Lost Ark’s Bot Problem Isn’t the Only Reason Players Are Abandoning the Game

An assassin, martial artist, warrior, mage and gunner from Lost Ark stand together.

Since its release, the bot population in Lost Ark has been growing rapidly. In response, players are dropping out of the game in droves.

Since the western release of Smilegate’s Lost Ark, its publisher, Amazon Games, has been struggling to keep players engaged. Even after a very successful release, players have been very vocal about the issues that plague the MMORPG, which include bots and gambling-based progression. These problems have led to a large amount of player frustration, and it’s unclear how long Amazon Games will be able to keep them engaged.

Lost Ark had a strong release last year, with huge player numbers for the first couple of months. However, the introduction of questionable systems has fostered an environment for exploitation and unfair competition. To be clear, not all of this is Amazon Games’ fault, but there have been no significant changes to address these problems.

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Bots Are Making Lost Ark Unplayable

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Screenshot depicting one of Gunner subclasses in action in Lost Ark.

The biggest problem, as with most games in this genre, is bot-infested lower levels. Currently, there simply aren’t enough “human” players to fill this early part of Lost Ark, making it feel empty and boring compared to the endgame. This problem only gets worse as the game decreases in popularity. Players move to the endgame at a rapid pace, leaving very little engagement in the starter areas. Should the game see an influx of new players, that would alleviate the issue, but as of now, the game is still too populated with bots to make it enjoyable or challenging.

Excessive Grinding Is Leading to an Unfair Situation

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Lost Ark Trade Skills

To combat the grind of Lost Ark, many players are turning to Real Money Trading (RMT). The extra injection of currency drives up the cost of items in the market. This helps the players with the biggest wallets skip the grind, which is unfair to everyone else and ruins the endgame by forcing other players to play catch-up. All of these problems hurt the draw of the game: the Legion Raids. These require highly-skilled players who can gear up quickly and coordinate with their team members extremely well. Adding an excessive money grind on top of that may cause players to give up too soon, exacerbating Lost Ark‘s player retention issues.

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Monetization Shouldn’t Be Tied to Progression

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>Lost Ark's Bot Problem Isn't the Only Reason Players Are Abandoning the Game Funimation India

All of Lost Ark‘s issues lead to a much larger problem: monetization. While Lost Ark certainly doesn’t employ the most predatory of monetization practices seen in other games, it’s detracting from the overall health of the game. Players are forced to choose between “feeding” bots or going through a monotonous grind. Amazon Games has reduced the importance of cash shop items by giving them to the players for free in-game. However, it’s still intrusive compared to other high-profile online games like Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft. To alleviate this issue, Amazon should ensure that player progression isn’t tied to the games’ monetization model.

On the surface, both Lost Ark and Amazon Games have tremendous potential. The only thing holding them back is their relative inexperience compared to their more successful peers. The developers recently released a patch that discreetly banned the more troublesome bots in the early game. This was a great move, but it had the side effect of revealing a lower player base than what the numbers showed initially. More fixes are needed to keep the game healthy in the long term. If Lost Ark can continue to improve, it’ll be a strong competitor in the MMO genre, but the game’s future is tied to its ability to address the bot problem and keep its players coming back.


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