In many respects, watching the MMO industry in Asia is a litmus test of sorts for the western markets. While the preferred game mechanics of your average Korean MMO, for instance, differ markedly from what a North American MMO gamer expects from a title, the broader ideas -- in terms of business models -- represent what may yet be for those of us in North America, Europe, and Australia. So when industry leaders aren't doing well in their primary market, it may not bode well for their smaller titles running in other regions of the world.
We've come across an interesting piece in The Korea Times about some sea changes in Korea's MMO industry, focusing on NCsoft as well as its competitors -- Nexon, Webzen, and Hanbitsoft. We've previously reported that the Aion: The Tower of Eternity beta has, thus far, been quite a success in Korea and is perhaps a ray of hope for NCsoft in some troubled times. NCsoft's fiscal health is a big issue for fans of City of Heroes, Guild Wars, Tabula Rasa, and Lineage II, among others. So it comes as good news that NCsoft has nearly 200,000 concurrent users playing Aion: The Tower of Eternity in beta. The Korea Times, however, describes the country's MMO industry as being in a state of flux.