NCsoft’s call to fame and fortune is Lineage, but their third-quarter earnings release illustrates the changing times. Year-over-Year sales for Lineage are down 20%, while City of Heroes / City of Villians sales are down 23% versus the previous year. That put NCsoft’s net profit down 21% from last year. There was good news for the computer game company, Guild Wars sales were up 16% versus the previous year and up 57% when compared to the previous quarter.
The Earning Release showed how NCsoft is trying new things, to stay competitive in the fierce Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) market. Guild Wars doesn’t have monthly fees. Rather, profit is dependent upon the sale of additional content. Eye of the North, the latest Guild Wars expansion, helped to push the franchise to 4,500,000 activated accounts.
That’s not the only sales model NCsoft is experimenting with. Exteel, a game about giant mechanized robot action, will generate revenue through in-game item sales and in-game advertisements. Dungeon Runners and Exteel are the two “Free-to-Play” games, which are based around the new pricing model. The basic game is free, but advertisements and in-game perks will generate revenue.
“As a publisher of MMO games, the community is of the utmost importance to us. We are constantly looking for more ways to grow the community for these titles and give them what they deserve – great gaming experiences supported by advertising that doesn’t detract from gameplay,” said Dorothy Ferguson, vice president of sales and marketing at NCsoft North America.
Tabula Rasa was released on 11/2/2007. While the pricing model ($49.99 box, plus $14.99 monthly fee) is fairly standard, the genre and gameplay is not so atypical. The Sci-Fi shooter is different from the plethora of medieval MMORPGs.
“We are all very excited about the addition of Tabula Rasa to our catalog of games,” stated Robert Garriott, CEO of NCsoft’s North American operation. “One of NCsoft’s goals is to provide different types of online gaming products – both within the ‘proven’ fantasy genre and outside the genre, as well. This game is truly unique; we hope that Tabula Rasa’s science fiction background and military combat action proves to be enjoyable to many types of gamers.”
With Lineage I & II representing 74% of NCsoft’s Online Game sales, the majority of the company is still build on a legacy. But with the Exteel open beta to start on November 14, and Tabula Rasa already on retail store shelves, the next quarterly Earning Release should be quite revealing.