Age of Wulin (CN) – CEO speaks out over CBT keys sale

A few days ago, I posted about Age of Wulin (CN) selling Closed Beta keys in packages over in China. This move left many players frustrated, given that the martial arts MMO is highly anticipated and already seen a few delays. Despite the hiccups, the community was very supportive and continued to stand behind the developer, Snail Games.

With much fury vented on various gaming forums, Snail Games’ CEO Mr Shi Hai (below) has finally spoken out on the topic with 17173, one of the country’s top gaming website. Do note that the English server for Age of Wulin will be published by gPotato Europe (official website).

Q: How did the plan of selling Closed Beta keys happen? Why aren’t they given out free like other games’?

A: Actually, the whole process of selling CBT keys isn’t complicated. We thought of opening the game and let everyone try it out right after internal testing, but we realized the need to conduct a large scale testing first (CBT) before allowing everyone in. Age of Wulin is highly anticipated and it is not a polished product, hence we need to do the limited testing first with the masses. But how do we choose who to play and test the game for us?

Many people believe that Snail Games have the ability and strength to make Age of Wulin a success. When players’ level of expectation meets what we feel the game should receive, we need to know how many players will be willing to fork out for a Age of Wulin CBT key despite Snail Games being “nothing”. We believe these users are the ones who support us the most, and on our part we will provide them with the best we can offer. These players will also be part of the community to help us polish Age of Wulin.

Some people are calling us money suckers, which is normal and we are fine with it. Everyone views certain issues differently. We feel that we have done nothing wrong and in fact we are “enjoying” this process.

Q: We (17173) did a survey recently and 66% of the votes did not accept Snail Games putting the CBT keys for Age of Wulin on sale. What is your thought about this?

A: This Closed Beta phase is quite complete (features wise). If players are not willing to fork out for a CBT key, they are not helping the game’s cause. And when such players are given free entrance into the CBT phase, they will only lament and rant about certain things which are not doing as intended. As such, having a certain restriction is a good thing. If they do not want to cross this “barrier”, they can wait a few months to play when the game opens up to everyone.

Why must we follow what other games do? We do not feel that anything wrong is done here. We are only looking for loyal players who are willing to buy a CBT key despite knowing the risks of testing a non-perfect version of the game. There is actually not much problem with this thinking from our point of view.

Snail Games is no doubt a proud MMO development company, we did not have glorious results in the past but we are proud of the choices we made. Why? Snail Games believe we are acting based on a common cause for the benefit of everyone, we hope players understand this.

Q: Do you feel the 2 packages (priced at 149 and 249 Chinese Yuan) are overpriced?

A: I do not want to talk about some details behind the plan or make players feel that we are just selling the CBT keys outright. Here are some facts. Each of the package contains a 100 Chinese Yuan top-up card, a 30 Chinese Yuan monthly card and various collectibles.

From the way things are at now, there might be a small chance of having no character and data wipes when transiting from Closed Beta to Open Beta. In order to let players try out the content which requires payment, we are going to give some rewards to them during Open Beta including unique titles and in-game items.

If the players feel this is worth the amount required, they are welcome to try the game out. If not, they can wait till Open Beta starts. This plan has not hurt anyone, we are doing what we feel is right.

Q: You talked about having no data wipe from Closed Beta to Open Beta. Is this detail confirmed?

A: Sometimes, due to the scale of the testing, there are data wipes when moving on to the Open Beta phase. Although the chances of having a data wipe for Age of Wulin is low, nothing is confirmed at this moment.

Q: Will all features be available in Closed Beta?

A: Of course. For the first client, all basic features will be available for players. I can confirmed that this Closed Beta phase will last longer than 2 months. If anyone is displeased about this arrangement, I apologize on Snail Games’ behalf.

Q: How many packages are you expecting to be sold out? How much CCU are you aiming for to view the CBT phase as a success?

A: We expect a high number of sales for the CBT packages. I urge everyone to embrace Snail Games’ stand on this Closed Beta promotion. We didn’t have a highly successful title before and developing Age of Wulin is risky for us as well, but we have confidence. A company without a mainstay title in the past selling CBT keys is unheard of in China, hence we are doing it. For the 66% who opposed this idea, I encourage them to think through carefully, do not buy if you cannot afford, but buy if you really like the game.

I don’t think the CCU or number of players online will be a problem. Age of Wulin is a quality online game, and the gamers have already bought the keys as well, it will be hard for them not to be online. This is also one of the motives behind the sale of CBT keys.

Q: In the packages, there is the 100 Chinese Yuan top-up card which more or less confirms Age of Wulin having a cash item shop. But will the actual game be using another type of payment model in order for players to play?

A: We are unable to officially announce the actual payment model yet. Over the months, some fees will be reduced, some will be increased and some other prices will be tweaked after discussions with the community. We do not want players to see Snail Games as a money-only company.

Duke of Mount Deer Online – Open Beta soon

While I do not usually announce the Open Beta date for foreign games that frequently, Duke of Mount Deer by China developer ChangYou is not one to be missed. Having a development budget of over USD 80 million, the game is set to open up to Chinese players on 22nd July, which is this Friday. If anyone is interested, I might draw up a registration guide for the masses!

Duke of Mount Deer Online is set to release a similarly themed movie based on the game soon, with China’s biggest period drama actor Hu Ge at the helm. The official game/ movie theme is sung by him as well, which you can see in the official music video below. For more on the game, click here and refer to my previous posts!

