It's hard to predict where MapleStory 2 will go, whether it is going to capture that same dedicated audience as its predecessor, or if it will fall into the very same traps that led to its demise. Some of the things which plagued the original game, like DDOS attacks during a winter and arbitrary lag, are a consequence of age and obsolete infrastructure. The game also includes a limited number of purposeful end-game content, which may bore veteran players that MS Mesos burnt through the main story.
Worst of all, the older MapleStory needed a pay-to-win streak through a feature aptly called the Money Shop. I was guilty of spending nearly $4,000 on this game over the course of a year playing with my personality Mercedes, an elf queen who wields dual bowguns. Each apparently minor upgrade to my wardrobe and combat stats added up over time, resulting in that hefty sum. And I wasn't alone. Players who spend actual money in the game are in an extreme edge when compared with unfunded players. Challenging directors such as Lotus, that can shoot lasers from all angles, while rocks fall from the skies, require multiple players with financing to team up and defeat. (Luckily, I was able to re-sell a whole lot of that equipment, recouping close to half of what I spent from the game.)
Lee admits that this is an issue with the original game. "We've rightfully earned a reputation for publishing pay-to-win games," he says. "With our upcoming slate of names developed specifically for the Western audience, we're trying to develop a new leaf, creating games which are truly free to play." He says that to keep MapleStory 2 and MapleStory M from becoming pay-to-win, Nexon is "no longer requiring players to cover to get particular elements required for winning," and it'll disclose loot crate rates upfront, an increasingly common practice.
MapleStory M and MapleStory 2 will nevertheless have certain features that are eased by premium money, like getting special haircuts and eyes, faster transportation across towns, and additional skill pages. But players are not at any significant disadvantage if they don't pay for those attributes. People have debated Nexon forums whether the Korean variant of MapleStory 2 is pay-to-win and they haven't come to any true consensus.
There is also a chance for significant changes that Nexon can introduce in its mobile and 3D iterations of MapleStory. The developers for MapleStory M also have stated that, while the game currently doesn't let you marry different players, even if marriage is added there will be support for LGBTQ weddings. That is a step up from the original Maple, which didn't allow same-sex marriage, paralleling South Korea's real life refusal to legally recognize gay marriage. Similarly, specific jobs and classes are no longer gender bound, although the game still only offers two sexes. These shifts are as significant as upgraded images, helping to move a 15-year-old game into the modern day.
Lately, I log onto Maplestory items's most important town, Tria, along with the square looks really bustling with life, it lags every time a person jumps. Nonetheless, it's the fantastic kind of lag that shows the server is alive. From that vantage point, MapleStory is appearing the furthest from dead that it's been since 2009.