Celebrities in AQWorlds.
This article is an updated version of a previous work on Blogger.
Celebrity endorsement is the use of a superstar's fame to sell or advertise a product. The reasoning is that a recognizable star will have an easier time promoting a product to users. While celebrity endorsement can make a brand more famous, done wrongly, the celebrity in question appears to be inserted for the sake of star factor.
However, in the case of Artix Entertainment, their tendency is to become the promoters of obscure "stars." A virtual talent agency if you will. Their platform of choice is AQWorlds, billed as a game set in a fantasy world around the time of the Middle Ages.
The Types of Celebs and Their Roles
Celebrity events in AQWorlds have been quite frequent from 2010 to 2013. This is partly due to the informal contract that Voltaire Hernandez will hold a virtual performance every Friday the 13th. The celebrity events are often given plenty of fanfare via design notes, Twitter, and forum posts, and shoehorned into the game regardless of whether the event fits into the established canon of AQWorlds. In contrast, the other AE games have only one or two celebrity cameos in minor roles.
While many of the stars appearing in AQWorlds perform in the Gothic or metal genres, there are exceptions to the rule such as pop-rock and electronica.
The first One Eyed Doll event was contrived in such a way that the lead singer, Kimberly Freeman, was the actual Chaos Lord (a minor villain serving Drakath, the main villain) of a musical land. The game claims that Drakath hypnotized Kimberly, and she hypnotized the Chaos Lord Discordia in turn. This sounds ridiculous to an outside viewer because Drakath and Discordia are fictional, but breaking the fourth wall and addressing the audience directly is common in AE games, regardless of superstars' involvement.
In 2010, a band called ArcAttack was included in one of AQWorld's storylines where the player has to save Artix from a paladin-slaying monster. The band makes a random appearance just to show off their method of music, electric shocks and recordings of the resulting. There is very little reason why an electro-tech band should appear in the medieval world, and this band has no impact on the story besides making Vordred stronger for a short time.
One Eyed Doll was also inserted without regard for the tone in AQWorlds' Halloween/Mogloween events. In October 2010, One Eyed Doll released a single titled, “You're a Vampire,” and the virtual performance of the single was “justified” by a vampire wanting to make the main town disappear into the mists.
Voltaire's Friday the 13th in September 2013 also suffered from a contrived ending. The event concerns Voltaire's treasure hunting attempts on an island cursed by Captain Von Poach. At the end of the event, the Captain is somehow cursed into becoming a female monster that Voltaire's teddy bear sidekick falls in love with. The nonsensical ending was apparently taken from Facebook suggestions for AQWorlds.
Two more non-Gothic examples of celebrity musicals take place on Valentine's Day, both featuring Mia J. Park, a new musician. The first event was a Disneyfied version of Romeo and Juliet, who were reincarnated after the player breaks Mercutio's curse. The second was about a duel between suitors seeking the hand of King Alteon's eldest daughter in marriage.
Most recently, in June 2015, the quasi-religious rock band Synderes was invited to perform in AQWorlds, but no longer as part of a storyline.
Should superstars continue to appear in AQWorlds?
From a business standpoint, it makes sense to be a promoter of the performing arts since it draws in the audience. In fact, AQWorlds takes advantage of the celebrity appearances to sell virtual goods. These goods are mainly decorative clothing items for one's character in the game.
Cysero stated his reasoning for having stars perform in AQWorlds:
The second reason that it's a big deal is that we get to help out some people that we really, honestly like. I don't know if you guys understand this but when we do these musical events, it's because WE like the bands. Voltaire, Jonathan Coulton, Paul & Storm, They Might Be Giants... these are all bands that a LOT of us really like. They don't pay us to get into the game. A lot of the time we don't even pay them. Often there is no money involved... just fun. It's an amazingly rare and super cool thing to be say that in this or any other industry.
By appealing to fans of music and gamers, Artix Entertainment has ensured a winning formula for one game's survival. But at what cost?
AQWorlds is considered the main game of Artix Entertainment (AE) nowadays, due to the huge amount of promotion that is included in any event. However, it has gotten to the point that AE's other games appear to be forgotten. With the possible exceptions of Original AdventureQuest and DragonFable, the other games suffer from a lack of staff, a lack of updates, and a lack of guidance.
The clearest example would be HeroSmash, which has no major storyline updates since late 2011. In fact, the main storyline has never been finished. The below quote indicates that the company cannibalized resources from their weaker games without being completely transparent.
One more thing…!
A bunch of you have been wondering where the other servers have disappeared to. Well, seeing as to how the GIANT AdventureQuest Worlds event with musical guests They Might Be Giants releases tomorrow night, HeroSmash donated a few of its severs to help AQWorlds out!
Because sharing is SUPER! And we know super =p
Happy PumpCON everyone! Smash on.
