GameLook report / Today (July 20), “Ark of Destiny”, developed by SmileGate RPG and operated by Tencent Games, is finally fully open.
This highly anticipated MMORPG has never been short of enthusiasm. Whether it is the foreign server setting a record of 1.32 million simultaneous online players on Steam, or the national server becoming the hottest topic in the MMO player community before the public beta test. Similarly, since the pre-emptive landing on July 13, the game has received quite good market feedback in China.
In the morning of the same day, after the opening of the server of “Ark of Destiny”, a large number of new users poured in. Celebrities and anchors, including Chen He and PDD, had no choice but to post: “I’m so pissed off”, and staged a scene of “all beings are equal in front of the queue”. The official had to temporarily open five additional servers to respond to players’ enthusiasm in a timely manner.
In the past few days, most players have given quite high evaluations after experiencing it, such as “it is the most comfortable game to play in recent years and the best plot performance.” Some old MMO players couldn’t help sighing: “MMORPG has withered and been suppressed by mobile games these years. Today is such a lively scene, as if dreaming back to ten years ago.”
Judging from the active participation of a large number of guilds and positive feedback from users, as expected by the outside world, the “good start” results of “Ark of Destiny” represent the recovery of MMO end games, and even one step closer, rekindling the enthusiasm of the domestic MMORPG market that has been dormant for a long time.
The most brilliant category in the era of terminal games, why did MMO fall from the altar?
MMORPG has always been the most glorious category in the era of Chinese end games, almost equating with domestic games at that time. But in recent years, this classic category has gradually fallen from the altar in the continuous running-in with the mobile terminal.
In the early days of the mobile game era, the performance of mobile devices was weak, and it was difficult to realize the advantages of MMO with high image quality and multiplayer on the same screen. With the rise of more and more star mobile games, the Chinese game industry almost logically switched to the embrace of vertical tracks such as AGD, MOBA, and SLG.
This has directly led to a sharp drop in the number of new games, and only a few major end game manufacturers are still insisting. It is an indisputable fact that the traditional MMORPG market has shrunk.
At its root, first of all, it is inseparable from the iteration of the main user groups in the market and the migration of mainstream aesthetics.
After entering the mobile era, mainstream users have undergone intergenerational changes. Once loyal MMO users are getting older, starting a family and starting a business, and their personal disposable time has been greatly reduced and fragmented. On the other hand, the new generation of users who have grown into a new generation of new players, due to the explosive growth of emerging categories, will face a variety of choices and more other categories of high-quality products, and the attractiveness of MMORPG will decline relatively.
Secondly, the growth of a single market often relies on explosive models and phenomenal products to stimulate domestic demand. However, in the past few years, the domestic MMO terminal games themselves lack heavyweight, especially new products with world influence.
Since MMO is no longer irreplaceable for players, it needs great innovation to break through the current category shackles. However, under the tide of high-quality products, the cost of large-scale MMORPG project approval starts at over 100 million yuan, and the research and development cycle lasts for several years. As a result, fewer and fewer manufacturers are willing to spend a lot of time and huge costs to polish a high-quality end game.
Although classic MMORPGs such as “World of Warcraft” and “Final Fantasy 14” are still performing strongly, they have been products for more than ten years, and their technical dimensions lag behind the times in all aspects. Facing the market and new generation of users in 2023, they will be weak in attracting new players.
In addition, the dilemma faced by MMO is that the game distribution and promotion ecology has undergone major changes.
Also affected by the trend of high-quality games in the game circle, game promotion is becoming more and more “decentralized”. The previous methodologies are no longer effective. It is difficult to rely on the head traffic drainage method to gain momentum. Instead, through a large number of mid- and low-level anchors + small and medium KOLs, and through the establishment of a good live broadcast and creator ecology, it is possible to attract new players for a long time and stably. This also puts forward higher requirements for MMOs to break through.
Looking back now, the structural difficulties that MMORPG has encountered all the time may be suitable to explain the rare enthusiasm that appeared during the public beta of “Ark of Destiny”.
