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Aion Ascension- A new philosphy in Free to Play

Updated on August 24, 2012

Optimism- The Triumph of Hope Over Experience

I was really excited when Aion first came out. It was the first game that I got invited to beta test without having to fork out any money, and I took part in all the weekends. I got a free copy of the final game for my work, and felt like I actually did something worthwhile as far as my hobby was concerned. So I bought a copy for my wife, we got the collectors editions, and set about our adventures in Atrea.

It was great at first, but around level 23, quest dried up. All we were being given is repeatable quest, with nothing to do but grind, we lost interest, and we canceled our subs. It's not the first time this had happened, but we really wanted to like the game, it was pretty, we loved the lore, and expansion possibilities were endless. All that is great, but as the saying goes, you can paint a turd gold, but it's still a turd.

You know you always wanted wings.
You know you always wanted wings. | Source

The Companies Dirty Little Secret

So we went back to subscription based games, and when we got bored we would go find a Free to Play MMO. There are some good ones out there, but all MMO's exist for the same reason. To make money. Only the truly naïve really think that game companies stick to some archaic value system and make games a certain way because they think it's the right thing to do. They do it to put food on the table.

My fellow writers on this site, you may love to write, I know I do, but I don't practice honing my skills so I can one day write a novel and give it away. I don't post articles to make someone else money. There is a reason why game companies are companies and they charge money for their games. Whether up front or later on. The ftp model is one that gives players a taste of the game, but the curve of time needed to invest quickly spikes upwards. So if you want to continue to advance, you will have to spend a lot of time doing it.

You can pump in a few dollars and get a boost, cut that time into something more managable. Sure you see it as harmless at first. I mean, you can quit at anytime. Then BAM! You wake up, tons of xp potions around your bed, your head aches, your wife is leaving for some end game heroic geared toon, and your still only halfway through the game. You have come this far, surely you can justify spending a little more.

Wait....How much? $2000, Thats more than the down payment on my car!
Wait....How much? $2000, Thats more than the down payment on my car! | Source

How Aion does it

So when I heard Aion was going FTP the first thing I thought was this grindy game was going to have some xp pots and some buffs to be purchased that would be required for the end game pvp. I can tell you now though. I was wrong. Oh so wrong. Apparently somewhere between me quitting 3 months after release and going FTP they had made vast improvements to the amount of quest available in game, had restructured the instances so they are not so narrow in terms of entering, and really changed the focus on needing to enter the abyss. But that isn't where the changes ended.

When the Aion team made the claim “truly free” they were not doing so simply cause it was catchy. Here is a list of a few of the things that most FTP games will restrict without buying from the cash shop:

The abyss still has some grindy quest, but PVE is not that areas focus anyways.
The abyss still has some grindy quest, but PVE is not that areas focus anyways. | Source
  • Content

  • Item usage

  • Currency Caps

  • Removing death Penalties

  • Overcoming extreme XP curves

  • Unlocking races, classes, and skills

  • Ease of Travel

  • In game crafting success chances

Just because it's free doesn't mean your getting rained on. They provide you with a leaf to stay dry!
Just because it's free doesn't mean your getting rained on. They provide you with a leaf to stay dry! | Source

Then of course there are sometimes weapons and other gear that can be bought that is superior in quality to what you can buy. In the new Aion FTP model, none of these things are present. There are NO restrictions on what class you can play, how you can design your character, how much in game money you can make, what level you can go to. As a matter of fact the gold sinks that were previously in the game are almost all gone. Skills and travel, removing death penalties immediately, these things have all decreased in game currency cost, and can't be purchased with actual money.

The entire subscription game is available for free. Aion lets you do anything in the game without having to pay a cent. The xp curve needed to level is fairly standard and on par with subscription based games, and the game was developed as a AAA subscription game, so none of that quality has gone anywhere.

The only thing that may turn people off on the game is “forced” pvp. There are zones in the game that world pvp is rampant, its called the abyss, and sections of the expansion content where there is world pvp too, but there are also equal sections where you can quest with no issues, and PVE to level cap with almost no pvp issues. I say almost none, because there is a rifting system, but the way it is set up, a higher level toon gets a debuff when attacking a lower level toon, or the lower gets a buff, regardless, point is a higher level toon can't even hit a lower level toon. So no worries about ganking.

