NCsoft's fantasy MMO Aion makes the change from the subscription model to free-to-play on 28th February, new distributor Gameforge has announced.
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Fantasy MMO Aion goes free-to-play in February 2012, NCsoft has announced.
When Aion was developed during the ever-expanding WOW bubble, there was still a feeling in the air that Blizzard had achieved something extraordinary, yet only exposed the merest tip of a subscriber iceberg. Surely - the dollar-eyed reasoning went - if a single game could attract a seven-digit subscriber base, then the overall potential must be unimaginably higher.
Less appealing to the money-men of course was the notion that perhaps 15 million fervent MMO players was all the world had to give, and the majority of those would be happy to remain firmly ensconced in Azeroth.
When NCsoft's Aion launched in 2009, it encountered issues that went beyond a mainstream Western aversion to the aesthetics of the Asian MMO - either you dig doe-eyed adventurers with a sentimental heart fighting alongside talking chipmunks with boobs, or you don't. Instead, pre-release concerns surrounding level grind proved to be well-founded, and the visually unprecedented engine struggled with the large-scale player-versus-player battles that are so critical to Aion's end-game.
The huge Empyrean Calling update for winged MMO Aion will be rolled out across European and North American servers on 25th May.
The patch, known in brief as 2.5, will be added to the player test server on 12th May.
Testers can download the 2.5 client starting today using the game's launcher. Alternatively, a full FTP download is available. There's a FAQ on all of this on the Aion website.
Latest updates detailed.
NCsoft has stamped a 10th September date on Aion free expansion Assault on Balaurea.
Those of you in the US will be able to play slightly earlier from 7th September.
Assault on Balaurea has some pointless story about the invading Balaur. Really, the attraction will be on a raised level cap, new weapons, items and skills, and different flight mechanics.
NCsoft has revealed that it will be merging servers for its MMO Aion: The Tower of Eternity in North America and Europe, due to falling server populations.
NCsoft has revealed what we can expect from the next major update to its MMO Aion.
A significant overhaul of all the character classes, improvements to questing and a faster rate of experience gain - perhaps answering the complaints of many that the game is too "grindy" - are the order of the day.
Every class gets new skills, including skills for countering stun attacks.
The Aion community manager known as Tamat has posted advising players that the first new account services will be available "as early as February" (via IncGamers.
According to a report on Ten Ton Hammer, a glitch on the North American Aion server Azphel accidentally made some players richer than their wildest dreams.
To ease the grind, winged MMO Aion is hosting numerous double-experience weekends during the Christmas period.
NCsoft's western arm has offered its first official comment on the Aion Vision trailer that surfaced a couple of weeks ago, which appeared to highlight the upcoming features of an expansion pack or updates for the MMO.
NCsoft has released a mysterious video for Aion showcasing its future plans for the MMO. The new features and graphical improvements strongly suggest plans for game updates or, more likely, the game's first expansion pack.
You can watch the epic, nine-minute trailer, titled Aion Vision, on Eurogamer TV now.
The only official comment on the video is an oblique message from NCsoft on the YouTube posting. "The future of Aion - revealed!" the message says. "Your dreams and your imagination becomes [sic] reality. With innovation Aion will make your imagination reality. Aion's future will be your dreams made real."
NCsoft has executed a lightning raid on Aion servers and banned 16,000 accounts from the MMO in North America and Europe.
NCsoft has announced that nearly a million copies of PC MMO Aion: The Tower of Eternity have been sold in the West.
It took two-and-a-half weeks for the first Western players of NCsoft's new MMO Aion to reach the level cap of 50 - and the race was a tie.
NCsoft West has explained to Eurogamer that if ridding Aion of queues were as "simple" as offering new servers, the problem would already be solved.
NCsoft West executive producer Lance Stites has written an open letter to the Aion community addressing queue times and server over-population.
NCsoft has made its first move towards addressing the overcrowding on its freshly-launch MMO Aion in Europe: opening two new servers.
NCsoft has told Eurogamer that little can be done to stop Aion overcrowding as new customers flood the live servers, causing lengthy queues that last hours at a time.
2, 2, 3, 3, 5, 2, 3, 4, 5.
After a week playing a Chanter in the open beta for Aion: The Tower of Eternity, NCsoft's new MMO, this sequence of key-presses is hard-coded into the muscle memory my left hand. I can tap it out on a table-top, the rhythm steady, urgent yet patient, hitting every skill's cooldown on the nose. Not a second or a mana point wasted. 2, 2, 3, 3, 5, 2, 3, 4, 5.
I used this same stone-set sequence to defeat almost every monster I fought between the levels of 10 and 20. There might be slight variations depending on range, or if I'd made a terrible mistake and found myself fighting two enemies at once - but usually, the circumstances of every one-minute combat in the thousands of them I undertook would be exactly the same, because I'd make sure they were. Anything else would be sub-optimal. Anything else would risk dislodging me from the locked-down groove of the grind.
