Having spent most of my gaming career playing games available in the U.S. I always felt like I was missing out on the games that never made it here. Not just that though, even if I knew a game was going to release in the West, I never got a chance to try it before it’s Western release. I mainly play MMOs, so I’ll use some MMO examples. A lot of people got a chance to play Blade and Soul well before NCSoft released it in the U.S. / EU in 2016. Same thing goes for Black Desert Online (but with Kakao Games obviously, not NCSoft). Given that a lot of people don’t know how to play these games from the U.S. I decided to compile a short little guide here: Continue reading
Twin Saga is the latest in X-Legend Entertainment’s portfolio to make it to Western shores. In it, you discover that you have a goddess inhabiting you and you must help her save the world from her evil sister, who is trying to throw the world into chaos. Gameplay is largely familiar, featuring tab-targeting combat and a quest-driven story. It offers a few unique features over its predecessors, but are those features enough to set it apart from them?
What on Earth compels game developers to release obviously awful games? At a certain point in the development cycle, you’d think someone would step in and be like, “Wait a minute. THIS is our game? This blows – let’s cut our losses”. Unfortunately, this doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should, as the free to play section of Steam was recently blessed with a turd of an MMORPG this last week called Destiny of Ancient Kingdoms. I’m normally pretty easy on free to play games, after all – they’re free and it didn’t cost me a dime to play, but Destiny of Ancient Kingdoms is a unique game in that I find it offensive. First of all, it launched in 2016, but looks like it came out in 2006 or 2007. Hell. It looks a lot like Last Chaos, Shaiya, or any other old Korean MMORPG. The odd thing though is that it isn’t even Korean. It’s developed by an indie South African company and boasts that it’s the first South African MMO and even includes the South African flag on its trailer. If I lived in South Africa, I’d be embarrassed to see my symbol of national pride displayed on such an awful looking game. Continue reading
Despite not playing many mobile games myself, I’ve seen the writing on the wall. Mobile is the future of gaming. This became abundantly clear to me after seeing a list of the most profitable online games on the PC and comparing the data to the top grossing mobile games. League of Legends made about $1.6 billion in revenue in 2015 and is still the top grossing game, but if you exclude League of Legends from the list, Clash of Clans on mobile takes the #1 spot at $1.3 billion. The growth of mobile gaming is simply staggering. Games like Monster Strike are vastly out earning well known titles like World of Tanks and Counter-Strike: GO. It’s not just about today’s numbers either. Continue reading
So apparently Mu: Origin is launching in Western markets real soon. The English language closed beta is already available and some videos are already up on the net. I had a chance to play the game a bit myself and after spending 20 or so minutes with it, I can safely conclude it will be a complete bust in the West. It plays like any other nonsense Chinese browser game. If you haven’t played a Chinese browser game, they’re all the same. The core elements of these games are 1) the game plays itself. These games almost all have built in bots that do absolutely everything for you. So even though these games bill themselves as MMORPGs, they’re basically no different than clicker heroes. 2) The PvP in these games are incredibly pay to win. Chinese developed games are notorious for their pay 2 win elements. It’s almost like they have no shame. Continue reading
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.
More and more games are starting to embrace the free to play model. The biggest free to play relaunches of the last few months were Guild Wars 2 from Arena Net and Wildstar Reloaded from NCSoft. Prior to its free to play relaunch, Guild Wars 2 was a buy to play game, meaning you bought it once and never had to subscription fees. Wildstar on the other hand was a more traditional subscription title, sort of like World of Warcraft. Both games are now free to play and that’s a great thing for broke college students like myself. I honestly never had any intention of playing either of these games, as I didn’t want to buy them, but now that they’re free to play I’m actually hooked on Guild Wars 2. I haven’t played Wildstar yet, but I did download it! It’s not just MMORPGs that are going free to play.
Block n Load from Jagex went free to play in early October, 2015. If you haven’t heard of Block n Load, it’s basically Team Fortress 2 / Dirty Bomb meets Minecraft / Sky Saga. You have the hero based FPS gameplay of Team Fortress 2 with the sandbox building of titles like Sky Saga. It’s a bit hard to visualize, but essentially 2 teams of 5 face off against each other and whoever destroys the enemy base first wins. Each hero in the game has a role to play. Some heroes specialize in attacking, while others are best at laying traps and defending. The game is developed by Jagex, the company behind RuneScape. Prior to going free to play, Block n Load was a buy to play title that averaged 300 users online at any given time. Since going F2P, the game has averaged 3K users online with over 8K players during peak hours. That’ an incredible jump, and I suspect Block n Load will maintain momentum, mostly because the game is genuinely fun and unique. It’s a strategic game that actually requires team work. In a way, it reminds me of MOBAs like Heroes of the Storm, because players NEED to communicate to win…
I honestly think free to play is the future of PC gaming. So many games have embraced free to play including classic games like Lineage 2, Aion, Rift and more. There’s no reason for developers to launch subscription or buy to play game games anymore, especially since free to play games tend to make more money than their pay to play counterparts. Free to play games make up a majority of MMO revenues. The average free to play user is worth anywhere from $1 – $4 per year, with paying users worth quite a bit more.
What’s interesting is that mobile MMORPGs tend to be free to play too. Dofus from Ankama Games is launching a mobile version, but unlike the desktop version, the game won’t have a subscription option. Other mobile MMORPGs like Order and Chaos 2 and Blade: Sword of Elysion are free to play as well. I don’t think there are any subscription based titles on mobile, and I don’t think there ever will be. Considering that mobile gaming will make up a bigger and bigger chunk of online gaming, the percent of free to play vs pay to play will shift even further in favor of free to play.
I wonder what the next big MMORPG to embrace free to play will be. Perhaps World of Warcraft? Probably not. I think it could be Final Fantasy XIV. I know that they’ve already said that they have no intention of going free to play, but I think they will in the coming years. Anyone else care to speculate?