Most publishers have stopped making premium-priced massively multiplayer online games, but the industry still has a number of consumers who want to pay for that content.
Korean publisher Daum Games has sold more than 400,000 copies of its Black Desert Online MMO role-playing game after only a month on the market in Europe and North America. The developer brought the fantasy game to the West in March at $30, $50, and $100 pricing tiers, and it has instantly clicked with a large audience. Daum thinks the game will likely even keep growing its momentum moving forward, which is proof that the MMO market can support more than World of Warcraft and an endless pile of free-to-play competitors. In a gaming market worth $99.3 billion, Black Desert is showing that studios have different paths to profitability.
“Considering the upward trend, I expect that the game will achieve over 1 million sales this year,” Daum Games Europe chief executive Min Kim said in a statement. “What’s impressive is these figures far exceed those in the domestic market.”
One of the big takeaways about Black Desert Online is that free-to-play in its home territory of Korea. Players in that country are much more accustomed to having to pay to make decent progress in their online RPGs, but Daum points out that Western audiences are different. Many of them would rather pay up front so that they don’t have to think about spending money.
Of course, Black Desert does still have in-game purchases in the West, but a lot of that content is cosmetic. That could potentially find a lot of success here because Daum’s game is one of the better looking MMORPGs to debut in quite some time.
“A game with a buy-to-play business model normally has a much lower conversion rate for paid in-game items compared to free-to-play games,” said Kim. “But Black Desert Online is recording a much higher pay ratio than the average 11 percent normally seen in free-to-play games.”
Moving ahead, Daum will continue to support Black Desert with more content and more in-app purchases. If it brings in 1 million people, that could turn the game into an enormous success.