Am I actually the only one who is finally sick and tired of AE's monetary model? All the way from AQ, where cool armor and gear were not only locked behind Z-Tokens, but also certain Z-Token packages. In Dragonfable, paying 10$ for strong DC Classes that turn awful for not being updated since their release, as well as locking the best class in the game behind a 60$ paywall. AQW, where the best dodge class costs an enormous 50$ through "HeroPoints" (up to debate whether itís just a ďbonusĒ for spending money on heropoint merchandise, but letís be real, most people are buying hero point merchandise because of these), and every calendar class about 25$ (all of which have been buffed, and are now strong), and making almost unbearable grinds easier through quest pets almost exclusively available through AC. Sadly, the only game that doesn't seem to have this much is AQ3D, but that game has a slew of other problems (you can buy most resources in the game with DC, so there's that).
This would be unacceptable in most companies of today (EA, Activision Blizzard, Ubisoft, Bethesda..), but not Artix Entertainment? I get it, they're an indie company, but there has to be a better monetary model for this. One of the biggest sins of this monetary model is with AQW being an MMO (not fully fledged MMO in my opinion, but still an MMO), and the PvP scene. Although the PvP in this game is kinda small, it's still inexcusable that some of the best classes for it are available to just pay for (like with Great Thief), with some others being Rare (removed from the game essentially for those who never got them). And with the "Mythic Item of Digital Awesomeness", you can literally just throw 100$ at AE and tell them "I want this item", and you'll get it (does not work for items you already have to pay AE for, like Great Thief and Calendar stuff), or you can buy enough Doom Wheel keys and try your luck, like with a loot box from an EA game (Isn't it funny how AE backwards is EA?).
AQW is not the worst offender here, however. AQ and DF are both single player games that have monetizations in them. SINGLE PLAYER GAMES with MONETIZATION. When Middle-Earth: Shadow of War came out, it was a single player game with pay-to-win elements in it, with loot boxes and a cash shop. This was deemed unacceptable by the whole internet, and the developers decided to change it. Although AE's monetary methods aren't lootbox type, except for Doom Wheel, I'm actually shocked that no one seems to have a problem with this. From best spells, items and armors in AQ with ridiculously powerful abilities and strong elemental resistances, to DF with it's several dozen DC weapons, accessories and classes from the past that are now ultimately obsolete. And they're still SINGLE PLAYER GAMES. But the worst part of it is, most classes both in AQ and DF have HALF of their abilities locked behind an one-time "upgrade" purchase. Just to enjoy the classes to the fullest. In a SINGLE PLAYER GAME.
And I do give them this: they have tried to fix some of these problems. In DF, the Inn at the Edge of Time has replaced a lot of DC weapons and other accessories with intriguing challenges (but it also makes past DC purchases feel like wasted money). Also with AQW giving its own shot at Exaltia Tower, I thought they were going in the right direction for once, but because of AQW's enhancement system, we just got some cool skins and a weapon that is a slightly lesser version of NSOD. Some of the new non-paid classes in AQW also have been very strong, finally offering an alternative to Great Thief with Yami no Ronin (although not as strong, still a fun class). The class balancing is still something to be desired for. AQ has even jumped in on this, buffing the actual classes in the game, but just like with DF's items overshadowing past DC purchases, this might also make past buyers of Z-Token feel bad for their purchases, if the classes end up just being better armors than the Z-Token ones.
There's also the fact of Adobe Flash not being supported by Google Chrome. They decided on bringing the games into a separate client. I think this was their best move, but they still haven't fixed the core issues with the client. The biggest one being: FPS, or Frames per Second. Every single one of their games has issues with the client struggling with fps when the games are at high, medium or even low quality, with several cutscenes that just make the client choke and die on medium to high, going even as low as 1FPS. I'm not kidding. I sat in an AQW cutscene with my quality on high, and in a scene transition (which was literally just a PITCH BLACK SCREEN) took me 1-2 minutes, with the rest of it slugging just as badly. Btw, did you know you can skip a cutscene only at its beginning, and not even in all of the games? This is no longer just an opinion, this is OBJECTIVELY bad design, and this is the problem they should have fixed first and foremost. And the thing is: this entire problem *was* fixed, but not by AE, but by a third-party client. That just makes me so sad.
