Monday, May 21, 2007

Online Gaming Kraze... Korean Market, U.S. Next

Of course Blizzard would announce the new Starcraft II in Seoul, the market that fueled their growth. I actually miss playing Starcraft from my years in Seoul. 2v2, 3v3, or 4v4 with friends. Improving my dexterity and resting my liver were good things :)

Other news in the gaming space that's under the radar of most people is the success of MapleStory, which launched last September in North America. It's a game by Nexon, a leading gaming company in Korea (probably #2 in casual gaming and #2 in hardcore), and already has 3 million people (50 million worldwide) and $1.6 million in revenue for February 2007. I wonder how much revenue Second Life generated in the same period? Pricing and having the right carrots are key to the success of online games beyond gameplay. A couple years ago I wrote about the eventually success of micropayments and online gaming in the U.S. market here :)

The New Avatar In Town

Korea's Nexon and others are edging onto Second Life's turf, using simplified features

Cyndi Lester, 20, recalls her first meeting with future husband, Frank: "My avatar walked past his. He noticed me and typed: I like your hair." After their real-life wedding last year, Cyndi and Frank bought digital rings and staged a second, virtual-world wedding.

It all happened in MapleStory—a fantastical online game where players hunt cartoon monsters and communicate in text. For Lester, a Huntington (W.Va.) homemaker who devotes three to six hours a day exploring this two-dimensional universe, the allure of MapleStory is more about show than shoot-'em-up. She spends up to $100 a month buying new clothes (at 9 cents to $7 apiece) and hairstyles ($5.70) for her digital double.

Suddenly it looks as if Second Life, that 3D virtual world that last year became a favorite hangout for hard-core techies and trend-watching corporations, has competition. (full story)

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