I've been trying to find a good way to start this review. You see when something is bad, it's almost too easy to blind yourself over all the bad components, and writing a review for it is simple: Just label the fault, make a witty comment and move on, but there are always certain topics that are really hard to write. Not for long list of faults, or the jokes to begin with, but with simply finding a starting point (Ar Tonelico II, Cross Edge, a handful of anime that I can't seem to name off the top of my head....) and no doubt, Nexon USA (and the Korean branch for that matter) is one of them.
You see. Nexon is a company. A company hosting free-to-play (seemingly the new definition for the acronym FTP....) online games. They stay afloat via micro-transactions (small payments that are based on the whim of the end user). With these transactions they receive site-based money that they can use in game to purchase "premium" content, exclusive content for those who invested into the company. There are many other hosts of this sort (Aeria Games, IJJI, NC Soft, Ogplanet, Ntreev USA) and yet this one is the company I choose to review. Why? Because despite all their flaws, poor service, and lack of end user support, they somehow not only manage to stay afloat, but prosper and continue to buy rights for other games....
I'm afraid I may be providing very little context so as an example, I will use their newest game Dungeon Fighter Online (DFO) to provide information. DFO has been officially released to the public under the status of "Open Beta" about a month and a half ago. During the Closed and Early Beta, there were many issues brought up in the forums (and probably on support tickets) referring to many changes in the game that struck previous DnF (Dungeon and Fighter) players as unusual.
For starters: It seemed that this uncleaned version of DFO had traces of code that originated from the Korean, Japanese, and Chinese servers. When players joined a party, the connecting screen would be written in chinese, when players tried to join a Passworded PvP arena, the confirmation button would be written in Korean, and some bots (because they stayed in the same spot and idled all day) obtained a title that said "rooted to town" in Japanese. Not only that, a friend of mine set his non-unicode support to korean and to his surprise found all the text to be in Korean. We, the US branch of players, received some freaky Frankenstein'ed version of the game where bugs existed from some bosses in early versions of DnF while other character balancing was already set.
This probably set off the first large warning signal in my head.
Only about a month later, did Nexon then decide to patch in the "item shop" ( a general term for the foundation of the microtransaction process in many Free to play MMOs. Often referred to as an item shop as site based item shops would usually transfer the premium item bought to the game server. Other games implemented the item shop into the game itself).
Most of the game was still bugged, quests and dungeons needed to be fixed, client issues arose and yet Nexon decided to patch the item shop first... Not only that, they implemented the Japanese system of "Gachapons" (in reference to the Gachapon slot machines where people would insert an increment of money to receive a capsule that would contain a collectible. Needless to say, it was a lottery and the money required to "complete a set" would be based on your luck) for low ranking (low quality compared to the other servers) premium items and greatly inflated prices. In addition, items that were supposed to be bought with the in game "gold" were being sold for cash. The Mentorship system (a simple system in which higher levels will be able to support lower level players by running dungeons together and recieving boosted rewards) was removed. In its stead is a "noob-o-meter" which diminishes the experience that both high levels and lower level characters receive when they party togther. Guilds don't exist yet. It's as if Nexon was attempting to remove any sense of community in the game.....
I could go on, but I won't, because there are issues on the surface that require attention.
I'll start off with the forums, the home for many of Nexon's users. From what I can tell, there's only one moderator for the entire forum spanning multiple games...
That's right, a single account responsible for cleaning up all the drivel on site as well as performing the duties of Public Relations. I've seen text based web games feature more administrators than this. And considering the age demographic that Nexon seems to be targeting (based on the games they host) there's going to be a greater need for administrative staff. No doubt the moderator -Hime- has his/her a rough day each time he/she has to walk into the nexon office.
These forums are extremely primitive resembling a loose variation of the old fashioned BBS coding used by Geocities (may god rest its soul) and Angelfire (theirs too). When you run the forums through a google search, you can then see the foundation of the forum... and it doesn't look very pretty. In addition, I'd like to note that YOU CAN'T EDIT YOUR POSTS. So if you notice something is wrong with your post, or you missed a typo. It's there forever. You can't delete it either and so you're usually forced to either double post or deal with the fact that a point you missed won't be spoken. The lack of any sort of post-comment function is definitely unusual and quite old. I certainly wouldn't expect a company like nexon to skimp out on features that players use... (oh wait, yes I do.)
Events hosted by nexon are fake...
As you can see, not only do they not follow their own rules but half of those accounts including the 30k NX winner doesn't exist. I have proof of it too. Accounts and characters of the same name were created me and my friend AFTER the announcement of the winners. We even have videos of ourselves doing it. It will be uploaded soon as soon as we're finished with another video.
