Word has come that NCSoft will be shuttering City of Heroes in Korea — it’s only been getting around 300 average daily users there, according to the Korea Herald (it has around 300k in NA & Europe). It goes down on July 11th.
This is yet another in the long string of games that have failed to meaningfully cross the Pacific. To date, WoW is still the only truly massive success, with UO and FFXI also on the list as having done at least OK in other territories.
There’s countless reasons: game style preferences (PvP, not, RP, etc), acculturation of gameplay (play in cafes or at home, play in heavy smoking cultures demanding one-handed games), art styles, lack of brand familiarity, and so on.
A couple of anecdotes:
Anecdote 1: Supposedly, Blizzard went ahead and released Warcraft III in China knowing that it would be pirated like mad. Why? Because having it pirated like mad would make the setting familiar to Chinese gamers, and thus more willing to play WoW.
Anecdote 2: I get to Korea a few years ago, and I ask about how WoW is doing there. “Only OK — it’s too easy. Real gamers look down on it because of that.” A few years later, casual games have taken over the Korean market.
Anecdote 3: I am taken aback by the number of people who know who I am and what Ultima Online is, when I visit China for the first time. They mostly don’t know about EverQuest, after all. And yet, UO was never released in China. “Oh, we had lots of UO gray shards here,” I am told. “UO probably peaked at 400,000 players here in China back in the late 90s.” We never had a hint of it here.