Ashes of Creation boss criticizes New World’s business model, argues for subs and cosmetic shops

    
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New World’s cash-shop snafu last week still has a wide swath of the MMO community up in arms, apparently. Readers will recall that a tester leaked info from the NDA-locked alpha that suggested Amazon was adding both cosmetics and leveling boosters to the test cash shop, which of course caused an uproar from gamers who deemed that pay-to-win. Amazon, of course, almost immediately countered the leak by clarifying that the launch cash shop would contain “exclusively cosmetic” items only and that the company is merely testing “ideas on how to offer players quality of life items for mechanics like rested XP and fast travel,” with the timing on the potential release of such items depending on how the launch goes. “Our goal with all items of any type is that they not offer an advantage that imbalances the game,” the company wrote.

The original leak drew snark from all corners of the genre, including from rival developers. Apparently, Ashes of Creation’s Steven Sharif lashed out on Discord.

“I really enjoyed how it was stated they would include ‘quality of life’ items like ‘LeVEl BOOsTS AnD TRadE SkILl BOoSTs’ but nothing that affects competitive aspects of the game…??!?! Why u do dis Amazon? I was flattered when they drew inspiration from some of my designs… but honestly…who tf made the decision!!? I just want some new blood in the genre ffs.”

The remark was clearly made off the cuff and isn’t even all that objectionable, given that I suspect most MMO players are tired of companies trying to redefine pay-to-win to be just one hair past whatever it is they’re trying to sell us. But in any case, Sharif apologized for his outburst, calling it “unprofessional” before going on to clarify his position, especially in light of the fact that Ashes of Creation has an extensive pre-launch cosmetic cash shop and startling high buy-ins for alpha. Essentially, he argues in favor of cosmetic cash shops and subs as the combination provides a steady income for developers and incentivizes content creation.

“In a buy to play game, companies already have your money and their interest in retaining the user is diminished to a degree (of course they still wish to retain the user, but when that user leaves they aren’t dropping their sub and b2p games can consider the next revenue event aka an expansion etc, as an opportunity to win back the user).

“On the shop side; I cannot express my opinion on this any stronger; Like many in the gaming community I have experienced great games die because the company introduced pay 2 advantage. Whether that advantage is a winning one or a ‘quality of life’ one. It undermines the content, the playerbase’s efforts, the core gameplay loops and lessens the sense of reward a player feels when they ACHIEVE something.

“Cosmetics imo can supply additional revenues in a respectful way SO LONG as there are in-game achievable visuals that match and EXCEED the ornate/complexities of what’s offered in the cosmetic shop AND purchased cosmetics aren’t tradable. That is key. And I know we have taken our own flack for our preorder system, of which I have tried my best to engage and explain how our packages work, and how our cosmetics offered are used in variants to actually help build our world. Furthermore, cosmetics must be actual SKINS. Meaning, the player must first achieve the actual mount or building or armor in game, and THEN can apply the skin they purchased.”

Source: Reddit via MMORPG.com
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Dean Greenhoe

I love to watch rich folk duel with a game of badminton. :)

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Worldofwarcraft Mage

All I can say is the pot calling kettle black .

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G I G A B E A R

Hard agree with Steven on this.

It’s frustrating when people make mistakes and you can’t do anything to help them.

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Rndomuser

No, you did more than “wanting AoC to succeed” or being “motivated by passion”. From what I’ve seen (many examples posted by other users with appropriate screenshots), you let your negative side to completely overwhelm you to the point where you tried to doxx the Steven and do other things, very annoying things, which lead to your ban from official Discord and from testing. This is despite official Discord still allowing normal criticism of the game and the way it is monetized. You still appear in subreddits like MMORPG simply to post a list of claims of negative things Steven did in the past, with a mix of false and factual claims. You literally made a post there 7 days ago with contents like “While all of this was going on, being sued for allegedly stealing assets and having judgements/liens entered against him for a million dollars in unpaid taxes by the California Franchise Tax Board. If he has millions, why would he not pay his due?”

That’s not what a person who is “motivated by passion to make a game succeed” does. That’s just a pretty unhealthy behavior in general and it is unfortunate you keep letting it overwhelm you instead of seeking professional help for it.

