NCsoft reports Q4 2015 sales surge for Guild Wars 2, bump for WildStar

NCsoft’s fourth quarter 2015 financial report is in. The Korean gaming giant reports that its quarter-over-quarter sales, operating profit, and net income are all up, 21%, 48%, and 38%, respectively. Year-over-year, however, the quarterly numbers aren’t so rosy. Sales were up just 1% YOY, while operating profit fell 14% and net income fell 32%.

NCsoft says that its QOQ sales and profits were up thanks to “balanced growth from all major IPs” and that “operating marging reached 32% driven by an increase in high-marging overseas royalty revenue.” Guild Wars 2 in particular “surged” upward in the fourth quarter thanks to Heart of Thorns; NCsoft says GW2 “solidified its position as a main revenue driver by adding on expansion pack sales to stable in-game item sales.” Even WildStar saw quite bit of a bump in the quarter, though it’s down significantly YOY. The Lineage and Blade & Soul franchises are also credited as hitting full-year sales records (and the quarter closed long before B&S’ launch here, which is going rather well already).

by IP

For 2015 on the whole, the company maintained flat sales growth “equal to [its] historic peak of 2014,” with drops for operating profit and net income compared to 2014’s numbers.

Source: NCsoft. With thanks to greaterdivinity!
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195 Comments on "NCsoft reports Q4 2015 sales surge for Guild Wars 2, bump for WildStar"

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MelboYouraunchgoob
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MelboYouraunchgoob

Cambruin I completely agree. Everyone is an expert, yet they sit and play games other make.  So how much do they really know!?  They just expect all their wants to be fullfilled and bitch at EVERYTHING!

Kiwi_Wildstar_gamer
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Kiwi_Wildstar_gamer

Sylzer Bluetouchpaper Xephyr John Wise
THey are merging PvP and PvE servers in 3 days. Maybe you want to check it out again then?
There is also a major patch upcoming.

DarkWombat
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DarkWombat

Cambruin Carbine overestimated the number of people who wanted that. Don’t speak for all of us. Many of us stopped playing Wildstaer for different reasons.

Cambruin
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Cambruin

I don’t get it. This game offered what people wanted. They did not want generic tab-target no-skil hotbar-mashing. They wanted the return of classic WoW-style progression. They wanted big-ass raids. And now they’re lik ‘oh, but they implemented it all wrong’. Did those people actually think twice before formulating their wishes? Did they forget the whole Onyxia-attunement grind? The horror that setting up raid teams for 40-man raids was?

People just don’t know what they’re asking for anymore. We’ve turned into a bunch of teens thinking only in terms of black and white, begging for specifics, but completely oblivious to everything required to get to said specific. The genre has dumbed down, we have and the devs simply picked up on it.

srmalloy
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srmalloy

JakeDunnegan It’s not just NCsoft’s games; the whole Korean MMO style is inherently different from western MMOs. Because most people didn’t have computers capable of running a graphics-intensive MMO, the MMO developers entered into deals with the ‘bangs’ (Internet cafes) to subsidize their hardware so that they would have systems capable of running their games. Because of this, Korean MMOs have grown around the play style where you get together with your friends and all go down together to the bang, and play the MMO as a group; individual advancement takes a back seat to progression as part of the group. In the US and Europe, the average MMO player goes home, fires up their computer, logs into the MMO, and either meets up with their guildmates/friends online or plays solo. As a result of this dichotomy, Korean style MMOs are almost always grindfests, with 90% of the content beyond the starting areas requiring groups to complete, and the developers make most of their money off of a microtransaction-based cash shop, while Western MMOs are more solo-based, with group content taking over only in the endgame, and used to rely more on subscriptions than a cash shop, although more and more the Western MMOs are resorting to a cash shop to monetize the F2P players for additional income.

I believe that it’s this dichotomy between Korean and Western MMOs that was one of the things behind NCsoft’s closure of City of Heroes; its design was inherently solo-friendly and less group-centric (as exemplified by the game’s poor performance when ported to Korean and released in Korea), and would have required a major rework to have made its cash shop the kind of income source that Korean MMO developers were familiar and comfortable with — and the redesign would likely have driven away the majority of its player base. Because CoH was not an MMO design that could be made to fit their business model, it was regarded as a ‘peripheral’ property, and with Paragon Studios as a whole running at a loss because of the cost of the second project they’d been directed to work on, a ‘pragmatic’ decision to shutter Paragon Studios and CoH fit NCsoft’s business plan.

