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.”