Daum‘s multiplayer computer game “Black Desert Online” is expected to become one of Korea’s most successful games launched overseas as it is drawing exceptionally favorable early responses in the North American and European markets. The game’s local publisher, Daum Games Europe, said Black Desert Online will see more than 1 million players sign up within this year.
“Considering the upward trend, I expect that the game will draw over 1 million paid subscribers this year. This record far exceeds that in the domestic market,” Daum Games Europe CEO Min Kim said in an interview in Seoul. Though Kim did not disclose the exact numbers, he said the game is already exceeding Korea’s other online computer games available in the North American and European markets such as NCSOFT’s “Guild Wars” and Webzen’s “Metin 2.” “As of now, Black Desert Online is recording sales that far exceed those of other games that have hit the North American and European markets,” Kim said. “Black Desert Online’s sales are already much bigger than those of such games in their best days.”
According to NCSOFT’s regulatory filing, “Guild Wars 2,” considered one of Korea’s most successful online computer games ever brought to the United States, alone generated 100.5 billion won ($87.23) in sales in 2015. Considering that “Black Desert Online” is recording about 200,000 users on a daily basis, the game is estimated to have reached at least 14 billion won in sales since its March 3 global launch.
Kim stressed that the the company has adopted a business model called “buy-to-play (B2P)” for this game in overseas markets, which is not used domestically. In the B2P business model, gamers need to purchase a license or “game pass” to play. Daum Games Europe sells game pass packages for the game that cost $30, $50 and $100. It said more than 400,000 subscribers have paid for the game pass including 150,000 who have purchase the pass even before the game’s launch.
Compared to the “free-to-play (F2P)” model, B2P is considered to have a higher entrance barrier and its users tend to spend less for paid in-game items while playing the game. For this reason, B2P has been rapidly replaced by the F2P model in the Asian market, especially for mobile games. “A game with the B2P business model normally has a much lower buying rate for paid in-game items compared to F2P games,” said Kim. “But Black Desert Online is recording a much higher rate than the average of 11 percent level.”
Daum Games Europe has been testing the game in overseas markets since last October and attracted more than 700,000 users participating in a prelaunch character customization event in February. Kim said the company will speed up the content update schedule to meet users’ expectations.
“We can stably provide content updates as we have already done it in the Korean market,” he said. “We have prepared for updates such as new characters for April, May and June, a period of time that is considered an off-season for games in Europe. We also plan to promote the game at the Gamescom exhibition in Germany in August.”
Developed by Korean game studio Pearl Abyss, “Black Desert Online” was released in the domestic market last July 23. But the game failed to meet the high market expectations for its success, jeopardizing the future of its publisher Daum Games. The game’s market failure here had also fueled the allegations that Kakao, which has rapidly streamlined the underperforming services of Daum Communications after their merger, may dispose of Daum Games.
NZIN, the game business subsidiary of Kakao, said it has completed merger proceedings with Daum Games as of Friday as decided by Kakao’s board of directors last December. After the merger, NZIN will continue to be led by its current CEO Namkoong Whon and will operate as a gaming platform and publishing operations, involved in computer online, mobile, virtual reality (VR), smart TVs and overseas businesses. The company said it will continue to use the brand name of Daum Games for its online computer gaming services.
Adding to the expansion of global service for “Black Desert Online,” the company said it will also push for new growth businesses including VR gaming and smart TV services. “After the merger, NZIN will create unique businesses and challenge new areas under cooperation with diverse partners, taking a meaningful role in Korea’s game industry,” Namkoong said in a statement.