Outstanding quality, let MMO embrace mainstream users again
It is true that facing the same dilemma, the reason why “Ark of Destiny” can attract most players to accept MMO again is that the excellent product quality must be the cornerstone of its first release circle. Indeed, the game benchmarks the quality of the next generation, and the audio-visual experience such as art and music basically meets the aesthetic needs and preferences of the current generation of users.
In terms of game art, there are not only exquisite and delicate character models, gorgeous and exaggerated costume shapes, but also a large number of dazzling particle effects. More importantly, “Ark of Destiny” breaks through the limitation that the scene performance of top-down perspective games is often better than the performance of characters in the past, especially in the rendering of the atmosphere of large PVE copies, it is basically not inferior to the mainstream 3D free perspective MMO, and the overall picture has satisfied most players.
In terms of music, in addition to the epic background music that is often used to set off the plot, there is also a unique design called “music score system” in the game. Players can transfer to various areas by playing music, which increases the ritual sense of time and space travel. In order to further strengthen the sense of adventure and epic in the sense of hearing, the official has successively invited piano master Lang Lang to perform the original soundtrack of the game “Sailing the Dream”, Jane Zhang sang the theme song “Starlight”, and Mao Buyi presented a fully open theme song “Boat” for the national server.
Of course, the reason for MMO’s desolation is largely due to the slow pace in the early stage, and new users have “retired” before experiencing the core fun. The second is the long-criticized infinite repetition of copybooking, clock-in-to-work activities, and almost mandatory social interaction. The diverse needs cannot be met in traditional MMOs, and it is difficult to arouse the interest of new and old players.
In this regard, the game’s low threshold and quick start features make “Ark of Destiny” quickly become the best platform for next-generation users to hit the electric MMORPG for the first time. The game grows fast, and players can quickly pass through the early novice stage, and focus more on the rich PVE and PVP gameplay in the middle and late stages, so as to experience the core fun as soon as possible, and improve the loss of new users due to high learning costs.
Aiming at another major shortcoming of traditional MMOs, “Ark of Destiny” takes into account the user’s personal experience and the social ecology around the guild, so that different types of players can have a more fulfilling game experience.
In terms of multiplayer copies, unlike traditional MMOs that mostly pursue numerical crushing, “Ark of Destiny” puts more emphasis on the gameplay mechanism and the fun of cooperation. For casual players, the game also provides a wealth of differentiated content, such as sea routes, fighting and fishing, and treasure hunting, which players can experience to their heart’s content.
What I have to mention is that “Ark of Destiny” has innovated the MMO “forced krypton” tradition. The game also provides an open economic system with a high degree of freedom. Players can obtain resources through daily game behavior, and then convert them into various paid content. In terms of dimensions other than the basic gameplay, the long-term playability of the game has been improved.
The brick-moving phenomenon of 2.5D ARPG reappears in “Ark of Destiny”, but it is neither forced nor forced. Players can choose the best way to experience the game by themselves. In GameLook’s view, thanks to the quality of next-generation games, as well as the high degree of freedom in gameplay and economic systems, this “Ark of Destiny”, which is not very MMO-like, has become an opportunity for the current generation of users to re-focus on MMOs.
Caring operation, adding value to the creator ecology to effectively attract new users
In fact, the foreign server “LOST ARK” can suddenly become popular in Europe and the United States, which is inextricably linked with the operating strength of the overseas operator Amazon. Similarly, in addition to the excellent product quality, the reason why “Ark of Destiny” is fully open and popular and achieves rapid new additions is inseparable from the unique operating strategy of the national server.
For example, the official focus is to crack down on scripts, cheats, studios, etc., and is preparing for “real people to go to the police”, that is, real people will access online after players report, and maintain a fair environment on the national server with a zero-tolerance attitude. At the same time, judging from the pricing of the out-of-print suits of the national server inspired by China’s four great beasts, and the sale of special gift packs for beginners, the commercialization of the national server is relatively moderate and reasonable-this allows players to see the sincerity of the national server early on.
