Koei Announced Uncharted Waters- US Launch

Koei announced that it would release its freemium Uncharted Waters MMO for the US in 2010 through CJ Internet’s NetMarble portal. The game originally launched in Japan and other Asian territories several years ago. The MMO is based on Koei’s naval-themed RPG series Uncharted Waters, which it began publishing in 1991. Players in the Uncharted Waters MMO will be able to become adventurers, traders, or explorers and engage in ship-to-ship battles with other players.

The game is currently in closed beta. Users will be able to purchase virtual goods to customize both their characters and their ships. There will also be virtual goods designed to help players advance in the game more quickly. Koei is publishing the game in the US largely to test Western reception of its freemium MMOs. If Uncharted Waters is successful, then more freemium Koei MMOs could follow. Koei plans to update Uncharted Waters with new content roughly once a year.

Via Virtual World News

MMO Growth Points To Asia As Free-To-Play Dominates

Free to Play MMORPG

Gamasutra reported today that the worldwide MMORPG game market will grow to $8 billion in 2010 ($5 billion in 2009), according to a new study by Strategy Analytics Digital Media. The report points out that the motive force of growth comes from Asian online game companies, such as Shanda, Netease, Nexon, and NCsoft, while the other region is the ‘slow growing’ western market which is dominated by Blizzard Entertainment.

“Contrary to the flattening Western market, the Asian MMORPG market has grown immensely since 2007, due to the successful virtual items-based revenue model,” says Strategy Analytics Digital Media analyst Jia Wu. “As more Asian online game companies target US and European markets, they will become a formidable force in the global gaming industry.”

Via MMOSite

MMORPG Topped $5 Bil in 2009, Asian Growth Evident

Lopsided: A new research found that Asia's MMORPG market have flourished since 2007-- fueled by Asian free-to-play, microtransaction-based games, whilst growth in Western market experienced "slowdown".

This week, Strategy Analytics has provided a look at one of the grayer areas of industry performance, that dealing with global massively multiplayer online role-playing game sales. According to the market research firm’s latest report, titled “The World of MMORPG: a Tale of Two Regions,” MMORPG revenues topped $5 billion worldwide in 2009, up 17 percent from a year prior.

Notably, the MMORPG markets in the East and West are not growing at the same rate. Strategy Analytics found that while Eastern markets have flourished since 2007, under the leadership of Shanda, Netease, Nexon, and NCsoft, Western growth, led by Blizzard Entertainment, has seen a marked slowdown.

“Faced with fierce competition from social games and console video games, MMORPG in the Western market has already shown signs of a slowdown,” said Strategy Analytics director Martin Olausson. “The traditional subscription model that most Western MMORPGs adopt has lost traction and growth momentum.” Conversely, the analytics firm noted that free-to-play, microtransaction-based models have fueled Asia’s growth.

Despite the uneven growth, Strategy Analytics foresees a substantial rise in total MMORPG revenue in 2010. According to the firm’s figures, online game sales should hit $8 billion this year.

Via Gamespot

Transformers’ Asian Launch Scheduled Next Year

The Transformers license, much like the car-shaped robots contained within, is adapting into a new form: an MMO game. NetDragon, a Chinese online game developer also responsible for the “new” Ultima Online, has worked out a deal with Hasbro to develop an MMO based on the Robots in Disguise, due next year.

Unfortunately, pretty much the only detail announced about this game is that it’s “expected to officially roll-out in 2011 in China as well as other select markets in Asia, MENA and Russia/CIS.” If you’re an American and were already dreaming about building a custom carbot avatar and giving your friends metal high fives, sorry!

Why make a Transformers game for Asian markets? “As a brand and a cultural icon,” NetDragon Chairman and Executive Director Liu Dejian said, “Transformers is already a household name in China, and we are extremely honored to be able to join hands with Hasbro to bring the excitement and fanaticism of Transformers into the online gaming sector.” A household name in China! Who knew … besides, apparently, every household in China.

