Heroes of Arkesia,
We can’t believe it’s already been over a month since Lost Ark launched to western audiences. Our teams, at both Amazon Games and Smilegate RPG, have been working tirelessly on stability, combating bots, preparing new content, and much more behind the scenes. We appreciate the support and patience we’ve seen from players around the world, and before diving into our team update, we’d like to thank the millions of heroes who have set foot in Arkesia and joined us for the start of this adventure.
Speaking of adventure (or at least of international travel), this week we’re joined by Smilegate RPG in our Seattle office for a fun and productive uniting of forces while we take a look at the content roadmap, improve operations & tools, and continue collaboration on all things related to the western release of Lost Ark. We thought this would be the perfect time to also partner on authoring an update to address concerns we’ve seen within the community, share our approach for releasing new content into Arkesia’s western shores, and spoiling a few upcoming surprises. Let’s triport right into it.
A Look Behind the Curtain: Progression, Argos, Content Roadmap, & Skins
Launching Lost Ark in the west has been a wonderful, humbling, and great learning experience for us at Amazon Games and Smilegate RPG. Our journey has been filled with late nights, creative problem solving, hopping into western servers to play together, and now, looking ahead at things to come. As we continue to learn from our players’ feedback and dive into data, our goal is to remain transparent (sometimes brutally so) with our players.
To set the stage, we’d like to reiterate some thoughts on progression we shared earlier this month. In other regions, players had to stay in Tier 1 and 2 for a considerable duration, as Tier 3 had not yet been released. In the western release, Lost Ark launched with Tier 1, 2, and 3 content. The intention is that T1 & T2 will be used as a road for players to understand the many systems in Lost Ark, encouraging players to explore the vast world of Arkesia and learn how intricate mechanics within battles play out. The first two Tiers are designed as a mid-game prologue for the wealth of end-game Tier 3 content that Smilegate RPG has developed since their original launch.
As Gold River (Lost Ark’s Game Director) recommended, you are progressing at your own speed and enjoying horizontal content such as exploration, collectibles, quests, and more alongside your vertical item level progression. A lot of players are currently progressing through T1 and T2. Some of you are already on T3, ready to vanquish end-game challenges. Our goal has always been for players to progress at whatever pace they see fit. The western version of Lost Ark launched with content at (and above) item level 1370, such as the Night Fox Yoho & Velganos Guardians, World Bosses, Ghost Pirate Ships, Chaos Dungeons, and Abyssal Dungeon hard modes in Punika, partially due to the player feedback we received in our Closed Alpha & Beta tests.
With that important context, let’s talk about Argos. We’ve seen player concerns that releasing Argos before a significant portion of the player base had progressed through Tier 3 made Lost Ark feel pay-to-win. We never wanted players to feel rushed in their quest to hit item level 1370. We considered having Argos available at launch, but viewed the Abyss Raid as an important stepping stone, helping bridge the gap to end-game activities that have yet to be released in the Western version of Lost Ark (we’re looking at you, Legion Raids). Through that lens, we wanted to give Argos a spotlight and a special introduction into Arkesia.
We made a mistake releasing the March game update too quickly after launch. Data we analyzed alongside Smilegate RPG from their previous launches projected that a larger portion of players would have reached the level required to challenge Argos. However, we overlooked certain variables, such as players spending more time on horizontal content and the price of honing materials increasing due to bots and real-money transactions. These factors contributed to a scarcity of T3 honing materials. Together, our teams at Amazon Games and Smilegate RPG are continuing to gather data on play patterns in the western version to better inform our future content roadmap. We appreciate the patience and support we’ve seen from the community while we continue to learn together and work on updating our roadmap, and apologize for the confusion our early excitement has generated.
After analyzing data and listening to player feedback across all our community channels, we believe that an update that helps adventurers progress with the content currently in-game is more important than releasing new end-game content. We’ll expand on this below in the honing section. With that said, players should feel encouraged to progress at whatever pace they’re most comfortable with. However, there is still a wealth of end-game content that needs to arrive in Arkesia. End-game content will be introduced, but players should continue progressing at their own pace. Our goal is to provide fun content for players, even if it’s at a higher level, while never making players feel pressured that they need to pay to progress. Flexibility has always been a driving force in the collaboration between our teams— as has ensuring that players are able to enjoy and play Lost Ark how they see fit. From adjustments to the monetization for the western version, (like making sure that aside for some account level features, everything can be earned in-game) to listening to player feedback on content timing, we want to remain flexible.
Amazon Games and Smilegate RPG will continue to monitor, but feel that Legion Raids— the definitive Lost Ark raiding experience— should be released after players have acquired enough materials to be confident and ready for the complicated challenges awaiting them. Don’t worry, more content is still coming soon. Horizontal content like new classes, islands, and the continent of South Vern will release as planned. We will share a more comprehensive look into our content roadmap for April and May in the near future, after our week of in-studio collaboration has concluded and the plans have been finalized.
