Sunday, August 30, 2009

Alaplaya: How To Ruin an Arena Shooter

It is no secret that I hate the European MMO publisher Alaplaya. They buy up IP's no one is interested in like DanceBattle: Audition, Fantasy Tennis 2, and the worthless pile of tripe known as Racing Star, then continually punishes the players of S4 League, the one game they have that people actually want to play. The player is presented with a very low quality version of an otherwise high quality shooter. Slow, late, and weak updates, inexplicable omissions of easily included content the Koreans have had for months, and “rebalanced” weapons that do not even need rebalancing are just a few examples of their past crimes. Most of this was tolerable, considering its just a F2P game, however since the new Patch 10 released a few weeks ago the game has gone completely out of control. All semblance of the balanced competitive game it once was, has been tossed aside for the sake of potentially increasing revenue.

For months now S4 League has offered slightly more powerful versions of weapons, and armor for players to rent for up to 30 days for real money, this is old news, and was perfectly fine. Though it did give a bit of an edge to those that purchased this gear, it did not give enough of an advantage that a player of higher skill without this gear could not have a chance against them.
This new patch changed this. In a poorly worked out line of logic, it must have been decided that not enough people were “renting” their pretend clothing, and weapons with real money, because they could just keep using permanent, slightly weaker, duller looking weapons, and armor that they bought with S4's ingame currency PEN. To combat this, they first removed the option to buy permanent anything. All weapons, and armor in EUS4 now can only exist in your inventory for a maximum of 30 days; this includes all PEN items. All preexisting perma-items stayed permanent, but now cost excessive amounts of PEN to keep repaired. This is very annoying but still tolerable, but they didn't stop there, no. The players need more incentive to give us money MORE!
Alaplaya then drastically increased the armor bonus on P2P clothing and damage bonuses on P2P weapons. So drastic that when one purchases these items, they become for all intentions and purposes god like. Able to instantly kill anyone not wearing the new P2P armor in a single hit, and the ability to take entire machine gun clips to the face, and survive, while ignore stun effects completely. When I first started encountering these players I actually thought they were hacking. I have watched a single player in full pay gear totally destroy an entire team in Touchdown mode, single handily, and there is little an individual can do to stop them without fighting fire with fire.

Alaplaya's general response to the extremely negative criticism brought by these changes is “if you don't like getting owned in the face, pay us money too.” I am fairly certain now that nobody in charge at this publisher actually plays the games they host, so they have no idea what a huge difference changing a few number can do to an entire game based on competition. They don't understand they could make just as much, if not more money, simply by adding in new clothing, and weapon designs, with the same stats as PEN gear, and just made them permanent. I personally have never spent any money on EUS4; not because I am just another cheap bastard that wants to mooch off a free game, and complain because it is not as good as a P2P game. There is actually a few pay items I would like to have, and would gladly pay real money to obtain. The reason I have not is because Alaplaya has made it all temporary, transient, limited. I do not want to shell out 5 bucks on a cool pair of pants just for them to vanish a month later. nor do I want to rent a cool pair of pants just so I can actually compete with other people with cool pants.

Alaplaya is trying to coerce their players to fork over more money by adding an arms race into an arena shooter, and this is just completely unacceptable. They have ignored both logic, and their players for too long, they have mismanaged EU S4 League to the point of no return, and have ruined one of my favorite games. Regrettably I am not sticking around to see how this sad tale concludes.