Events are ways to improve popularity for a game. Usually, when companies host events, they don't LIE about it. Notice the winner for the 40k milestone. The prize is probably 10k because that name actually refers to a player/character in the server. I also have experienced some poor service by nexon. I was a winner in the Mabinogi: Say hello to G1 contest in which we had to post on their forums the URL for our blog post that had two of the embedded videos in their terms. I won, but never received an email. I contacted them vis support ticket a few days after my name came up and this is the following response:
"Inquiry: My forum name is Zerreth and I was a winner in the Mabinogi Promotional Video Contest.
Unfortunately, I have yet to receive any details as to how I can claim my prize."
I'm not stupid. I've checked my spam folder as well as my inbox. I never received such an email at any point in time. Which leads me to believe that they never sent it.I specifically mentioned that I didn't "receive any details as to how I can claim my prize." I had assumed that whoever was in charge would understand what that meant and attempt to work with a customer, but that doesn't seem likely. At that point I tried looking through the forums to see if anyone else had any issues and vaguely remembering a nice list of posts commenting on it with less.... grace.
That said, I'd like to move on to customer support, or lack thereof. My friend recently lost his account which had over $6,000 worth of NX. At one point he needed to do a password recovery except that it sent the password to an email account doesn't exist anymore (the server hosting the email account is gone). He tried making an account and filing a support ticket concerning the matter at which he received a response of "In order to have this issue reviewed, you must file the ticket on the account in question....." Makes me wonder if they even read the tickets. He then called their "contact us" number in which he received a reply, in vocal form, that "this number is not to be used for customer support" and was then immediately cut off. He is now gathering all of his receipts to make a case and filing a lawsuit. There's one issue. Nexon's transaction logs only log transactions as old as 90 days. Meaning any transaction that was made via nexon point card that's older than 90 days doesn't exist... lovely.
In addition, if players didn't realize it yet. Nexon points disappear after 1 year as rights for it expire in such a time. Meaning if you have any points in your account that you want to save for another game that nexon may be releasing or saving up for newer content, it better be under one year, otherwise it will be removed from your account. MOST companies, notify you of such rights expiring around 30 days before expiration. IJJI even has that in their terms of service:
"Regardless of any terminology used or any name freely given by NHN USA at any time with reasonable notice on the Site, rights granted in the Virtual Money, Game Point and in the Items are a limited license right available for one year or less as the case maybe. NHN USA may charge fees for the right to use Virtual Money, and any right of use in the purchased Virtual Money will be terminated within one year from the date of purchase. We will use reasonable efforts to notify via your registered e-mail thirty (30) days before such termination."
By the way, Nexon doesn't have such a term in their terms of service. they just remove it at will and you can't do anything about it because their transaction logs only 90 days. Therefore, using a nexon card will end up hurting you.
The way nexon USA conducts itself is pretty shady. They provide poor service, and seemingly try to rip you off at any price, and really try to do anything with a minimum amount of effort. Any attempts at actually trying to make nexon a good company would require the shutting down of said company. Not only do they basically have no idea what they're doing, but they're not even trying to fix it. They're simply rolling around in the money that kids with their parents credit cards are giving them. It annoys me to no end that shitty companies such as nexon stay afloat because it then crowds out better companies who could do a better job, earn the money they deserve, and release titles with quality service.
Here's the thing. I know nexon's a company which means they want money. That's OBVIOUS. Making profit is a fundamental point for a company. There are, however, many ways to go about doing this, none of which involve being the epitome of the American population.
Take a look at Valve. They quite well known for the support they provide for their games and customers. My account was hacked and they were able to recover it within 4 days. Look at the guard dog in TF2. It was a joke/fan made content and they actually thought it would be a good idea to implement it.
Look at Atlus. They have a set of administrators who actually take time to read the forums and provide their own input. The Atlus Online newsletter always has a section called "forum quoteables" which include 3 quotes (usually humorous even out of context) from the forums.
The reason starcraft is so famous is because of the time that Blizzard spent the time taking user feedback to balance units out.
In terms of other microtransaction hosts look at AeriaGames. They have a handful of games, GMs that actually spend time with players and they carry "mature" rated games. They even admit to mistakes they made to the players, and establish a sense of trust.
Look at IJJI. They're not too great in advertising and forum maintenance, but their game maintenence is pretty solid and their in-game GMs do try to establish a bond with the players.
To top it off. Nexon's swear filter sucks. It's so bad and primitive that "sucks" is censored as well as any combination of letters (regardless of whether they're in another word or in MULTIPLE words) that may or may not allude to a slur or a swear. They also have some personal touches such as "4chan".....
Simply put, don't buy cash from nexon. If you have to, buy $5 worth so that you're not targeted for when they do their arbitrary account wipes/bans. You're only supporting their bad practices and cheap tactics to make money. There are better companies out there that deserve to host the games nexon has.