This is going to be my first article devote to a Snda game.
Aion is a highly anticipated game in China. It is a licensed game from the Korean company NcSoft. It is a western fantasy MMORPG game. It is operated by Snda. More importantly, it is the number one most anticipated game in China for about one year. This game is absolutely gorgeous.
Now, I am going to provide some status of this game.
From the following link:
It starts open beta on 4/8/2009. I think they start the day with 19 servers. They have to increase the game servers 13 times. By the end of the day, Aion already has 80 servers.
Today they announced the pricing structure of the game. See the following article:
It is going to be a paying game. There are not a lot of paying game in China any more. The paying games that are still doing well are NCTY's WOW and NTES's XY2 and XYQ.
SNDA is going to price AION as 0.48/hour. In comparison, WOW is priced as 0.45/hour and NTES's two games are priced as 0.40/hour.
On 4/16/2009, they are going commercial. See the following article:
I usually don't follow licensed games. Except for Snda's two old titles and Ncty's WOW, most of the import games has good run for half a year, then they flame out quickly.
In addition, in the last three games, it is virtually impossible to start a new game as a paying game. China's market is full of free to play games. The common perception is it is impossible for a new game to survive as a paying game.
But this time Snda is going against the grain. In addition, it becomes the most expensive game in China (at least compare to all the major paying games). This is why it makes it a very interesting development.
I like this development.
There are two types of gamers in China. The first kind is the level-up players. Those players have no loyalty to a title. They play a new game for two to three months. Then they go to the next hot title. They play days and nights. Their only purpose is to level up as fast as they can. They are going for the bragging right of being the first one to get to the highest level. Most of the import games are targeting these types of players.
The second type of players are the community players. Those players congregate in a few titles. They are usually very old games. Snda's two major titles are 9 to 10 years old. Ntes's XY2 is about 6 years old and its XYQ is about 5 years old. Those players are playing the game not because the game is pretty (like all old games, these games are ugly). These players are playing the game because their friends are playing this game.
The most extreme example of companies targeting the second type of players is Ntes. There is zero attempt to attract the first kind of players. Ntes doesn't advertise their games. In addition, their games have extremely long free to play (in both time and items) period that most players are already high level players when they start to monetize the game.
In the case of Aion, by making open beta extremely short, by making this a paying game, and by making the game the most expensive game, Snda is clearly trying to make as much money from the first type of players as possible.
Will Snda succeed? Hard to tell. No new game can be successful as a paying game in the last three years. But Aion is the number one most anticipated game in China for a long time.
It will be interesting to follow this game to see how this game plays out.