Via Game Daily

Brand Sims Going MMO?!

The upcoming Sims game is being developed for PC and Mac and is set to ship some time in Spring 2011.


The Play Label of Electronic Arts is taking one of the biggest PC games of all time back in time. The studio announced today that The Sims Medieval is in development, a new series that invites players to engage in life simulation in the Middle Ages.

For the first time, the Will Wright created, 10-year-old franchise is going fantasy MMORPG and will allow fans to create heroes, venture on quests, build and control a kingdom, and even engage in some good old fashioned crafting.

“The Middle Ages is a time of intrigue, legend, and excitement. It offers a perfect backdrop for a brand new series from The Sims studio due to the limitless stories that can be told,” said Scott Evans, GM of The Sims Studio at EA. “The Sims Medieval offers a new way for players to experience The Sims which we hope fans will enjoy, and it features gameplay that fans of strategy and role-playing games will find appealing such as controlling an entire kingdom and quest-based gameplay mechanics.”

The Sims Medieval will allow players to control Hero Sims from all walks of life — from kings and queens to knights and wizards, blacksmiths and bards. Customization options will allow players to select their hero’s traits and fatal flaw, adding a very karma-like twist to the Medieval action.

From EA:

The destiny of the kingdom rests in the players’ hands. Will players build up their kingdom through internal expansion, or perhaps look for a more imperial type of domination, expanding their rule by conquering territories? Will they take on quests in pursuit of fame, or focus on the health and wellbeing of their people? The choice is theirs! With the start of every new game, players will be able to select a new ambition for their kingdom, and embark on a new set of stories.

Via GameSpy

Blizzard Promises “Biggest Launch Ever” For CoD: Black Ops

During an investor call, Activision – Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick stated that the launch for Treyarch’s upcoming shooter Call of Duty: Black Ops will be the biggest investment the company has ever done for a game launch.

“This is across the board, the biggest investment that we’ve ever made in a launch of a title. And I think when audiences see the product, they’ll see why we’re doing it this way.”

“But the market opportunity is bigger than it’s ever been. The installed base of hardware is bigger than it’s ever been. The product has incredibly broad appeal, but it also has a whole host of functions that are going to be unique to the core consumer.”

“And from that perspective, we feel like it’s the most appropriate Activision product to put these kinds of resources behind. And I think there’s a lot of competition, not just from games but from a whole host of other things that you can do with your leisure times.”

“And this is something that we think has the potential to break through and appeal to a much broader consumer base than ever before.”

With Infinity Ward hanging in the ropes and Treyarch Call of Duty games never having been as successful as the IW ones, I can see why Activision needs Black Ops to become a success. Spending tons of money on marketing therefore seems a wise decision for the publisher.

We shouldn’t forget, however, that Activision isn’t in it for charity and wants to make tons of money back. So the more they spend on marketing, the more they’ll charge gamers. And I personally prefer money being spent on quality rather than marketing…

Via Fragland

Ex-WoW Devs Mulling New Game

Red 5 Studios, the developer founded in 2006 by ex-World of Warcraft creators, will reveal its team-based action shooter at the upcoming PAX Prime 2010 show in Seattle, US.

The news was first reported by Big Download.

It was then confirmed in a tweet from Red 5, which read: “Well, I guess the news is out. Red 5 will definitely have a major presence at PAX. We’re looking forward to it!”

Little is known about the game. In January 2009 ex-WOW team lead and Red 5 chief creative officer Mark Kern said the game would be more concerned with creating a world that would change over time based on players’ actions, rather than a huge geographical space.

“We want players to actually change the state of the game over time. Time is a very important concept to our game,” Kern said.

“We play with it in any number of ways. It is probably our key form of persistence, more than, say, geography… It’s more about how this world evolves over time, versus how big your world might be.”

PAX Prime will begin in early September. Expect more details then.

Via EuroGamer