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NCsoft's third quarter report is glowing; WildStar's revenues are not

Aion, Lineage, Lineage 2, Business Models, MMO Industry, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Blade & Soul, Miscellaneous, WildStar

NCsoft's unaudited third quarter 2014 financial report is in. Do you want the good news first or the bad?

Let's get the bad out of the way. WildStar's revenues plummeted between the second and third quarters, down 42.9% (the sales units in the table above, please note, are in millions of Korean Won). Variable expense, NCsoft wrote, also fell "largely due to decreased box sales of WildStar." Guild Wars 2's revenues also fell slightly over the quarter, down 8.5%.

But the good news is that global sales and operating profit are very much up, up, up in total quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year, thanks primarily to the continuing popularity of Aion and classic Lineage.

Lineage Eternal will be playable at G-Star 2014

Betas, Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Aion, Lineage, Lineage 2, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, New Titles, News Items, Free-to-Play, Blade & Soul, Promotions

Lineage Eternal
​NCsoft today announced that Lineage Eternal, first revealed back in 2011, will be playable at this year's G-Star con in Busan, South Korea. The third entry in the outrageously popular Lineage series was originally scheduled to head into closed beta this winter and seems to share more in common with Lineage 1 thanks to its isometric view and heavy focus on guild warfare.

MMO Culture reports that NCsoft MMO Project HON will likewise be playable and that the company plans to announce a "mystery game" a few days before the con opens on November 20th.

We've included the G-Star teaser vid below; it includes quick flashes of Lineage, Lineage II, Aion, and Blade & Soul too.

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Guild Wars 2 emerges unscathed by NCsoft's layoffs

Aion, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage 2, Business Models, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items, Guild Wars 2, Miscellaneous, WildStar

Last night's revelation that a large chunk of the WildStar team had been let go is not the only bad news to come from NCsoft this week. According to a letter sent to Polygon, the NCWest layoffs affected all of NCsoft's western branches... except ArenaNet, which runs Guild Wars 2 and Guild Wars. Here's what NCsoft wrote:
Today we announced a restructuring of key operations within NC West. As a result of this restructuring, we are implementing staff reductions across our Western operations with the exclusion of ArenaNet. While decisions like this are always hard, they are necessary as we begin the implementation of a new strategy designed to strengthen our footing as a leader in global entertainment.

Moving forward, we will continue to focus on our core development capabilities and the intellectual properties (WildStar, Aion, Lineage, and Guild Wars franchises) that have made NCSOFT what it is today. However, we are looking to move into new business segments like mobile and tablet games as well as explore emerging technologies.

Again, the decision to reduce staff was not an easy one, and we sincerely wish everyone well in their next endeavors.
Polygon's unnamed source says around 60 Carbine Studios employees were let go; we don't yet know how hard the other teams were hit.

WildStar and Guild Wars 2 boost NCsoft profits

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Aion, Lineage, Lineage 2, Economy, MMO Industry, Guild Wars 2, Free-to-Play, Blade & Soul, WildStar

The second quarter of 2014 was a very good time indeed for NCsoft, as the publisher announced today that revenues and profits are up thanks to WildStar's launch and Guild Wars 2's move into China.

In today's earnings report, NCsoft shows that sales went up 20% and operating profit increased 46% from the previous quarter. The company said that it saw a marketing expense increase due to WildStar and that Lineage "recovered meaningfully" during this period.

As for sales per game, Lineage is still at the top with 32.2%. Following that is WildStar (15.9%), Guild Wars 2 (12.6%), Blade and Soul (10.8%), Aion (10.4%), and Lineage II (7.7%).

Perfect Ten: MMOs from the '90s

Fantasy, Asheron's Call, EverQuest, Lineage, Meridian 59, Opinion, Ultima Online, Perfect Ten, Miscellaneous

saved by the bell
The course of MMO history and the developer pioneers who forged a path to online gaming have long fascinated me (so much so that I write an occasional column about it). While we often think of MMOs as modern entertainment barely out of its infancy, the truth is that you can trace the industry back decades to see a fringe group of devs and players striving to make these games a reality.

While the number of MMOs in existence exploded in the early- and mid-2000s (and hasn't stopped growing since), the 1990s are often an overlooked decade that featured more than the one or two games that are usually mentioned in brief history overviews. There were actually far more titles than most assume, even if you dismiss text-based MUDs and the like. Today we're going to run down 10 MMOs that were born during the era of the dot-com revolution, dial-up modems, and the peak of the Simpsons (third through seventh seasons).

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Lineage Korea adds a new Warrior class

Fantasy, Lineage, Classes, Game Mechanics, MMO Industry, News Items

Who says old-school MMOs are dead? Here in North America, Ultima Online and EverQuest are still updating on a regular basis, while over in Korea, Lineage is quietly going about the business of being one of the most played MMORPGs in the world.

