NCsoft -- known for such stunningly beautiful games as Guild Wars and Lineage/Lineage II -- is slowly expanding its focus in Korea into the non-game sector. Working with in-house studio Openmaru, the company is building a series of online services to aid in comforting investors. Admittedly, the South Korean Won (KRW) is trading in a slightly stronger position against the United States Dollar (USD) now than it was in October, but that doesn't stop their concern over seeing NCsoft's stock slowly spiral downward from 86,4000 KRW in October (approximately $94.43/share) to 45,000 KRW ($48.27/share) as of Friday's market close. As a result of this move, CEO Kim Taek-jin has promised that the company will increase its investment in online applications, including data and schedule management programs and social-networking services.The company was facing some concerns over the lagging interest in online gaming, most particularly after Tablua Rasa met with -- as the investors saw it -- a tepid reception. NCsoft sank rather a great deal of capital -- both in terms of money and prestige -- into the game; unfortunately, it did not, as investors see it, live up to the hype. Admittedly, Gameranking.com ranks Tabula Rasa as number 8 in the top 10 new releases; however, when you drill down on the game itself, their rankings don't currently include information from Gamespot.com or Worthplaying.com. As a point of order, Gamespot provided Tabula Rasa with an editor's review of 8.1/10, indicating that the scoring consensus is fairly solid. Continuing with the concerns over Tabula Rasa, however, the investors are more likely to listen to sound bites than to gamers' reviews, and we have MSNBC's Scott Taves stating that the game "is better suited to short bouts of gameplay than most MMORPGs, [but] there are simply not enough compelling reasons to keep me coming back." All of this has fed into the confusion, and the concern over the game in general, and NCsoft's future actions.
There are two potential saving graces: the story is focused on Korean game play, and it took the City of (X) franchise more than a month to take off while it was under other management. Speaking of the City of (X) franchise, this begs the question, then, as to whether or not NCsoft's purchase stemmed from retaining control of its IP, additional shoring up of their bottom line with a known quantity, or a little of both. Two questions remain, though: how do we get the gaming supporters to speak with the investors, and how do we keep NCsoft the dynamic and forward-thinking powerhouse it has been for over a decade? The simplest method is also the oldest: we must speak with our wallets.