Many Western gamers may not know much about ChangYou, but they’re one of the top 5 or 6 biggest game developers/publishers in China. They experimented with Western expansion with the launch of Dragon Oath(called TLBB in Asia. Also their flagship MMORPG) in the U.S. and Europe, but unfortunately, the game didn’t do so well and they quickly abandoned it. Currently Dragon Oath’s website and game servers are still up, but the official website hasn’t seen an update in years. ChangYou also bought a company called RaidCall to try breaking into the Gamer VOIP market, but this also failed. ChangYou isn’t the first Chinese company that made a push into the West. Perfect World Entertainment made a much more successful push into the West and ended up launching a large library of games here. They even bought Cryptic Studios, which makes Neverwinter and Champions Online. Perfect World was definitely more successful in the West than ChangYou, but it looks like ChangYou is giving it another try.
On November 12, 2015 ChangYou launched a World War 2 naval combat game called Steel Ocean on Steam. I’m not particularly fond of these World War 2 games, as I tried playing Navy Field 2 and didn’t like it much, but Steel Ocean looks visually impressive. It doesn’t look nearly as good as Wargaming‘s World of Warshipsthough, at least visually. Even though I have no interest in Steel Ocean, I’m intrigued to see that ChangYou hasn’t given up. They just took a multi-year long hiatus after shutting down their completely failed games in the West (think Zentia, Sword Girls, and Renaissance Heroes).
It’s odd to see a company make a big push into something, do nothing for 6-7 years, and then all of a sudden try again. So many Asian companies try launching their MMORPGs in the West, but few succeed. Take a company like CyberStep for example. They’re one of the few Japanese MMO developers and they localized several of their games into English. None of their games are particularly successful, but they have a small portfolio of niche games including Onigiri and GetAmped 2. Despite their limited success, CyberStep hasn’t given up on the Western market. Instead, they keep updating their games and slowly introduce new ones. They even launched Onigiri, an anime inspired MMORPG, on consoles earlier this year. Onigiri isn’t anything special, but it is one of the only free to play MMORPGs currently available on console (along with Neverwinter). They’re also working on a new game called Cosmic League, which they announced recently. I think Cyberstep has taken a much better approach to Western expansion than ChangYou. It’s worth mentioning too that ChangYou is a billion dollar company with much more resources than most of the small Korean and Japanese MMO developers, so they had every advantage possible, but still failed. Hopefully this new effort by ChangYou yields better results. I’m hoping Steel Ocean does well.