Not only to retain players, but how to bring MMORPG back to the public eye and be seen by new users is obviously more urgent. However, compared to categories with strong competitive attributes such as MOBA and FPS, MMO naturally does not have an advantage in live broadcast viewing and content creation. The impression of passer-by players on MMORPG is nothing more than “liver materials, dungeons, and equipment upgrades”.
But “Ark of Destiny” has gameplay advantages such as an excellent world view plot, a refreshing sense of attack, an exquisite dungeon mechanism, and a wealth of fun and casual gameplay. Compared with traditional MMOs, games can not only support the fun and appreciation of live broadcasts, but also encourage more users to actively produce game-related content.
Therefore, compared with the traditional distribution template dominated by the government, decentralization and “giving the right to speak to the creators” are the key to the game breaking away from the unpopular label and quickly breaking the game. In addition to games, Tencent Games has deployed live broadcasts and creator ecology early, using a method that is obviously different from traditional MMORPGs to gain market volume and attract new players, creating a new market path for MMORPGs.
Before the launch, “Ark of Destiny” announced the cooperation with the whole network live broadcast platform to integrate the top resources of the whole station from various live broadcast platforms such as Douyu, Huya, and Station B. Such as official recommendations, top banner entrance, home page, live broadcast clips, hot search ads, etc., to meet the needs of different track anchors.
Previously, “Ark of Destiny” announced that it would invest tens of millions of support funds, and worked together with the live broadcast platform to formulate a detailed support resource plan for anchors, including signing bonuses, popularity blessings, live streaming accounts, customized props, and unique rights and interests. At the same time, through the incentive plan, encourage more players to participate in the creation, improve the ecology of game creators, and accelerate the exit of the national server.
In MMORPGs that emphasize social interaction, guilds play an important role in long-term operations and maintaining the game ecosystem. Before it was launched, “Ark of Destiny” proposed the “Gamer Plan”. After the service was launched, it cooperated with domestic guilds and joined hands with Tencent’s entire series of traffic to establish a complete guild operation and maintenance process. At present, it has attracted hundreds of guilds to settle in.
After the full opening of the national server, a dungeon racing competition will be launched – “Argus Racing” event. At that time, there will be more than 100 legendary guilds and many well-known top anchors participating, competing for the first place in the competition. Since July 13, major guilds and anchors have entered the game in advance to prepare for the battle.
Among them, the Yaoguang Guild led by senior player Xia Xiaoguang and star anchor PDD announced earlier that they vowed to win the first kill of the “Sun Moon Deer” dungeon, which attracted many players to squat in the live broadcast room in advance, preparing to witness this moment. Surprisingly, in the end, another powerful guild, House of Mococo, took the first kill on July 16. PDD, who missed the first kill, could only smash weapons with 16+ angrily, and the program effect was full.
In just a few days, the game has shown a very high level of live viewing. It is foreseeable that “Ark of Destiny”, which reshape the MMO guild ecology, will share the dividends brought by the recovery of MMO with the guild, and further promote the popularity of the game public beta.
Carrying the ardent expectations of countless MMORPG players, “Ark of Destiny” completely ignited the enthusiasm of players and the market with an excellent debut performance.
For a long time, the migration of mainstream aesthetics, fierce competition in the game market, and changes in distribution models have all affected players and the market’s recognition of MMOs. Past experience has told us many times that there is no immortal throne in the world, and finding new opportunities in the category in time is the best way to break the game.
In terms of experience and operation, “Ark of Destiny” has indeed jumped out of the category dilemma of traditional MMOs. Not only did it bring a masterpiece of end game that made old players “dream back to ten years ago” after a long absence, it also made more generations of players re-acquainted and fell in love with MMORPG, and even showed signs of driving the overall recovery of the category.
Perhaps, the success of “Ark of Destiny” is not just a product’s personal victory. From point to point, this enthusiasm will continue to radiate new and old MMO products on the market, imperceptibly promoting MMORPG to win more players and become the mainstream of the domestic market again.
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