Aion was supposed to succeed with a task no other MMORPG ever managed to work out. It was often referred to as the "WoW-Killer" since it was expected to drive WoW out of the market. However, after three years it is definitely clear that WoW is a strong competitor - too strong for Aion. Although having received the coveted Gamescom Award for the "Best Online-Game", the old system has to yield as a decreasing number of players proofed that Aion missed its goal. Of course, this happened for a reason; i.e. "Gameguard", NCSoft's anti cheat solution which has been under heavy criticism for having grave security gaps. Following the criticism, the publisher decided to remove its cheating protection. The result was an even larger loss of players, so NCSoft was forced to adopt more drastic measures: In February 2012, Aion is going to become free-to-play. In addition to this huge change, there will be a new class and several other changes introduced.
Not only the entire system changed to free-to-play, but also the publisher did. Gameforge is now in command of the game. A questionable move, since Gameforge has just recently made bad headlines. What is clear, however, is that players who want to stick to their accounts will be forced to sign a declaration of consent, allowing NCSoft to transmit their data to Gameforge.
Players who still own or used to own valid Game-Time are being given "Veteran"-status which enables unlimited trade system use, just to name one example. Most free-to-play-games alike, there will be also a premium system which unlocks exclusive features to to its subscribers.
An official announcement said:
Furthermore there will be specific packages granting you more features, such as setting up your own shop or collecting unlimited amounts of ether or essences. Especially constituent players are given a cause for joy: They will be rewarded for their faithfulness with extra bonuses.
Whether Gameforge is going to succeed in making the game more enjoyable again and adjusting the balance for both free-to-play-gamers and premium-players remains written in the stars. Should they succeed, Gameforge will have a new flagship for sure. Otherwise it could end up in some awkward disgrace. Let's wait and see.
Original by Real~Life: