Bluehole’s CEO on how Ascent: Infinite Realm (A:IR) will breathe life into a stagnating MMORPG genre

Ready for some harsh truths, MMO players? Bluehole CEO Hyo-Seob Kim recently told GIbiz that he wasn’t expecting PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds to do so well globally, that the studio was “pitching up the quality of the game for the Western market.” Bluehole wasn’t a major player before that, even though it had been making MMOs for a decade. In fact, Bluehole hadn’t even gone to G-Star in six years – back during the rise of its MMORPG TERA in 2011, which was “targeting the Western market from the beginning.” You’ll recall that TERA actually did well – GIbiz fairly calls it a “hit” for the genre – but Kim argues the genre has since stagnated.

“MMORPGs were very new [ten years ago], with World of Warcraft and all the others. But the play style [stayed] very similar as time passed on, so the players got bored with the system. They started looking to other genres of games. […] But there are still people who are used to the MMORPG, and if a new game can give them a new experience they will come back and play again.”

Just so happens that Kim has a new MMO aiming to give players that experience: the recently announced Ascent: Infinite Realm, aka A:IR, a glossy steampunk-fantasy MMORG that boasts less grinding, more meaningful quests, and front-loaded fun, with a design that recognizes you probably play more than one game – and you probably play console and mobile too. Like TERA, A:IR will focus on “mainly targeting the Western audiences,” which Kim says is evident in the grittier graphic style, though of course the company won’t be sad if the high quality of the game helps it in the East too, as with PUBG. It’s just not designing “the perfect game for two regions,” as Kim says it didn’t work perfectly with TERA.

“At this time, there aren’t many companies making MMORPGs, and the games that are running right now have often been running for a few years,” he argues. “A lot of users are exhausted with the older content, and while users have a lot of options in other genres, there aren’t a lot of MMORPGs on the market. If something new comes out, it will get higher interest.”

Source: GIbiz
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Chestnut Bowl

As company try new things in the genre, I’ve come to realize that I prefer the holy trinity, “traditional” model of things over the chaotic mess of other combat systems. The non-combat systems and graphics of BDO (open world included) with the combat of FFXIV would be my ideal game.

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Crowe

Yeah, I’m sure I would be really into GW2 if it had gone with the trinity. Unfortunately, it’s just a hodgepodge mess of things.

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sirsam

Just wanna bitch about how every single game company takes the UI/Hud off of gameplay trailers. And you wanna know why? It looks much much better without all the clutter.

if you are going to show no HUD, design the game to be minimalist like it then, not show a video without it then clobber it all on when players actually get into game.

Also as someone who has played almost every mmo at some point and is completely jaded toward ‘AAA’ mmos…..this looks like the same garbage. Smells like it too.

It will probably have 0 physics in a game about ‘flying’ and adventure. haha
I’ll be playing World’s Adrift which is much more interesting to me.

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Toy Clown

WoW and FFXIV still operate on the old “tried and true” model many have tired of. Wow has continued to be successful and FFXIV is the success story quickly reaching WoW numbers.

Then we have games like GW2, and I think it did well in creating content without a sub and lots of freedom and story.

BDO was a hit in the first 6-8 months of its life, but quickly diminished as people got to high levels and realized end-game was nothing but grinding and PvP.

I hear lots of people say they enjoy the combat of games like BDO, GW2, Tera and a few others. Personally, I’m attracted to these games due to the fact they have features other than stuff that involves fighting. After playing MMOs 20 years, combat is the same, just dressed up differently. It’s why I look at crafting, housing, animal taming, government system set-ups, farming, a vibrant player-driven market, and roleplay features such as detailed emotes, chat bubbles and ability to code and color chat, walk toggles, ability to sit on furniture, etc.

The more features an MMO has, combined with a vibrant RP community, is what attracts me to MMOs. I do have an eye on AiR, but after playing other Asian-created MMOs, I’ll have to see what sort of features and quality-of-life features they include before hopping on-board.

The Dallas Dapifer🌪
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The Dallas Dapifer🌪

What a load of crap. Same thing I’ve heard since 2003. They are making all the same stupid mistakes every single other company has made in PubG and you think they are suddenly going to figure it out and create something revolutionary here? Nah. They struck gold, now time to blow the money.

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Bryan Turner

He’s absolutely correct, this is why GW2 gripped me the way that it has, a game that has enough in common with the industry standard, yet did enough new to be interesting, it also put a ton of polish on it that would make Blizzard proud.

I’m honestly shocked it isn’t bigger than it is, looking at Reddit activity though you can tell while it isn’t as big it has a passionate active player base.

InfractionRQ
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InfractionRQ

How are they planning to make money with the game?

If its a f2p with cash shop then good luck in the west with that crap.

Id rather developers developed a game worth me paying for monthly versus designing the cash shop to get me to buy things and making the game less fun to extract cash from me.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

It’s not like they need the luck. F2P with cash shops are doing pretty damn well; otherwise we wouldn’t continually see new content for games like Neverwinter, TERA, ArcheAge, STO, SWTOR, etc.

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Sally Bowls

Oh poo. I originally thought this was about AR, which is interesting. (IMO, the hardware should be there in ’20 to ’22 and I hope we get some MMOs.)

In my experience, it is much easier to talk about an innovative MMO disrupting the industry than it is to ship an innovative MMO that disrupts the industry. I will be cautious until it ships but good luck to them. Even if it is not to my taste, innovation – hell a new MMO from a real developer – is always a Good Thing.

