Online game companies are coming out of the woodworks. One strategy is to take the newly popular “free to play” model from Asia and to launch it in the U.S.
That’s what Wicked Interactive is doing. The Toronto, Canada-based company announced today it is publishing free, ad-supported games from South Korean online game publisher Yedang Online. Stanley Yu, chief executive of Wicked and former head of Canadian information-technology outsourcing firm TrekLogic, said his company has private funding from angels and institutions and has 15 key staff members now.
Wicked will publish three games from Yedang, including “PristonTale 2,” an online game with 1.5 million registered users in Asia. That game was developed over four years at a cost of more than $10 million. Hence, Yu said that Wicked hopes to differentiate itself from the crowd of rivals through high quality.
The company will also publish “PristonTale” and “Ace Online” in North America this year. Most massively multiplayer online games — where players can simultaneously wander through virtual worlds as large as cities — run on subscription models. World of Warcraft has more than 10 million subscribers. But free-to-play games are supported through either virtual item sales or ads.
Yedang Online’s most popular game is “Audition,” a dance title with 100 million users worldwide. Wicked Interactive will not be publishing that title. Yu said that the company plans to license games from publishers for the next few years.
The market for free-to-play games already has a variety of competitors. Outspark has launched free-to-play online games in the U.S. And OGPlanet is also importing popular Korean games and modifying them for the U.S. market. And here’s an interesting post on free-to-play games versus subscriptions.