Lost Ark is already a runaway hit, but can it keep up its momentum or will it die out like a fad?
Just 24 hours after its release, Lost Ark had reached a peak of 1.3 million concurrent players, making it the highest played MMO on Steam ever by concurrent player count. It’s also the second highest-played game in general if we’re talking about the same metric. To say that Lost Ark launched in America and Europe like a bolt of lightning from Zeus’ hand is an understatement; the title has been so popular that many players have been struggling to get into the game, queueing by literally thousands to get into already-overloaded servers – FFXIV server congestion deja vu, anyone? The game’s immediate dominance of headlines may seem to have come out from nowhere, but the main question we’re going to tackle is whether Lost Ark will continue to thrive on this success or fade into obscurity like New World.
Is Lost Ark’s Success Short-Term? Will it Fade Like New World?
The Inaccuracy of Steam Reviews
At the time of writing, Lost Ark’s Steam reviews are mixed; this aggregated rating paints a slightly misleading picture and could easily turn off someone that’s thinking of playing the game. Currently, there are around 76,000 Steam reviews, 67% of which are positive. The positive reviews praise elements like the class design, the many quests to farm Lost ARK gold with, as well as the combat system. Meanwhile, in the negative reviews, the most common complaint is that players cannot access the game due to the servers being overwhelmed. This is commonly known as “review bombing”, an internet phenomenon where a large number of people leave negative user reviews online that can harm a product’s sales or popularity.
There seem to be several issues surrounding the various player packs and the Founder’s Pass, many of which were made available for purchase before the game’s release. If we take a look at the Founder’s Platinum Pack, it has “Mostly Negative” reviews with users complaining about how the pack is locked to a single server, thereby causing access issues now that the servers are flooded to the gates with players. The Vanquisher Starter pack also consists of “Mostly Negative” reviews, with players claiming that the listing of the character Lost ARK skins available in the pack is “deceptive” and “misleading” since you only get to unlock one of the Lost ARK skins, not all of them.
In short, most of the negative reviews on Steam are mainly about server issues and poor communication regarding the various content packs and pass. It has nothing to do with Lost Ark’s gameplay entirely.
Could Server Problems Become Lost Ark’s Downfall?
The server queues are currently the main bone of contention surrounding the MMO. It appears that Amazon and Smilegate RPG seem to have underestimated the anticipation surrounding Lost Ark, and as such, many players are stuck in server queues ranging from hundreds to tens of thousands of players. Many players can’t even get into a queue to begin with, and they’re instead confronted with a message saying that they can’t connect due to heavy traffic. The sheer demand of Lost Ark’s servers is also causing instability within the game itself. Many players are finding themselves either kicked out of the game entirely or out of queues as the servers struggle to cope with the constant influx of new people. In particular, the situation is at its worse in Europe, where the interest in Lost Ark appears to be way beyond what either Smilegate or Amazon expected.
The solution for this is for Amazon to add new servers until supply meets demand, but apparently, the problem that Lost Ark faces is more fundamental. Amazon stated that they can only expand regional capacity to a certain extent due to the limitations in Lost Ark’s architecture. The meaning of this statement is still unclear, if we consider the fact that Lost Ark was originally built using Unreal Engine 3, the problem may be related to the game being based on older technology.
Amazon announced that they were setting up an entirely new region of servers in Europe to cope with the high demand, but once again, there’s a problem. While this will help relieve the pressure on the servers, players won’t have cross-play ability with other regions. This means that certain region-wide features like Silver and Crystal balances won’t be accessible to players that migrate. The company claims that this is the only way to accommodate more players in Europe, but at the same time, this could also lead to Lost Ark’s decline in the future.
Lost Ark has something for a wide variety of players, and as a polished game in Korea, it’s made the journey to the West in much better shape than what we’re used to. It’s had more time to polish itself up and expand, meaning that for its Western debut in EU and NA, it’s far from the unfinished package that we often see in most live service games. If we’re talking about gameplay (quests to farm Lost ARK gold for) and the gaming world of Lost Ark alone, the MMO is sure to thrive for many years to come. Now, if only Amazon and Smilegate could alleviate the ongoing server issues.