Free MMORPG & Free MMOs

EA gets more massive in Korea

Posted on: March 3, 2009

EA gets more massive in Korea

J2M, a Korean free-to-play developer, was purchased by the megaublisher EA, expecting to deliver more MMOGs from existing and new IPs.

MMO efforts are being expanded by EA now it seems after seemingly being happy with the old Online & then Dark Ages of Camelot. Their BioWare studio made us aware of their sci-fi project, Star Wars: The Old Republic when they united with LucasArts less than a month after we saw Warhammer hit the market, saying it had more than 750K subscribers after just a month after launch.

Then after all that activity with Warhammer, by making another acquisition, EA made another jump into the MMORPG space. They went after J2MSoft inc., a Seoul, South Korea game development shop, to bring them into the Redwood City fold. Without revealing the financials of the deal, but in an overview of J2M (which was founded in December of 2004), its company overview, they revealed that it has $1M in equity along with 50 employees in Seoul.

Journey 2 Media (J2M) within the Korean PC market delivers free-to-play free MMORPG, their domain. With two titles now in beta testing (”turn-based shooter game Taan & Debut, a “multiplayer rhythm action” title) they have released the offline-online racer game RayCity.

Future projects are said to be new projects focusing on online games & well-known franchises from EA’s inventory. This isn’t the first expansion into the money-making Asian MMO space. By making a 19% investment in Neowiz, publisher of RayCity, said to be valued at $105M, in March of 2007 they came into the Korean game publishing market. Then a Seoul branch got around $21M last January.

There have been numerous comments on the publication of these announcements from the gamer world.

There was speculation now that EA would expand even into North Korea too now.

Others thought that not all Korean MMOs are bad. They cited Perfect World was good. Saying that they work differently, they questioned their money-making approaches & their ability to reach the levels of WoW (an obvious comment), however then they backed down & said that doesn’t mean EA’s games can’t be good in their own way & generate loyal bases of users. Quoting revenues from Maple Story the commenter says that they have the levels of players of WoW with only revenues of $390M a year. Feeling that more players are doing the free-to-play model a fewer number are paying for anything. Then he went on to draw the conclusion that they make less money while having as many or more players.

Others believed a culture clash was on the way.

Another had heard that a new free “Need For Speed” was being developed by EA Asia.

Others were optimistic that the current decent Korean MMOs are decent even with their low budgets now would do well with EA involved. They questioned whether MapleStory was developed in Korea.

Then thru a commenter we got a discussion started about the real number of subscribers vs boxes sold for Warhammer Online. They went on to say that WHO-Analytics tracked only 443K subscribers for those 750K boxes.

It is interesting to track the comments to these news articles as they reveal what the users & gaming community believes. Right or wrong the comments bring out good discussions.

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March 2009
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