Monday, January 18, 2010

Game sucks? What if I give it to you for free?

Free can outwiegh crappy, at least thats the thoughts and business model of a Korean gaming company.

HanbitSoft thinks it can draw the same massive crowds to a free online version of Hellgate: London in North America and Europe as it has in Korea.

Hellgate: London was a much hyped RPG game that was reportedly so terrible it brought down the developer, Flagship Studios last January. But while the game servers for Hellgate: London may have closed down in the West, but it's been going strong in Korea for a while now even though legal issues over the ownership of the rights have prevented wider sales.

Those issues appear to have been settled and the game will be re-released as Hellgate: Resurrection, boasting new features and a new free-to-play business model.

"Hellgate: Resurrection is heading towards success in Korea such that we decided to push ahead with launching the game overseas next year. We will do our best to get the game to the fans as soon as possible," said Kee-young Kim, CEO of Hanbitsoft.

Not being a fan of RPG games, I personally never played it. Did get excited about the trailers which invoked King Arthur in sci-fi, blue LED armor battling demons in a cityscape reminiscent of Gears of War.

But bugs, gameplay and patch issues led to Flagship Studios filing bankruptcy and having all its intellectual property seized because it was used as collateral for funding received from Comerica Bank.

So the question is, if a game is free will the players be more forgiving? Of course it will all depend on how much can be played before having to pay. Also, how many games have folded but kept a special place in gamers hearts?

They have been citing free-to-play models as the next step in gaming with it already being a huge business in Asian markets. This is a great test for the US to see if it can truly take off.

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