NCsoft set to crush Blizzard
By Cho Mu-hyun
NCsoft, the nation’s top game developer, is poised to crush its biggest rival Blizzard Entertainment. Expectations are high for NCsoft’s new release Blade & Soul.
A firsthand look at the much-hyped massive multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) will finally be available Thursday when open beta tests start. The game is considered the only one with enough substance to equal that of Blizzard’s Diablo 3, released last month and currently reigning supreme here.
While the combined user-time for foreign games at Internet cafes accounted for a mere 20 percent only six months ago, it has risen to over 50 percent, due largely to the American MMORPG, according to data released by game research agency Gametrics.
Blade & Soul started pre-launch character creations on Friday and opened five servers but ended up opening thirteen due to an unexpected large number of subscribers.
The game takes place in a martial-arts-themed fantasy world where players choose characters to fight each other and in-game creeps, monsters and humanoids.
“We did expect a large number of users to take part in the character creations, as Blade & Soul has been the talk of the town for six months. But the numbers were even larger than we anticipated,” said an NCsoft representative. The company estimates that 130,000 people took part to create around 200,000 characters.
“We haven’t released a game on this scale since Aion three years and six months ago. We have prepared long for Blade & Soul, and we will show something very different from our previous games. Users can turn their anticipation up a notch because they will get what they came for.”
The representative added that the rave reviews by testers of the third and final closed beta test last month has given the green light for the firm to push for an earlier than expected open beta test this month.
Analyst Kim Jin-goo of NH Investment & Securities concurs with NCsoft’s positive outlook: “I estimate that the character creation event drew 130,000 people. The new game’s chances of success are very high.”
“(NCsoft’s) revenue for the second quarter will continue to suffer due to the lowered revenue from prior games, but the new game will have good leverage to show stronger revenue for the second half of the year. We will know the potential of success by monitoring the traffic on June 21 when the open beta test starts.”
According to Kim’s research, NCsoft has marked yearly revenue of around 600 billion won from 2009 to 2011. Thanks to the release of Blade & Soul, he estimates that it will rise to 866 billion won this year and 1.28 trillion for 2013. Net profit will rise to an estimated 473 billion won from this year’s 204 billion.
NCsoft invested over 55 billion won ($46.9 million) for five years on the game’s development and betting hard on it to turnaround the company’s deficit streak.
Company chief executive and founder Kim Taek-jin released a statement Monday introducing the new game, saying he wanted to make something distinctively Korean and introduce it to the world.
“We went through so many trials and errors and it was a difficult process but we endured it because we had a world we wanted to show you,” said Kim.
The company is also facing off against Blizzard with Guild War 2, which is aimed more at overseas markets, particularly the United State and Europe.