Bless Online Early Access “was a success”, players thought it was a “final, polished product”

Bless Online Early Access "was a success"

Brace yourselves, things are going to get surreal right now. In today's blog post, developer Neowiz has opened its heart on the path that led to where they are now, and how Bless Online players didn't understand what Early Access was for. Shame on you, players, for failing to realize the nature of this “new” concept called Early Access!

The blog post feels a little – well, a lot – patronizing, showing a development team that is unsure about its past decisions and yet doesn't hesitate in saying that Bless players are wrong in their opinions. Some sentences are just plain contradictory, such as the following:

“Before Early Access on Steam began, beta tests were held on servers in Japan, Korea, and Russia. The team worked to listen to player feedback from the beta, gathering valuable feedback on what players did and didn’t like. Through this, the team realized that one of the main, important changes to make for the Steam release would be the combat system.”

How can the other territories where Bless Online was released be simply dismissed as “beta tests”? Bless is shutting down in Korea in November 2018, the Russian release is pretty much dead as well, and Japan… I don't even know what is going on with Bless in Japan, but my guess is that it is also closed. The western release on Steam was the final one, with the other territories being their own thing, so this statement is baffling to say the least.

But there is more, so read on:

“The player response to Bless coming to Steam was initially very positive; players were thrilled to have Bless releasing for a global audience on one of the most accessible gaming platforms. However, many players didn’t share the team’s view that Early Access was still a time for development and changes. Bless Online wasn’t a final, polished product as much of the community had believed it would be, leading to a mismatch of expectations for Early Access between the development team and the players.”

So, players were initially happy that Bless was coming to Steam – I agree, and I was one of them, curious to see how the game would play after a few years of availability… I mean, “beta testing” in other regions. When the game landed on Steam Early Access, players started to see that it was a flawed MMORPG, one that had potential but was still very far from realizing it. But apparently, you failed to grasp that this version “wasn’t a final, polished product as much of the community had believed it would be”. Honestly, there's a huge distance between a game that needs a few months of tweaks and polish, and Bless Online, that was as far from a proper Early Access game as possible.

Many player criticisms followed, and I'm quoting just one by a player called Kittytree: “Eventually I also stopped playing because it became clear that the devs were not working on necessary changes to make the game play better (so many bugs, balancing issues, optimization issues, etc), and were not listening to the community.”

What else, you ask? This:

“For the launch itself, free-to-play was chosen as the model in order to provide the best experience for both new incoming players and those who had been with the game since the start of Early Access. With more new players and the game being more accessible, the world of Bless would only become more lively and vibrant.”

Let me intervene – wasn't Bless going to be buy-to-play “to prevent the developers from being tempted into pay-to-win“? So, now the best experience comes with free-to-play? Sounds like a cop-out if I've ever heard one.

Let me just finish with this one, if you will:

“Though Bless will be releasing in a completed state for official launch, there will always be room for feedback and an ongoing conversation with the community about what they need and want.”

Seeing the words “Bless” and “completed state” in the same sentence makes me raise an eyebrow. For what it's worth, the Early Access period feels terribly short (five months); the game seems to need a lot more polish and work. With the official launch planned for October 23, it feels like it's going to be a rushed western release – for a game that is in development for nearly a decade, as unbelievable as it may sound.

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