Now that we’ve discussed our approach to progression and end-game content, let’s move on to cosmetic skins and Advanced Classes. As we read the forums, watch streams and videos, check-in on Discord, and hop in-game, we’ve seen feedback that players would like skins and Advanced Classes to be released at an accelerated rate. These two categories of content are entwined, which is one of the reasons that speeding up too much is tricky. Existing skins in the Korean version were released before some classes, requiring art and development time to rig models with skins for newer classes and the special weapons that accompany them. Still, we are releasing skins at a faster rate than they were originally in Korea, and we will continue listening to player feedback about the tempo of their release. Similarly, classes will be released faster, and our goal is to catch-up! As we release new content into the game, we want to add new classes that compliment that content. More classes will be available soon, and we’ll share specifics in the upcoming roadmap we’re working on with Smilegate RPG in studio this week.
Economy: Bots & Honing Materials
Another area of player concern we’ve seen is around honing. We know that for every triumphant yell as a player succeeds a low percentage hone, there are other players frustrated with their attempt failing, leaving them without enough materials to try again. As players focus on their first character, we’ve seen that there are a lower number of alternate roster characters to help feed main characters (and the economy) with high level honing materials.
A shortage of Tier 3 progression materials, coupled with problems introduced by bots, have made honing materials too expensive and a burden for players. To combat this, we will be supplying more progression materials for players to earn through fun in-game events, injecting more gold into the mid to end-game, and continuing our hard stance against bots.
Bots have been a problem for us since launch. Even though we banned them as quickly as we could, they kept springing up. Thanks to the mass ban of bots around the timing of the Argos update and the removal of early-game gold that attracted them in the first place, we’ve seen a steep decline in bot activity and bot-farmed gold that was used to inflate the prices of honing materials. We will continue to take a hard stance against the remaining bots to make them inefficient, while ensuring active players can access gold, to create a better experience for all.
Injection of Honing Materials
In next week’s update, we will provide additional Grand Prix honing rewards, introduce a new casual Event Guardian Raid to supply players with more honing materials, and kick-off the first season of Competitive Proving Grounds!
Event Guardian Raids
In this event, you can enjoy Guardian Raids in a more casual way. Relax, play, and get honing rewards. Similar to the Grand Prix, you can enter once a day (per roster) and earn event specific coins to spend on rewards at a new vendor. This vendor can be found in major cities, alongside the entrance to this new activity.
In this event, ‘Scale of Balance’ is applied to change the character's stats to match the Guardian's level, and the difficulty is adjusted according to the number of participants in the raid. Players will be able to challenge Helgaia, Frost Helgaia, Lumerus, Ur’Nil, Vertus, Chromanium, Nacrasena, Dark Legoros, Icy Legoros, Calventus, and Levanos! This event will last for roughly a month, and players with item level 250 or above will be able to participate. We'll reiterate the details of this event in next week's update notes, but are excited to spoil the surprise as players look to earn more honing materials.
Arkesia Grand Prix Adjustments
We’re adding Tailoring Books and Metallurgy Books to the reward table for players to increase their honing rates, and we’re increasing the number of event coins earned to help players get items easier than before. We hope these new rewards will help players as they look to progress to T3 and beyond.
For players eagerly awaiting PvP action, Season 1 of Competitive Proving Grounds will release in next week’s update. Players will be able to earn a variety of rewards, including access to weekly honing materials. We’ll have a dedicated article announcing more details next week.
We will continue to review player feedback and data around honing materials, rates, and price within the in-game economy, but are excited to provide more opportunities for players to gather materials starting this month.
Conclusion— Complete with Gifts
We know there’s a lot to unpack above, and even with the context and information, you may have questions, concerns, and feedback. Our teams at Amazon Games and Smilegate RPG will continue to listen to your feedback and work to communicate openly with you. We sincerely appreciate the enthusiasm and support we’ve received in the first month since launch. Before we wrap up, if there’s one thing the Rapport system has taught us, it’s that people love gifts.
Lost Ark fans around the world are celebrating all the new players now enjoying the game they love. Players in Korea received gifts to commemorate the western launch of the game, and we wanted everyone to be included. We’re so grateful for all of you who have joined us on the start of this adventure and we’re excited about the long future ahead! To help you on this journey with us, enjoy a gift full of fun cosmetics and useful materials. You’ll receive this gift the week of March 21, after our weekly update and maintenance.
The gift includes:
New Animal Skin Selection Chest
Mokokon Pet Selection Chest
Moko-board Mount Selection Chest
Lost Ark United Structure
Appearance Change Ticket
Menelik's Tome x5
Legendary Card Pack Selection Chest x2
Jukebox songs that will be provided when Jukebox content is released in the future.
With such an expansive and complex game there will be nuances and differences between the players in each region— but this is just the start of the adventure. Our teams at Amazon Games and Smilegate RPG will continue to listen to players and analyze the data to find the right time for new end game content as we try to catch the western version up to the rest of the world.
Thank you again for joining us, along with your continued enthusiasm and support! We’ll see you in Arkesia.