Back in August, we covered a seemingly new project from a new-to-MMOs team called Old World Labs. The so-called Abyss sounded interesting, with immersive sandbox gameplay, PvP, and multiple eras entered through gates. There was only one problem. Actually, no, there were kind of a lot of problems.
To wit: It was a PvP title in a genre where most PvP titles do not succeed. It was promising early access for April 18th of next year, which seems unlikely. The studio’s past work wasn’t on MMOs but on R&D, AI, and 3-D printing. Oh yeah, and it was already running a web-based cash shop charging thousands of dollars for currency.
It got worse from there, as we were tipped off to the fact that it was a straight-up rebrand of an NFT/crypto game called Metagates, something the developers didn’t disclose. They did, however, come into our comments to bait our readers into a Discord and argue that selling currency isn’t P2W. (Which, to the extent that there’s no winning in a game nobody can play yet, sure, there’s just paying.) Just to make the whole thing weirder, we then saw a fan (or sockpuppet?) for the game parachute in to defend it, followed by an astroturfer from a different Metagates crypto VR project.
Anyhow, the game was destined to fall entirely off our collective radar after that, but the devs have returned again with a Steam blog post that attempts to tidy up the mess the team made back in August. Among other things, Old World Labs finally comes clean on the game’s origins, confirming what gamers had already figured out.
“Abyss Online originally started under the name Metagates and planned to utilize blockchain elements for trading skins, founder rewards, and tracking rarity of items. However, the team realized that integrating blockchain was not core to the gameplay experience they wanted to create. They rebranded to Abyss Online and shifted focus fully to building a next-gen MMORPG.”
The longer version is even nuttier. Poop is involved.
“TL;DR: There ain’t no Blockchain in this PVPVE MMORPG,” the press release says.
So how will the game be monetized? Here’s the Steam claim: “Buy to play the base game and expansions, mandatory monthly subscription, and Rubies as premium currency to spend on account services such as server transfers, name changes, appearance revisions, cosmetics, and vanity items. Players will not be able to purchase power at any point with Rubies. We are anti-P2W.”
This is obviously very different from the pitch back in August. In fact, the Abyss Online web cash shop has been overhauled and is no longer directly selling currency as a standalone item, though it’s baked into some of the high-price bundles. For example, the “Great Lord” package, which has no price listed and invites curious players to inquire about buying it, includes a customized castle and 5000 gold. It’s not clear what’s happening with anyone who purchased currency from the shop prior to the overhaul, if anyone did at all.
Our position really hasn’t changed here: There’s no good reason to shell out any money right now for this (or most other projects). If the game materializes and is good and isn’t a pile of promises, then you can buy it when it’s ready. But in the meantime, given all the switcharoos, maybe maintain your skepticism.