. If they provide me $35/month of enjoyment, they can charge nearly that, regardless of whether it costs them $5 or $75 per month to produce it. If Ford or McDonald’s halved the price of their product, they would sell a lot more. Whereas I am not sure that is the case for a luxury good like a MMO. If someone is cost sensitive, there are a lot of free MMOs that start well for casuals. IMO, could be wrong, people spending for a product with free alternatives are not that price sensitive.

P.S.: I wonder if Star Citizen has impacted KS games? If I were a crowdfunded game, I am not sure that “price low and fairly” is the lesson I would have learned about crowdfunded games.

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A Dad Supreme

If Ford or McDonald’s halved the price of their product, they would sell a lot more.

I think the difference is Ford/McDonalds were innovators and had proven products that were tested over decades, so they don’t have to charge half.
They each contributed a large amount of new ideas and went through many risky “failed” products as well. Each time, that money was allocated from their own coffers, not from customers in the form of donations. So to me, they rightly don’t have to sell the Big Mac or Shelby GT500 for half the price, because those products took a lot of research and over the years proved their value.
Do it seem that Ashes of Creation is somehow innovative or giving you anything new/different that you haven’t seen before? It doesn’t appear that way to me. It looks like typical MMO fare. “Decent” fun, nothing extraordinary, nothing trendsetting.
This company has not proven anything as yet, so if they are charging as if they had simply because “everyone else does”, that wouldn’t sit well with me personally.
If it was an “okay” or “decent” MMO, then I’d gladly pay $10, but I can’t see paying a AAA price for a product that not only didn’t have the dev costs associated with it, but was a plain product to boot.

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Reht

@A Dad Supreme They did not get all their initial funding for free from donations. They worked on the game almost a year before their kickstarter clearly funded by Shariff himself and he planned to fund it himself and had some investors ready if he needed more (can’t remember where i heard or read that, but it was directly from Shariff himself on their boards or in an early video). The kickstarter money was supposed to be used to add new features to the game. The game isn’t solely funded through crowdfunding aka free money. Here’s some info from a MOP Q&A with him:

The project is being funded by myself currently. This is going to be a bigger game, content-wise, than Crowfall, and our budget and funding reflects that. A core viable build that includes all the features discussed about the game will take roughly $30 million to complete. The Kickstarter and any other crowdfunding we might engage in is intended to add to that budget, for additional scope on certain systems we intend to reveal throughout development

Just because they are using an pre-made engine doesn’t mean they don’t have the same expenditures. Using CU as an example is a poor one because they are more the exception than the norm with building their own engine from scratch – if they could have found an existing engine capable of doing what they wanted, they would have used it. Most companies take an existing engine and modify the hell out of it to make it fit their needs. They still need to build their own tools, create art, modify/write net code, etc.

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Sally Bowls

I can agree. Although MMOs that are getting $180/yr in subs and $100/yr in ca$h$hop are getting that.

—-

However, the subs that I think are in the ascendancy are multi-game from big companies.

compare $180/year for one MMO to

EA OAP: $100 a year for all PC games including Sims, Madden, FIFA, BF, SW, Anthem, et al

MS XBAA: $22/month gives access to XBL, 100+ games including Day1, and also includes the hardware (the XBox is yours to keep after 2 years)

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Sorenthaz

Maybe have a tiered subscription model at the worst? *shrug*

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A Dad Supreme

I can live with that from an indie title. A more than rational request.

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Solaris

It’s clear it’s not AAA? Looks AAA to me. And sub is the way to go. F2P has saturated the genre with crap, and honestly ruined many games. I’m really happy to pay a sub again. I will also happily do so in Camelot Unchained.

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ulysse

No region lock, does this mean that european players can actually subscribe and play on NA servers?

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Reht

I was wondering about the subscription part. If it’s not region locked then you should be able to play on NA servers.

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Eliandal

Even if there’s no region lock though – depending on just who does payment processing, it could end up being a nightmare (although EU peoples playing on NA servers would probably be OK – has the possibility of being significantly worse the other way – it’s why I stopped paying in BDO over a year ago – and then just…stopped)

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Reht

Yeah, i will be the first to admit i have no idea what it’s like working with these publishers or any publisher outside of the US for payment processing but have heard of enough nightmares. I remember the outcry when SOE partnered with prosiebensat.1 to handle their publishing in Europe. If they end up with no region locking, hopefully our friends in other countries will be able to find a payment method that works in the US.

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Kickstarter Donor
xanadox

“No region lock” is not confirmmed.
Steven was going to meet with his european publisher to confirm it.
You know, it is better to have a meeting than to read the contract they have already signed.

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Brother Maynard

“No region lock” is not confirmmed.

You didn’t really bother scrolling through the source forum thread, did you? There’s some stuff there copied from Discord…

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Sally Bowls

The article quoted ” I will confirm no region locks and address community concerns with the team,”

I am sure he intends that. I think the hesitation/skepticism is that things aren’t really confirmed until they are part of a legal contract. Only one side of a contract can’t really confirm anything. A separate company has to agree to it. The way I read this, the other company has not yet agreed. It will be confirmed when both parties have agreed, preferably in a contract, to it. People hope/expect that to happen.