AION servers are already overcrowded as hundreds of thousands of pre-order customers are given headstart access to the MMO, according to widespread reports.
NCsoft has pumped itself up for next week's banner launch of Aion: The Tower of Eternity by telling the world that it has taken nearly 400,000 preorders for the massively multiplayer RPG.
NCsoft has put firm dates on the open beta and early access phases for its big MMO launch of the year in the West, Aion: The Tower of Eternity.
Open beta runs from 6th to 13th September. It updates the game to version 1.5, and features a level cap of 30, high enough to get players into the central Abyss zone and have a big old fight with each other.
Closed beta participants and those who've pre-ordered the game will be able to jump straight in, and can get started now by downloading the client. There will be more keys distributed closer to the start of open beta.
Jeff Strain, a founder of Guild Wars developer ArenaNet who became a senior executive of NCsoft West in its reorganisation, has left the company, according to MMORPG.com.
It's hard to remember such a carefully controlled, ruthlessly organised, painstakingly cautious, generally locked-down and sewn-up MMO launch preparation as that currently being undertaken by NCsoft West for the US and European launch of Aion: The Tower of Eternity. That's because there's probably never been one.
On Friday, Eurogamer gave away 2500 keys for the next phase of the closed beta for Aion: The Tower of Eternity, which runs this coming weekend. Woo!
Unfortunately, we didn't know that the keys had not yet been activated, so those of you who claimed one weren't able to register it straight away. Boo.
Happily, those keys have finally been activated so, if you were lucky enough to claim one, you can now go ahead and enter it at the NCsoft site. You can still view your key and the instructions for what to next at the giveaway page.
NCsoft has announced that big-budget MMO Aion: The Tower of Eternity will be released in Europe on 25th September.
NCsoft has revealed the European pre-order program for Aion: The Tower of Eternity, its next MMO, due to launch in the autumn.
Pre-ordering the game will guarantee you access to all scheduled beta events. We reported on these yesterday: the second of the limited closed beta events is this weekend, with two more before the open beta in August.
You'll also get a 48-hour head start on the servers come launch time, some exclusive in-game items and a chance to select your character name and server ahead of the game going live.
Dates have surfaced for the closed and open beta tests of Aion: The Tower of Eternity, NCsoft's next MMO, indicating that the game could well be ready for an early autumn release.
Having already tested the game extensively before its Korean launch last year, NCsoft is contenting itself with a series of short weekend tests in the West. The first phase of closed beta took place at the end of E3 week, which explains why we missed it. Sorry.
According to Beckett Massive Online Gamer magazine (spotted by Massively), open beta testing takes place between August 14th and 23rd, indicating that an early autumn release is very much on the cards for the sumptuous, East-meets-West MMO.
NCsoft - or, we should say, NCsoft West - is in a rather odd position with Aion. Its first major MMO launch since the ill-fated Tabula Rasa has already debuted in Korea, and is proving to be a major draw. The company isn't talking total player numbers, but not long after launch it saw a peak concurrency (number of people online simultaneously) of 200,000, a huge headcount by anyone's standards.
NCsoft has revealed that it plans to release its new MMO Aion: Tower of Eternity - already going great guns in Korea, where it launched late last year - towards the end of the year in the US and Europe.
NCsoft has announced that the open beta test for its latest MMO, Aion: Tower of Eternity, is going rather well in Korea.
The beta has already seen an impressive high of 170,000 concurrent players; that's not even a total, that's just the number of players online simultaneously.
11,000 people were logged into the game two minutes after the beta started on Tuesday, and 40,000 within an hour. NCsoft has opened 25 beta servers to meet the demand, and Aion has gone straight to the top of Korea's PC café charts.
NCsoft has announced a date for the Korean open beta test for its forthcoming MMO, Aion: Tower of Eternity. The beta will begin on 11th November.
The company also took the opportunity to update us on the status of the US and European version of the game, although it stopped short of giving any timeframe for beta or release.
"We are currently in the process of localising and culturalising the game for the western market in order to reach the same level of quality that the game provides and are in heavy planning for our testing phases in North America and Europe," said the post.
There's a general rule of thumb in the world of massively multiplayer RPGs: the easier on the eye a game's characters are, the harder work levelling them will be. It's a cultural split between Asia and the West. From the Eastern hemisphere, the likes of the Lineage games and Final Fantasy XI have sported flawless catalogue-model avatars, draped in filigree fantasy couture - but their existence is often far from glamorous, locked in a mindless experience grind of monster after monster that seems to have no end, or purpose.
NCsoft has said it plans to launch promising massively-multiplayer online role-playing game Aion - Tower of Eternity this year.
Visiting the South Korean capital, Seoul, is an eye-opener to a side of gaming you probably knew existed, but never quite believed in. In a waiting area in Incheon Airport, plasma screens show a televised Counter-Strike match in progress. In one of the city's vast shopping malls, you find a television studio set up specifically for professional Starcraft matches, where perfectly coiffed young men in sponsored team tracksuits zerg rush each other to shrieked encouragement from an audience of female fans.