RyanMahaffey
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RyanMahaffey

Tridus Ket_Viliano
CHIIIIIA

AND

STEEEAAAAM

AND

ARCTEERRRAAA

RyanMahaffey
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RyanMahaffey

niwaar Coldrun_MN
CHIIIIIINA

AND 

STEAAAAM

SoMuchMass
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SoMuchMass

Karl_Hungus SoMuchMass Weak argument.  Indie games sell millions  nowadays.  The market is weak for bad games, not good ones.

JamesCrow
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JamesCrow

deekay_zero i hope it good news for ncsoft because wildstar have alot of potential and with new updates like the new zone, npc voice-over and even now the game have alot of content.

for me wildstar is pure end-game pve fun game.
the only minus was and still is the grinding for leveling to max level and the lack of voice-over + not alot of story cut-scene.

also i think gw2 and wildstar done good job on the f2p department.
you want more content? buy the expansion (gw2)
you want more pvp content and options? buy the game or spend small amount of money (ws)

i love free updates but i love b2p expansion more than any free things.
so i think both of the games need expansion and hope arenanet do it better next time.

BritoBruno
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BritoBruno

A Dad Supreme SoMuchMass I’ll be laughing all the way to 2017.

BritoBruno
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BritoBruno

ManastuUtakata I’m hungry.

Karl_Hungus
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Karl_Hungus

SoMuchMass Karl_Hungus 
I think it’s pretty good given the market. WoW is the only exception and always has been. Everyone else will be lucky to even do a quarter of the sales WoW generates. I’ve got the same questions regarding the future of the game though because if the past couple years are any indication, their model so far hasn’t been very successful. This recent surge is only a surge because sales were bottoming out.
I think if they’re smart, they’ll start selling DLC updates quarterly like ESO is doing, but that’s assuming ANet can produce the same level of substantial content as ZOS to justify the price tag. I’m not sure that they can, given their track record, and even if they could, there’s lingering issues with other aspects of their business model that ESO doesn’t have.

niwaar
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niwaar

Serrenity devin007 This… so much this… Part of the issue I have with ALL NCSoft games since Lineage is that there is no long term there. After “growing up” with games like EQ, UO, FFXI and WoW where it always felt like was a “long term”, these newer NCSoft titles have never given me something to connect to and drive me to play.  

I am STILL looking for a new game to give the next few years of my life to. Not the next few weeks or months. XIV has been the only thing that has both short term and long term goals and a character system that has kept me. But Heavensward has been an awkward mess since month #2. I wish game companies would go back to the previous era where they wanted to keep getting our money every month instead of trying to charge us 125$ to play betas and 25$ for cosmetic items on a cash shop.

niwaar
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niwaar

Xephyr Bluetouchpaper John Wise Yeah was going to say… Wildstar? 3.5m players? Nope.

I would love to hear Anet’s definition of “active” as well.

niwaar
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niwaar

Coldrun_MN Those numbers don’t tell me it will continue to stay afloat for long. If my numbers are correct, that game Grossed about  2m last quarter. I’d love to see the net numbers because I would guess if the game continues to flounder they will pull the plug sooner rather than later.

SoMuchMass
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SoMuchMass

Karl_Hungus SoMuchMass Definitely not “pretty good” for Arenanet and NCSoft.  It could have been pretty good for other smaller companies.  Warlords of Draenor sold 3.3 million within 24 hours. 
But more importantly what is next?  What are they going to do in terms of selling content?  They have to do a whole lot of thinking about the future, because this experiment was a failure.  And they currently have no structure moving forward unlike SWTOR and ESO.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Warning: this is only about mere money and business:

FYI: The English transcript of the conference call [q.v.] is now up on Yahoo et al. excerps below
the first question about Blade & Soul. As you have mentioned, we did launch this game in North America and Europe on January 19, and in terms of the actual response, it has exceeded our expectations. … However, if we were to look at the first quarter alone, in terms of the contribution from Blade & Soul North America and Europe, we do expect a meaningful number to be contributed to our top line.

