Editorial | 1/14/2013 at 8:50 AM

MMO Co-Opportunities Volume XXIX: Changes, Relaunches, and Resurrections

A change to the Secret World, an upcoming relaunch of FFXIV, and a resurrection of AC2

It’s been a couple months since the last MMO Co-Opportunities (the last one was in November with December being skipped). Quite a few interesting things have happened in the world of MMOs since then, and for this month’s installment I’ve rounded up three stories that might interest you MMO’ers out there. We’ll be looking at the Secret World dropping its subscription, Final Fantasy XIV preparing for its Realm Reborn revamp, and the delightful surprise of Asheron’s Call 2 being brought back from the dead.

The Secret World Loses its Subscription Model

In the middle of December, Funcom officially dropped the subscription requirement for its recently released MMO, the Secret World. Launched back in July (our own Mike and Jason did a guest MMO Co-opportunity on it), some may find it surprising that the game changed its payment model after just five months. While I can’t say it’s the fastest an MMO has decided that a subscription plan wasn’t working out (heck, Final Fantasy XIV didn’t collect any subscription money until over a year had passed, but more on this in the following story), it may not be surprising considering the amount of financial trouble Funcom appears to be in.

All that aside though, an MMO losing its subscription is often a great time for people who were on the fence about a game to go and finally try it out. While the game isn’t technically “Free to Play” like many other MMOs that you can just download and try without paying a cent, the Secret World has adopted a demi pay once, play forever system similar to Guild Wars 1 and 2. Players will have to buy the game (which usually costs $30, but can often be found for $15 or $20), but once bought they’ll get access to all the content of the base game. There will be paid content packs which players can purchase if they wish. While this might sound like a bit of a drag, in my opinion it’s one of the best ways an MMO can go, as many of the F2P MMOs have monster Cash Shops that have an enormous impact on just how far a player can go without forking over some cash. Some F2P games execute these Cash Shops more gracefully than others, but others enforce a structure that MMO players derogatorily call “Pay to Win.”

If you really get into the Secret World, there is an optional Membership which has taken the place of the subscription fee. The membership is still $15 a month and grants members several perks such as a reusable item that boosts XP gain for an hour, $10 worth of Bonus Points which can be used in the in-game store, an Item of the Month (given out on the first of the month), and 10% off everything in the store excepting packs.

Final Fantasy XIV Shuts Down to Prepare for a Realm Reborn

If you follow MMOs, you may have heard of the disaster that was the launch of Final Fantasy XIV (which I’ll just call FF14 from now on for simplicity’s sake). Highly anticipated, many hoped that FF14 would follow in the footsteps of extremely popular MMO Final Fantasy XI. Instead, FF14 was extremely different, and not in a good way. Many FF11 players went back to 11, and many MMO players who hadn’t played FF11 decided that FF14 wasn’t worth their time. The launch was such a mess that though a subscription for the game had been planned, the people in charge decided that they couldn’t ask a monthly fee from their players with the game in its current form. Though the game launched September 2010, players weren’t billed for a subscription until January 2012.

Shortly after the game’s launch, however, FF14 received a new director and producer who hoped to salvage the game. Through player feedback, aggressive changes were made to the game in a series of patches. Graphics were updated, gameplay systems were removed, added, or severely changed, and content was boosted. Back in November, though, FF14 was taken offline to prepare for the relaunch of FF14: A Realm Reborn. This second version of FF14 will be vastly different than FF14, boasting a new server system, a new graphics engine, a revamped and completely different UI, rehauled as well as new job classes, PVP content, and the new Full Active Time Event (FATE) system.

FF14: A Realm Reborn is currently in alpha, but beta sign-ups are available for both the PC and PS3 (yes, it’s finally going to come to PS3!) versions. While the relaunch isn’t planned until mid 2013, the past few months have brought a lot of alpha sneak peeks, and the game looks vastly different than the stuff I’ve seen from the old version. As someone who never gave the original a second thought, I’m intrigued by what I see for FF14: A Realm Reborn.

Asheron’s Call 2 Gets Resurrected

Back in the middle of December, Turbine made an announcement on the Asheron’s Call (AC) forums that I don’t think anyone ever saw coming: Asheron’s Call 2 (AC2) was being relaunched. As of yet, it’s just one server (Dawnsong), and it’s only a beta. Subscribers of AC get automatic access to AC2, and being a subscriber to AC is the only way one can play AC2.

AC2 was originally released in 2002. Due to a lack of subscribers as well as publisher issues, the game servers were officially shut down in 2005. Many players were very disappointed that they could no longer play, but after seven years I think just about everyone thought the game was gone for good. Then Turbine announced that it was back.

From what I’ve heard, little if anything has been done to the game since the servers went down. Many players don’t care about that, though - they’re just happy it’s back. Quite a few old players have resubscribed to AC to simply have access to play AC2. Turbine certainly gave a fantastic holiday gift to many MMO’ers out there. Myself, I tried a trial of the game in 2004 or so. I was quite impressed by the game, but was busy with other things and planned to subscribe to it later. Before I could, though, the servers had been taken down, leaving me regretful that I hadn’t gone for it when I could. Maybe this time around I'll get a chance to check it out more thoroughly.

Any MMO news you've heard and feel it deserves be spread? Got a sweet new update for your current MMO that you think should be known? As usual, let us know in the comments below.