Sanctum is a huge city.
Sanctum is a huge city. | Source

Their Philosophy

To avoid this turning into an Aion review, I am going to quit talking about the different features that it offers and the ways that it breaks the mold of the FTP mindset, just basically keep in mind that there is no VIP or otherwise way you can subscribe to the game for a better experience, there is a cash shop, and there are boost, but nothing that would give you an edge competitively.

What really caught my eye with this whole system was the whole concept that was adopted with this FTP model. Every FTP MMORPG ultimately has a point where you are more or less forced to either pay, start over, or quit using their bandwidth. Aion doesn't force that decision, the whole game is only enjoyable if many people are playing, so their whole concept is about making the game enjoyable to play and not giving any reason not to. The theory was if your having fun with it, you will spend money on it. If you don't your participation might make someone else enjoy enough to spend their money instead.

I can see where they can afford to do this, Aion is wildly popular in the east, so that's where they make the most of their money off of the game. Now I am pretty sure as long as they can pay for their on expenses in the US the game is in no danger of going the way of the Matrix Online, or Lego Universe.

After thinking about this, would you give this company your money? Knowing that your not being coerced into doing so, and that your gaming experience isn't lessened without it? Or would you just play for free since you can with no ill effects? I have given NCsoft some money, and got some sweet xp boost that to be honest I didn't even need, I just wanted to tell them thank you for a great experience.

Would you pay money to NCSoft to play Aion, knowing you don't have to?

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    • Adam Lee Andersen profile image


      4 years ago from Overland Park, Kansas

      Hey I have a job too!! Lol

    • Morgaren profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

      Thing is the move has been financially viable, NCSoft still continues to update the game. I no longer play but not for any other reason than lack of time and I move from game to game to taste the social apsect and community, if you read enough of my stuff I focus on the sociological aspects of games and how the business relates, can't get an accurate understanding with just one game.

      Plus GW2 is just crazy fun, and Mist of Panderia is where I am at now too. I also have one of those things that makes you stop doing what you really enjoy....what are those things called....Job, thats right. I have a job. :)

    • A Tech Whiz profile image

      A Tech Whiz 

      5 years ago

      Quite a nice overview of the Aion game and how FTP did not change its overall game experience. I fear that other MMO's will see this concept as negative only because as you say, "They do it to put food on the table." I think I would pay for some additional boosts or access to content if I felt there was a benefit and also to pay homage for allowing players to enjoy their game.

    • Morgaren profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

      Thank you, I will be writing about Guild Wars 2 for a while, but Aion is still a spectacular game.

    • Kyricus profile image


      6 years ago from Ohio

      Hey Morgaren, I just wanted to stop by to say Good work on getting "hubnuggeted". -- I think I just coined a term! -- A blurb about this hub showed up in my email.

      I still haven't given Aion a try, I'm too wrapped up with Rift, Eve, Diablo and life to fit in another game. Too bad really because it does look like something I'd like.

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 

      6 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      Nope not paying heheheh :) Well I don't play so that doesn't count!

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination. This way please to read and vote

    • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

      John Roberts 

      6 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

      I suppose paying for that is OK. I was like that for Indie developers responsible for Amnesia: The Dark Descent, and buy copies of the game for friends to support them. I'll buy pets from the Blizzard store if I think they're worth the money and actually stand out against everyone else's. So that's always good - paying to support them ^^

    • Morgaren profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma

      Hey, thanks again, the game does take a decent machine. At least for the seiges, I have a decent rig and I still have lag in the cities when there are tons of people around.

      I pay a little money cause it just gives convienence items, like xp boost and loot boost, and I really enjoy the game, enough to say here guys, here is something for your work.

    • JohnGreasyGamer profile image

      John Roberts 

      6 years ago from South Yorkshire, England

      Another nice article that kept me engaged from start to finish! I would give Aion a try, but it seems the developers haven't bothered to make a lower-spec version much like the hand-drawn environments of WoW. I think that's why it's got such a high player base (WoW, I mean) - because it runs on very low specs fine. I would give this a try, but until I upgrade my laptop or whatever you do with them, I'll pass.

      I even took part in the question, "Would you pay money to NCSoft to play Aion, knowing you don't have to?". I said "no", because if it's free, so be it. I shouldn't need to pay for something that is deemed FTP. Bonus features are fine, but I'll only pay for them if I deem them worthy of my wallet. No Saxton Hale of TF2 probably means no money from me.

      Voted up, useful, interesting and shared! ^^


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