Massively Opinionated has an interview with Neowiz regarding the studio’s efforts to keep Bless Online viable in the West — which is even more imperative now that the Korean version will be shutting down in two months. That will make the Steam version of the game the only one available for anyone to play. It’s still not free-to-play, but it almost has to be someday, and Neowiz’s ability to implement that still has a ton of red flags attached to it.

In talking to Neowiz, MOP quotes an unnamed Neowiz representative on a number of questionable points — questionable, that is, to anyone not working at Neowiz. Regarding the game’s poor reception at its early access launch:

“In retrospect, we understand exactly why it’s hard for western users to digest that Bless Online is ‘Early Access’ when it had been launched in other regions previously.”

“Retrospect” shouldn’t have been required. Early access is no longer a new thing, and if you’re launching a game into it — and charging money for it — and thinking that players won’t expect something akin to a finished product, then you’re not very smart. That doesn’t even take into account Bless’ unusual history, as a game that was released previously in other regions into an ostensibly “finished” state.

It’s not just a matter of early disappointment, either, as the game still isn’t being well-received, four months after its early access launch. Recent reviews on Steam are an abysmal 16% positive, and the game is peaking at less than a thousand players per day.

Regarding the differences between Korean and Western players, particularly the approach to “pay-to-win” — something that Neowiz said was a primary reason the game wouldn’t be free-to-play:

“Players in Asia tend to be more accustomed to and have a larger tolerance towards P2W aspects; there is a certain level of understanding among players that those who pay will receive in-game benefits (directly, such as gaining extra experience).”

In the grand scheme of P2W, “gaining extra experience,” whether in the form of boosters or direct leveling bonuses, is pretty mild. If that’s what you’re charting as a line that cannot be crossed, you need to do more research.

In short, you’ll have to forgive us if we’re still not convinced that Neowiz will figure it all out when Bless launches and inevitably goes free-to-play (which might be at the same time). Whether that’s due to ignorance, stubbornness, or intentional deceit is unknown, but in any case, I wouldn’t get my hopes up.

Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.


  1. Q: What’s wrong.what’s wrong…we don’t understand what’s wrong?
    A: Maybe, at least try to assume that the game is sh*t no matter how much you revamp it.

  2. The solution?
    Close down Bless Online, move the staff over to Unleashed and port it to PC.
    Bless Online owners get a copy and w/e is in the cash shop for Unleashed, based on how much they paid for the broken product.
    It’s not even that hard.

    The reason the game failed is because it lacks engaging content, the pet grind was basically their selling point, which was a bad idea in my opinion and last but not least the performance issues due to a dated engine that is hard to optimize if you work with huge, non-instanced areas.

    There’s also the fact that they really didn’t listen to their community.

  3. It’s a dead game in Steam already, they are unable to even hit 1k players in peak now, they have used all that juicy money to found a F2P console Bless and are going to let the PC version die sucking as much money possible in the process, even BDO was able to bounce back of the negative stuff and have a well populated world, but bless is on free fall and F2P won’t save a bad game.

  4. Players in the West too also understand that those who pay will get extra benefits, but in the case of P2W, those benefits end up making the people who pay unreachable by the people who don’t. If they want to make money, in the West, they might as well go with B2P, but even with B2P they try to make it P2W so those who pay EVEN MORE on top of the base game gets things otherwise unattainable.
    Actually, Asian developers/publishers don’t understand that you can’t have a cake and eat it.
    When a game is F2P, it’s expected that it’s free for everyone. With the huge backlash against P2W, they have finally started to grasp the concept that selling only cosmetics in the Western versions of their games is the way to go. Ironically, but with games like Ironsight, they are prioritizing populating the cash shops with as much cosmetics as possible every month, but ignore the game-breaking issues that prevent people from playing.
    The conclusion in all this is that the Asian devs/publishers refuse to learn how to approach the West with their products and unless they do, they might as well stop releasing them for the time being.
    So far every Western game that was release in Asia, and has become successful because of its gameplay, it’s gaming model has either been adapted to Asian standards or there was no need to adapt at all.
    It’s Asian games that have a unfair model and garbage gameplay, with the only redeeming factor being the shiny graphics.

