NCsoft’s first quarter financials for 2017 have released, and… well, let’s get the bad news out of the way. While sales dropped only slightly since the preceding quarter and in line with last year, the company’s operating profits and incomes fell sharply, in the -60 to -77% range both quarter over quarter and year over year. The company says that’s “due to incentives paid on the back of record-high earnings last year.” In particular, Lineage 1’s sales were down significantly on the quarter and the year (“due to the early sales recognition in 4Q and weaker traffic from anticipated Lineage M demand”). Aion’s and Lineage II’s sales dropped ever so slightly, as did Guild Wars 2’s, which has fallen by more than half following the late 2015 launch of Heart of Thorns.
The good news? Blade and Soul saw a small boost.
During the conference call, NCsoft announced that it has overturned the development leadership working on Lineage Eternal, suggesting that the closed beta failed to “reflect NCsoft’s characteristics” and promising a retooled dev schedule in the months ahead.
On the surface, fourth quarter 2016 financials
for MMORPG giant NCsoft
look solid. Yesterday, the company released its investor report, highlighting hefty year-over-year and quarter-over-quarter growth in sales and operating profit, both setting records for the studio.
Among NCsoft’s chief games, Lineage as always drives performance, significantly so this quarter, but Lineage II, Aion, Blade and Soul, and Guild Wars 2 held more or less steady over their previous quarters too, though Aion and GW2 are down year-over-year.
Of note, WildStar’s performance is no longer being reported separately, so we can no longer track its downward trends; it’s now bundled unceremoniously into “other sales” — not a good sign, but presumably better than the alternative.
One of Lineage Eternal’s unique selling points that sets it apart from most other ARPGs is its multiple character system. This allows you to easily amass and field several characters instead of merely focusing on a single one during your career.
Steparu penned an article to explain how this works. As it stands right now, players will be able to collect, gear, and level multiple characters during their adventures. You can only typically have one character out at a time, but you can set four characters to hotkeys for easy on-the-go swapping. This will allow you to pull out a character for specific situations when you come to them.
It gets really interesting in certain dungeons where you are able to field an entire party of four characters at once. While you will only directly control one character as the computer handles the other three, it’s still your own pocket small group on the go. Steparu notes that you can collect more than four characters, but you’ll have to choose which four you want to feature via the menu.
One of the frustrating bits about our end-of-the-year content rollouts is that sometimes predictions and story roundups can come across as negative. It’s way too easy to assume that if someone is predicting game X will flop, she wants it to happen and is gleefully steepling her fingers and cackling madly over its future demise. Which is just not so! I never steeple my fingers.
But all the same, for tonight’s Massively Overthinking, we’d like to take a moment to set aside our fears and expectations and just talk about our hopes and wishes for 2017 in an MMORPG context. That was what we think will happen. This is a summary of our most optimistic daydreams.
Right now we are in a strange place in MMORPG history. Following the backlash of WoW clones and several high-profile titles that underperformed, major studios are becoming extremely risk-averse to creating big-budget titles the way that we saw not five years ago. Many former MMO teams are diversifying with shooters, MOBAs, and other safer and trendier titles.
Yet all is not lost! MMO features continue to ripple out into all types of game genres and new titles continue to be produced — just not from the usual suspects. Instead, most of what is on our immediate horizon comes from either crowdfunded indie teams or eastern giants. The good news is that 2017 should see the culmination of many of these long-brewing projects and adaptations, hopefully resulting in a bumper crop of interesting online RPGs for us to play.
So let’s run down the list of games that either are or possibly could be coming to you in 2017. We will provide an overview of each title, why you should care about it, and our best guess at the odds of its officially launching during the calendar year. If an upcoming MMO is not on the list, then it is our opinion that while we’ll see it eventually, a 2017 release isn’t happening.
The upcoming Lineage Eternal is going to feature player killing. That’s kind of the nature of the game; it’s part of the franchise, after all. So what do the mechanics look like for fighting players and trying to take their belongings in the closed beta? There are two videos from Steparu outlining the experience just below, although you should be fairly warned that you’re not necessarily going to have the easiest time partaking in the “loot other people’s stuff” process.
In short, you can turn on the option to kill other players any time you want, but you can only loot items from players if they also have this mode turned on. Any dropped items will come randomly from the characters in your first several character slots, so you can’t be sure what you’re losing until it happens. There’s a fair amount of risk involved, as a result, and it’s not really worth killing other players unless you have a chance at getting some items… or unless you just really, really want to ruin someone’s day for no reason. Check out the footage past the break.
Good news for Lineage Eternal fans who have eagerly waited for any news about the game: You have some videos to watch now. You’ve got nearly 40 minutes of footage to watch from the game’s current testing events, and it should give you an idea of what the game looks and plays like at the moment. It’s lengthy! It’s detailed! It might remind you of another title, but it actually exists!
