We just got some fun numbers on Albion Online, buried in a forum post: Sandbox Interactive says that its massive Queen update in January was its most successful to date. “Since its release, player numbers have grown by more than 40%, and for the first time since our free to play launch, we have recently surpassed 350,000 monthly active players.” First, awesome that they had the guts to post numbers like that when megacorporations obfuscate. Second… that is a big number for an MMO, especially an indie PvP MMO.
Anyway, that wasn’t actually the point of the blog post. The point was that Sandbox says it’s been trying to evaluate the way all of the new territory conquest mechanics worked in the open world, under duress from actual players. As it turns out, the studio doesn’t like the way alliances are working right now – and neither do players, as 80% of players recently said in a game poll that they wanted alliances deleted from the game. Yikes.
“However, one thing that we are unhappy with is that large alliances are still too dominant overall. This creates a lot of pressure on smaller groups to also join a large alliance, which in turn causes the game world to split into a few very large power blocks. This raises the barrier to entry for smaller and more casual guilds, while at the same time carrying the risk of effectively “pacifying” large parts of the Outlands leading to stale gameplay.”
Well, alliances aren’t going away – yet. Sandbox says it’ll run a test starting February 26th onwards, capping alliances at 300 players total, the same as for a single guild, bringing alliances of small groups more into line with the mega-guilds. “To encourage these more casual alliances, we will also turn off points sharing between guilds in the same alliances such that there is no longer a downside in accepting a weaker guild into your alliance if you’d like to join forces with them,” SI’s Robin Henkys explains. “To account for the fact that average zerg sizes are likely to decrease, we’ll also change the disarray debuff in such a way that it has a stronger impact for medium sized zergs.”
Right now, the studio is planning on a two-week test before determining what to try next.