The title, released in 1998, is still NCsoft's top earner, and now its loyal fans have a new Warrior class to play. This is the game's first new class in six years, according to MMO Culture, which also has a video of the Warrior in action. Click past the cut to have a look!

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NCsoft boosts numbers in Q4 2013 while Nexon names new CEO

Aion, Lineage, Lineage 2, MMO Industry, Guild Wars 2, Legal, Blade & Soul, Miscellaneous, WildStar

NCsoft is thanking its lucky Blade & Soul these days, as revenues from the game's popularity in China have helped to boost its financial status.

In the recently released Q4 2013 earnings report, NCsoft announced that sales, operating profit, pre-tax income, and net income were up over Q3 2013. Overall, 2013 was profitable for the company as its income went up year-over-year. NCsoft credited a growing Lineage and a "strong" and "solid" Guild Wars 2 for this effort, as well as cost savings initiatives. While sales in Korea improved from 2012 to 2013, those in Japan, Europe, and North America all declined over the same time period.

Lineage is by far NCsoft's biggest earner, followed by Guild Wars 2, Aion, and Blade & Soul. The company said that WildStar is on track to launch in mid-2014 and that the key GW2 focus is not on an expansion but with bringing the game to China.

Meanwhile, NCsoft's biggest investor, Nexon, just named Owen Mahoney as its new president and CEO, replacing Seungwoo Choi. Nexon also announced a revenue and income increase in 2013 and acknowledged that it is underperforming in Japan and the West.

The Soapbox: Seriously, we have enough fantasy MMOs

World of Warcraft, Fantasy, Aion, City of Heroes, EVE Online, Fallen Earth, Lineage, MMO Industry, Opinion, Ultima Online, RuneScape, Free-to-Play, DC Universe Online, RIFT, World of Tanks, TERA, EverQuest Next, The Soapbox, Miscellaneous, MOBA, Neverwinter, The Elder Scrolls Online, MMORPG, Buy-to-Play

Let's play a game. I'm thinking of an MMO that features magic, monsters, humans, and a vast fantasy world full of steamy swamps, grassy plains, and deep, dark dungeons -- can you tell me which MMO it is? If you answered RIFT, you're right. You're also right if you answered TERA. Or World of Warcraft. Or Guild Wars 2. Or Neverwinter. Or... you get the idea.

We're people who play MMOs. Our hard drives are practically bulging with games featuring wizards and warriors. We've plunged our swords into millions of orcs and gnolls. We've looted more imaginary copper pieces than anyone could possible imagine. We've even slain so many dragons that you have to wonder why dragons even bother showing up anymore.

It's not the gameplay but the setting that can make the whole exercise so soul-crushingly boring.

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NCsoft takes a financial hit in Q3 2013

Lineage, MMO Industry, Guild Wars 2, Blade & Soul, Miscellaneous, WildStar

NCsoft's latest financial earnings report shows that the publisher took a substantial hit in the third quarter of this year.

Sales, operating profit, pre-tax income, and net income were all down from both the previous quarter and Q3 2012. NCsoft blamed the dip due on a shuffling of Lineage's in-game sales from third to fourth quarter. Guild Wars 2 once again dropped in sales, while Blade and Soul came out the best in the report, seeing an uptick in sales thanks to a recent content update.

Higher expenses were also to blame for NCsoft's lower profit margin, including an increased WildStar marketing campaign and relocating headquarters. Quarter-over-quarter, sales were down across most of NCsoft's subsidiaries save for NCsoft Taiwan and Ntreev Soft, which both saw a bump in sales.

[Thanks to Sharvis for the tip! And note, the unit on the Y axes is million South Korean won, not US dollars.]

NCsoft sued by 64-year-old woman over $28,000 sword

Fantasy, Lineage, Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, News Items

NCsoft sued by 64  year-old woman over $28,000 sword
What would you do if you tried to enchant a rare in-game item worth $28,000 and it broke? One 64-year-old Lineage player sued NCsoft earlier this year. After unsuccessfully petitioning to have her rare Jin Myung Hwang's Conduct Sword restored by claiming her failed enchantment attempt (which destroys the item in Lineage) was accidental, the South Korean player sued NCsoft. The extremely rare sword could sell for $28,000.

Unfortunately, the plaintiff's game log showed that she bought special items to improve her odds at enchanting and she continued to enchant other items even after the destruction of the rare sword. The court's ruling was not in the player's favor, noting that even if it was a mistake, NCsoft was not required to restore the item.

NCsoft looking ahead to Lineage Eternal beta, WildStar launch

Betas, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Lineage, Lineage 2, MMO Industry, WildStar

NCsoft looking ahead to Lineage Eternal beta, WildStar launch
A couple of additional tidbits came out of this week's NCsoft earnings call that are relevant to fans of Lineage and WildStar. The studio said that it is preparing to roll out the beta schedule of Lineage Eternal, the third title in the series, by the end of this year. Lineage Eternal was announced in 2011, but we've heard precious little about the game since.

