While big-name MMO publisher NCSoft is gearing up for the June 3 launch of its upcoming title, WildStar, in North America and Europe, in their native South Korea the company is looking backwards to generate revenue.
As reported by MMOCast, NCSoft plans to allow players of their decade-old MMORPG, Lineage II, to play on a server stripped of almost all the updates made in the game’s 18 expansions over the course of its lifetime. Nostalgia, however, comes with a price tag. NCSoft has already announced that the classic server will require a monthly fee to access, despite Lineage II having adopted a free-to-play to model with its 2011 expansion, Goddess of Destruction.
While the classic server uses some of the well-received elements of the game’s first two major updates, known as chronicles, everything else has been reverted to exactly what it was back when the game first launched in 2003. Its features include a laundry list of now-antiquated tenets of the genre, such as punishment for death with loss of items and levels, farming for spellbooks to learn new abilities, and long, involved quest lines to complete for things done in modern MMOs with the click of a button and perhaps a small payment of gold such as changing your character’s class build.
In addition to bringing back Lineage II’s old mechanics and gameplay, the classic server will be revisiting some of the players’ favorite events from the past. NCSoft has already announced future plans to recreate the launches of each of the early chronicles on the classic server.
Having once boasted a playerbase of some 14 million people globally, there is certainly a market for Lineage II nostalgia. Furthermore, its no secret that many veteran MMO players have a love-hate relationship with the genre’s growing willingness to sacrifice difficult, demanding gameplay in order to attract a wider audience. Even so, it is yet to be determined whether or not even these factors combined can produce enough appeal for the classic server to make selling an outdated version of a product a viable business option. Early response to the server in Korea has been extremely positive, however the server will not require payment until its official launch on June 3 so it may yet be the case that, even if Lineage players enjoy the nostalgia, they won’t part with their money in order to do so. If NCSoft’s experiment is a success, however, it could lead the way for the revival of “old-school” MMOs many longtime fans of the genre have been clamoring for.
There are currently no plans to launch a classic server outside of South Korea, however Western Lineage II fans remain hopeful.