Heroes of Arkesia,
Our teams at Amazon Games and Smilegate RPG met recently to discuss player feedback, share insights, and talk about the next steps for Lost Ark in the West. The dust hasn’t settled yet and our teams have a lot of work on the horizon to materialize these conversations, but we wanted to share our thoughts and plans with you.
We’d like to start off with a huge ‘thank you’ from both of our teams before we dive in. The love and dedication shown by so many while playing Lost Ark has been inspirational. While we’re extraordinarily grateful to see the excitement around the recent updates, we understand that you are still experiencing inconveniences and pain-points.
Last year, our top priorities were introducing content into the Western shores of Arkesia at an appropriate cadence to avoid burnout, working to pull forward quality of life (QoL) changes, and waging the war on bots. Now, our goal is to continually improve the Lost Ark experience, while layering in the exciting content that has yet to arrive. Many updates and changes are required to achieve this goal, and that’s only half of it— to constantly work on creating a better game, we need to listen to our player base and ensure that you feel heard so we can build a better game together. We recognize that we’ve fallen short of accomplishing our desired relationship. Like the game itself, our current goal is to continue to grow, improve, and foster a better connection.
As we work to set the best course for the rest of 2023 and beyond, you’ll find some of our thoughts and plans below. These are focused on areas of player feedback and directional goals, not content coming to Arkesia over the coming months. While you might still find one or two spoilers, we’ll be following up with the 2023 Roadmap - Part 2 next week to share those plans.
The War Against Bots
One of our top priorities over the last year was taking care of the bot problem. Enormous effort was made on both Smilegate RPG and Amazon Games’ part, and together we’ve implemented a variety of changes to restrict bots from exploiting the system to gain economic benefits. During this process, we realized new players may be hindered from progressing, like not getting enough gold for honing. We’ll keep an eye on these unwanted side-effects, and actively work to resolve them.
Material accumulation by bots also requires action. We have banned millions of bot accounts in an ongoing effort, but the materials they have produced still pose a risk of inflation. We will continue to take strong actions against RMT participants, and will take future action based on both gold and other materials' production figures.
Many technical measures have been developed and tested, and we will continue to invest in future measures. Specific tactics can't be revealed for security reasons, but we can assure you that we are keenly monitoring bot activity patterns and are ready to respond to their modified activity. While it will be difficult to ever completely remove bots from Lost Ark, we've made significant progress in limiting the impact they have on gameplay and the economy. With new measures and constant ban waves, our changes have led to 55 billion bot gold removed from the game, and a 99% decrease in bots interacting with the economy.
After we implement additional changes next month, we’re planning to share an article with more updates on our progress and approach.
Opening the Gates to New Players
Thankfully, we still have new players embarking on their first adventure in Arkesia every day. However, our version's vertical content update cadence is significantly faster than the original version in Korea, and we've noticed that new players find it hard to catch up to the content level. One year after launch, new/returning players are having difficulty adjusting to reaching combat level 50, learning Legion Raid patterns, setting up for raid requirements. To address, we will cut down on 'unnecessary' content exhausting new and returning players, starting with:
1) Low-Tier Improvements
In order to enjoy Legion Raids, 4 gear progression steps are currently required (Tier 1 301, T2 802, T3-1 1302, T3-2 1340). Too many honing steps are overwhelming new and casual players alike. Having repetitive gear progression seems unnecessary, so we plan to integrate them into 2 tiers.
Guardian first-time clear and Tower rewards will be enhanced to be on par with the integration, so players will not have to play each tier's content multiple times.
2) Horizontal Content Improvements
So far, we have been focusing mainly on improving and alleviating honing difficulties. However, new players are also suffering from collecting horizontal content materials. To improve their experience, we plan to make collecting Runes/Tripods/Cards/Gems easier for everyone.
To reveal some of the things we have in mind, new 'Uncommon' runes will be added in the early progression period to help players acquire and use runes more easily.
The new 'Deep Dive' and 'You Have a Plan' set's collecting difficulty will be improved, and cards/card xp needed to complete the sets will be provided.
Sailing content will be changed, with improved co-op quests and enhanced rewards.
3) Alt Progression Improvements
As you probably know, we introduced the 'Silver Honing' system in the March update. We will continually expand the levels that the system covers to ensure players can easily progress on new classes and alts. The expanded Silver Honing system will come with the next class launch. We also cut down the requirements for two of most needed materials (silver and honor shards) to make gear progression easier. Looking forward, we are currently contemplating methods to improve the engraving/gem setting difficulty for alts, and will let you know (when decided) what we develop.
4) QoL Updates
We recently made Triport activation roster-bound, so once a Triport is activated every character in the roster can benefit from it. Moving forward, we will also work on reducing other unnecessary and time-consuming activities while progressing alts. For example, having to play through story quests after completing them with the main character is an issue. 'Knowledge Transfer' is in place to let players skip this inconvenience, but due to many restrictions, it's difficult for actual new players to use. To address, we are working on alleviating the restrictive conditions.