Firefall – Red 5 and Webzen dispute set to end

After months of argument between Webzen Korea and Red 5 Studios, with both filing lawsuits over the Asia Pacific publishing rights for Firefall, the whole matter is set to end. According to foreign reports, representatives from Webzen and Red 5 Studios are set to meet and make peace with each other.
Both parties agreed that lawsuits and court appearances will do no good for either. There is currently no date mentioned on when the talks will happen, but it seems there is genuine interest in settling this issue peacefully. More about the conflict can be read here.

Faxion Online – Layoffs hit developer

(Source) Some weeks back, I played Faxion Online for a little while and immediately uninstalled the game. Yes, the game has a unique theme of Heaven vs Hell and some interesting features but when you can’t get the basics right, the game doesn’t deserve players. Awkward game design, blocky character models, a combat system rehashed from the 90s’…

In fact, I was so pissed off by the game I did not post a small article about it after taking an ingame footage seen below.



UTV Ignition Games seem liked a really promising company at first, but since the release of Warrior Epic and Mytheon (selling the game with a ridiculously priced package at launch), I did not hold much hope for this blundering game developer. The management apparently has no idea what the market wants now and just try too hard to be “unique” in their games. Sorry, UTV Ignition Games, you deserve it. Enough of bashing, below is the whole article from Gamasutra.

Development and support staff from True Studios, developer of free-to-play MMO Faxion Online, were laid off last week as UTV Ignition continues to stray away from internal development.

Don Choi, VP of UTV Ignition’s online division, confirmed the news to Gamasutra this morning, saying that a “fraction” of the True Studios staff had been laid off.

According to one of the affected employees, who asked to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the situation, that “fraction” actually represented the majority of the employees at the Austin-based True Games studio.

In addition to the development staff, our source tells us the platform team, the customer service division and all but one of the quality assurance staff was let go.The game’s studio in China will “be closing in the next couple of weeks,” our source reports.

According to Choi, Faxion Online “will continue to run and be updated frequently,” despite the layoffs (Choi did not comment on the potential closure in China when asked). Additionally, he says the studio’s multi-platform Planet Crashers remains in development.

“Their severance was a joke,” our source tells us, saying that the layoffs demonstrate UTV Ignition’s “clear and demonstrated inability to focus, plan or execute on many levels.”

UTV Ignition has been cutting its internal development as part of a shift that sees it becoming a pure publisher, with the most recent layoffs hitting an Austin-based console team working on pre-production for an unannounced title.

Webzen – A look into the company

I am sure Webzen by now should be a name most online gamers will recognize. Starting years ago with MU Online, the Korean developer/ publisher has found much success in almost all its games. Well, according to a recent report, Webzen’s games are not really popular in Korea itself since more than 50% of its earnings are from overseas servers.

More famous titles from Webzen over the years include MU Online, SUN Online and R2 Online. After buying over NHN Games, new titles such as the much anticipated action MMORPG Continent of the Ninth (C9) is added as well. Ok, enough with the introduction, let’s take a look into the company!

↑ NHN Games and Webzen’s logo placed side by side.
↑ Webzen does not have its own building, but apparently occupies the whole level of a big office building.
↑ Relaxation corner.
↑ It is decorated with some of the company’s game posters.
↑ R2 Online and Battery Online, Webzen’s upcoming MMOFPS (already live in Korea).
↑ Seems that all Korean developers have their own stylish cafe within office premises.
↑ Classy and neat interior decor.
↑ The cute menu! I wonder what food is written on the board…
↑ The pretty cafe manager.
↑ Webzen’s main conference room. Note that each seat has its own mini-table.
↑ Heading towards the main development office area.
↑ A very spacious and cosy vibe wihtin the development area.
↑ An incredibly big area is allocated for the development teams.
↑All these are apparently live plants!
↑ You can guess the transport of choice for most of the employees.
↑ Looking on the other side of the building… The same level is all occupied by Webzen!
↑ I wonder what effect does this leaf-shaped cover has…
↑ There are tons of robot figurines (including Gundam) being displayed.
↑ Woah, dangerous toys they have there…
↑ Development studios are always full of fancy toys.
↑ Whatever happened to Huxley?!
↑ The female development staff getting shy and hiding from the camera.
↑ One of SUN Online’s design staff working on character modelling.
↑ One of SUN Online’s female design staff working on character modelling.
↑ Yer another one of SUN Online’s female design staff working on character modelling.
↑ The whole SUN Online team gathered!


StarCraft II: Chronicles of Fate

While not an online game, StarCraft II: Chronicles of Fate was meant to be on initially. Developed by a talented StarCraft II modder, Blizzard took notice and subsequently invited him to join them. But of course, not without the big corporate stunt of asking him to stop developing the game first.

In the end, World of StarCraft (the original title) became StarCraft II: Chronicles of Fate, an upcoming mod for the StarCraft II game. It does look really awesome from the video below, so have a peek!


Warhammer 40,000 Online – Relic joins up with Vigil

The full name of the game is Warhammer 40,000: Dark Millennium Online, but it is really too long to fit into the post title. According to foreign reports, Relic Entertainment, which recently finished up on the multi-platform Warhmmer 40,000: Space Marine, has joined up with Vigil Games to work on the online title in order to speed the development process up.

Both Vigil and Relic are subsidiary studios under gaming bigwig THQ. Is a release in 2012 possible? Stay tuned for more info!