Massively Overthinking: The loss of ArcheAge


Last week’s admission from Kakao that XLGAMES is pulling the plug on ArcheAge really hit me, and I’m still trying to process why because it was not one of my pet MMORPGs. It had the misfortune of launching in the west in the same couple of months that my daughter was born and I moved clear across the country for my husband’s work, and by the time I recovered from that, I was in the middle of founding a new company and website (*looks around*). In another age, I probably would’ve set up shop there and never left. Instead, I watched it from afar, simultaneously impressed at how a Korean dev had taken up the sandbox torch and horrified at the seemingly endless mismanagement of the companies involved as they kicked it around like a hapless beanbag.

And now, we know it’s being sunsetted, just a few months after we were reassured that would not happen.

I want to talk about the loss of ArcheAge for this week’s Massively Overthinking. I know we have some writers and readers who have similar love-hate relationships with it and plenty more with Opinions. Tell me your fond memories, your biggest grudges, where you think it all went wrong, whether it’ll influence ArcheAge 2, and what the loss of ArcheAge means to the MMORPG genre – if it’s going to have an impact at all.

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): I see the sunset of ArcheAge as the end of an era on the one hand; it was really one of the first big Korean MMORPGs to blow up in the west that wasn’t branded NCsoft, though I know it was quickly supplanted by Black Desert. But Black Desert isn’t quite as dedicated to the sandbox life.

On the other hand, XLGAMES supported the game so poorly through all its western publishers (Trion, then Gamigo, then Kakao) that it’s really a freakin’ miracle it lasted 10 years. And Gamigo’s monetization rugpull with ArcheAge Unchained midway through did not help the game’s legacy. I can hardly blame Kakao either; this has always been about XLGAMES.

To that end, I have some serious concerns about what XLGAMES is up to. The idea that it would sunset its legacy title before even launching the sequel, thereby pissing off its most loyal fans, is just… well I guess someone needed to step up to wear the villain hat now that NCsoft has traded it in for a Statesman costume. That, on top of the disastrous and shady stunts XL pulled with ArcheWorld, makes me deeply concerned for the future of AA2. I suppose we’ll see. At least we have some rogue servers as consolation – helps take the sting out of the loss.

Chris Neal (@wolfyseyes, blog): I can’t say that I’m going to hold any fond memories of ArcheAge, particularly since my time in the game was pretty much limited to the visit I had for Choose My Adventure. Most of what I experienced was your bog standard themepark MMORPG stuff that happened to have player estates of wildly divergent style peppered along the road.

I’m also willing to bet its sunset won’t make even a ripple in the genre owing to its own self-inflicted demise and the fact that most folks tend to mentally write off K-MMOs, which is a real shame.

If anything it’s probably going to have the biggest impact on AA2, especially if the same people are behind the sequel. That’s a whole lot of injured trust to pile on top of the whole project, which is only going to make the already uphill climb of this game’s now three delays that much more Sisyphean.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): I don’t have a lot of personal investment in ArcheAge; I tried it a couple times but never found that it clicked with me (especially since I was only free-to-play and couldn’t have a house). So its demise is more of a point of sorrow that the genre as a whole is losing something more than I’m missing out. I simply find it regrettable that a title with so many interesting ideas couldn’t make them gel into a workable (and non-exploitable) sandbox that would be coupled with a functional business model.

I would assert that the odds are increasing against ArcheAge 2’s release and success, however. There’s far too much baggage with this series, too many failed spin-offs, and too many people who will see a sequel strictly as an opportunity to make a rude gesture in XLGAMES’ direction and rebuff it once more.

MJ Guthrie (@MJ_Guthrie, blog): Looks at the land where all her properties were lost during one of many merges I have nothing more to say. This game was already dead to me.

Sam Kash (@thesamkash): I rather enjoyed a lot of the early game in ArcheAge. I never played the original release, but I did hop into the Unchained version. I don’t remember being especially annoyed with any of the micro transactions or other ways the studios wanted to monetize that redo version.

What I recall really liking was the class system: You could mix a few different talent trees together to make a class of your own. That was really cool. Even the skills were fun to pop off.

But it began to grow stale as soon as I started to hit some of the later game stages. I think I completed the initial story arc, but after that it was a giant grind. I think the leveling curve got too brutal, and I was lost from there – similar to where I fell off New World.

I don’t think it’ll have much long-term impact being gone. I bet many players already forgot it.

Every week, join the Massively OP staff for Massively Overthinking column, a multi-writer roundtable in which we discuss the MMO industry topics du jour – and then invite you to join the fray in the comments. Overthinking it is literally the whole point. Your turn!
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