Massively Overthinking: NCsoft’s western autumn


This week’s Massively Overthinking is brought to you by a guildie of mine named Onyx, who donated to our Kickstarter campaign in this tier and then nominated me to pick a topic for him. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do!

I’d like to expand on a listener question addressed in a recent Massively OP podcast. Korean powerhouse NCsoft has been talking up its western push all summer, and this fall, it appears to be delivering: We’ll have WildStar’s F2P relaunch, Guild Wars 2’s Heart of Thorns release, and Blade & Soul’s first western beta all coming out in the span of a single month, competing directly with each other, not just against other studios’ MMOs. So which game do you think is going to be NCsoft’s biggest winner in its move to carve out a better foothold in the west? And what do you think about NCsoft’s goals on this side of the pond?

Brianna Royce (@nbrianna, blog): Every quarter, we all look at NCsoft’s financials and boggle at the money the company rakes in thanks to classic Lineage in its home country, seemingly with very little effort. Western games make NCsoft so little money by comparison that when the company said it was focusing heavily on its western ventures earlier this year, we didn’t even originally take it seriously (and some of our writers apparently still don’t). But here we are, and NCsoft is utterly dominating the western MMO space this autumn. I said on the podcast a few weeks back that I thought Blade & Soul might struggle here in a space already well-trod by TERA and that WildStar has so much PR work to do to convince the world to see it anew. Heart of Thorns’ steep box price will probably help it top NCsoft’s charts this season, at least on this side of the pond. Lineage microtrans can’t be beat back home.

I’d certainly like to see NCsoft turn around its western fortunes and win back some hearts. And I have a pretty good idea what it should do next to that end.

Jef Reahard (@jefreahard): NCsoft has been pretty open about its desire to focus on mobile crapola over the past few months. We’ve covered at least two separate announcements where it said as much. I don’t know that the firm has ever had much at stake in Guild Wars 2, and didn’t it just disappear from the game’s TOS? WildStar is what it is; some people love it and I’m sure it will survive for a while thanks to the business model switcheroo. Blade & Soul looks fun to me personally, but I doubt it’s going to make much noise here in the land of anti-Asian MMO gamers.

It seems like NCsoft is just milking these games for what little it can get in the West. The firm is much bigger in Asia, and as I said, starting to focus on mobile.

Justin Olivetti (@Sypster, blog): Call me a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed optimist, but after playing WildStar these past few months and seeing what free-to-play is going to offer, I think that this game has a real shot of pulling off an underdog win for 2015. As I’ve been championing for a while now, WildStar is a good game that’s only gotten better now that the devs have shied away from the hardcore attitude and shored up some of the title’s weaker features. It’s a heck of a lot of fun and its F2P model — in my opinion — strikes up the right balance for offering a ton for free while still pursuing multiple lines of revenue. If the game can pull in the crowds and get the money machine rolling, we could be in for an exciting ride!

Your turn!

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