[MSU] msupdate’s Top 5 Free MMO Publishers in North America To Watch
For previous releases in the msupdate’s Top 5 series, see the msupdate’s Top 5 Lists page.
Note: Only publishers of online games with offices in North America that publish specifically in free-to-play games sustained solely by optional microtransactions are applicable.
1. Nexon America
Established in 2007 in Los Angeles, California, Nexon America is the first company to successfully use the microtransaction business model in North America, as Nexon was present remotely in North America since launch of Global MapleStory in 2005. Nexon America has launched a strong and varying lineup of games from the casual quirky side-scrolling MapleStory, to the hardcore action Vindictus. Nexon America’s rising userbase of over 16 million continues to rise and is driven by their flagship title, MapleStory.
Globally, Nexon is one of the largest gaming networks in the world with over 57 games and 1.2 billion registered users. Nexon is headquartered in Tokyo, Japan with offices in Seoul, South Korea and Los Angeles, California, USA and Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.
2. Perfect World Entertainment
Perfect World Entertainment is the North American publishing arm of popular Chinese gaming company, Perfect World. Perfect World Entertainment was founded in 2008 with their first game published being Perfect World International (Perfect World II in China). Perfect World Entertainment now publishes eight games, including Torchlight, the Diablo-style single-player game from Runic Games.
Perfect World actually had a rocky start where game choices are concerned with their original games being too similar with the old pre-gen combat system and graphics. But with the upcoming releases of the first-person shooter Blacklight: Retribution and the action MMORPG RaiderZ (from the developers of GunZ) and the recent release of side-scrolling action MMORPG Rusty Hearts, Perfect World has truly won my heart.
With the release of the successful MU Online, Archlord and SUN Online, Webzen, a subsidiary of NHN, has already proven to be a strong force in the North America market. Their position is expected to be strengthened in 2012 as the company releases the highly anticipated next-generation MMORPG Continent of the Ninth (C9) and the first-person shooter Arctic Combat.
Webzen also has a branch in Korea where they publish five games. It seems that Webzen will be leading NHN’s North American market push in the near future as they look to launch more games to their portfolio while NHN USA is hardly adding any new games to their ijji portal.
Gala-Net’s American branch launched the gPotato game portal in 2005 and has since become one of the most popular portals in North America, driven by their flagship title, Flyff. The gPotato portal has always been a favorite for me as I actively play Tales Runner and have played Flyff, Luna Online, Rappelz, Aika and Allods Online in the past. Gala-Net currently publishes eight games, with the beta phases of an eighth game, the highly anticipated Sevencore, expected in 2012. Gala-Net’s games are somewhat varied as they service the racing game Tales Runner, a hardcore PvP-based Aika and the more casual Luna Online. Their role-playing games are quite similar, however, as they are based mostly on adventuring and leveling up with a slow to medium paced point-and-click combat system.
Sevencore is a next-generation sci-fi technological based action MMORPG that many are looking forward to and has been put on a 2012 release date by Gala-Net. See Sevencore’s teaser at http://sevencore.gpotato.com/teaser/.
Gamania isn’t a name that you hear very often, at least not in North America. Gamania is a game publishing giant of Taiwan and Hong Kong where they publish MapleStory and many other games but with the upcoming release of Core Blaze in North America, they are set to make a huge mark here in the West also. Core Blaze is an upcoming next-generation action MMORPG that is being developed and published by Gamania in North America on their beanfun! game portal and is scheduled for a release in 2012.
Current beanfun! only portals one game: Lucent Heart but along with Core Blaze, the re-release of Hero 108 Online is expected for 2012.