MechQuest, DragonFable, and OverSoul are neglected to varying degrees as well. AE simply isn't large enough to conduct a virtual Broadway stage and keep its other games alive at the same time.
There's No Such Thing as Bad Publicity
AE also has been tricked by unscrupulous fame-seekers. According to an independent music news site, Ayi Jihu is not a genuine star. She has made use of her public relations as well as AE's unfamiliarity with minor celebrities to get an appearance in AQWorlds. It is unknown whether AE had to pay a fee to get her to appear, but the staff do not wish to mention her after the controversy.
It is also worth noting that one of the members of Synderes was found guilty of botting, or using an automated program to play his character instead of actually controlling it in person. While the design notes about the incident were deleted, there is a choice quote here:
Artix and I met to figure out how we could make this right for everyone. He thought, and I brainstormed, and he acknowledged we need to treat everyone equally regardless, and also that we don't want to hurt the band or take the event away from players who just want to /headbang in Yulgar's Inn, or waste the team’s hard work by cancelling our first-ever band in the Inn.
Artix said, “If he is truly sorry and will not do it again, then we have an opportunity to turn this from a negative into a positive situation. Ban his account for seven days like we would any other 1st time offender that was caught, and replace whatever armor he requested for his character with an anti-botting t-shirt."
The implication is that the show must go on, as typical of old showbiz days.
AQWorlds' Questionable Quality
Some players believe that the excessive celebrity events in the last few years caused the main Chaos storyline to be delayed until June 2014. While AE did not mention how long it would take to finish the Chaos storyline, the increasing delay between each Chaos Lord after Discordia, the sixth out of thirteen, began to put off players. The delays were filled with stories that either focused on Lore in general, or celebrities.
As a result, on June 13 2014, AE decided that a Voltaire performance would distract from the ending of the Chaos storyline that was already planned.
Normally (as if THAT happens in AQW!!!), Friday the 13th brings a huge (horribly unlucky) event with musical guest star, Voltaire. But if you've read the info above, you know that we've already got more bad juju than we can handle! So while he jets off to parts unknown for another recording session, WE are going to keep things moving in a chaotic direction with the World War Lore event and a limited time shop!
Even after the Chaos story was finally completed in the summer of 2014, the next storyline of the Ancient Evils took a long time to begin. The cause of the Ancient Evils storyline being slow is not to be blamed on celebrities alone, although lingering stardom is a factor.
Everything, even the Sink!
Because AQWorlds has a habit of including performers who do not have a medieval theme, the game resembles a disorganized patchwork of past, present, and future. New users who try the game during an AQW celebrity event may wonder why modern performers are acting in the middle ages.
At best, it may be a brief moment of confusion. At worst, it would break roleplaying immersion completely, not a good sign for a roleplaying game.
Star Studded Statistics
This is a summary of the number of times stars have appeared in AQWorlds.
The current total of celebrity events and years present:
- Voltaire Hernandez: 8 (2009-2013). 1 minor appearance as Artix's wedding guest, without performing.
- One Eyed Doll: 3 (2009, 2010, 2012). 1 extra with Voltaire and George Lowe.
- George Lowe (A television narrator): 1 (2010).
- ArcAttack: 1 (2011).
- Mia J. Park: 2 (2012-2013).
- Ctrl Alt Del (Webcomic crossover): 1 (2011).
- They Might Be Giants: 1 (2011).
- Paul and Storm: 1 (2010). Same time as Jonathan Coulton.
- Jonathan Coulton: 1 (2010). Same time as Paul and Storm.
- Ayi Jihu: 1 (2011). Never mentioned or hired again by AE afterwards.
- Synderes: 1 (2015).
Total number of celebrity events from 2009 to 2013: 18.
Number of celebrity events by year:
- 2009: 3
- 2010: 3
- 2011: 5
- 2012: 5
- 2013: 2
- 2014: 0
- 2015: 1
Year(s) with the most celebrity guest events: 2011, 2012.
These events take up to a month on average as AQWorlds always sells virtual merchandise and wants as many players as possible to join in on the event.
If the events' proportions are calculated by the total number of months, this is the result from 2009 to 2013:
- Months in 2009 to 2013 = 5*12 = 60
- Months occupied by celebrities = 18
- Percentage of time occupied by celebs = (18/60) * 100% = 30%
When the pause in 2014 is included as well as 2015, this is the result.
- Months in 2009 to 2015 = 7*12 = 84
- Months occupied by celebrities = 19
- Percentage of time occupied by celebs = (19/84) * 100% = 22%
While celebrity promotion can bring in immense publicity when done well, its overuse in AQWorlds is a factor in the company heavily favoring one game over all else. The result? An imbalance in development resources on an already strained company.
It would be wise for Artix Entertainment to reconsider making AQWorlds their virtual celebrity hub, or consider inviting more medieval-themed stars to avoid breaking the theme.