So to talk about the Guild Wars 2 performance, it is weaker than what we had expected. However, I think that where the issue currently lies is that, before the actual expansion pack was launched, there was a free play area that we had opened and made available. However, if you look at the conversion of those players who were playing for free to actually convert over to the paid expansion pack, that conversion rate has actually not been as high as we had hoped or expected.

To talk about WildStar, as you have just said, after the free to play conversion there has been a uptick in terms of the revenue, but not just pertaining WildStar alone. But for the NCWest as a whole, I think that we are looking at its operations to try to see how we can achieve more efficiencies versus the size of its revenues. So this is something that we’re thinking about as of this current time and, once we have some finalized plans, I do think that we can share them with you.

On the mobile side, right now, in terms of our R&D capacity or capabilities, on a global basis I think that mobile now account for around 30% of our R&D capabilities. So, therefore, not only in the Seoul head office, but in the US and also Japan, we continue to hire more development personnel.

Also, we’re converting some of the R&D researchers that we had on the online games side over to the mobile side. So this is an effort that we will continue throughout the year, so we do think that the percentage of mobile R&D personnel out of the whole will probably increase as a result of that this year.

First, to talk about NCWest and NCWest turning into the black, we do believe that, of course, the contribution from Blade & Soul will be one factor. But as mentioned for, for NCWest as a whole and its operations, we’re actually looking at trying to create a more efficient operation there. So as a result of that, for this year, we do think that because of various factors, that it will be possible for NCWest to turn into the black.

tominva2012
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tominva2012

I wonder what proportion of that “HoT/4th quarter surge” were players who enjoyed the GW2 base game and, on that basis, purchased HoT, only to be deeply disappointed by HoT. I know I was. In other words, I contributed to the surge but wish I could get my money back… 
I had leveled about 8 to 10 characters through the base game, but for various reasons I really dislike HoT and have to get any characters through it. I will not be purchasing any further GW2 expansions if they continue to be like HoT.

Karl_Hungus
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Karl_Hungus

SoMuchMass 
Objectively speaking, 250k copies is pretty good for an expansion in today’s MMO market. That doesn’t mean the expansion is any good. It just means it sold well by today’s standards. And the market has dramatically changed between the base game’s launch and now. Considering the downward trend in the genre, 250k units sold for an expansion is about as good as it’s probably going to get for them. Of course, given the mixed reception the expansion has received, they have their work cut out for them with getting this many sales with the next expansion.

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Mea Culpa for my comments below.  I see it accelerating when I used the word “misleading.” Bree defended herself.

Everything she wrote in the article was 100% accurate. Emotionally, I understand and agree with why she would not agree with that being criticised.

The problem was I did – and still do – think I was technically correct. Unlike Bree, I did not have publishing deadlines and found NCSoft’s statements on HoT as well as the analysts forecasts; they paint a somewhat different picture GW2.  Misleading is too emotionally charged, but I think it is quite defensible to say that additional information exists outside those slides that informs our understanding of HoT performance.

P.S. Trivia: Bree mentioned that she disliked writing these earnings articles.  Turns out this is now “bot-able”.  For about 18 months, AP has been generating millions of articles, including all their earnings reports, via automated software – no journalists or humans are involved.

Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

Serrenity SallyBowls1  Calvinism is pretty nasty, I do agree.

Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

Tridus Ket_Viliano  Fair enuff.

Ket_Viliano
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Ket_Viliano

JakeDunnegan Ket_Viliano SallyBowls1  As for investments, I trade, and the traders I learn from all try to keep emotion out of it. It is not really a good idea to trade a company you care about.
As for warranties and support, I am going to void the warranty anyway, and let’s face it, most of these companies have scrap for support anyway.
I must concede that in an MMO, the servers do need to be on, that does matter.