There are couple of reasons why I think they get away with this:
- One, indie game company. We don't see them as the big bad Activision Blizzard or Electronic Arts. And although I do believe the people working in the company are all honest and amazing people, their monetizations just don't reflect that. It feels just like playing an EA game.
- Two, nostalgia. Most, if not all players that are still connected to AE are old players that just haven't grown out of the games, and I can sadly say I am one of these people. AE, in my opinion, doesn't do a good job of pulling in new players, so in a rapidly growing economy, they have to just milk the old cows even more. This point makes me think of Classic Wow, and how Activision Blizzard implemented a cash shop to it just to milk nostalgia, except the cash shop was there from the beginning, so we were conditioned to thinking it was fine.
- Three, as well as the biggest, free content. When Chaosweaver armor came out, I was pumped, but then seeing that 10$ price tag as an actual adult just made my stomach ache. You don't pay 10$ for classes in any MMORPG worth their merit, a lot less in SINGLE PLAYER RPGS. But I guess we feel inclined to do that, because they don't make us pay for any of the other content, unless you count AQW's subscription and one-time purchase boost for the other games, like Guardian, Starlord, Dragonlord, etc., and also the kickstarter for AQ3D (which still hasn't gotten out of beta, so we've been paying money for a game that still hasn't fully released, which would probably bring in new players to check it out). Even though all of these games are free-to-play (initially), I do believe I have put more money into any single one of them than any other game (but thatís more having to do with the monetary model than the game itself, even though that just shows how much I love these games).
AE has made us pay for stuff like this since the beginning, and I'm just tired of it. Ever since playing AQ since 2005, DF since 2007 and AQW since 2010, I fell in love with these games, the company, the people working for these games, the stories and the classes/armors. Chronomancer class in DF was the first time I actually wanted to pay money to AE, but it was too late for me. Now, given the opportunity to pay for the full prize of the Calendar package, but not only not getting the calendar, not the other bonus item for the other games, but not even the og class look, which couldíve been easily implemented into the Armor Customization system? I'm just done with this company at this point.
So much money for games that are just outclassed by every other game in the market, and they aren't even that much fun to play anymore, but back then we didn't care, because it was a "free" game we could just start on a browser and just play. Definitely beat most other browser games, but now browser games have either died or upgraded, but not AE's games. And I think that is their greatest downfall. They don't feel like they're trying to innovate anymore. They post their tweets and blog posts and whatever, but it all feels kinda hollow now.
And this post hasn't even gone to the problems the games themselves have separate from the monetary model, like AQW's PvE combat literally being "spank the 8 million hp mob until it dies. And it *will* die before you, since you're immortal", and AQ's "do the same combo every combat and you win, unless you're against a boss, in which case it's a 10 minute gear switching dance".
And I still can't believe how many people are just okay with all of this. All of us who have stayed with these games all this time shows that we love these games, but if you dump money into these games, you are - first and foremost - a customer. All I can think of is what Asmongold said in response to Preach quitting WoW: "If I go to Wendy's, and I order a hamburger, and they say 'there ain't no hamburgers, you want a chicken sandwich?' I say 'no, I'll go to McDonalds or Burger King'." And even though I donít know how to make a burger from the ground up, I can tell when Iím being served something I donít like, and simply take my money elsewhere.
Anyway, these are just the ramblings of a player who has played these games for too long and see them deteriorate over literal years. And before anyone slanders me as a hater, I will reiterate, I love these games, which is why I wrote this. I think Book 3 in DF is the best that Artix Entertainment has ever gotten in their games. I don't want them to just fade into obscurity, if they already haven't. If I hated these games, I'd just not play them. But I DO want to play them, but I just can't bring myself to it anymore. Take this post as you will, and hopefully I can come back to these games someday.