P.S: Please don’t reply with “but other people also doxxed me and abused me”. Their behavior, however inappropriate it was, does not excuse your own unhealthy obsession.

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G I G A B E A R

Friend, I left a short comment on this post because it came up in another community. Where I actually took Steven’s side. I’m not the one behaving in an obsessive manner.

LET IT GO.

Secondly, anyone can make an alt and pretend to be “Gigabear.”

If it doesn’t come from my Discord GIGABEAR#0001 or @Gigabear__ on twitter, then presume it’s one of many fakes trying to continue stirring the pot on stuff that happened years ago.

Yes, that ironically includes this MOP commenting accounting

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rk70534

There is no one magic business model for MMOs, not from the point of view of publishers nor the players.

Personally B2P + optional subscription (with extensive benefits through it) combined with a cosmetic store is most to my taste.

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Rndomuser

Speaking of Ashes of Creation, I don’t know if Bree is aware of it yet but the verbal NDA has been lifted and any Alpha tester can discuss the game without showing any screenshots and videos.

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Aquarion

Speaking as a Kickstarter backer of AoC, when the beta was due three years ago, I’d dearly like to judge his game on its actual implementations of a cash shop, instead of a constantly retreating access date.

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Brown Jenkin

Strong disagree.

I plan never to pay another MMO subscription in my life, unless something about the genre radically changes. Personally I have zero problem spending money on a game that I’m enjoying (as in a cash shop) to support that game, rather than paying monthly for the privlege of repetitive waves of new content gated behind vertical progression grind (which is currently what all sub games offer as far as I know).

Honestly, as much as AGS stepped in crap on this one… its a pretty bold attack coming from of the (notably great looking) Kickstarter MMOs with all sorts of absurd buy ins just for the pleasure of access.

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Rndomuser

Steven obviously overreacted in his original post by making fun of Amazon but at least he apologized for it. Something I haven’t seen other game developers doing. As for his stance on cosmetics – I don’t mind them, I don’t mind even if game offers them to buy before being launched. If people want to pay for the cosmetics at any time even before the game being finished because they find that enjoyable – let them pay it. I did the same with my money in many games, and when I saw others in game in cosmetics purchased from store – that didn’t impact my gameplay in any way. I paid for several things in FFXIV’s store, including $25 mounts or $10 Fantasia potions to change my appearance. And FFXIV also has both XP boosts (you can preorder Endwalker expansion where you get earring which gives you 30% XP boost for leveling new jobs) and instant level boosts and yet many people still enjoy playing it. People make way too much of big deal out of this thing.

Only thing I do mind is when cosmetic items are available for limited time only, like Regalia mount in FFXIV, but even that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying other aspects of the game.

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Bruno Brito

Steven obviously overreacted in his original post by making fun of Amazon but at least he apologized for it.

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Rndomuser

You can make as much examples as you want where apology was not genuine but it’s still better than saying nothing. Especially since he actually said “shall not happen again”, something that can be used against him in future to accuse him of lying in case he will try to make fun of some other game studio in similar sarcastic way just to make his own company look better. You can be sure that many people are already making screenshots of that phrase and bookmarks of this post for this reason, and he knows this.

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Bruno Brito

That was a long paragraph to say that it’s a PR stunt, which we agree on.

If it’s “better” or not, i’ll leave up to the target-audience of this game. I’m not it.

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Jo Watt

IMO it’s better than having just another company CEO saying, “That’s just how it is guys, keep bending over for us.”

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Bruno Brito

“That’s just how it is guys, keep bending over for us.”

When did a CEO said that?

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Jo Watt

It was not said literally… However if you squint your eyes and kind of tune your hearing when you listen to and read what these companies are doing you will basically interpret their corporate lingo as what I said.
Edit:. Ashes does still have to prove itself as well so as a company he shouldn’t goes so far but at the same time he is still an MMO player as well.

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Bruno Brito

Dude, i’m aware of what CEO’s say between the lines. But it matters when we give them a pass because of void apologies. Rockstar developers are also prone to PR talk, and if you squint your eyes enough, as you put it, you’ll also see Sharif doing the same.