————

OTOH
https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/310471/Tencent_working_to_bring_Battlegrounds_to_mobile_in_China.php

TenCent (largest company in Asia; largest gaming company)
+
China (largest gaming market)
+
mobile (Tencent’s smartphone game revenue grew by 84 percent FYoFY)
+
PUBG (at current trends, 150% of the people on the planet will soon be playing it)
=
Big Money

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Zora

Wait, is it implied that PUBG thing is published by these guys here, same as tera was?

That would be one surprise…..

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bobfish

Bluehole self-published PUBG through Steam. With TERA they created a subsidiary company to publish in US and outsourced to a third party for Europe. But it looks like they aren’t planning to use En Masse going forward.

Antiseptic
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Antiseptic

Kakao Games formed a strategic partnership with Bluehole for this game by making an investment in Bluehole. In return, they secured the publishing rights for the game and declared early on they would be publishing it in the west.

Outside of that arrangement, En Masse will still be Bluehole’s preferred publisher for NA should they develop games that do not have outside partnerships and investments. It’s also why Bluehole allows En Masse to secure the publishing rights for games developed by other studios.

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athiev

Developed by them even!

Antiseptic
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Antiseptic

PUBG was technically developed by a Bluehole subsidiary named Bluehole Ginno. The only thing that subsidiary had in their portfolio was Devilian which closed down in Korea in 2015, remains published by Trion but has been pretty much abandoned for an year now, and mobile Devilian which Gamevil shut off a few days ago.

So they hired Brendan Greene as creative director to try something different. Like Bluehole’s CEO said, he didn’t expect Battlegrounds to do as well as it did. They also had no clue how to handle that which is why they proposed all sorts of business restructuring including merging Bluehole and Bluehole Ginno before they came up with renaming Bluehole Ginno to PUBG Corp. They want to milk that cow before it dries up.

It’s part reason they are using the recognition from PUBG to push this game as well as the message of ‘breathing life into a stagnating MMORPG genre.’ The main company knows MMO’s more than other genres. They’ve acquired smaller companies to try to get into other genres but most of those have not panned out.

Tera was carrying the company until PUBG so it is not a surprise they want to try and make sure they have another MMORPG IP on PC that has a degree of success and sustainability. Devilian failed to pan out for them on both PC and mobile. Bluehole learned a lot about mobile from that venture which is why they went with Netmarble for Tera M.

ihatevnecks
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ihatevnecks

Well, the classes they’re offering certainly aren’t going to provide any breaths of fresh air. Same stock you see in most games like this; bland elemental sorcerer, healer, assassin, shield warrior. The only one that *might* be halfway refreshing is the gunslinger, but he’ll probably end up just being a reskinned archer.

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Ozzie

I always check out the classes first thing in an MMO. Gives you a solid idea of where they’re going with the gameplay and really their design in general. Sad to see the typical classes here, although they could be redeemed in execution and style. Using my class is like 90% of an MMO to me, so it’s important!

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Jeffery Witman

You know, when TSW went classless and gave people the ability to develop skills and abilities as they saw for, the general public scoffed and said it was too confusing, leading to the changes seen in SWL.

I’m not a huge fan of the RPS Trinity of roles, personally, but it doesn’t seem to be going away. The only game I’ve seen that did it well is DDO. I saw people playing Sorcerer/Thief/Monks and tanking end game raid bosses. The classes could be mixed and there were many skills and abilities to choose from within those classes. Everyone could have some utility along with their roles. You could make really weird combinations and sometimes they worked!

ihatevnecks
Reader
ihatevnecks

Right, I’m not really talking about the trinity system, or skill based vs class based. I’m talking about the actual flavor of the individual classes. These are so typical to eastern MMOs anymore, I’m honestly shocked we don’t have the giant axe wielding berserker in the group too. Maybe that’s what the warlord doubles as.

It’s supposedly a “steampunk” setting, so why is the gunslinger the only one who seems to interact with the setting? Why do we have a bland elemental magic using, staff wielding sorcerer instead of.. I dunno.. a mechano-mancer who wields smoke and steam? Something more purely magical (arcane, force, etc) rather than the fairly basic four (probably one or two) elements? Or uses magic and technology to build clockwork minions?

Why a bland nature magic using, wand wielding mystic instead of some kind of mad scientist or alchemist, blending science and nature for their healing arts?

There’s nothing fresh about these classes, unless their gameplay drastically clashes with the descriptions they’ve given on the website.

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Jeffery Witman

Fair enough, and I agree on that point. When I think of Steampunk archetypes I think back to table top games like Deadlands where tech, magic, and gunslinging exist side by side, like you said. Steampunk is a very Western concept, though, and that might be part of why a very Eastern development studio might have trouble getting it right immediately.

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Utakata

As the first time I’ve heard of this and thusly pleads ignorance here…what is this MMO about? And any class and race information would also be pigtailed appreciated. Thank you in advance. :)

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Kickstarter Donor
Vunak

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Kickstarter Donor
Vunak

. . . . comment section broke on me

https://www.airthegame.com

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Utakata

Thank you for taking the time to post that.

I am not sure it’s for me. Looks like a lot of siege/vehicle mechanics going on in the promo. And I am not a big fan of that limited mechanic capacity in WoW. It’s unlikely I will be a fan of a whole MMO dedicated to it. o.O

…but either way, here’s that pigtail appreciation! <3