Aion challenges WoW - For Those About to Rock

By Published August 14, 2009 at 12:25 am


Some of you may know the story of David and Goliath.  For those who don't, here's how it goes: David grows wings, picks up a mace, and thunks a big bad Goliath on the head.  Unfortunately for Davey, Goliath is armed with 10 million minions.

For those about to rock, we salute you!

"We [NCsoft] are guessing that Aion will be -- could be -- the second [most] successful MMO in the US market next to World of Warcraft."

NCsoft claims a 451% profit increase for fiscal Q2, according to the developer, largely due to the Asia launch of Aion.  The South Korean company has big hopes for Aion's release to the rest of the world.  While the Lineage-Guild Wars joint-force certainly helps to fuel NCsoft, Aion's prerelease sales in the West and release sales in the Eastern part of the globe have boosted profits.  Excluding royalties, Aion alone has generated $32.7 million in the quarter from Taiwan, Japan, China, and South Korea.  The countries listed currently host more than 225 game servers, a powerful kick-off that looms ominously over the dated World of Warcraft.  

CFO Jaeho Lee said, "I believe the performance of Aion in the US and European markets will be very successful. ... We are guessing that Aion will be -- could be -- the second [most] successful MMO in the US market next to World of Warcraft."

Big words for a new game, especially when taken into account that Aion hasn't even seen US or Europe yet!  World of Warcraft, like it or not, has reign over the MMORPG market in the US and EU; what ever happened to WoW-killer Age of Conan, how about WAR?  If NCsoft is right, Aion will bullrush through the populated MMO landscape and head straight for the top... err, second-to-the-top.

At launch, both Age of Conan and Warhammer Online were going full steam ahead, and took major hold over the market, giving the WoW-mobile a good key scratch.  Unfortunately, the marketing campaigns died out as the games lost popularity, and ultimately, some users returned to WoW.  

September 22 of 2009 is the expected release date for Aion in the US, and the 25th in most of Europe.  NCsoft refused to jinx itself by saying they will be THE WoW-killer, however Aion stands a strong chance, according to the developers.

Jaeho Lee also noted that it would be "very hard" to beat out or match World of Warcraft, "but Aion will be a very successful product.  We are very confident in it."

Shortly after this statement, an analyst probed Jaeho for weak spots, asking how many copies of Aion were to ship to retailers in comparison to Tabula Rasa, another NCsoft game with a budget in the tens of millions, which shut down (sadly) after one year on the shelf.

The analyst stifled a laugh as Jaeho replied, "Ok, um, it's very unfortunate to hear the name of Tabula Rasa at this conference call... And we all want to forget and erase that memory from our performance."  He continued, "We did a very poor job with Tabula Rasa, and we are disappointed [in] our retailers in US markets and also European markets.  Because of that, our retailers may be very reluctant to take orders for Aion."

Clearly a sharp blow to the company, Tabula Rasa may have cost them more than just tens of millions, especially if it impacts Aion this way.  

Tabula Rasa's creator Richard Garriott filed a lawsuit against NCsoft for $27 million.  He alleged that he was "forced out" of NCsoft, leading to the loss of millions of stock options.  

The good news, though, is that Aion recently ranked top in the number of pre-orders on Steam.

Last modified on August 14, 2009 at 12:25 am
Steve Burke

Steve started GamersNexus back when it was just a cool name, and now it's grown into an expansive website with an overwhelming amount of features. He recalls his first difficult decision with GN's direction: "I didn't know whether or not I wanted 'Gamers' to have a possessive apostrophe -- I mean, grammatically it should, but I didn't like it in the name. It was ugly. I also had people who were typing apostrophes into the address bar - sigh. It made sense to just leave it as 'Gamers.'"

First world problems, Steve. First world problems.

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