Patch 44 is an update for the 9 Dragons client, released to the general public on the 19th May 2008.
From the official release notes (by GM Acclaim Phew):
- 1. New Ad system, I know its little annoying but the AD system is still under beta stage and we will improve the ad system according to the players feedback.
- 2. New Europe server which is physically located in Europe and eventually after the testing we will transfer the Bardo information to the Europe server.
- 3. Game UI system improved to boost the performance.
- 1. Loading time reduced. (by replacing the old advertise structure)
- 2. Game lag fixed to a point : We still need a feed back on that as everyone does not have the same configuration.
- 3. SvS time fixed for Bardo
Internet Explorer 6 or better is now required. This may be an issue for players using older computers.
Major negative reactions (to the change in the advertisement structures) were noted from the community.
In the time following the implementation of the new client version, the 9 Dragons forum usage raised sky-high.
2 hours after releasing the patch, the 9 Dragons forum had over 160 posts with over 2000 views considering (mostly adverse to the new advertisement solution) patch 44. 10 hours after the release, the major thread referring to the patch (called obviously "Patch 44") rating 335 posts and over 8000 views, was eventually closed by moderator and VGM warda, creating another popular thread, locked later on for the same reason, Flaming. Later on, forum moderator drakenfyre75 started a new, spam and flameless thread which discusses the release further and contains a poll to reflect the general opinion about the patch: it was locked after 924 votes and 29 pages of posts.
In addition, the release of patch 44 has divided the 9Dragons timeline into two periods: pre-44, the time before the ad-bar was implemented, and post-44, the time after the ad-bar was implemented.
- Most of the complaints about this release reflect considerable lamentation about the implementation of a top screen advertisement, using up screen space, decreasing system performances, causing system lag, frame rate declivity, and disconnections, and applying obstructive, intrusive and attention-distracting content to the game's display.
- Another major inadequacy introduced by this patch is the discrimination of non-paying game users. 9 Dragons is regarded to as a F2P game (Free to play), not charging it's community with monthly cash liability. However, the InGame Item mall may serve users to get different comfort and game advantages, the most common being the 9 Dragons premium option (experience increase and different items) which, starting with this patch, gives it's buyer an immunity to InGame advertise content. Most non-premium users regard this as a discriminating fact, which reduces the part of the community which is not able/willing to pay for the premium package to the limit of playability, creating an abyss amid the community.
- Another issue is the feeling of being forced, manipulated by the new advertisement content to buy a premium package: notes referring to not seeing the publicity (while using the premium) ornaments the right side of the top banner. Reformulating this idea might state: the new publicity implemented by the patch developers reduces a considerable percentage of the game's interface, while suggesting to restore the old one by spending money on the premium package, a fact that may push opinions about game comfort below inter-human decency and beyond the Free-to-Play character of the 9Dragons game.
- Publicity banner creating Internet Explorer errors.
- Some players are concerned that clicking on one of the ads would open an unsafe website that could harm their computer. This is due to players using Internet Explorer 6, which has rather weak security features.
- Advertise banner decreasing actual game display to a ridiculous space for notebook users with already little display capabilities.
- The advertise represents a widely undiscussed major alteration to the gameplay, which was not expected, nor satisfyingly tested. Also, by disappointing a high number of players, the entire moderator community was held responsible for the release, making them to suffer incorrect insults, infamy and creating high need for forum moderation while thousands of players visited the forum, in the aftermath of the release.
- Flashing advertising with a wide palette of uncomfortable colors (high contrasts), might present a high risk for users suffering from epilepsy. Some players have stated that they have had seizures as a result of the new advertising system.
- Starting with the time between Patch 49 and 50 (mid July 2008) Acclaim opened the Adbar to different new 3rd party contractors, including new blinking advertise content. By this time, rumor spread out that some of these new publicities (using the Internet explorer browser to mediate themselves) contain malicious software and malware; accordingly Anti-Virus software detects harmful threats on the player's machine, making the game risky and, obviously, less enjoyable.
- The first reaction of the game community was a large wave of forum threads and posts disagreeing with the release (See "Impact").
- Acclaim's first reaction was, of course, trying to cool down the crowd by closing threads, censoring posts and even speaking out [Dragon Warnings]. This was primarily made by VGMs and Mods who themselves were not prepared for the Ad-Bar.
- The most frequent response found on the official 9Dragons forum is the community's desire for an immediate deletion of the publicity banner.
- One reverberation of the public was the inquiry regarding Acclaim's function and authority to alter the game's content and interface (Indy21 being the corporation which develops some of the game's content, using the Korean and Vietnamese version of the game as models) discussed upon in the following threads:
- So I sent an email to Acclaim... by margeman2k3
- Function of Acclaim? - representing an older thread on the same matter, pushed later back to an active status for being on the topic at hand. (by scoobydoo1)
- Another reaction of the community was quitting the game, preferring other Free-to-Play games without intrusive advertising content. An exodus of players can be observed: the poll in the official 9Dragons forum indicates that over 93% of the voters are disagreeing with the patch, whereas 5% of the registered votes ( who detail to have purchased a premium package ) consider leaving under the given circumstances, while 19% of the votes indicate non-premium users feeling the urge to leave the game. 924 votes registered at the end of the poll, 857 can be considered against the new advertise structure.
- "The boycott", as it is referred to, is a (relatively unsuccessful) movement to stop playing 9Dragons until the advertise is removed. Another goal of the boycott is to try to bring a temporary halt to any Item Mall acquisitions until the advertise banner is deleted or altered to a playable status.
- Some users claim they cannot play the game anymore because its flashing publicity banner causes them discomfort. They also state that their epileptic-related sensitivity is being strongly tensed by the banner.
Removing the Adbar Edit
Even the community had a vast negative opinion, the steps in order to permanently disable the banner were slow and unsatisfying.
- On 5th June 2008, shortly after the release of Patch 48, Acclaim decided to remove the unwanted advertises from the game. Although the community responded in happiness and was thankful (for understanding that the Ad-Bar is not welcome) the bar where the old publicities were situated, on the top of the screen, was not disabled, meeting many of the prior issues again.
- One day afterwards Acclaim placed its own Ads in the Bar, reviving it to its old use and the old problems, only with no chance of financial returns. At the moment its unclear whether this is a temporary reaction to keep the Bar useful until complete removal, or a sign for a coming reuse for third party publicity.