Asheron's Call 2 is up and running, but only for current Asheron's Call subscribers.
Over on the Asheron's Call forum, Turbine Entertainment has announced that it has resurrected Asheron's Call 2, the sequel MMORPG that was launched in November 2002 and then shut down in December 2005. The original, which launched in 1999 as a competitor to EverQuest, is still up and running, requiring a $12.95 monthly subscription. Unfortunately, it will be these paying customers who will have exclusive access to the resurrected sequel.
"We have opened up a new server for anyone who has an active Asheron’s Call subscription to play Asheron’s Call 2 for free!" the company said. "Although we would have loved to revisit some of our old characters with you, we were not able to bring over any of your old characters. We do, however, present this new Asheron’s Call 2 server, Dawnsong, to all active Asheron’s Call players with a paid subscription or who purchase an ACTD retail key and subscribe."
Jonathan "Calandryll" Hanna, the Director of Community Relations for Turbine, said back in 2005 that the MMORPG was shut down because the game failed to achieve enough subscribers to keep the doors open.
"We spent a lot of time trying to come up with various ways to keep the game running at the subscriber level we were at, but in the end none of them worked in the long run," he said during an interview. "Once we exhausted all of our options, we made the final decision. Nobody at Turbine was happy about that, but it had to be done."
Hanna said the expansion pack, which was released just before the MMORPG was taken offline, was meant as an attempt to bring more people in the game by getting Asheron's Call 2 back on store shelves. "We advertised the game on the web and in magazines too. Unfortunately the expansion pack didn’t really grow the game," he said.
"There are many factors that contributed to AC2’s ultimate fate, and it’s really hard to single one factor out above the others," he added. "There are a lot of things that Turbine has learned from AC2, and we’re constantly applying those lessons to Dungeons & Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. One of the key lessons that we learned is the customer perception of sequels in the MMO space. They end up splitting your community more so than growing it. So they are counterproductive, unlike sequels in other game genres where they can be really successful."
The new Asheron's Call 2 client, available only for Asheron's Call customers, provides access to the new Dawnsong server. Turbine said it passed initial tests, but there's still a lot of monitoring and tweaking to do to the game environment.
"We want to ensure that our players understand that. This game service will be provided as a beta for all players with an active Asheron’s Call account," Turbine said. "If you are an active paid AC1 subscriber there will be no need to create a new account for Asheron’s Call 2; you will simply log into the Asheron’s Call 2 game using your current Asheron’s Call credentials."
If you're currently subscribed to Asheron's Call, head here to grab the sequel's installer.