1- If his game is P2W, it won’t matter him talking shit or not. People will get the pitchforks anyway, because blatant P2W is polarizing enough on it’s own, specially in PvP games.

2- It’s clear that Sharif deliberately did this shit, weighing his options on getting into a small PR stunt war with NW because Amazon is already a disliked company, their gaming central is less than stellar, and NW isn’t as overhyped as AoC. Him apologizing for “not being professional” was just him not burning bridges because he knows he can fail, and he doesn’t want to become another Mark Kern, Cliffy B or something like this.

Let’s not pretend empty words are better than no words. What Sharif did here was a stunt, and i’m not desperate enough for any semblance of pathetic communication from these idiots that even a complete empty “sorry” from him, Brack, Kotick or any of those will change anything for me. If it makes sense from a “business” standpoint for him, he WILL P2W this game. No ifs and buts.

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Jo Watt

You have zero proof that’s what is happening. Could it be, yes… But also it might not be. No one said we are giving him a pass. You really like to make things up.

Ashes is a wait and see. You have no way of knowing what will happen. It could be absolute crap and it won’t phase me because I’m not hyping and foaming over it.

Quite frankly we should all be wanting every mmo in development right now to get things straightened out and really bring some competition into the genre.

Tbh what he said, even though it’s coming from him, is still very true. No matter how much anyone wants to spin it or turn it back on him. The state of mmos right now is not very good.

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Bruno Brito

You have zero proof that’s what is happening. Could it be, yes… But also it might not be. No one said we are giving him a pass. You really like to make things up.

Sharif is a former P2Winner from Archeage. I have story at my side. I wasn’t the one pulling CEO quotes from my behind.

Ashes is a wait and see. You have no way of knowing what will happen. It could be absolute crap and it won’t phase me because I’m not hyping and foaming over it.

Which is not my point at all. My point is Sharif making an entire PR stunt and you buying this as some sort of “it’s better…”, no it’s not. It’s the same as not saying nothing because in the end all he did was attract attention to his game after leveraging an action that he knew would be polarizing. Congratulations.

Quite frankly we should all be wanting every mmo in development right now to get things straightened out and really bring some competition into the genre.

I don’t want CEO’s and rockstar developers getting into dick-waving competitions just because they wanna widen the overhyping of their games. They can talk with their work and excellence. I’m tired of PR. Quite frankly, them getting a pass on this is tiresome and i don’t see “competition into the genre” being any good to the genre if the games go the same road their mouth goes.

Tbh what he said, even though it’s coming from him, is still very true. No matter how much anyone wants to spin it or turn it back on him. The state of mmos right now is not very good.

According to whom? To him? To you? To Randomuser? I don’t like the state of MMOs as much as the next person, but to pretend it was somewhat better before?

Let me tell you something everyone here already know: The state of WOW is not good. It doesn’t mean FF14 is not in a good state. It doesn’t mean GW2 is not passable as a game. It doesn’t mean ESO isn’t doing one of it’s best years ever. Just because Sharif doesn’t have the game where he can blow five people and make sick Faze montages, doesn’t mean the MMO scene isn’t decent enough. It was always good and it was always bad. Naysayers like him and you were always present and they will always be.

I’m sick, tired and done with these rockstar dipshits who make use of nostalgia-ridden sheeps to fuel games that are always unfocused, delayed and never fulfill what they promise. SPECIALLY when history shows they are exactly what they vouch against. Everyone wants to recapture the magic of Everquest, until people realize Everquest is not playable for the standards of today.

You believe whatever you want. I’ll be waiting for PSO2 NG while i play ESO and having my fun.

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Jo Watt

That still isn’t proof of what Ashes will become. You clearly have an issue with him and that’s ok. I don’t think he is the next mmo messiah come to save the genre, But just because he was one of the biggest AA whales doesn’t mean the game will be that way.

The CEO wasn’t even a quote. You clearly don’t understand sarcasm. And I literally spelled it out for you in easy to understand terms.

