The Issue of Permanent Guns & Value
Alliance of Valiant Arms has been published by Aeria Games since 2012, and developed by Redduck since 2007. Each company has produced many positive adjustments to A.V.A, and have a longer than usual outlook for the F2P FPS game from Asia. Fabled improvements are great, but they are hard to ease away the pains of negative core aspects of a game; especially ones that have been around for years. These problems can be summarized into several topics, but we will focus on the issue of permanent guns.
Before the dissection begins, let these issues be given reason, and examine why it was selected as the worst problem in A.V.A. F2P FPS games from Asia normally serve a singular purpose of milking the hype train, before fading away after a year or two. A.V.A falls into a very unique category, shared only by Crossfire, the long-term competitive shooter! These types of FPS games follow a micro-transaction model that seeks to limit the disruption to competitive based game play, and to appease long term core players. Thus, any issues that fault this type of design, when it is so heavily engrained into a game, pose very significant problems.
These types of problems degrade A.V.A as a game, and tarnish the community that has supported, and built the foundations of all social elements of A.V.A! Player growth, player retainment, the competitive community, video and montage creators, and many more segments of A.V.A's population are all negatively affected.
The most disruptive change after the IJJI acquisition by Aeria was the game design update to remove most permanent weapons. This meant all commonly used weapons were switched to a timed amount, while less useful weapons remained permanent. This disparity between guns was explained as a balance fix to the game. GM_Vash posted several times explaining this further, yet was met with skeptical disappoint by the A.V.A community.
"The balancing was done by looking at the actual weapons that are being used the most by players. Also a weapon that is easy to play for one player is a weapon another player can't handle at all..."
- GM_Vash, ESL Interview
Further inquiry about armour adjustments, or direct gun value balance changes were ignored in relation to balancing A.V.A. The initial patch notes posted by GM_Law stated the changes were simply for balance, and not for other financial reasons. After some backtracking, GM_Vash stated:
"We're talking about earning enough money to cover the monthly costs that AVA is generating..."
- GM_Vash, ESL Interview
The conclusions the community came to after this interview portrayed Aeria as needing to generate more earnings to cover operating costs, or to generate more profit. The GM's eventually could not continue answering any questions, and directed the community towards the Sales and/or Project Managment Team. Which have been notoriously vacant from any community or non-prmotional activities.
Outrage struck the A.V.A community once again, when a confirmed Redduck developer directly communicated his personal disdain for Aeria's apparent forced change. This prompted SnowShovel (the most popular AVA player internationally) to speak out, and state that he had been approached by the Aeria AVA PM in seeking "much more fair for less used weapons,".
During these events, a petition started to revert the changes, with over 1000 forum users signing the topic. This 1000 user amount is rather large when compared to this statement by prominent NA Aeria GM Superman0X in relation to A.V.A's average concurrent player count.
There is a LOT more than this. A very low % of players even visit the forums. Most people vastly underestimate how many players play a game.
It is common knowledge that a low amount of player's ever adventure onto forums, let alone post. Yet, 1000 users were able to post on the forums, and make this petition themost replied and viewed topic in the A.V.A forum. Alliance of Valiant Arm's average concurrent player counts are unknown. Rough estimates from in-game crawl programs vary widely from 3k to 6k. No player statistics have ever been released, nor are they visible in the Steam Stat's community page. No player denies that this was a large chunk of both the core, and casual group of players within A.V.A, that have gone unanswered.
The guns selected to be forever temporary were selected based on their popularity, and regard of worth within the community. These include only the best, and top tier weapons like the SA58, M4A1, FR-F2, PGM, MP7, and Veresk. Each of these guns were regarded as the best tier of weaponry available, while most other guns were regarded as useless. This meant player's would need to pay for these 30 Day timed guns with Euro's, or with money, on a monthly basis.
Most player's enjoy utilizing 3 or more weapons, for variety, and fun. However, even if a player is able to play for 3 hours every day for a month, they would only garner enough Euro's to maintain 1 weapon, and necessary gear. Thus, a casual player must spend 3 hours a day, 21 hours a week, or 63 hours a month to be able to earn enough Euro's to compete on a fair and equal footing against other opponents. This includes only one weapon, which is a problem when there are three distinct classes that are required to be used in order to effectively win, and enjoy all avenues of the game.
If you are able to spend $20 each month, you can own one of the mentioned guns, and then, if you still play enough, spend your Euro's on the required gear, grenades, and other items. However, this cycle repeats each month, and could cost upwards of $200 just to play the game on equal footing.
If you do not mind being at a significant disadvantage, you can still purchase a permanent weapon with Euro's. Not only is the gun weaker, but you will still need to cover the costs of gun modifications, and the overall repair cost of the permanent item. This costs Euro's, and will eventually drain your Euro count, providing you utilize enough gear, grenades, and weapons to maintain a fair level of play against other players. This will result in you being forced to spend money, or have to deal with being at a disadvantage, in the two-tier P2W system of Alliance of Valiant Arms.
In reference to the above discussion, it is apparent that this F2P FPS can be quite expensive on the wallet, costing more than popular MMO subscriptions, or console access subscriptions. Yet, how does A.V.A compare to its competitors in relation to the value of your money within the game? Here are some facts to consider.
- It costs $200+ per year to play A.V.A at a fair level of play
- It costs $50+ per timed skinned versions of non-perm, and perm guns
- It costs $500+ per month for permanent skinned versions of guns
- It would cost you over $4000+ to buy, and own all guns within A.V.A per year
A.V.A is marketed as a free-to-play FPS game, yet it is nearly impossible for a casual player to continue playing without being forced to spend money for each time they play. Counter-Strike: Global Offensive takes a different approach.
- CS:GO is $3.99 - $14.99
- You may play the game endlessly, without ever having to spend money
- You do not need to spend money, ever, to compete on equal footing with others
- There are 32 weapons available, permanently, at no additional cost
- You can buy 95% of all skinned guns for under $20, once, forever
A similar story is found within Crossfire, A.V.A's direct competitor, in most regional markets.
Thus, it is apparent to any informed player that the value within A.V.A does not match industry competitors, nor match the level of game play offered within it. These types of comparisons have been brought up to Aeria before, and their famous stance is, as follows:
"Another factor that makes pricing so hard is the different markets we are servicing with in this one single version. We are actually the only AVA that spreads over so many different countries and even 2 continents and with such heavily different demographics it's hard to find a good price-balance."
- GM_Vash, ESL Interview
This is a confusing statement to make, when CS:GO services over 40 countries, with 24 natively supported languages. Valve, and Hidden Path, also operate their own official servers to be used in their matchmaking service that faciliates over 100 000 concurrent players daily. Crossfire is the most popular F2P FPS game, serves millions of players internationally, and is the most successful micro-transaction game of 2013 (ahead of LoL). It is wondered by the community if A.V.A should drop these 'heavily different demographics' to appeal to the larger demographics that seem to disappointed with the game, where Crossfire, and CS:GO, seem to be finding success.
Considering that other competitiors to A.V.A can operate their own servers with much lower prices, provide more value, and without a P2W tier structure, it is a puzzling issue as to why A.V.A offers the current F2P model. Not only are they out-done by their competitors for value, but they also do not seem to be on the same page as to why the changes were made. Was it for balancing concerns? To cover operating costs? Or was there a cow to milk when opportunity came knocking? Regardless, it is apparent to all parties involved that the casual, and hardcore player of A.V.A suffers each day as they look towards better prospers.
Thanks to Trainer for his provided statistics throughout the article.