Gamigo confirms ArcheAge’s free-to-play version will receive Garden of the Gods for free

    
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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.

On Thursday evening, before our article ran, we sent Gamigo a batch of questions about the business model switch, and as of Monday morning, we have answers. Granted, some of the questions have been answered already in the ensuing days; for example, some of the answers refer to the 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.

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memitim

“The difference here is ArcheAge has been a successful game for 5+ years globally.”
“Has been” being the operative words here currently your pop numbers are dwarfed by Return of Reckoning, a private server for a 12 year old PVP game…

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ichi sakari

We’re more concerned about exposing this great version of the game to everyone we turned off by our previous approach.

mission accomplished?

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Greaterdivinity

I’m…confused.

So there’s Unchained, the current B2P version that’s supposed to be free of some of the cash shop shenanigans. It gets the expansion, but it’s paid. I’m not gonna rake them over the coals for this, business needs change, but they were dumb to not leave an escape hatch for this very situation.

And then there’s normal Archeage, which still has the cash shop shenanigans and is getting the expansion for free and…is the same game otherwise?

I mean, I wasn’t expecting gamigo to run AA any better than Trion did, and I suppose they sorta have since there seem to have been fewer controversies than when AA first launched and whatnot, but this is confusing and dumb and I don’t understand why two versions exist…unless they’re contractually obligated or something, which still makes no sense.

I’m glad I got off this train a while back.

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agemyth 😩

They are being at least a bit open about this being a reaction to their disastrous ArchePass implementation. Assuming paid DLC/expansions bring enough quality content for the prices they ask, I might even prefer that over ArchePass shenanigans. They are probably going to pull ArchePass shenanigans on top of this, right?

@MOP Y’all gotta send the folks at shady companies like Gamigo and Daybreak hyper-specific questions if you don’t want them to wriggle their way out of giving real answers like they did here XD

ArcheAge is just destined to fail in spectacular ways it seems.

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Greaterdivinity

It doesn’t matter how perfectly worded the question is, you can never force them to directly respond to it, especially with email interviews. They answer it however they want, or they simply don’t answer it.

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Giggilybits

Did they ever state buy the base game and all other expansions and or DLC will be free? Because to me from a business standpoint that seems like a really bad idea.

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Tanek

Apparently, yes, they did say that was the plan. And now since they admit the plan had to change, it would seem to confirm the free expansions model was the case as of last year.

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Arktouros

Devs definitely need to learn to shut the fuck up. Any illusions devs have about trying to have a rational and calm conversation where they’re open and explaining the situation is entirely disregarded by consumers today.

Unfortunately in Gamigo’s case that just wasn’t an option. ArcheAge has a history of launching fresh start servers with minimal monetization and then rolling them into the full monetization model later. The only way they’re remotely going to get people to even consider a different model is be super open and forth coming. Unfortunately they fucked up their business model along the way which has caused them to now change it later which just reeks of the same old ArcheAge shenanigans even tho it’s pretty clearly not.

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Bruno Brito

Did they ever state buy the base game and all other expansions and or DLC will be free?

Yes.

The problem is that, as is per Archeage tradition, they were incompetent to protect the game against exploiters and cheaters. They let the game languish for quite a while and realize that this trainwreck of a situation can’t be sustained with a mere cosmetic business model.

That’s on them.

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Bruno Brito

“OuTrAgE dOeSn’T wOrK”

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Arktouros

So far it hasn’t.

The outrage is over ArcheAge Unchained receiving the Garden of the Gods update as a DLC they have to pay for.

This is the normal retail version of ArcheAge (not Unchained) that will receive that content for free because they pay for the game in other ways.

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Bruno Brito

I stand corrected then, but i’m not going to be surprised if they end up making it free on the b2p server too.

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Arktouros

Possibly.

The most likely reason they’re doing the regular version for free is that there’s very little work involved with the update for them. Just update the game, collect money on new cash shop items.

However since Unchained is an entirely separate project with an entirely separate business model that just wouldn’t work. They’re going to have to invest developer time into converting it over. If their business model is already flagging (through entirely their own fault) it doesn’t make sense for them to spend development resources furthering their losses.

One could argue that releasing it for free would give them better publicity, but at this point it’s largely just going to counter their bad publicity and unlikely any real net gains. It would be super ironic if in complaining about the shift in business model more customers stopped supporting the game and Gamigo just decides this experiment has run it’s course and shuts the whole thing down as not financially viable.

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Bruno Brito

It would be super ironic if in complaining about the shift in business model more customers stopped supporting the game and Gamigo just decides this experiment has run it’s course and shuts the whole thing down as not financially viable.

That sounds more likely, actually.

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Toy Clown

Merv Lee resurfaced? He disappeared after the launch fiasco of the Unchained version. I thought he might not be working at Gamingo anymore due to the complete silence on his end.

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Jim Bergevin Jr

Mending trust seems to be a thing that many developers and publishers struggle with. I don’t know why any of this comes as a shock at this point. The very fact that players who originally bought into the game had to buy into Unchained to get the type of experience they should have gotten the first time around was warning enough.

Sometimes devs get a lot of unwarranted flak from the gaming community, but far too often, the ire is exactly what they deserve. But this is all par for the course in the world of big business, of which the gaming industry is very much a part.