NCsoft sets sights on US, China markets
Game developer NCsoft is seeking a greater global presence by making forays into the United States and China with its latest games, including Guild Wars 2 and Blade & Soul.
The firm plans to release massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) Guild Wars 2 on August 28 in North America and Europe.
The sequel to Guild Wars, which sold 7 million worldwide, is aimed at Western audiences. The firm’s development studio ArenaNet, based in Seattle, has spent over five years making the game.
“We expect the popularity of our latest offering to exceed that of its predecessor,” said NCsoft spokesman Lee Jae-goon. “The 200 members of the development team at ArenaNet have been focusing on the game and we believe our consumers will be satisfied.”
It will be released in standard, digital deluxe, and collector’s editions, which will cost $59.99, $79.99 and $149.99 respectively.
“I expect Guild Wars 2 to sell 3.1 million copies after commercialization in August,” Daewoo Securities analyst Kim Chang-kwean said by telephone. “Since April, the company has received 1 million pre-orders.” He compared the numbers favorably with Aion, of which
NCsoft had 900,000 pre-orders when it was launched four years ago.
Kim says the game will reap further profits as well as direct sales from the Micron Transactions service available through NCsoft’s website, which allows users to make purchases using cash.
The analyst expects the game to sell 1.5 million copies next year, and mark 140 billion won in revenue for two consecutive years following commercialization. The predicted numbers are much higher than Aion’s total revenue of 70 billion after four years. NCsoft has enjoyed increased brand value in the United States, according to Kim.
The company’s latest release, Blade & Soul, the top game in the domestic market, will also expand its service to overseas consumers, particularly China. It has a martial arts theme and NCsoft’s Chief Executive Officer Kim Tae-jin has said the game was developed to target Asian consumers.
However, unlike the American or European markets, the firm’s has a smaller presence in China.
It will start focus group testing for Blade & Soul on nearly 10,000 participants in China starting in August. It is yet undecided when the actual service will begin, Lee said.
According to the analyst, NCsoft collected 60 billion won in royalties annually from China for Aion after it was launched in 2008.
“NCsoft aiming for the Chinese market is the right move considering its strong potential,” said Kim Min-kyu, a cultural content professor at Ajou University. “But China is a very difficult market for Korean game companies to tap into.”
He said previous attempts by domestic firms to open a game service that works in both Korea and China were unsuccessful. A game that is popular here has always failed there, and vice versa.”
NCsoft recently sold a majority share of the company to domestic competitor Nexon, which industry officials see as a collaborative move so the two can go global.