    • wow, nice analysis, but I want to add that even their “shiny graphics” are not appealing anymore, so aye, “made in China” stereotype about the Asian games is being settled now.

    • If anything, Asian developers cater to you too much and ruin their games as a result. Games get dumbed down and sped up into oblivion, and yet Western gamers are never happy. To them everything is pay to win, everything is grindy, everything is Asian trash, and they have to point it all out.

      Oh yeah, and this particular game is a poor exampe as it’s simply being mismanaged by a very bad developer (you have plenty of those in the West as well). It’s basiaclly made by Korean version of Boss Key Productions.

      • Well, as you can see subpar games like Perfect World International, Frosaken World, 9Dragons, Talisman Online, Metin2, Twelve Sky 2 are still running after all these years, some of them have changed publishers a few times, but that doesn’t matter. Apparently there were either enough players or the model was fair enough for the games to survive.

        I can mostly speak from the perspective of Korean F2P FPS games, like Alliance of Valiant Arms, Ghost in The Shel First Assault and Ironsight as the three Asian online games I’ve played the most.

        AVA was OK at first, but even from the start it had skin versions of weapons that had better stats than the basic version and were being sold on the cash shop for real money. At first the skin weapons were rare, but after a few years they became more common and at the time I quit, the tables have completely turned – the once rare skin weapons were the most common and basic weapons were the rare ones… The gameplay was botched for the sake of selling skins, the whole gameplay revolved around the skins. Then the game shut down, because nobody wanted to put up with such garbage. Aeria Games operated AVA during the time of its downfall, this will be important, because they operate Ironsight now.

        Ghost in the Shell First Assault was introduced with the motto that it will never become P2W, and it did not until the end. But there was a relative amount of grind – you needed about a week to earn money for a new weapon and another week for all the attachments you needed for that weapon. For me this was fair trade – it kept me playing, because I always had something to work towards, for others it wasn’t – they deemed it a grindfest, but when you looked at their play time, it ranges between less than an hour and 5 hours tops, I had above 700 hours on the game before it shut down. Since they promised to not make the game P2W, they started introducing Steam DLCs with skins and other bonuses, the skins in the game were expensive and later on they introduced a Gacha system to the game for the skins, so you literally had to gamble and waste money without knowing what you will earn. They focused on making as much money as possible from skins rather than fixing pressing issues with the game. In the end it was shut down, because people couldn’t put up with this anymore and 80% of them left before shut down was even announced.

        Ironsight is pretty much the same situation as Ghost in the Shell First Assault, but it’s going downhill at an increased pace (almost 2 times faster) – they claim there will be no P2W, but they try to compensate by showering you with cash shop cosmetics of all kind. There are serious problems with the game that they pretend to fix, but don’t, ignore and pretend they don’t exist, sometimes go and “fix” things that aren’t even broken and at the same time update their cash shop with even more cosmetics. 95% of their patch content is new cash shop skins and 5% is “fixes” that nobody even asked for and mean absolutely nothing for the game. This one will probably shut down pretty soon too. As I said Aeria publish it, they published AVA and for the 2-3 years they had the game, they milked it for whatever its worth, now they are milking Ironsight almost the same way.

        I also played a lot of Asian MMORPGs, but not for long as the pay/grind wall was built pretty early on, also most of the games are pretty generic and boring so I would sometimes get bored before I reach the point where the game shows its P2W true colors.

        There are some examples of Western F2P online games that are doing a much better job – Villagers & Heroes, AdventureQuest 3D, Warframe, Team Fortress 2, Paladins. Nobody is complaining that those games are P2W in any way.

        • But Paladins sucks ass. The devs made the game P2W as hell and if you don’t want to pay, you’re in a grind limbo. The community cried and the devs was intent on destroying the game, said they won’t change it. When I quit the game it was like that anyway. I don’t know how it is nowadays and to be honest I don’t really care.

          The point is, most of those games you said, maybe -MAYBE- excluding Warframe, are shit. P2W or not.


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