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Lineage

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

ncsoft
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
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

Aion
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
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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NCsoft earnings report shows healthy growth

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

NCsoft earnings report shows healthy growth
NCsoft just released its fourth quarter 2012 earnings report, and things are looking pretty good across the board for the multi-MMO company. NCsoft's earnings are up both quarter-over-quarter and year-over-year due to the releases of Blade & Soul and Guild Wars 2, not to mention "record-breaking annual revenues" from Lineage.

Guild Wars 2 accounted for 45% of the company's sales in Q4, followed by Lineage (24%) and Blade & Soul (10%). ArenaNet's newest game increased the North American market from 16% in Q3 to 25% in Q4.

It's not completely sunshine and roses, however. Lineage II and Aion both experienced declines during the period. NCsoft's net income was in the red for the quarter and its stock has slid since September, losing half of its value in the process.

[Thanks to Paul for the tip!]

Massively Interview: Dr. Lawrence Sanders on MMO loyalty

Sci-Fi, Aion, EVE Online, Lineage, Lineage 2, MMO Industry, Free-to-Play, The Secret World, Casual, Virtual Worlds, Interviews (Massively's), World of Tanks, TERA, Miscellaneous, PlanetSide 2, Age of Wushu

Aion
Beyond amazing character design, compelling narratives, and the presence of dragons, there is one thing that all MMOs depend upon for success: player loyalty. Without returning subscribers, a loving community, or folks dropping a few dimes in the cash shop now and again, MMOs simply wouldn't be a feasible way for a games studio to do business. Smart development teams have player retention departments tasked specifically with tracking and analyzing the rise and fall of player allegiances and finding ways to leverage loyalty is becoming an increasingly important aspect of the creation process.

Even the non-gaming world is getting in on the fray. Back in November, researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Management published a study tracing the roots of player loyalties in a variety of MMO environments. The study outlined the mentalities of MMO gamers and the things that successfully encouraged them to keep coming back for more looting, more grinding, and more /hugging. Most importantly, the study declared that an MMO that increases loyalty by just 5% can increase profits by 25-95%.

We sat down with Dr. Lawrence Sanders, co-author of the study, to dive a little deeper into the researchers' methods, results, and plans for future MMO investigation.

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NCsoft weathers $6M loss in Q2

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

NCsoft weathers $6M loss for the quarter
NCsoft may have more banking on Guild Wars 2 than once thought. The mega-publisher announced that its second quarter earnings were lower than expected; it posted a $6 million loss for the period.

Revenues were down 12% from last year to $130 million, of which a vast majority came from NCsoft's online titles. The company stated that it dipped into the red due to rising labor costs, an increased marketing budget for Blade & Soul's Korean launch, and the acquisition of Ntreev. Aion was also blamed for the company's financial woes, as revenues in that title sharply decreased due to fewer microtransaction sales.

Both Lineage titles composed a great share of the company's revenues, with the first game producing 45% of sales and the sequel 13%.

NCsoft said that it is banking on Guild Wars 2 to produce a profitable third quarter, however.

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