With the release date announced and quickly approaching, we wanted to take a look back at the development of Bless Online and how far we’ve come since the announcement that we would be bringing the game to Steam. It’s been a long road, and know that every step we’ve taken we couldn’t have made without you, our community.
The Road to Bless Online
Bless has always been a passion project for Neowiz. From the moment of its announcement, the team wanted to do everything possible to make sure that not only was Bless Online an amazing player experience, but also that it reached as many audiences as possible. Thanks to this drive, in 2017, Neowiz announced that it would be self-publishing Bless on Steam. By publishing to a global audience on the biggest PC gaming platform, Bless would achieve the goals of a wide multi-national reach. Additionally, the team shared that the game would be first in Early Access on Steam, as many changes would be made to the game before its official release.
However, before Early Access on Steam began, beta tests were held on servers in Japan, Korea, and Russia. The team worked to listen to player feedback from the beta, gathering valuable feedback on what players did and didn’t like. Through this, the team realized that one of the main, important changes to make for the Steam release would be the combat system. They saw that players wanted a faster, more fluid and action-focused way to fight. While the team worked on the massive combat and UI overhaul, plans for Steam and Early Access were already in motion.
Neowiz Bless Studio saw Early Access as a chance to continue engaging with the player base in a similar way to the betas held in other regions. Bless, to the team, was not finished; Early Access was a time of development and continued improvement.
The goal was also to gather more feedback specifically from the NA and EU audiences that Bless would be targeted to with its debut on Steam. The player response to Bless coming to Steam was initially very positive; players were thrilled to have Bless releasing for a global audience on one of the most accessible gaming platforms. However, many players didn’t share the team’s view that Early Access was still a time for development and changes. Bless Online wasn’t a final, polished product as much of the community had believed it would be, leading to a mismatch of expectations for Early Access between the development team and the players.
Despite this, the team saw Early Access as a success, collecting important data and feedback from players that could be applied to the completed experience that they knew players would get with the official launch planned for 2018. The new combat system that had been added was received with much praise, and the team new that by listening to player suggestions, more such improvements could be made as the team prepared to leave Early Access in 2018.
Official Release and Beyond
With the free-to-play model and official release date now announced and quickly approaching at the end of October, the team is not only thinking about how to have an amazing launch on Steam as the game leaves Early Access, but also about what players will want to see next.
For the launch itself, free-to-play was chosen as the model in order to provide the best experience for both new incoming players and those who had been with the game since the start of Early Access. With more new players and the game being more accessible, the world of Bless would only become more lively and vibrant.
The team also knew that they wanted to provide special rewards for all those who had joined the game during Early Access. The support of the players and willingness to give feedback shaped Bless into the game that will be releasing at the end of October, and the team is very grateful. Players showed that they had an endless supply of valuable feedback on topics ranging from avoiding pay-to-win in item sales to balancing combat for PvP. Though Bless will be releasing in a completed state for official launch, there will always be room for feedback and an ongoing conversation with the community about what they need and want.
After launch, of course, there is a world of possibilities. The Bless team isn’t ready to talk about all of the details, but it has been well-noted what big content items players are interested in: adding classes such as the Mystic, new raids and dungeons, and new in-game goals to strive for. The team looks forward to exploring this all with players, but first: we launch!
The Bless Team