Game talkCrossing the cultural gap

 Posted by (Visited 7877 times)  Game talk
Jun 102007
 

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.

  12 Responses to “Crossing the cultural gap”

  1. Well, I assume they’re familiar with Final Fantasy over there. I always get a kick out of that fact about China and UO gray shards though.

    But how many Chinese gamers have been reading comics all their lives? I doubt they really connect with the idea of CoH.

  2. 라프 코스터, "문화적 차이를 넘어서"…

    [경험 유전자 블로그 통신] http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/06/10/crossing-the-cultural-gap/trackback/ NC 소프트가 시티 오브 히어로즈(City of Heroes)의 한국 서비스 중단을 밝혔다는 소식을 듣고 라프 코스터가 문…

  3. Hopefully, the conclusion of this is not to manga-nize aesthetics. Dave Perry’s user-generated MMORPG died that second, such preferences became apparent.

  4. […] here in China back in the late 90s.” We never had a hint of it here. 댓글달기 http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/06/10/crossing-the-cultural-gap/#comments The Sunday Poem: The Piano Teacher’s House Raph 2007-06-11 17:32 작성 | The Sunday Poem […]

  5. Surprised about piracy of UO? Take a look at Lineage 2. This game has been pirated so much, it’s frightening. That recent L2Extreme was not even the tip of the iceberg.

    I have some data at hand for visitors according to country for an English (!) Lineage 2 community site:

    Greece 10.7%
    United States 9.1%
    Lithuania 7.9%
    Brazil 7.8%
    Poland 7.5%
    Romania 5.2%
    Germany 3.7%
    Spain 3.4%
    Czech Republic 3.2%
    Italy 3.2%
    France 3.2%
    Argentina 3.1%

    Portugal 2.9%
    Bulgaria 2.2%
    Canada 2.2%

    NCSoft must have one hell of a sales force selling their game in Greece, Lithuana and Poland if those visitors play legit copies.

  6. Had the Korean’s made it to WoW’s end game yet? It would seem to me that that’s where they’d really like the game play.

    The massive influx of casual gamers (as defined by the industry) is killing the gaming style of older (wiser, and more cerebral :D ) players like myself.

    I feel like Apollo in the Star Trek episode where Kirk tells the greek god that he has been outgrown. “Zeus. Hermes. Hera. Aphrodite. You were right. Athena. You were right. The time is passed. There is no room for gods. Forgive me, my old friends. Take me. Take me. Take me…”

    I should just fade to the wind like so many other old timers.

  7. “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.”

    Really? I thought D&DO crossed the pond very well. There was that BusinessWeek article that mentioned it, and now a friend of mine who has been living there for the past year reports the same.

  8. I have to admit, Vykromond, that I haven’t paid attention to how it’s doing overseas. I know that deal was cut for it to go into China.

  9. […] Apparently, the CoH servers for Korea are closing down for good. It seems the American super hero style just wasn’t that popular over there. http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/06/10/cross…e-cultural-gap/ […]

  10. […] Apparently, the CoH servers for Korea are closing down for good. It seems the American super hero style just wasn’t that popular over there. http://www.raphkoster.com/2007/06/10/cross…e-cultural-gap/ […]

  11. […] with Cross-Pacific Appeal Interesting post by Raph Koster about MMOs and how they translate from the US/Europe to Asia (or not): Word has come […]

  12. […] my point here? Quite simply, it’s that the fate of CoH/V lies in the hands of NCsoft Korea, who already saw the game flop in their home region (link is off about CoH/V’s player numbers in NA / EU since it never exceeded 200k active […]

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.