Chris Mayer Kicks Off the Dev Corner
The journey is as important as the destination
Today I was reviewing the state of our operating games (Lineage I & II, City of Heroes/Villains, Guild Wars, and Auto Assault) as well as looking over the schedules for our new titles in development. It struck me that NCsoft has been in existence for only ten years (seven in the United States), and that already we’re one of the most successful massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) publishers in the world, if not the most successful. It also struck me that this isn’t true just in raw sales volume or subscriber numbers—we’ve also been successful at earning respect from the consumer base and the critical reviewers. It’s quite an accomplishment really when you consider the magnitude of the competition here in the United States, which is quite a different problem than our brothers and sisters in Seoul experience, who really dominate the Korean market with the Lineage product line.
How did we get here? Well speaking only about our efforts in North America, NCsoft has managed to carve out its own niches by doing what other companies have not. For instance, City of Heroes (CoH) is the game that established NCsoft in the U.S., and we did it largely because it was different. During the time when almost every major MMOG being produced was based in the fantasy genre and used Everquest-style mechanics, we had to be different. If we were going to succeed in our goal of establishing ourselves as a top MMOG publisher in the western world we had to find an unmet need. CoH did that by bringing a fresh genre to the market and delivering on the first truly visceral combat experience for an MMOG in a comic book setting…a far cry from the sword and shield games we had gotten used to.
NCsoft followed CoH with another very interesting, and very successful product. One of our studios, ArenaNet, developed Guild Wars, a very compelling fantasy-themed game, with an even more compelling business model: an MMOG without the monthly fees. Using regularly shipped box products to fund the game and utilizing extremely efficient technology, ArenaNet created something many consumers were clambering for. Once again NCsoft did something revolutionary, and by doing so, we grew our company to a top position in the North American market despite very tough competition. I’m extremely exited about the continuing success of Guild Wars, its business model and the new additions to the franchise coming online soon. ArenaNet has the industry buzzing with its recent announcement that it will be launching Guild Wars: Eye of the North later this year as an expansion to all the Guild Wars games and by next year we anticipate the beginning of beta testing for the franchise’s first sequel, Guild Wars 2.
You can expect NCsoft to continue to produce different games with unusual business models and genres for the foreseeable future. Our strategy of being different continued with Auto Assault in 2006, and will be the same in 2007 with Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa and Dungeon Runners. Tabula Rasa will be the first high budget MMOG to bring exhilarating, action-oriented game play fused with traditional RPG mechanics to the market. The game blows me away with its high intensity action and exciting game mechanics. This will be another great game created by one of the industry’s legendary game designers, Richard Garriott. Dungeon Runners is free-to-download and free-to-play, and may remind everyone of some fast-paced, fantasy, action RPGs they’ve played before, but we’re delivering it with the quality stamp that NCsoft brings to all its products. Other free-to-play and download games will simply not be able to stand up in comparison to Dungeon Runners, and in many ways we see this game as a gift to our fans. You can expect more free-to-play MMO and MMO-lite products from NCsoft in the future to continue our dominance of this market.
We have several other new IPs in development, such as the amazing AION from South Korea, which I can’t wait to talk more about. However, I promise, all of the new games in development will be unique and different from what everyone else is doing. Looking at our product plans for the next few years, it really makes me proud to be with NCsoft and to be working with these extremely creative developers with often unusual ideas, which end up being the ideas that keep us at the forefront of the MMOG world.
Chris Mayer, Vice President, Product Development
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