Turbine Time Machine – Asheron’s Call 2 Returns

Be careful what you ask for, because people will take note of what you do if you get it.

Turbine has announced in their forums that they are going to bring Asheron’s Call 2 back from the dead.

It has been seven years since it was shut down.  I never played it, nor its predecessor, but I have seen more than a few posts over the years bemoaning its demise.

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Now, I can hardly criticize people for being nostalgic for a game like this.  I run back to EverQuest just about every autumn, which is when the nostalgia bug seems to bite.  But the whole act of reviving a game seven years gone does raise some questions.

I would assume that Turbine has done some work on the game in the interim.  But I suspect it will still represent the state of the art at Turbine circa 2004.  And while AC2 may have done some things right,  is that going to be enough of a draw for any but the nostalgic and those with an archaeological bent?  Has what made people leave AC2 been addresses, or is this just hope against hope?

What will be the business model this time around?   For the beta you need an Asheron’s Call subscription.  I am sure that the nostalgia bug will make for a spike in subscribers just to get in on it.  But this was a game that was shut down seven years back because of a paucity of subscribers.  And Asheron’s Call itself was always a distant third in the UO/EQ/AC triumvirate when it came to subscribers.  Is Turbine planning to make this another free to play title?  And are there enough interested parties out there to make this a viable venture either way?

And finally, what does this say about Turbine itself?  It has been more than five years since they last launched a new game, which was Lord of the Rings Online in the first half of 2007.  In all the time since then, the best they could come up with was to pull a game they shut down out of cold storage?  That is a big bet on the nostalgia card with a game that purportedly peaked at 50K subscribers and had dwindled to less than a third of that by the end.  Is this a love letter to long time fans or a desperation move?

Like I said, I can hardly criticize anybody for nostalgia, since it drives much of my own gaming patterns.  I can never fully answer the question about reliving the past.  But there is a lot to this that makes me raise a quizzical eyebrow.

Anyway, Turbine has set the WABAC Machine to 2005.  Are you going to go for a ride?

15 thoughts on “Turbine Time Machine – Asheron’s Call 2 Returns

  1. Ardwulf

    I suspect it was the pet project of somebody who had enough internal pull to make it happen. At least once it’s stable, they should be able to run it with minimal overhead especially if it stays at a single server.

    I might try it myself, time permitting. It wasn’t something I played back in the day.


  2. Ysharros

    Wait, what? I loved AC, beta tested AC2 (but didn’t subscribe), and I still don’t understand this move. Like Ardwulf, I assume this is happening because it’s cheap. Still puzzled though.


  3. bhagpuss

    I never played it at the time. I tried AC1 and didn’t like it and there were other options around so I skipped AC2. I feel almost obligated to at least take look this time, even though I know I won’t have time to do more than that.

    I’m happy it happened, though. Let’s hope it’s the start of attend.


  4. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Supplementary questions:

    What is Turbine’s longer term goal here? Are they going to get it running and then let it stand in its 2005-ish form going forward, taking advantage of the minimal overhead to milk a little money from an asset that would otherwise be dormant? Or will they get serious about bringing the game forward?

    Does this say anything about the monthly subscription business model? AC remains subscription and now AC2 is lumped in as part of that. That was certainly the easiest path with which to start, but will they stay that course?

    How does this compare to City of Heroes? Is Turbine just a nicer company than NCsoft, or does Turbine simply have nothing better on which to expend resources than a game they shut down seven years ago?


  5. SynCaine

    Maybe its a giant “sorry” for the hobby horse disaster?

    Not seeing how this is going to work out though. AC2 was not exactly a good game, so unless it’s had serious work done, it’s still a poor game but now with dated everything.


  6. Ysharros

    Turbine is owned by WB now, which might make a difference. They could just be testing the waters to see if that type of game still has any popularity… There’s probably more than one reason, though ‘cheap’ is almost certainly one of them. I’m interested to see whether they update the graphics – which were nice for 2005, but not so much now…


  7. Robert Schultz

    Your “some things right” link seems to be about Asherons Call 1 and NOT Asherons Call 2. Since they are totally different games I don’t believe the link is relevant at all.

    Other than that though, I appreciate your blog post. You do seem to ask a ton of questions in it though :)


  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    @RS – Clearly my late night Google-fu is somewhat haphazard. I was trying to throw in links to background material. I’ll kill that link.

    And yes, this is more of a food for thought post. I only have questions around this.


  9. NoAstronomer

    Maybe Turbine is trying to compete with Bioware’s free-to-play plan for SWTOR for the Most Bizarre MMO Marketing Move of 2012 award?



  10. Darraxus

    I seem to be one of the few who actually played AC2. It was actually the first MMO that I played for more than a week. I got about half way to the level cap before I quit and had some fun. That said, the setup was REALLLLY weird at that time. I remember it being incredibly confusing and being lucky enough to group with some people who actually knew what they were doing. I also found that the graphics were very good for that time.

    I doubt I would ever play it again, but it did have a special place in my heart.


  11. Jim

    I maxed characters on both AC1 and AC2 and enjoyed myself. The graphics at the time were good, in fact too good. There was an entire forest that they had to cut down because the graphics created such a huge lag on the machines. The dungeons were somewhat tricky and I recall dying on one particular dungeon several times before I mastered the jumping skills needed to make it through. I left AC2 for LOTR if memory serves me correctly.

    While it’s an interesting move on their part, I doubt many will play if for any length of time.


  12. HarbingerZero

    This is one of those moves where though I never played AC2 and have little knowledge or interest in it right now, I will throw a wad of money at it anyway in hopes of convincing every other company out there that it is a great move.


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