It also comes to us courtesy of Steparu (who we mention a lot around these parts) and Aimix, so give them full credit for all of that captured footage.
The first video below is more of a general gameplay video, while the second is focused around group gameplay. Both are unofficial, of course, and neither one is replete with information about localization, but consider that the game is still in testing that part may be understandable. So what are you waiting for? The videos are right there.
Lineage Eternal is on the verge of kicking off its Korean closed beta test, and when there’s a test, there’s almost always a trailer. NCsoft released a two-and-a-half minute tour through Lineage Eternal’s world to rally players behind this upcoming game.
The trailer moves through several stages, starting with a look at some of the game’s cinematic cutscenes. After that, it shows off several of the classes and a few examples of how each attacks, followed by a look at how the game functions as a proper MMO with multiple players engaging on the isometric ARPG battlefield.
Manage your hype (or feed it, who are we to tell you what to do?) with the trailer after the jump!
The crowdfunding campaigns for Hero’s Song might have run short of their goals, but that didn’t stop the game from reaching a state of playability. Seriously, the game hit early access on Steam this week. You can access it right now. Early, if you will. You get the idea.
And yes, there was other beta stuff going on this week. Let’s look at it, shall we?
- Is Cyberpunk 2077 an MMORPG? It very well might be. Of course, we could just be told whether it is or isn’t, but words no longer mean anything. Alpha means beta, beta means launch, up is down, freedom is slavery, MMOs have never existed.
- Winning Putt launched on Steam, giving everyone all of the joys of playing a game of golf without all of that golf. There may be golf-related raids.
- Looking forward to Lineage Eternal when it finally gets out of beta and gets localized? That’s getting just a little bit closer with the game’s Korean closed beta scheduled for November 30th. So it’s the end of the month, but it’s happening.
- The Imperial Realm: Miranda is an MMORTS made by one guy over the span of seven years. That alone is reason enough to be interested in the game’s first stress tests. One dude, seven years, in the much-neglected MMORTS genre. Neat.
- Closed beta testing for Revelation Online steams along with a new bug tracker; the game also detailed the ornate mechanics of guilds for those curious.
- Want to sign up for the next Worlds Adrift alpha test? You can do that now, and it even comes with a new trailer for everyone. Even if you don’t sign up.
You know we also have our list of games just below for everyone who likes to follow all of the betas going on. At least, the ones we know of are down there. Did we miss something, either a game shuffling into a launch state or a game that’s testing without us catching it? Do let us know down in the comments, we greatly appreciate it.
It’s happening, people. This is not a drill. Lineage Eternal is finally moving into closed beta testing, albeit in Korea. Of course, that won’t stop the truly eager from attempting to secure a spot in the test, right?
From today through November 20th, NCsoft will accept closed beta applications for this MMO ARPG. Beta key winners are to be announced on the 24th, and the Korean CBT will roll out after that from November 30th through December 4th. If nothing else, it’s a good sign that progress is being made on that game’s development and eventual release.
To tide you over, Steparu has a new gameplay video to whet your appetite, and NCsoft itself has released a ton of new cutscene trailers. Check them out after the jump!
There is just oh-so-much we don’t know about Lineage Eternal, but the good news is that it appears that the information train is barreling toward us at ever-increasing speeds. The official website is opening very soon, but in the meanwhile, NCsoft has released a new video showing off a baker’s dozen of characters from the game.
Your guess is as good as ours whether these represent playable characters, bosses, NPCs, or a mixture of the above, but it’s all pretty intense and serves as a tantalizing teaser for the action-RPG to come. You can give it a watch after the jump and check out the individual ones on YouTube!
NCsoft released a quickie trailer for Lineage Eternal’s new teaser website, a likely herald for the closed beta test expected to take place in Korea later this month — though we can’t be too sure, given the multiple rounds and delays in testing the new Lineage installment has already seen. The last word was that the release for the hack-‘n’-slash MMORPG will indeed be a global one; the website includes both English and Korean but is primarily the latter.
Expect more clues in the impending quarterly financial call and a bigger reveal on November 10th, the mystery date stamped on the teaser site. In the meantime… here’s that trailer!
With all of the current, upcoming, and spin-off Lineage titles out there, you might need a flow chart to keep them all straight in your mind. One of these spin-offs, Lineage II: Revolution, is nearing its big day, as developer Netmarble is planning to launch the game in November.
What’s strange is that Netmarble has canceled planned closed and open beta tests for the mobile MMO that were supposed to take place this month. Steparu posits that Revolution’s release might conflict with the highly anticipated Lineage Eternal closed beta test in November and require more shuffling of dates.
Lineage II: Revolution has been in the making for over a year and a half and should come out for both Android and iOS devices. Its Unreal Engine 4 visuals are certainly the highlight of the game’s reputation so far, but we’ll have to see how it fares when it gets into the hands of gamers.