The publisher also said that it's taking a close look at the performance of WildStar's closed beta testing and will use testing results to shape its plans for the launch. Previously, Carbine Studios said that it's aiming for a 2013 launch window for the title if all went well in the beta.

NCsoft sales are up, income is down

Aion, Lineage, MMO Industry, Guild Wars 2, Miscellaneous

NCsoft sales are up, income is down
NCsoft may be in a more secure position with its financials at the present, as the company released its Q2 2013 earnings report with uplifting data. Overall, the publisher and its combined subsidiaries has increased its sales by 4% over last quarter and seen a healthy bump in operating profit as well. It's not all good news; NCsoft's net income has taken a 35% nosedive quarter-over-quarter. If you strip away the subsidiaries, however, NCsoft is doing well across the board.

So what's fueling these numbers? Lineage 1 remains the backbone of NCsoft's financials, boasting "an all-time high" in the sales department. Aion is reportedly doing well in China, and Guild Wars 2 is providing "stable" profits. It looks as though North American sales has decreased from Q1, but an increase in Japanese and Korean sales has more than made up for the loss.

The Game Archaeologist: Checking in with classic MMOs

Anarchy Online, Asheron's Call, Dark Age of Camelot, Lineage, Lineage 2, PlanetSide, MMO Industry, News Items, Ultima Online, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous

The Game Archaeologist Checking in with classic MMOs
What's this, you say as you rub your eyes in disbelief. Is it... The Game Archaeologist, long since thought lost in his expedition to Atlantis (and the trials therein)? It is indeed, my friends. TGA has been a long-running passion of mine on Massively, but I needed a break for a while to recouperate and refocus. However, as of late I've felt the call of neglected classic MMOs and wanted to make sure that they were getting some column love here on the site.

So going forward, expect to see The Game Archaeologist pop out of his hidey hole once or twice a month to talk about our old favorites and perhaps pontificate more on the history of MMO development. Sound good? Did you miss me at all? You totally didn't, did you.

If you've been out of touch with classic MMOs, I've done the legwork this week to provide you with the 10 important and relevant news items that are sweeping through this aging yet still vibrant community. Read on, McDuff!

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NCsoft sales down from last quarter, up from last year

Aion, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage 2, MMO Industry, Guild Wars 2, Blade & Soul, Miscellaneous

NCsoft sales down from last quarter, up from last year
A recent earnings report suggests that NCsoft's sales have slipped from Q4 2012 to Q1 2013, although the studio is quick to point out that the showing was "solid" particularly when compared to sales from a year ago. While sales were down 35% and net income was down 49% from the last quarter, sales were up 31% and net income was up 322% year-over-year.

Guild Wars 2 accounted for 21% of sales in the first quarter, in addition to Blade and Soul's 9%, Aion's 16%, and the usual Lineage cavalcade (Lineage 1 represented 38% of sales alone with its subscriptions).

While 64% of NCsoft's sales were in Korea, only 13% were in North America and 8% in Europe. The decrease in NA and EU contributions was due to "the reduction in Guild Wars 2 package sales," according to the report. All of NCsoft's subsidiaries posted drops in sales from last quarter except for NC Taiwan.

[Update: Also of note in the earnings call is the news that NCsoft's Nah Seong Chan says the company is "preparing an expansion pack" but has yet to decide when it might launch. Very interesting news indeed as ArenaNet said as recently as March that it was not working on an expansion. Thanks to Mike and Robert for the tips!]

The Game Archaeologist: When sequels attack!

Asheron's Call, Darkfall, EverQuest, EverQuest II, Guild Wars, Lineage, Lineage 2, Neocron 2, PlanetSide, RuneScape, Guild Wars 2, Global Agenda, Final Fantasy XIV, The Game Archaeologist, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2

The Game Archaeologist When sequels attack!
Sequels are both the bane of and a fact of life for movies and video games. Well, "bane" is a strong word, and you're probably thinking of Batman right now anyway, but personally, I'm always willing to give the benefit of doubt to any continuation of a favorite franchise. While we don't see sequels pop up as often in MMOs, they do exist and have significant effects upon the original title that bears the same name.

It's here that MMOs diverge from movies and other video games. With those, the original is not in any sort of danger, other than the perception of having its legacy dragged down into the muck (Caddyshack II, anyone?) and perhaps overstaying its welcome. An MMO sequel, on the other hand, can cause serious consequences to its ancestor.

Here at Game Archaeologist, we look at classic games that have often seen their time come and go. But what happens to one of these titles when a sequel attacks? Almost anything, it turns out.

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