The point I made was we should want the games themselves to do good to create competition because looking at WoW… It’s slowly decaying in some degree because of them knowing it’s the “king” of mmos and they can release trash and people will just take it because.. where else will they go seemed to be the thought. Now over in FFXIV we keep getting ppl saying, “Hey, wow refuge here” every day. You probably are as well in ESO. At some point this competition might slap an emergency button over at ActiBlizz and they try to actually “try” again to care about the game. Without competition over time it’s possible for quality to drop.

The state of new mmos aren’t that good is probably what I should have sad. Apologies on that. WoW ofc is bad, FFXIV is actually my favorite of the mix and it’s doing really steady. I don’t quite like how ESO does some of the monetary stuff but it’s doing good. I’m talking about just looking at what is being done to them as far as F2P and B2P being the excuse to create terrible leveling designs and providing boosts or other items to skip it and get into the “real” content of “end game”. Take your example of ESO… There are crazy amounts of things to do and places to go with full voice acting. What’s the point of all that if they designed all those stories to be boring and instead tell you here is a boost item so you can just do “current” content. That’s bad design.

Edit:. Sorry I forgot to say that even though the statement came from him it’s still a valid complaint about what’s happening with not just New World but other games. KiraTv even showed one of the patch notes from a while back of Amazon lowering rested xp rates… Ok not a big deal right.?. well then they mention now about possibly adding some way to boost the rested xp from you guessed it.. cash shop. Literally creating a problem to sell you the solution. That’s the kind of thing all of us should be looking out for and calling out, no matter what if we want to continue enjoying the games we play.

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Worldofwarcraft Mage

Fully agree with you fellow cat lover

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Katzvariak

lmao, like he’s any better?

Remember AoC was like a ponzi scheme?
Remember the 500$ access to alpha?

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Rndomuser

Remember AoC was like a ponzi scheme?

When was it? You mean the referral program? It doesn’t work like a ponzi scheme. You don’t invest any money into referral program.

Remember the 500$ access to alpha?

What about it? I can admit I spent for alpha access. It doesn’t give me any advantage over anyone – the progress in alpha won’t transfer into final game. Many of the things in current alpha will be changed, including locations or the way classes work or their abilities work so this also doesn’t give me any advantage in this regard. I don’t get any XP boosts with this package or crafting boosts. All it does is lets people to satisfy their curiosity about basic things like the aesthetics of the game. Something that people can do for free by watching other people’s streams once NDA for streaming expires, or by playing final game for $15/month.

I understand that some people may not be able to afford to pay $500 for alpha access but there is nothing wrong with giving other people opportunity to do this, especially if there are no advantages for doing this for players other than enjoying aesthetics of the game earlier than others. If you will only play $15/month for final game – you will level at same speed at person who paid $500 for Alpha access, you will craft at same speed, and you will always be able to access the gear with same stats in game as that player.

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Greaterdivinity

I feel alone in thinking the drama over the cash shop has been totally pointless and like outrage for the sake of outrage. Every MMO I can think of sells convenience/boosts in their store in some capacity, yet people still freak the hell out at the notion of it in an upcoming game.

interest in retaining the user is diminished to a degree

Hard disagree. They have an interest in retaining the user to maintain a populated world and to try to convert them into a user that regularly spends in the cash shop. Even if they don’t, they have an interest in retaining those users to act as “content” for the whales that are dropping huge sums and largely funding ongoing development.

I have experienced great games die because the company introduced pay 2 advantage

What great games?

Whether that advantage is a winning one or a ‘quality of life’ one. It undermines the content, the playerbase’s efforts, the core gameplay loops and lessens the sense of reward a player feels when they ACHIEVE something.

I’ll counter with a single example: Path of Exile. The cash shop sells plenty of QoL improvements via stash tabs, including unlocking the ability to sell items through premium stash tabs. And for all the problems the game has, none of them are related to the QoL features in the cash shop.

SO LONG as there are in-game achievable visuals that match and EXCEED the ornate/complexities

Seen this sentiment a lot. Without seeing the full game, or even the first look at the cash shop, I don’t know how folks seem to already know all the good looking stuff will be there and that none will be earnable in-game.

Sharif apologized for his outburst, calling it “unprofessional”

Just a bit. Which is why I’ve kinda remained skeptical of AoC under his wing. He’s got a lot of great talent working on the game, but he’s the wildcard for me.