NCsoft’s first quarter 2018 financial results are in, and it’s… kinda OK? Guild Wars 2 saw a big drop-off, though that’s to be expected since the previous quarter saw revenues from Path of Fire. “GW2 sales dropped 32% QOQ but increased 66% YOY, as some of the 2nd expansion pack effect was included,” NCsoft notes.
Blade & Soul continues to perform well QOQ, though it’s lost a quarter of its revenue YOY, and Aion revenues surged, NCsoft says, “fueled by the change in the monetization scheme.” Lineage itself at one time seemed to drive the company all by itself, but it’s down QOQ and YOY too. So is the company’s mobile games branch, which was riding high on Lineage M last year but is now “stabilizing” at what one might assume is a more realistic number (which is still higher than the five big MMORPGs combined).
As MMO Culture reports, the investor call itself admitted that Blade & Soul II for mobile has already been delayed into 2019 as it “didn’t meet expectations.” It’s apparently gotten a new team and new redesign, which is basically what happened to Lineage Eternal way back when, you’ll recall. And speaking of that: Project TL is supposedly still on schedule, with a launch still on track for next year.
If we judged MMOs by their numbers alone — and I’m not suggesting we do so — then the original Lineage would be the crowing rooster strutting about the hen house. It’s also been one of those games that I’ve always intellectually acknowledged was a huge hit for some reason but never gave much attention. I think it’s because, contrary to many western MMOs, Lineage is primarily an Asian phenomenon. That doesn’t mean it should be shunned, of course, but just that it may be difficult to understand when you’re on the outside of it.
So let’s back up the memory truck to September 1998, when a then-fledgling NCsoft rolled out a Diablo-style isometric MMO and struck virtual gold in South Korea. At the time, gaming rooms were becoming a huge thing in the country. A recession had hit, giving people a lot of time with nothing to do, and the government was rapidly expanding the broadband network. In the face of this perfect storm, titles like StarCraft and Lineage became overnight household fixtures — and remained so for decades to come.
Even if you haven’t played Lineage and you don’t know anyone who does, trust me: Millions and millions of players have. As former Senior Producer Chris Mahnken once said, “Lineage keeps going because it’s just plain fun.”
Everybody saw NCsoft’s financials last month, I’m sure – Guild Wars 2 bouncing back thanks to Path of Fire, Lineage M driving revenue, and Blade & Soul outperforming almost everything, pretty good news all around.
What we didn’t cover was the associated conference call and Q&A, which has only recently been fully transcribed in English and has a few nuggets worth highlighting
- CFO Jae-Soo Yoon told listeners the company is working on 13 new titles, of which the largest are Blade & Soul II, Aion Tempest, and Lineage II Mobile, all mobile titles, and Project TL for PC.
- To make those happen, the company’s hired “around 1000” new employees over the last two years. One analyst was skeptical about those numbers, suggesting that NCsoft is overspending on labor compared to an unnamed smaller company launching far more games; Yoon counters with some polite shade by suggesting NCsoft is going to for quality over quantity.
It has become a long-standing tradition as Massively OP and our former site that we like to end the year by creating a list of titles that we anticipate for the coming one. It has always been a devilish list to create, full of loose dates and fast guesswork about which titles will and won’t be releasing during a 12-month window (just read last year’s list to see how spot-on I was).
This year we’re changing things up a bit by tossing out the qualifying factor of “will see a hard launch in 2018.” Instead, I drafted up a list of 20 MMOs that have the potential to do or be really interesting next year, whether that be a launch, a long-anticipated beta test, or some other significant development. Plus, hey, you get 20 for the price of 10, so no complaining now!
As an aside, this list isn’t going to cover some other exciting-looking multiplayer games that are arriving in 2018, like Anthem, Sea of Thieves, The Crew 2, Monster Hunter World, DayZ, Red Dead Redemption 2, Stardew Valley, Conan Exiles, and State of Decay 2. And you old school fans won’t want to forget that Ultima Online has a new free-to-play option coming this spring.
