Thursday, May 28, 2015

Age of Wushu Cash Shop Review

A thread popped up in the MMORPG Request section of the MMOHuts/OnRPG Forums, where people can request help with finding games for themselves to play, earlier today. In this thread, the user asked for a game that is pay-to-win (meaning they could pay money to get good at the game) as they didn't want to/couldn't spend a lot of time in the game to get good and would rather pay money to be a top player. So, after thinking a moment, I replied with a suggestion for Age of Wushu. It's one of my all-time favorite games but there's no denying that it has become incredibly pay-to-win. Heck, you can even purchase unbound Liang (the currency used to sell items between players) from Snail USA now, completely bypassing the need for gold sellers. Though the gold seller do still exist and are still spamming the game horribly... Seems I can't walk through Chengdu without having to block at least six gold spammers.

That's what got me started on this idea to review the Cash Shop of Age of Wushu. Back when I last reviewed the game, I didn't really mention the Cash Shop. And, even if I had, the cash shop wasn't nearly as broken as it is now. Back then, you would have to pay a tops of $15 per month to easily stay on par with the rest of the player base. To me, that is a fair price as you could still be on par with some hard work and dedication and not spend a dime of real money.

But now it's different. Now you have the subscription ($10 a month, but you can upgrade to a more advanced form of premium account for another $5), mounts, Windrider's Potion, powerful skill sets that can only be gained through the Cash Shop, special lore items that range in cost from $30 all the way up to $300, bag expansions... It all adds up quickly. If you wanted to stay on par now, you would need to spend a minimum of $25 per month, or at least make enough in-game effort to be able to purchase $15 worth of cash shop items from players each month (as, so far as I know, you cannot trade any items that give premium subscription or send gold to other players, so it's impossible for non-payers to get premium).

  • $10 Subscription - allows you to have access to VIP-only content and the much-needed ability to cultivate skills while offline. 
  • $10 Mount - Needed for travel
  • $15 Windrider -  Potion that gives you a big bonus to run speed, but is only useable out of combat. Very convenient and necessary to stay on top during the "Script Stealing" events.
  • $9 18-Slot Bags - As the name suggest. It used to be that you could only get good bags from crafting.
  • (Optional)$9 Gathering Manuals - Vastly increases your gains from gathering, required to stay on par with bots when selling raw materials or for crafting if that's your thing.

So you would need to pay roughly $53 a month just to stay on par with the rest of the playbase. If you are a high-end player, you might be able to reduce the cost by buying things like your mount and Windrider's from players using Unbound Liang. But when you're saving up your your Liang/Ding, it's usually to purchase skill sets instead. Then there's the catch-22 where you will need a combination of high-end Mount, Windrider's Potion, AND Subscription to be able to Script Steal just so you can make money, otherwise veterans will catch you and completely wreck you. So you have to spend real money to make unreal money, so you don't have to spend your real money.

But that's not all. There are hundreds of dollars worth of items on the cash shop that can give you an advantage. And if that wasn't enough, Snail implemented the ability for players to purchase unbound Liang directly from them. However, I recently tried to click the "Silver Purchase" button and it brought me to a 404 page so I have to wonder if they are removing that service or if it's just a temporary error. I remember the price came out to a few dollars per hundred Liang, with one-thousand Liang making one Ding. The most rare items and skills cost several Ding.

Keep in mind that, as Snail only sells gold in packages, I am giving these prices in the closest package worth. For example, 50 Cash Shop Gold cost $15. So, while Windrider only costs 45 Gold, I put down $15. This causes you to put more money into the game than you need, though it does eventually sort of "even out" as you can accumulate enough 'extra' gold to purchase premium for a month or get yourself a month or something.

There you have it, a small break-down of the Age of Wushu (Snail USA) Cash shop. It's really disappointing, too. Back in the day, when the game was just just coming out of beta and was still fairly new in the West, at most you would need to pay $15 - a price that most people can deal with and accept. Occasionally they would come out with something expensive like a ferret that cost a couple hundred dollars- which I suppose was the first indicator. In the end, the amount of time and money I would have to invest to just to have a chance in PVP against those who have put hundreds or thousands of dollars into the game makes it unplayable for me.

I still enjoy logging on from time to time, doing a bit here and there, but I can't justify spending money on it nor spending any decent amount of time. Especially when the Customer Support is universally regarded as non-existent and when it does show up, it's usually in the form of broken or impossible to understand English. Unfortunately, I'm sure I'm not alone in this and that has lead to Age of Wushu suffering a population problem. It makes me wonder how long Age of Wushu will last. Maybe SnailUSA will pull off a miracle and save the game from itself? I can hope.

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