A recent Massively OP article covers the latest quarterly reports of NC Soft, the South Korean MMORPG publishing giant. At first glance the message of these seems very stark – NC Soft has had a huge profits leap since launching Lineage M, a mobile version of its venerable oldest MMORPG Lineage 1. That game, until recently, was generally the top earner for the studio, despite its age. None of the studios other, much newer, MMORPGs (Lineage 2, Aion, Blade & Soul, Wildstar) could touch its quarterly sales figures. If you look at the slides linked to the article, number 2 in particular, you can see the ~700% increase for this quarter mostly because of the new mobile game. Slide 3 shows the split by IP and the Lineage Revolution mobile game’s ‘Pokemon Go’ style leap into big bucks.
Time will tell whether this phenomenon is, like with Pokemon Go, a bit of a ‘flash in the pan’ or whether sales and profit numbers can be maintained. Lineage 1 has been the most popular game by far in their stable of MMOs, and the new Revolution is based on this same game so it has a ready-made audience. There’s no guarantee that this success would translate outside of its native South Korean market, but I’ll be very interested in seeing how this develops. Turbine as a US-based development studio has banked on this being a wider trend in the industry as they announced in 2016 a new focus on mobile gaming ahead of their divestment of Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons and Dragons Online (now run by Standing Stones Games). MMORPGs on mobile aren’t a new phenomenon by any means, Order & Chaos as one example was launched in 2013. However, Lineage brings a major existing MMORPG brand to the mobile platform. A quick search shows that there are others on their way, ones that, maybe, are more relevant to a Western audience; games like Albion Online and Blade & Soul Mobile. But this January list of planned or in development mobile games is still mostly dominated by Asian MMORPGs, I wonder when we’ll get a mobile port or spin-off of a major Western MMO?