Bless Online, one of the most notorious fantasy MMORPG on Steam, will exit Early Access and officially launch free-to-play on Oct. 23rd, 2018, Korean studio Neowiz has just announced, probably in a desperate move to save the game from its currently harsh worldwide fate.
About the Bless Online Bashing
Bless Online has suffered from Mixed to Overwhelmingly Negative reviews since it was released end of May 2018 as a paid EA release on Steam. Class imbalance, performance issues, bad customer service, excessive milking and exploits and poor translation quality are among the most cited flaws expressed by players early on, which is often the case with EA releases of MMORPGs, right? Not to that extent, according to many players and the very telling Steam review graph below.
Now here we are, 4 months later with an ultimate move from Neowiz announcing that BO will go F2P in 20 days (while the last Korean server is now due to close in November). By looking at the Steam reviews graph, the rage skyrocketed on F2P announcement day and has become so intense that it has spread beyond the PC title, with many players attacking anything that is Bless related, such as Bless Unleashed, Neowiz’ upcoming console title, which announcement was quickly overrun by hateful comments.
Now let’s remember that Bless Online faced many obstacles prior to being released on Steam. Bless was initially announced as Bless back in 2011 and saw its first North American and European launch cancelled by game publisher Aeria Games in 2017. The same fate was endured in Russia, China and Taiwan. But the guys at Neowiz persisted and decided to self-publish the game, releasing it EA for $30 on Steam.
F2P Conversion For Better or Worse?
The fate of Bless Online still remains uncertain despite player outrage. New player reviews might actually turn greener when the game goes free-to-play. Unless it comes with money grabbing features, a free-to-play game will always be more favorably reviewed than a paid game, other things equal. Paying 30 dollars for a game that has nerve-breaking issues is obviously more detrimental than having the exact same game for free. Bless Online was certainly priced too high for an Early Access title facing fierce competition on this massive MMORPG global market.
In the meantime, attempts are being made to appease the anti-Bless rage in the form of special in-game rewards for players who purchased Bless Online as founders, based on their purchased game pack tier. Those who own the Collector’s Edition will receive a lifetime premium membership subscription, and all editions receive at least three months of premium membership, along with exclusive skins that can only be obtained as an owner of the Early Access. Whether those treats will suffice to change the mind of those angry players is hard to tell for now, but Neowiz remains determined and optimistic:
“It’s been a long road, but we’re excited to finally launch Bless Online on Steam this month,” said Kiwon Lee, CEO of Neowiz. “We believe that the Free to Play version of Bless Online, with all of the improvements we’ve made since Early Access began, will mark an auspicious beginning to the game’s life here in the west. We have loads of new content coming in, and cannot wait for our loyal players to see what’s next for the world of Bless.”
This may actually be the right move for Neowiz as most negative feedback submitted prior to the F2P announcement was based on aspects that can easily be improved. New players who play free might also enjoy the world, its lore and content without the bitterness that arises from a disappointingly pricey purchase. Alongside the F2P announcement, Bless Online has also received another significant patch ahead of launch targeted at high-level players with all new bosses and loot.
We wish them good luck anyway and hope existing players find some form of compensation for the frustration they have endured.
More details about the Free-to-play launch can be found on the Official Announcement page.