I hadn't actually heard about Aion until a few weeks ago. Someone in the WoW forums kept talking about it, and I decided to do a little research. I watched a few videos and thought it looked interesting, but what really got me excited was all the chatter before the head-start launch. People were so enthusiastic, talking about how great this game was going to be. I was sucked in and before I knew it I had the game downloading through Steam. Like everyone else I went through preselect, took a screengrab, and shared it with the world. I stoked up on food and drink so that I would be able to immerse myself in the game. I set my alarm so I could wake up at 7 in the morning to play it, just as the servers went live. Man, I was pumped!
At first, it was a great. Everyone was running around fresh and excited. There were people everywhere, and the world felt alive! The starting area was lush and vibrant -- a special treat to see spectacular beasts flying across the sky -- and the quests were genuinely interesting. Poor Tutty! "Aion rocks!" I said to my friends over Steam.
Then, I ascended, and suddenly the game started to look a little shabby. Why could I only fly in one small section of the game? Why only for a minute? What happened to the interesting quests and story? Why all over a suddenly was I sent on huge grinds? Why were the areas so linear? Why did the environment suddenly look like it was missing the creativity I had seen before?
Then it got worse. Then the mechanical problems started kicking in. Queues? Aniticipated and, generally, acceptable. 9-hour queues? You've got to be joking me. Worse, if the game got disconnected from the server, not only would you go back to the end of that 9-hour queue, but you would also have to sit through the entire client needing to reload from scratch -- and boy, that thing is not fast to boot.
NCsoft's support was lacking, wiith vague shrugs being communicated through Twitter, of all things. Just before I quit, there was essentially no options except to waste all your progress and start one of the new servers.
Then the community problems started. For a community that goes on about WoW's community so much, it's hilarious that Aion's community makes the WoW community look like the bastions of civilised society. You thought Barrens chat was bad? You haven't seen anything until you've played Aion. Worse still, everyone seemed to be treating it like a race to the end, with the legion I joined actually telling me I was going too slow because I hadn't reached 25 in two days. Sour and bitter is how I felt, especially every time I saw the letter Q. They honestly seemed to want anyone who wasn't "hardcore" to just quit. "Go back to WoW; it's for casuals like you," was something I heard a lot.
I stuck with it. Lord knows I'd paid $60 for the collector's edition, so why not at least get my money's worth out of it. I did have until the end of October to play. But things only got worse. Why were quests sending me to enemy territory through a rift that only opens randomly? Why was I waiting FIVE HOURS for that rift to open? Why was I suddenly out of quests? Was I really now going to have to just grind mobs to level? Why, even with the stigmas, did I feel like my character exactly the same as everyone elses? Why did I have to wait until 25 to do an instance, and why is there only nine in the game?
WHY, OH WHY DOES AUTO-ATTACK TURN ITSELF OFF RANDOMLY?
Then it hit me: I'd been sucked in. This game is utter crap and the only reason it got any attention is because people are desperate for any game to take down WoW. It's a boring Korean grindfest that will only appeal to people who have no life and get a sense of achievement from investing ridiculous hours into a video game. It's not fun at all.
It's not just me, either. Even the diehards in my ex-legion have become burned out from the grind. When I said I was quitting, many said they might not be far behind.
The problem with Aion is that it doesn't have any personality or soul. It's devoid of charm. So when it suddenly becomes a grind, there is nothing to keep you enthralled. You suddenly realise how dull it is, and how you are not only wasting your time but also your money. Then you realise what a fool you were for wasting $60 on the product.
I consider it an expensive lesson. One I won't forget, though. It's too easy to get caught up in the hype and excitement of a new product and forget that it might not be everything it promises to be. It's easy to fork over money for a product only to then feel cheated when it's not your thing. It's even worse when you can't trade it. I definitely will not be purchasing games at launch now. It's bargain bin or bust for me.
As for Aion: it matters not how many copies they sell, but how many people keep playing. Given the reaction of people who aren't blindly in love with it due to some hatred of WoW, I can't see the game lasting more than a year.