5) Improving the Battle Item Experience
While looking through the various suggestions players have given us, we noticed there were issues with acquiring/using battle items in the earlier tiers. We rated this as a critical issue, and after discussing with the developers, we plan to change the system to let players use battle items for free in early tier Guardian Raids. We are aiming to implement this change before summer comes. Along with providing battle items for free, we will add a guide to help players out with the appropriate use of battle items. Thank you for the great suggestion— we are always open to more ideas.
These will take some time to develop, but we’re hoping to prepare them by the end of summer or early fall. We will implement the improvements as soon as they are completed, and thank you for your patience in the meantime.
Player Exhaustion - Learning & Dailies
Along with the content mentioned above, frequent content updates are leading to enhanced exhaustion and gatekeeping, making gameplay difficult for new and returning players. With dozens of patterns to memorize, burden is put on new players attempting to learn. To address, we are preparing the following updates:
Argos Abyss Raid
The best way to help progression is to provide appropriate content for the players' current level of play. Through this point of view, Argos is an extremely difficult raid considering it is one of the first raids a new player encounters, without having enough time to adjust to Arkesia.
When the progression adjustments listed above take place, players will get to enter Argos raids much earlier in the game, so alleviating the burden of the mechanics in the Argos Abyss Raid is a must.
We will reduce the number of patterns in the raid to ease the learning curve, and change most of the 'wipe' mechanics to plain damage-dealing ones. This way, players can overcome mechanics and patterns by using appropriate skills/battle items/reaching relevant Item Levels, as well as getting help from other party members. We do not want players to experience too many situations where one player's mistake results in everyone's failing so early in the game.
Smilegate RPG’s research and development team is also looking into applying similar changes to the earlier Legion Raids like Valtan and Vykas. Not every wipe mechanic will be adjusted, considering their designation as top-tier end-game raids. We’ll be sure to share more details on these changes when they’re available.
With these changes, we hope every player in Arkesia can experience the fun of trying out end-game raids without too much stress, while simultaneously learning about the types of patterns and mechanics they can expect to see in harder end-game content.
Similarly, we know the community conversation surrounding dailies is a hot topic these days, and we’re aware of the sense of discontent regarding Chaos Dungeons, Guardian Raids, and Una's Tasks. Currently, these daily activities are critical for obtaining the materials necessary for gear progression, and allow hardcore players to have something to earn every day— so reducing them is not a simple problem to tackle. We need more time to think about it, but we understand the repetitiveness of the content, and Smilegate RPG is undergoing internal research and development to discuss resolutions. To help cut down on the grind in the meantime, we'll introduce the Ebony Cube - a new activity that combines Boss Rush and Dimension Cube - in May.
When further plans for reducing dailies are confirmed, we’ll make sure to share in greater detail. Until then, QoL updates like Ebony Cube will be implemented as fast as possible in our version.
Content Cadence & Events
We know that players have expressed some questions and concerns with the current content release cadence. Catching up to the new end-game content is important to us and our players, but there are two problems with speeding up the process; localization timelines and player burnout. If content is localized too quickly, the overall quality may be compromised. Regardless of localization timelines, there’s still the problem of having to digest too much content at the same time, or constantly feel pressured to hit the next required Item Level, related to the previously mentioned exhaustion and issues with new player catch up mechanics.
Our goal is to introduce content as fast as we can without having these problems occur. However, we know this is not satisfactory for players. Therefore, we promise that new classes (at least) will be updated as soon as possible. New continents and Legion Raids have to be updated in order, while classes don’t have the same restrictions. We’re excited to share the next 4-month roadmap with you next week, and hope that you feel heard when the content plan is revealed.
Another piece of content we plan to integrate at a faster speed heading forward are in-game events. The events in our version have mostly been older events in Korea, which isn’t ideal. Heading forward, our teams at Amazon Games and Smilegate RPG plan to introduce more events applied simultaneously across the versions, including events similar to the recent April Fool's event in Korea. Of course, some of them will be Western-exclusive, and some will take place at the same time as Korea. We are open to suggestions!
We still have a long way to go, and understand that one letter isn’t a magic band-aid (or even a Splendid Elemental HP Potion), but we hope this letter becomes the first step in our road to more open communication and positive changes to the game. To thank you for your ongoing support and dedication to Lost Ark, we’ve prepared a gift for all players that will be sent out alongside this letter. As a first-time log-in reward, you’ll find the following in your Product Inventory:
A Mokoko Skin Selection Chest
A Moko Pet Selection Chest
A Mokoboard Selection Chest
Collective Battle Item Chest x100
Relic Rapport Selection Chest x3
These items can be claimed by anyone who logs into the game before May 19.
As we progress into 2023 and beyond, our very first priority is you, the players of Lost Ark. We plan to close the distance between you and our teams at Amazon Games and Smilegate RPG, by taking one step at a time to interact more with you. We’ll see you again next week with the 2023 Roadmap - Part 2, which has some exciting surprises.
Thank you for the patience and dedication you have shown past year. We will continually strive to exceed your expectations.
- Amazon Games & Smilegate RPG