We have been testing a great deal of Korean MMORPGs for quite a while now and there is a noticeable pattern in all of these games, and that is the lack of optimized content for non-Asian players.
Many of the currently running Korean MMORPGs have recently given out major updates to their titles, such as ArcheAge and the 3.0 update, Black Desert and the myriad of new content and Aion’s constant patches. In the last several weeks, some of the MMOExaminer staff have been “heavily” playing Black Desert Online, to see where the game is going.
Black Desert favors returning players (as expressed by TheLazyPeon) and that is a fact. Many of us played it earlier, and now that we’ve returned, we were given so many gifts, boosts, and exclusive stuff that it really seemed like an easy task to catch up. Some of us have managed to level characters to level 50 within a day, and then the next 5-6 levels took some quite painful hours. Black Desert is a great example of what we are trying to convey here. Fundamentally, the average player will focus on rushing through the levels to reach the cap (or soft cap in this case) and in Black Desert, this can be achieved through painful, extremely boring and robot-like grinding.
“… been having more fun with it than any other MMO in recent memory…” – TheLazyPeon
This is the main flaw of Korean MMORPGs. Not being able to see that western players are generally not that fond of having to grind endless hours per day without any significant purpose. Titles like Blade & Soul, Black Desert, ArcheAge and more, took quite a few years to get “localized”, but it seems that they weren’t localized enough, more like simply translated. For MMORPGs to be successful, it is never enough to just grab an idea that is working well in the eastern regions and just paste it into a western context, as players have completely different needs and ideas about what pleasing endgame is.
“Spending too much time grinding.. I almost forgot how pretty this game is.” – Reddit
What seems strange is that as I mentioned earlier, it took many many years to get these games into NA and EU regions, and yet they still kept the parts that can easily scare off the average western gamer. In this sense, we can easily say that Korean MMORPGs are still not localized properly, just translated into necessary languages, with some tweaks added that slightly make them a bit “easier” for us. Some Korean MMORPGs are still in the process of moving into the EU and NA regions, such as Bless Online, but it seems highly unlikely that they will be localized in a way that actually matches the needs of player bases.
“…Korean MMOs never come close to achieving the level of success more traditional western MMO’s have here. Asian MMO’s are notoriously Excessively grindy.” – Mortal Kombat via B&S Forums
As long as developers and publishers are unable to get a better understanding of what western gamers really need, their MMORPGs will only manage to maintain a limited audience. There are evidently some hardcore players here, who can survive the nature of Korean MMORPGs and who are already used to the endless grind from playing on Korean servers, but this is probably a relatively small segment of the gaming communities which is not enough to keep any game going.
Let us know what you think in the comments section below, and we will do our best to answer any questions you might have.
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