Karl_Hungus
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Karl_Hungus

Serrenity Ket_Viliano 
welcome to the internet*** 
There.. I fixed it for ya

DJjazzy
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DJjazzy

3/4 of these posts are SMM and responding to him…who would have guessed in a thread of GW2 and related news…

Madda
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Madda

Lineage is still really popular for some reason.

Required WildStar comment: It’s about time Carbine got out of its nosedive, but given the studio’s health and ex employee words against it, let’s see if it can stay that way.

Tongle
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Tongle

Woot Woot,

GW2, Hopefully that surge of money was well invested and will be reinvested into the game not not subsidizing poorer games.

Tongle
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Tongle

Sigbjorn I liked HoT as well. I think they did a swell job. Too me it really felt like it did its purpose….To expand the game.

Tridus
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Tridus

Ket_Viliano It very much matters if you’re a fan of Wildstar, as continued poor earnings will likely result in the axe falling.

Equilibrium31
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Equilibrium31

SoMuchMass Honestly, people are trying hard to spin this both ways as success or failure…in truth, it’s not really either.  It’s not as good as many hoped, but it’s also not as bad as many feared.

DarkWombat
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DarkWombat

JakeDunnegan lol

Sazri
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Sazri

devin007 Also, let’s not forget that SoMuchMass is a GW2-hating troll. Any Massively article that even mentions the game in passing, and he’ll be there trying to convince everyone GW2 is awful and failing.

Serrenity
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Serrenity

SallyBowls1 I don’t disagree with what you said, just a comment on the “it’s nothing personal, it’s just business” thing that’s used to explain away all manner of asshatery, douchery, and generally immoral behavior.  It’s like in the US we treat money as it’s own moral perogative, and all others take a second seat to that, provided we perform the correct forms to make it seem like we care about more than money. 
I guess I’m a bad American, because I hate that money has become our highest moral authority.

Serrenity
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Serrenity

Ket_Viliano welcome to MMOs, where we can only express things the utmost extreme in every situation.

Serrenity
Guest
Serrenity

DPandaren devin007 I can’t speak for all players – but the change to ALL  GROUP OR GTFO type of content really turned me off to the game.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

Edit/Erratum: I should of emoted that this comment was in fact a joke. My apologies to anyone who took this the wrong way. :(

Serrenity
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Serrenity

devin007 I agree, and people aren’t in for the long haul anymore because of games themselves – I think the players are still relatively the same, but too many games got dollar signs for eyes and wanted all the moneyz NAO and started monetizing around getting more money now and not on the long-term growth & success of the game.  
Basically, MMOs started missing expectations when they started functioning using the US Capitalism model, which uses a scorched earth and as much money as quickly as possible methodology.

ManastuUtakata
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ManastuUtakata

Meta/Off-topic: Again, thanks for the clean-up Bree. Someone thought I was trolling when I mentioned the pink cookies…maybe I should of just requested a banana pound cake instead. O.o

TomTurtle
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TomTurtle

I’m still playing the waiting game when it comes to GW2 content. I’m keeping an eye out for whether content comes out more quickly or not since ArenaNet’s intention for HoT was to lay the groundwork for the game’s systems and then focus on content going forward.
Their pace with GW1 and its add-ons is one thing, but GW2 expansions are another and can’t directly be compared, though I do wish it could be as quick. I hope they don’t fall into a sluggish release cadence. If they did, then laying the groundwork and the huge content gap that preceded it are not good signs for the future.

As for the expansion’s performance, I agree that it felt underwhelming in a number of ways including content and design and the numbers sounds like they reflect that. It’s been very contentious in the community from what I noticed where a big sticking point has been the open world content. They’ve made mention of tweaking such content at the very least, which is probably the best we can hope for at this point. I’d love to see them not continue with such heavy timer-based events anymore in the future nor with entire zones dedicated to open group content. Sprinkle in more solo friendly mobs and events please.