On this week’s show, Justin and Bree wrassle a mess of eastern mobile MMOs that are leaping onto the scene, imagine a world full of Harry Potter gamers wandering about, discuss SWTOR’s server merges, and take Guild Wars 2 to task for lockbox missteps.
It’s the Massively OP Podcast, an action-packed hour of news, tales, opinions, and gamer emails! And remember, if you’d like to send in your own letter to the show, use the “Tips” button in the top-right corner of the site to do so.
Listen to the show right now:
So… it looks like NCsoft is really sticking with the “Project TL” name, huh? The game developer replaced the old Lineage Eternal site with a new Project TL teaser page, further cementing the name and game direction change into its public vision.
Last week, NCsoft announced that Lineage Eternal was going back to the drawing board to receive a new Unreal 4 engine, add more MMO mechanics, and change its name in the process (TL stands for “The Lineage,” which just stumbles off the tongue).
Lineage Eternal has been in the works for years now, but it seems that NCsoft is playing it as safe as possible with the third main installment of its flagship MMORPG franchise. Steparu reports that current and previous Lineage Eternal testers will receive some sort of compensation from NCsoft for the delay and change-up.
Here’s this week’s test of age: When you see the title of Closers Online, is your first thought along the lines of “help me, I’ve torn apart my insides” or “four years, no call, now you’re looking pretty in a hotel bar”? It really doesn’t matter either way; the game just entered closed beta, so you can buy a founder’s pack to get in whether you want to growl about losing yourself in bed or sing about stealing mattresses from roommates.
Meanwhile, we bid farewell to Mu Legend as it moves into open beta, which rhymes with “soft launch” in this case.
Other beta news? Not a whole lot, but it’s still there if you know where to look! Specifically, toward games in testing. That’s where to look.
- After ages of tests and rumors, Lineage Eternal is being rebooted as Project TL, which is… we’d like to say a step closer to release? It’s not actually even in consistent testing, see.
- The second week of early testing for Prosperous Universe apparently felt a lot slower than the first one in terms of gameplay. But that’s still providing lots of technical data, so it counts as a net win.
- The plans are set for OrbusVR’s early access schedule once December rolls around, but it’s still in a beta state for the rest of November. There’s a plan, and that plan is important.
While the week may have been quiet (read: while the week was totally quiet), there’s still a whole list of games on the testing docket just below. If you’re curious, you can jump on down there and check them out, but you can also let us know about the tests you’ve personally been checking out down in the comments. And if you’ve seen a game on the list that seems to have changed states without us noticing? Do let us know with specificity, that helps us yank things from the list.
NCsoft tipped its hand on its upcoming Project TL/Lineage Eternal do-over, Blade & Soul 2, and Aion Tempest, but it’s far from the only East Asian company pumping out new games.
As Steparu chronicles, Bluehole is indeed still working on Project W. We don’t know a whole lot, but there are a few snippets in the company’s G-Star trailer showing this MMORPG’s decidedly steampunk aesthetic.
ChangYou, which I still can’t forgive for killing off Zentia in the west, has a codenamed MMO of its own on the way: Project Z Online. According to Steparu, it’s a classic tab-target PC MMORPG that eschews gender-locked characters.
Finally, there’s God Slayer Online, also from ChangYou, which we’ve covered before during its looooooong beta testing and in its current iteration is much more focused on combat and customization.
We’ve tucked the relevant videos down below. Anything you’re looking forward to porting westward?
Remember Lineage Eternal? It seems as if we’ve been watching the gorgeous MMOARPG sequel to the Lineage franchise for half of forever, as NCsoft has moved it into and out of testing over the last several years, finally admitting last summer that it was gutting the game and starting over with Unreal 4 following the replacement of the team lead. Maybe the more upsetting news at the time was the rumor that it was switching from MMOARPG to just another mobile title.
And now we know just a little bit more: Lineage Eternal is now being called Project TL (“The Lineage”) and is indeed a do-over using the U4 engine, although as MMO Culture points out, plenty of other assets and the entire character system has been replaced with a more MMORPG-like customization mechanic, which is great news! It doesn’t sound like a mobile MMO as rumored, as NCsoft is hinting at consoles. Closed beta is expected next year. The trailer is down below!