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Players angry with updates boycott major gaming companies

NCSoft’s mobile game Lineage 2M (NCSoft)
NCSoft’s mobile game Lineage 2M (NCSoft)

NCSoft’s Lineage 2M and Nexon’s Fifa Online 4 have come under fire for updates that undermine the efforts of the players and require them to spend more money.

Players criticized NCSoft when a new package item update for Lineage 2M was released on April 22.

While Lineage 2M is a MMORPG mobile game that is known for multiple in-app purchase contents, updates are generally welcomed by players as they mean new content. But this time many of the items required purchases.

Lineage 2M features item collections that give special stats when all the items in the collection are collected. However, the necessary items in some collections can only be bought in packages like the one NCSoft released on April 22. With the packages available for only a limited time, people are pressured to buy the product or risk falling behind other players. Regular updates occur weekly, offering new packages. The latest update on April 29 released three packages that cost a total of 660,000 won, and the last update just a week ago released two packages that cost a total of 440,000 won ($358).

However, there was more to the problem than the increased financial burden. The update on April 22 went against the previous update on April 14. On April 14, NCSoft released a new system of adding random stat-points to items which required a material that traded at around 50,000 won ($40) each time. As the stat added was random, players who wanted certain statistics improved had to try multiple times, which caused the total cost to skyrocket.

The update released on April 22 which allowed combining two identical items to make an advanced item. The problem was that the two copies of the item could not have stat points added to them.

The update infuriated players who had spent a vast sum the previous week, only to realize the items needed to be reset to be allowed to be made better.

Streamers of Lineage 2M announced a boycott of new packages and on April 22, an online petition seeking a government restriction on gaming companies exploiting players was posted on the presidential office’s website.

“This is becoming a form of gambling not a game. Games didn’t use to be like this, but gaming companies are turning into monsters,” said the initial petitioner. Over 2,300 people had signed the petition as of Wednesday morning.

In response, NCSoft announced an additional update where the packages were revamped with extra items, massively improving value for money, but the users remained unappeased. Lineage 2M toppled down from its perch as the top grossing mobile game in Google Play store as of April 26, ceding the position to Lineage M. Lineage 2M had been at the top spot since overtaking Lineage M last December, as some Lineage 2M players have forked out well over 100,000,000 won ($81,500) to acquire high-level character attributes.

“We consider the change in ranking a result of Lineage M having an update last week,” an NCSoft official. “We are discussing responses and monitoring our players. We will communicate accordingly.”

Players had expected an apology during an online conference on April 28, but NCSoft again only announced new features in the game, including new packages. NCSoft also announced a long awaited new feature where players from different servers can battle, along with giving out tickets to every user that can be used for a chance to get a good item. However, furious players filled the chatroom showing their disdain for the excessive purchases the game required weekly.

Nexon‘s Fifa Online 4 (Nexon)
Nexon‘s Fifa Online 4 (Nexon)

Nexon also faced similar complaints from users of online soccer game EA Sports Fifa Online 4. Nexon released a new class of in-game players called “Loyal Heroes,” which had higher abilities but at a lower in-game price than previous players in the market. As the game has a limit on the budget used to form a club, the Loyal Heroes players drove down the price of existing players.

The update caused famous streamers to boycott purchases and pro-gamers to voice their disdain. It was the first large-scale boycott of the game since its release. Icons representing a man lying down, symbolizing the boycott by players, filled the community website and the disgruntled players took to calling Nexon, “Donxon,” an abbreviation for money-hungry Nexon.

Since April 21, Nexon has issued a series of apologies and compensation offers.

Last Thursday, Nexon’s business manager Park Jung-moo, the person in charge of FIFA Online 4, posted a video on YouTube apologizing to all the users.

“We will conduct a survey to gather data on the needs of each club owner (player) and find a realistic solution in the fastest way possible,” said Park in the video.

The users were compensated with game money and LH class characters were nerfed with a patch on Tuesday.

“A lot of users have given their opinions, and we felt the users were very displeased. We wanted to communicate with the users for a while but didn’t have the resources or the opportunity. We took this incident to make it a chance for us to improve and get feedback from users with this survey,” said associate of Nexon.

Nexon announced the survey complete as of Sunday and promised to share the results on April 29.

By Lim Jang-won (ljw@heraldcorp.com)
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