P.S.: :-) if the meetings were going well, they would not be calling it Amsterdamn would they? :-)

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Brother Maynard

The article quoted ” I will confirm no region locks and address community concerns with the team,”

That was before the meeting with My.com. The comments in the screenshot posted above were made after the meeting.

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Kickstarter Donor
xanadox

Yes, but that info is 3 days old and it seems to be outdated.

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Brother Maynard

As far as I know, that was Sharif’s immediate reaction on Discord following his meetings with My.com last Friday. I didn’t see anything more recent from him on this topic.

Edit: or was it a reaction to Sally’s comment?

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Brother Maynard

That would be the current understanding of what Sharif posted after his Friday meeting with My.com

Whether it will hold as the game actually comes out and whether it will survive the Intrepid / My.com contractual reality is another matter.

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Kickstarter Donor
xanadox

More info:

https://forums.ashesofcreation.com/discussion/40257/intrepid-studios-and-mycom-discord-latest-news

nice words…. still tbd: IP blocking and subscription sharing between euro and north americans accounts.

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Brother Maynard

I don’t see it in the linked thread. Perhaps I’m not looking in the right sections, but I scrolled through the text without finding anything from Intrepid or My.com on IP blocking…

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Kickstarter Donor
xanadox

It is not. That’s why it’s TBD (to be defined)

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Brother Maynard

That’s not (“TBD”) what Sharif’s Friday post-meeting Discord chat says, though, is it? It explicitly says “I can confirm there will be no region locking”. There’s literally nothing “TBD” about it in his post…

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Arktouros

Oh boy, another company giving out the old subscription song and dance.

We should create a pool and place bets on how long it takes them to switch the business model after launch when things aren’t going so well.

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Loopy

I feel like any time a subscription model in a game is announced, people end up cheering for its death. And yet there’s always complaints about F2P model because it’s rarely sustainable just by selling cosmetic items exclusively.

What should companies do then?

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Arktouros

Personally, I’m a big of the convenience/cosmetics B2P model.

I like B2P because it offers a company some recompense for development time. You’re buying a pretty huge chunk of product at game release so paying for that makes sense to me. Optional subscription I’m 1000% okay with but I really am not a fan of gating a game I already paid for behind a mandatory subscription.

Cash shop wise, I understand cosmetics don’t always foot the bill unless you’ve made it big (Fortnite, POE, LOL, etc) so mostly I want cash shop things restricted to convenience items. Something like a merchant contract where you can summon a vendor to sell to or repair at those kinds of systems. Quality of life features.

Unfortunately people tend to have this overly broad definition of what P2W means and that’s where the trouble starts. People math out that being able to sell your goods without going back to town saves you 8.135% time over people who have to go back and therefore you’re going to be that much richer! P2W! Raaagh! I think this all just undermines developers who then throw in the towel and say fuck it since they can’t win and monetize the fuck outa us.

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Siphaed

MMO’s you don’t “pay for” nor own the game. You pay for access for. The box price was justified by client alone, but has gone away with some. Others instead do subscription for access. Either way, you’re still not in ownership of the service. You’re accessing the service, by paying for access.

A company not selling QoL features -features that do shorten gameplay grind and/or make the game series for one player over another are- but to instead charge subscription fees is a win-win for all. The company gains regular funds to keep the game in service and in development, and the players have no worries of “pay 2 win”. All services, all features, all things accessible in-game only with the same subscription fund.

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Arktouros

Yea and I expected someone to bring up the whole “paying to access a service” and simply put I don’t agree with the business practice. Under any and all semantic versions of this discussion I’m not in favor of locking away my account behind a mandatory subscription service to access only doubly so when I’m sold a client to access said services.

Players love subscription fees because it puts power in the hands of the player. We can truly vote with our wallets because when we get bored of the game we can stop paying and send a clear message we think their game is no longer worth paying for.

However from a game developer perspective this is a terrible deal. As monoclegate showed players have tremendous impact over your business when they decide to cancel accounts in large numbers. A subscription also simultaneously erects a barrier to re-entry as if your users want to check the game out for a minute they’re forced to subscribe and pay $15 to check it out again without some kind of free-play promotion. Also, no game company can keep up with enough game content to appease players and there will always be lulls in which players can get more for their $15 a month elsewhere reducing the reliability of income. These are all reasons why you have seen subscriptions fall off as the business model in games today with very few exceptions compared to the whole.

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Kickstarter Donor
xanadox

Nothing to worry about.

Just long meetings and not expected flight trips.

Nothing to see here…

Let’s wait to see what my.com thinks about those “in ink” agreements.

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Kickstarter Donor
Mr_Fester

How does everyone feel about them working with the Russians?

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A Dad Supreme

If it’s good enough for the President of the USA, then I guess it’s good enough for everyone else too.
Besides, the Russians have everyone’s info via Facebook and Twitter already, so not much more they can get.

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Weilan

Better than working with the Americans, worse than working with the Chinese.

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Mr.McSleaz

Go watch some more CNN.