Mar 24, 2012

Aion's Free to play model, and something for former Aion players.

What's Aion, then ?

As you may or may not know,  NCSoft's Aion is in the process of switching from the regular MMO monthly subscription form to a free to play model.  The reasons for this are of course the game not drawing enough subscribers to compete with the bigger MMORPG's out there,  despite the game recieving massive praise near its launch as a potential "WoW-killer".

Okay, and why are you ranting about it now ?

I played it for a few months when it was a fresh release, and it was overall a very enjoyable experience.  Gameplay wise it was apparently a mix of Lineage II (A game I admittedly never played), World of Warcraft, but also with the added unique feature of aerial combat once your character developed enough to get their wings.  It was also a stunningly beautiful game, looking FAR better than even today's WoW and just-released SWTOR.  Why did the game fail to grab and hold subscribers, then ? I don't know.  Personally I was playing Aion side by side with World of Warcraft, and while I definitely enjoyed Aion I had to pick one of them eventually and the choice fell on going back to WoW full time.  They were both very grind-intensive games, so one of them had to go.

You mentioned Free to play ?  That's never a good thing is it?  Why should I care?

Yes, Aion is as mentioned going Free to play.  It is already F2P in Europe as of late february 2012, and it will be available F2P 'soon' in the US, that is probably march or april.  The interesting thing here, is that the basic free-player model is remarkably open, and that there are three types of Aion accounts, Starter (new player), Veteran (former subscribers) and Gold (€9,99 per month).

All classes, quests, zones, gear and instances/raids are all available without spending anything.  The limitations of the free to players is first and foremost chat restrictions.  Starter accounts need to reach level 10 before they can send /whispers, and world chat channels are disabled for them. Starter accounts are also a bit limited in how much ore/gas (for crafting purposes) they can extract per day.  There are also increased cooldowns for unlocking most of the dungeon and raid instances.  Aside from that, most everything is open and unrestricted, if the Free to play feature list is correct.

With the Gold accounts everything is unrestricted and players also recieve a 20% bonus to Abyss points and PVP medal gain.

The most interesting thing here though is that if you are a former Aion player, you can reactivate and have your old account promoted to Veteran.  Veteran players have unrestricted chat and harvesting for professions and can also set up player shops like the Gold accounts. It is basically the full game for nothing, except you still have increased instance cooldowns.  As long as that is something you can live with, its a pretty sweet deal !  If you haven't played Aion before the game is probably worth a look regardless of the Starter account restrictions, but former players?  It's very hard to resist giving Aion another try, isn't it !  I'm certainly going to dive back in, now that I'm not currently playing any monthly fee MMO's and see how the game is now! :)

How to upgrade from Starter to Veteran account:

If you're a former European Aion player who came here wondering how to get your Veteran account up and running, look here!  Basically, you will need to log in at NCSoft's site, and transfer your Aion account, active or otherwise, to Gameforge, the new Aion hosts.  Once that's done and you've done the usual email verification your F2P Aion account is automatically upgraded to Veteran.  I assume US players will have a similar process when US F2P launches, but I don't know if the link and adresses needed are the same.

And if you somehow have no idea what Aion looks like, here's the F2P launch trailer!

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