Yesterday, Legends of Aria players were startled to see the new cash-shop in the early access version of the game. Upsetting players even more was what was in the shop. In addition to benign toy type items, there’s a power hour potion that grants sped-up skill acquisition and a soulstone that allows the storage of skills (so you can swap in and out skills you’ve ground – Ultima Online players will recognize these items straightaway).
The trouble is, Legends of Aria has been marketed as an old-school MMO sandbox, complete with FFA PvP and looting. While it’s always said it’d have a cash shop, players anticipated it wouldn’t hold anything that was even marginally pay-to-win. And though these items are far from the worst the genre’s ever seen in terms of P2W, they’ve definitely spooked the playerbase and made everyone fear what might be in store down the road. Players flocked to Reddit to voice their displeasure and demand refunds. Some streamers even announced they are abandoning the game.
Citadel Studios’ Derek Brinkmann made a statement in the subreddit last night.
“In the past, when asked in Q&A’s and in conversations with players, we have said the cash shop would be cosmetic only because it was our initial plan to avoid it being ‘pay to win’, but upon deep reflection, we have come to the conclusion it’s not the right way to avoid ‘pay to win’ for this game. Legends of Aria is driven by items and the items we collect keep us immersed in our world and are often a symbol of our time spent adventuring. When you can fill your equipment and your house with items purchased from the shop, other players can no longer recognize the achievements you’ve made. This has happened in other crowdfunded MMOs and has produced results we do not wish to imitate. Our power hour potion and soulstones are examples of utility based consumable items that do not undermine the competitive nature of our game. These types of items meet the requirement of having long term demand and allow us to avoid filling the shop with one time purchase cosmetics that cheapen the integrity of the persistent world. Producing Legends of Aria with this small team of very dedicated and passionate people has been an incredible challenge and one laden with difficult decisions; we don’t make any of these decisions lightly and any notion that we’re building a maniacal cash shop is deeply misled.”
We have an interview on Aria pending right now; we’ve asked Citadel additional questions about this situation as of yesterday, so stay tuned.