What did Aion win this year according to Massively, including staff and readers? Biggest Dissapointment of 2009.
That’s cool. Aion had a good marketing department. Too good in this case. Granted, they lied through their teeth, but that’s a sin that you get used to when you encounter developer interviews. Overall, however, Aion still feels supreme in the “General” MMO region. It’s not something new, but it is the basic formula refined enough to hold substance and attention.
As someone who plays and, frankly, enjoys Aion, I didn’t find the announcement disconcerting. The fact is, MMO players in general hate grind. They really do. If you want a MMO to be unpopular, introduce a battle of wits that challenges your devotion to success. Granted, the approach is not fully entertaining until you finish, but nevertheless, that’s what Aion did and the western market had a predictable hissy fit. It was pretty clear to me when Aion launched that it would not have enough quest content and/or exploration value to satiate the hordes of self-designated game designers who either want a MMO to be a leisurely prance through the XP bar. Understand that the MMO genre is inherently flawed due to a compromise between content quality and content length. If you do not have a long grind, even if it is amazing, your end-game is criticized for being insufficient. If you have a long grind, well, people just give up on the game and post their expert opinion on the forums. I suppose with that in mind, Aion’s developers made an error in judgement, but it’s a tolerable error.
People also don’t enjoy a lack of innovation in MMOs. That’s fine, but having playing a ton of gimmick-launch games, I can’t say Aion is bad for playing it safe, albeit too safe for a warm welcome in the western world. While yes, I love innovation, I do not love it at the cost of the basic foundations of a MMO like relevant PvP rewards and whatnot. I also feel Runes of Magic is a MMO that carries the WoW torch for its own benefit. Some people do base their decisions on “Anything but WoW”, and given that RoM’s mages were completely and utterly broken when I was playing, I found the lack of attention towards balance to be mortifying. Aion, being akin to Lineage 2, had the allure of being one of those games where simply existing there would be a badge of superficial-badassery without having a dissatisfying rift in class balance.
What does this mean? Well, the silly business about all of this is that NCsoft can fix it and probably will whether I like it or not. I don’t mind an influx of fresh blood, and as MMOs do get older, it stands to reason that you want to get new members up to relevant content instead of pulling a Granado Espadan content curve. (Read: Straight up, then plateau at 110.) If Aion’s only flaws are being too hard and generic, then the game isn’t permanently screwed.
Still, if you want to try to bring friends into Aion, good luck. Aion’s reputation is, without a doubt, bad.