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MapleStory celebrates seven years in North America
That's a REALLY long time
Believe it or not, nearly a decade has passed since MapleStory debuted in North America, as Nexon's most popular free-to-play title celebrates its 7th anniversary this year. F2P or not, that's quite a feat for any online game.
Throughout the month of May, the MapleStory community should find no shortage of in-game activities commemorating the game's 7th regional birthday:
Over the years, this 2D side-scrolling MMO has attracted over 9.2 million registered players. Of course, we're not sure how many of those are active, but it's still a significant figure.
A steady stream of new character classes, servers, maps, and monsters have kept folks busy. In 2005, MapleStory had only four character classes to its name, but today, that number stands at 19.
So is the game set to retire any time soon? Hah, no. MapleStory North America's producer Yoonjin Kim states that the community can expect more from Nexon in coming years:
Section: PC Games
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May 11, 12 at 9:56pm ^re: MapleStory celebrates seven years in North America
Oh the things to say!
I'm not all that surprised the game has lasted this long, it's kind of in the same position as WoW for it's genre. Yeah there's been games released within the past nine years (MS is 9 years old in Korea as of this past month, which is where this genre tends to originate), but for how good some of them have been, they haven't been able to release with enough content and/or clout to really shake up the MS community enough for a migration to happen. Oddly enough nexon itself has kind of pushed as well, but I'd have to assume they've pushed not because they wanted players to fly away so much as they knew they would stay and deal with it.
This past year has been really hit-and-miss for nexon, especially in the NA territory. Early this year they had about a two month span where their servers were under attack, flat out dying due to hardware, or both at once, constantly. The downtime also set them back about a month in terms of keeping up with translating content from Korea (all NA MS content is produced in Korea, translated if need be, then released). However they managed to actually keep up player count afterward during what is usually the low time of the year for game population. It's not breathtakingly high, but their constant x2 experience events seem to have paid off in the end for game activity.
Cake vs Pie, Ice Knight, and the other PvP modes, especially NA's exclusive "capture the flag" mode were huge busts and all blew chunks, CvP is something players tend to call back on for laughs ("At least it isn't CvP!"), and the Korean version of the game has already recalled all PvP content as it's really just not good in any way.
Legends actually went over really well all things considering, one of the classes was badly bugged for a couple months, cutting it's DPS down dramatically, but other than that and the aforementioned server problems the two months that contained the Legend update went over pretty well. Nexon tried out some new things and actually got some good things rolling with that update. Mercedes and Demon Slayer, two of the classes released, were quite overpowered, but were solid designs which is a nice change from the copy-paste of many other classes they've released.
And that leads of course to the final updates of the "game year". The Anniversary patch will actually chop an update chain into two parts, well technically it was two parts to begin with. In the original Korean version a string of updates labelled as "Union" got released, but the third and final patch of the Union block was actually also the first patch of a new block called Justice, making it belong to both blocks. This Anniversary patch will actually chop a definitive line for the NA version, marking Union as two patches, and Justice as three (aka the "middle patch" goes to Justice). Which is a pretty nice thing in terms of ease of understanding for release. The only downside is that the bumped patch is the first real update Thieves or Pirates have seen in a pretty long time. Ascension, Union, and Justice didn't really help either class out very much, so all of the branches under those two names are generally very underpowered right now. The bumped patch is something that's main purpose is to really hyper-buff Pirates and Thieves so they're...usable again. The bump of the patch has actually put a sour note on the anniversary event patch this year ("What we expected" vs "What we got"), but it's a pretty standard fare for anniversary events in MS so it's not really a bad patch.
Going forward into the future, I'm not really sure how long MS will last in this region, it's still "too early to tell" for a date on that I think. Though I wouldn't be surprised if the game can't double it's lifespan from this point and hit 14 years. It's been showing signs of aging for a long time, the game's balance&economy has started to take a over-drastic turn towards "Pay to Win", and even nexon themselves are planning a sequel. There's a nice fuzzy screenshot and official note of "Maple Story 2" from nexon themselves. Nothing about the game is known yet, but the screenshot is barely not-fuzzy enough to tell it's 3D, not a side-scroller. Whether or not that will keep is anybody's guess, but it's an interesting step either way.
One final note, the game originally launched with 4 class types, but the lines for how many classes there are now isn't so...clear, as nexon really messes with the whole "This is a new branch, this is a new class" formula in a (successful) attempt to draw out more money from players. So now we have this mess, so in the end, we technically have 17 classes instead of 19 by the logic we started with 4 RabidChinaGirl. Though I'm sure nexon would love flaunting 19, they still have about six months left in this region before they can say that (18th is coming in two months, 19th in six months or so).
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