Mabinogi’s Publisher Tries a Bit Too Hard to Beat Warframe in Online Popularity Contest (UPDATED)

on April 2, 2014 9:25 AM

MMORPG-focused website MMOBomb is holding a popularity contest named “Ultimate F2P Showdown” between its readers to decide what’s their favorite Free to Play MMO and Nexon’s Mabinogi reached the semi-finals, pitched against Digital Extremes’ Warframe.

Unfortunately it seems that Nexon is being a tad too eager to win, especially considering that there aren’t exactly the Golden Globes at stake. Not only the publisher posted on its forum promising a Double Rainbow Event in Mabinogi itself in case of a win, but it went a step further and, some would argue, a step too far.

A post on the game’s official Tumblr with the rather saddening title “you win if we win” promises several rewards for players of four more popular Nexon games (Combat Arms, Maple Story, Dragon Nest and Vindictus) in case of victory, in order to entice the members of  said communities to vote for Mabinogi as well (you can see a screencap of the post at the bottom).

To be fair, Carbon Games, the developer behind free to play action strategy title Airmech, decided to support Warframe in a similar fashion after their game was defeated in the quarter finals by Warframe itself, but one could say that there’s a rather large difference between an independent developer deciding on its own to support another, and a large publisher bringing all its big guns to bear in order to win, involving multiple of its own communities that have nothing to do with the contest.

It’s definitely not the first time that developers encourage their players to vote for them in this kind of popularity contest, but it’s fair to say that this time around things have gone quite a bit overboard, especially considering the nature of the contest.

We reached out to all the parties involved (including the folks at MMOBomb) asking for a comment, and we’ll let you know if we receive any relevant reply or explanation.

Update: we received a comment from Digital Extremes Vice-President of Publishing Meridith Braun, that is definitely taking the competition in a sportsmanlike fashion:

We find it exciting to even have a fighting chance against one of the largest F2P publishers in the world with Nexon and Mabinogi.  We’re all gamers at heart and the contest is all in good fun.  We’re humbled to see our Tenno community rally around Warframe in such an honorable way…as is the way of the Tenno.

Update 2: Nexon has provided a statement as well, and looks like their stance has changed. Now the in-game events will be provided regardless of the result of the contest:

Mabinogi has a passionate community that rallied behind the game when they learned of the MMOBomb vote. They’ve been driving really hard from the first round to show their support, and working to unite players across all Nexon titles. This promotion is our way of showing appreciation and support for their efforts. Regardless of the outcome of the competition, we will give all of our players an in-game event, not because of their votes, but to thank them for being part of the Nexon community.

Update 3: James Green of Carbon Games also gave his take on the issue:

I thing the whole Warframe vs Mabinogi thing is really exciting! In the previous matchup, AirMech faced Warframe and we unfortunately lost. I noticed many of our players seemed torn between choosing AirMech or Warframe, plus as I know the devs at Digital Extremes (old friends and independent developers themselves) I felt like the most honorable thing to do would be to cheer them on in the next round. I’d never heard of the other game, and never saw it mentioned. I figure why not support some friends, as I heard the other game was offering rewards, and participation is great.

I think that companies rewarding their players for voting is perfectly fine. Obviously you’re going to support the game you play, so no harm there. If anyone resorts to botting votes, now that is a serious violation and I hope it hasn’t happened. I didn’t see anything official from Nexon about AirMech and that being the reason they tried so hard (though in the end failed) to win the vote. I’m flattered the players think that our admittedly small community had such a massive influence on the vote in order to justify involving all their games. AirMech is a team of 9 indie developers just building a game we love, and supporting a community we love. We even provided links showing how many potential votes AirMech contributed, but that apparently was ignored.

The real winner here is MMOBomb of course. Brilliant move on their part to have this contest, as they have even tricked Nexon into driving them a massive amount of traffic! You can’t buy that kind of interest, so really well done there. Warframe also wins, because now all those Nexon players know about Warframe. Even AirMech wins–we’ve had a ton of signups originating from Nexon forums over the past few days. That wasn’t intentional, but I’m happy they now know about AirMech and are playing our game. In fact all the games in this contest are winners, especially the smaller ones that could use some exposure. Large companies playing it smart like Riot were right to sit out, since any promotion of the event is just free advertising for other games.


 /  Executive News Editor
Hailing from sunny (not as much as people think) Italy and long standing gamer since the age of Mattel Intellivision and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Definitely a multi-platform gamer, he still holds the old dear PC nearest to his heart, while not disregarding any console on the market. RPGs (of any nationality) and MMORPGs are his daily bread, but he enjoys almost every other genre, prominently racing simulators, action and sandbox games. He is also one of the few surviving fans of the flight simulator genre on Earth.