Superbrak
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Superbrak

breetoplay Estranged SallyBowls1 Greaterdivinity Yeah, it’s pretty obvious to me that HoT was basically a ton of Living World updates crammed together and sold as an expansion… and those Living World updates were being worked on regardless of the decision to go the expansion route.
Still, I cant help but feel a degree of disappointment and worry about those figures… obvious bias is obvious, but Paragon Studios covered their operating costs and had flat, steady profits as well. For all the good it did them in the end. I hope GW2’s profits don’t fall back down to or below pre-Hot levels for the next quarter.

breetoplay
Guest
breetoplay

Estranged SallyBowls1 Greaterdivinity I think this is actually one of the problems here. People are thinking about GW2’s development in a very old-school way. They are thinking that working on HoT cost a ton of money that wasn’t recouped by expansion sales because the expansion sold like an expansion — i.e., not nearly as many expansions sold at expansion launch as the base game did across multiple years, which is frankly standard for MMOs and for the gaming industry. And other folks are bringing in F2P player headcounts now and acting shocked that not all of them rushed out to pay $60 for the full game, as if that isn’t also standard for gaming.
But I suspect there was no additional opportunity cost to making HoT; it’s not like they hired in a brand-new team to work on the game. They pretty much neglected the base game while the core team built HoT. Without HoT, those devs would have been working on monthly content spread throughout the year, and revenues probably would have been higher all year without a surge at the end of it, though it’s hard to say whether it would have been as much overall, given the spike of an expansion.
We’ll see about the new expansion being worked on. Anet has committed to a lot of game fixes and content throughout the year, so maybe they’ve decided to go for better game maintenance in addition to smaller content expansions, best of both worlds. Will they deliver, though, who knows.

JakeDunnegan
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JakeDunnegan

Ket_Viliano SallyBowls1 I get that getting all ragey is a bit overdramatic, but caring about the financial well-being of a company you’re financially invested in .. oh  wait, gamers don’t own stock? Likely very true.
But they do “own” the products (as much as you can rent digital pixels, anyway). Do you Ket_Viliano buy products from companies going out of business? Not worried about warranties or continued support?
It’s not exactly the stupidest thing in the world to be concerned about it. If I’ve put $500 into a game, I’d like to know that it will be around next year. 
And yeah, throw in the emotional (friends, memories, etc) and time investment, and suddenly, a gaming companies value and financial stability can mean a whole lot to gamers.

JakeDunnegan
Guest
JakeDunnegan

Wildstar was a semi-interesting diversion for a few weeks, and GW2 is a pretty good game, but man,I look at that cadre of games from NCSoft, and I just think that “NCSoft must be the Korean word for GrindFest…”

Sigbjorn
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Sigbjorn

I actually really like HoT. Gliding is a fantastic mechanic. The elite specs are tons of fun. Each HoT map is well designed and has tons to do. I haven’t played the raid, but I have heard it’s a blast. Fractals are now much more accesible.
You will not like HoT if you:
– don’t like running meta events
– don’t like the mostly flat end game progression
– wanted a return to dungeons
– don’t like grinding for legendary and ascended equipment
So basically, you will not like HoT if you disagree with GW2’s direction since launch. I’made not sure why anyone thought HoT would mark some massive shift in direction or design philsophy.

SoMuchMass
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SoMuchMass

The GW2 fanbase on Massively specifically are somehow trying to spin an expansion that sold roughly 250K copies as successful when the base game sold 3+ million.  When you are dealing with fanatics like that there is no use discussing the issue, there is no winning.  Instead of somehow spinning this as “successful”, try to give ANet feedback as to why this expansion was a flop and what they could do moving forward in terms of content patches.

Kenny_
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Kenny_

Xephyr Kenny_ John Wise Cheers. Much appreciated.

Bluetouchpaper
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Bluetouchpaper

Xephyr Bluetouchpaper Sylzer John Wise I think it was him that wasn’t clear in the first place  . Wildstar had a huge influx of players around that time and I was assuming the e-sports he was referring were the battlegrounds ( which I always think of as an esport ) .

Xephyr
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Xephyr

Bluetouchpaper Sylzer Xephyr John Wise the guy you replied to was talking about GW2 however. :)

Bluetouchpaper
Guest
Bluetouchpaper

Sylzer Bluetouchpaper Xephyr John Wise If you look at this thread heading its about Wildstar as well as Guild Wars 2 .

Xephyr
Guest
Xephyr

Bluetouchpaper Xephyr John Wise ah sorry, your post made it a bit unclear. :)

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