It’s been a wild few days for Gamigo and ArcheAge, which at the tail end of last week admitted that it was planning to charge for ArcheAge Unchained’s future content, including Garden of the Gods, which it began styling as DLC after initially announcing it as an expansion with no mention of a fee. This is a sharp turn from Unchained launch promises that the game’s expansions would stay free and the game would be funded through the ArchePass.forum post we covered this weekend, in which the studio explains the ArchePass business model didn’t “recover” from its early foibles, causing the company’s dramatic shift. But the answers also confirm the model for the free-to-play game as well as explain the motivation behind the mid-marketing shift to the term DLC. We’ve decided to print the responses in full.
MassivelyOP: Must Unchained players buy DLC to access the expansion?
Gamigo: Yes. We posted a statement about this on the forums, which you probably already have seen at this point I’m sure. Still, you can take a look at it here. In the free version of ArcheAge, the story of Garden of the Gods can, of course, be experienced free of charge. Depending on your playstyle, both versions of the game offer a different kind of experience and it’s up to the players to decide how they want to play the game.
Why the late switch from calling it an expansion to calling it DLC?
Garden of the Gods is more than just an update, it continues ArcheAge’s main storyline. Also, the wording was chosen to differentiate between the contents of the two versions of the game, which will receive the new area adapted to their different business models. [Editor’s note: With “late switch,” we were getting at the fact that the original announcement of the expansion – for both games – does not mention the word DLC or anything about payment at all.]
Will F2P ArcheAge players be able to play for free?
Yes, story-wise the content is identical, only certain items and other content will be available through in-game store purchases.
How does Gamigo justify charging for DLC?
As stated in our post, we have had to adapt our current business model to focus less on the ArchePass system and much more on the expansion of the game through new content.
Will future expansions be distributed the same way?
ArcheAge and its Unchained Version will receive new content through regular updates as well as larger expansions. [Editor’s note: We were asking here whether future content would be paid DLC, not whether updates would continue.]
We’d like to note here that we explicitly asked Gamigo’s Merv Lee Kwai about the potential for this sort of monetization switcharoo in September of last year before the launch. We wanted to make sure that the game’s monetization had been fully thought out and that Gamigo had a backup plan in case it didn’t.
[MOP] Does Gamigo foresee ever needing to change the game’s business model? I don’t just mean for the folks saying they won’t try it if it’s not free-to-play, since that would sort of make no sense with this format, but rather for the future – are you confident that initial sales and cosmetics can sustain the game long-term? What’s the plan if it can’t?[Khrolan] Tough question asked very politely. I know players are worried about the future of the Unchained business model because they’ve seen many games launch with a fair marketplace design in mind, only to compromise their morals after not hitting revenue targets. The difference here is ArcheAge has been a successful game for 5+ years globally. The Legacy version will continue to run alongside Unchained, and I’m confident that’s enough to sustain us. We’re more concerned about exposing this great version of the game to everyone we turned off by our previous approach.
Unfortunately, as MOP’s Chris chronicled yesterday, the ArchePass was a disaster, and so here we are. But the real problem doesn’t seem to be that players are being asked to pay $15 but the way in which Gamigo chose to communicate something so important only as an afterthought. As even Khrolan noted in that old interview, mending the trust of the community will always be the greatest challenge.