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Aion Free-to-Play: Interview with Gameforge
Dec 19,2011 05:12 by Sara Lau5
NCsoft has been hosting Aion since it was released in Europe two years ago, but recently, it is announced that Gameforge will take over the running responsibilities. As to Aion’s upcoming version by Gameforge, the most noticeable amendment to the original version is that it becomes free-to-play. Accordingly, lots of questions emerge, and we (OnlineWelten) are honored to have interviewed GameForge’s Executive Product Director Volker Boenigk on some of these questions. Furthermore, we succeeded in coaxing him some exclusive information on the future of Aion.
Q: When will you start the free-to-play version?
Volker Boenigk: Our entire team has been working with NCsoft and NCWest for months on Aion’s free-to-play transition. We are confident that as soon as the transition is accomplished, all game players will have an easy access to the world of Aion. The new version is scheduled to be released in February 2012.
Q: What are the changes in the new system (apart from free-to-play)?
Volker Boenigk: In November 2011, Aion version 2.7 was released, which is just the version to be adjusted to free-to-play in February. It is necessary to make this technical adjustment, so is it to make modifications to the interface, such as the added display of the in-game shops. At present, no additional changes are on our schedule.
Q: How do you deal with the remaining paid subscription time that is left on the accounts?
Volker Boenigk: All subscription will then be automatically transferred to the corresponding accounts of Gameforge. In this case, all players do not need to pay monthly fees to play Aion, and they can download the game digitally completely free of charge. The subscription fees that players have paid over the time of conversion will be compensated accordingly. For those who previously had a subscription to Aion, they will automatically receive a status of “Veteran”. More detailed information will be released in the next few weeks.
Q: What new offerings will be available in the shop?
Volker Boenigk: The in-game store will be well-equipped after the changeover. All items will be designed to meet the players’ appreciation and some new items will be continuously supplied. In addition, we provide items especially for the optical character-design and customization.
Q: For what contents players will have to pay in the future?
Volker Boenigk: With its transition to free-to-play, all of contents will be available for free, i.e., all classes, areas, quests, equipment, individualization, professions and PvP, etc., and the registration will cost players nothing.
Q: Will you take over the existing game server or is there a new server?
Volker Boenigk: Both. After it switches to the free-to-play model, all existing players who have shared the account can log on to the servers. We are currently preparing a new server on which we will accept the current European Aion gamers. In addition, we are planning to open a new server for the specific language, so that players from different regions can have an equally easy access to the game.
Q: What about the support?
Volker Boenigk: It is certain that we will take good care of the community. Players are the most important part of any MMO, and the task to ensure that all players are well catered for and that we can solve all the problems, is one of our key concerns.
The exact list of our customer service has been posted on our website at http://www.aionfreetoplay.com
Q: Does the F2p Aion supports the NCsoft master account?
Volker Boenigk: Yes. Right after the transition, those accounts will be activated as “NCsoft Master Accounts” and they will be managed by Gameforge independently. This change not only promises the players a convenient management of their accounts, but also offers new players the same opportunity to quickly and easily create new accounts.
Q: Will the veteran rewards be reserved?
Volker Boenigk: Yes. The well-known veteran reward system, which is originally set to reward players of the P2P version in line with their playing time, will be adopted by Gameforge as well. Both hardcore and new players have the chance to be nominated for these rewards.
Q: Will there be a new official site and new forums?
Volker Boenigk: Yes. Although numerous fan sits and forums exist, we will still create a new official site and new forums, as these are two essential ways for us to contact with the players. On the one hand, we can inform players of upcoming events and news; on the other hand, we are able to collect players’ feedback, which is vital for further improvement of our service.
Q: Will new game boxes be available in stores?
Volker Boenigk: New boxes are not planned, because we currently focus on a smooth flow of free-to-play. We will make the download free for all players and we are already working to provide the necessary facilities to guarantee fast downloads and updates. But it should be made clear that making new boxes will just be a small part of our work in the future.
Q: What are the restrictions on free-to-play players?
Volker Boenigk: After the transition, new players can create a free starter account. Meanwhile, these new players, as well as the existing players, will gain full access to all game contents.
To protect our players against bots and gold sellers, we will set some social options such as chat and trade to be available in limited forms for starters’ accounts. Existing players can receive a veteran account exempt from these restrictions.
For more information about the differences between the starters and veterans, please visit our website http://www.aionfreetoplay.com.
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