GDC 2013: The MMO impact of the Webzen and Gala-Net merge

GDC 2013  Interview sheds light on Webzen and Gala merge
Acquisition. Though it sounds pretty benign on its own, when used in reference to one developer taking over another, the word can inspire fear in the hearts of gamers. Questions quickly arise about the future of titles that fall on the acquired side of the equation. How will the games and players be affected by the change? Will there even still be a game?

I sat down with Claas Wolter (European PR Manager) and Deanna Peter (Marketing/PR Associate) to discuss just this topic regarding the recent purchase of Gala-Net (the parent company of gPotato) by Webzen and how that acquisition will affect Allods Online, Age of Wulin, Terras Militaris, and the company's other MMORPGs.

Continent of the Ninth Seal image
Introducing WebPotato?

One point that Wolter emphasized is that this particular deal is more like a merger; currently, there isn't even a decision on what name the blended company will use (and yes, WebPotato was actually thrown out during brainstorming!). "Technically, it was an acquisition," he explained, "but it will be like a coming together. The idea is to not close anything down." What about Sevencore, the gPotato game that recently announced its closure? "The developer closed that one down, so we had no chance to keep that one operating. It had nothing to do with the merger; the timing was just very unfortunate."

So how will this merge affect gameplay in both the immediate future and in the long run? Will players be facing service interruptions or jarring changeovers? Nope, Wolter told me. The goal is to make as smooth a transition as possible and avoid service interruptions. Although one gPotato title, Continent of the Ninth Seal, is already on the Webzen portal (it was published there previously), the other games will all remain on their respective portals for now. "The gPotato portal will keep operating and so will the Webzen portal. Of course, at one stage both portals will merge into a main new portal."

When can players expect the transition? "[It is] a work in progress transformation and merger," Wolter explained. "[We] don't have a completely set roadmap because there are so many things we need to work out now." Deanna Peter jumped in: "It is going to be a gradual process; it's not going to be something overnight. But one thing that we can promise is that there should not be any interruption for players." During this process players will start seeing programs for interchanging the currencies of the games to help ease the transition.

Allods imageIncoming news

Even as work is being done on the company structure as a whole, progress continues to move ahead on the individual games. But just as there are no hard dates yet on when the portal migrations will occur, there are no hard dates for any of the news.

Peter shared that players can expect to hear news soon about Arctic Combat, an 8v8 shooter set in -- you guessed it -- a frozen backdrop, as well as Continent of the Ninth Seal. News on the Mu Online front will also be forthcoming, as will a release date for the Age of Wulin beta in Europe (there is a date in mind, but Wolter noted that it won't be revealed until the product is ready).

Speaking of Age of Wulin, we learned earlier in GDC that the North American release, Age of Wushu, has been getting some UI updates and changes for launch, so I asked if the European game will have the same. "If there is anything that is beneficial for the European players," Wolter answered, "of course there will be the chance that we implement it into the European version as well." But just like the beta date, it looks like time will tell.

Massively sent its ace reporters to San Francisco to bring you back the biggest MMO news from this year's GDC, the largest pro-only gaming industry con in the world! Whether it's EVE Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic or that shiny new toy you've got your eye on, we're on the case, so stay tuned for all the highlights from the show!

This article was originally published on Massively.