Can’t touch this: Eastern exclusivity and missing MMOs

One of the worst things about living in the West is how it seems like all the good MMOs are made in the East, and are exclusive to these regions. It’s a real bummer to be looking up what games are out there and have to filter out so many major titles due to the region you live in. Personally, I feel as a gamer, and as a potential customer to these titles, a tad bit neglected by the companies behind them. We have a plethora of games such as Borderlands Online, Call of Duty Online and Monster Hunter Online that we may never see come to the Western market. We also have the announcements of both Phantasy Star Online 2 and Blade & Soul being launched in the Western market but has since gone stagnant.

Eastern and Western Market

Taking a step back and comparing the two markets (East and West) there are some valid reasons as to why a company may want to have kept their game to their own region in the past, however, that mindset should be retired. Both Eastern and Western market shared a common core aspect in the past when it came to the creation of MMOs which was that they were a grind. The idea was, to progress in the game, a player must spend a lot of time to progress. Although they shared this core idea they both approached this time wall differently. The Eastern market used a subscription model to keep people in the community and to have them continue supporting the company while playing and the Western market used the idea of purchasing items directly to enhance your experience. The Eastern market frowned upon the idea of purchasing strength in game while the Western market widely accepted the concept.

In the past the two markets may have butted heads on what was acceptable to purchase but the two markets present day have almost completely merged into one payment model. Generally speaking, it’s not a good idea for a company to allow the purchasing of items directly from a cash shop anymore, and instead may sell things to speed up the process of activities in game to reach your goals in game at a more efficient pace. Experience boosting items are the norm in most MMOs now, along with cosmetic items to make your character stand out in ways that only a paying player would. There is not any real reason presently for game companies to think it’s a good idea any longer as it is just cutting off a huge portion of the world from potential customers.

Exclusive Eastern Titles

Borderlands Online is an exclusive chinese title from 2K Games, Gearbox and Shanda Games and is something that many Borderlands fans have wanted for some time now. The game is an instanced-based online shooter which we will probably never see. As you can see here, this game will be taking an approach similar to Vindictus and Dragon Nest where there will be a hub world, or multiple hubs, in which players will be able to interact and potentially queue together for certain areas. This way, although the game will be instanced there will still be interaction with other players and potential to make friends and groups among the community, ridding the single player experience that the traditional Borderlands series has to offer. It’s weird to think that a game with so much popularity in the Western market would only be releasing for the Eastern market. There is no reason for this title to be exclusive yet it’s taking this approach for some reason which has not been made known to the public.

Call of Duty Online is another game that many fans of the first person shooter genre have been on the edge of their seats to see come out. Published by Tencent, this game has a lot of hype behind it. They will be using a lot of recycled themes from the genre so far, including a twist to the ever popular Zombies mode, a game mode where you team up with people and fight off waves of zombies in which the only time you get to rest is the few moments between each round, by making them robotic. Anybody who has played a shooter game has heard of Call of Duty and the series has one of the biggest followings in the Western market. Although there is some speculation due to Raven Software taking development duties that there will be a release in North America, there haven’t been any official news on the matter yet, and so it can be assumed that this title will stay an Eastern exclusive.

Another series which pops up for discussion all the time is the Monster Hunter series. Not many people can turn away from wielding the absolutely crazy amount of weapons the series offers and hunt the most unique monsters that I have seen any game offer. A lot of people who get into the series get sucked in for hours on end and share what they find and do with their friends. It’s an amazing experience that as a gaming community we can thank Capcom for developing and publishing. It’s only natural that this amazing game would receive an(other) MMO version. Unfortunately, Monster Hunter Online has no announcement of ever being a part of the Western culture. To put it into perspective, the one time that it was vaguely insinuated that there might be an international release, Crytek retracted the statement shortly after.

As if to rub salt in the wound, recently a huge title that many have been anticipating for some time now joined the group of “will probably never reach the West”. This title, you have probably heard of by now, is Dragon’s Dogma Online. Based on the excellent and underrated Capcom RPG Dragon’s Dogma, this MMO announcement has made massive waves in the media. Not only is the going to be for PC but it will also be on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 3. The even better news is, the wait shouldn’t even be that long – it’s expected to launch this year. It really feels like Capcom has an issue with the Western market seeing as they’re pumping out a bit of MMOs that have no plans on seeing the light of day here – Deep Down is another one.

The Neverending Wait

It seems like as a Western gamer I am pretty gimped out of playing some of the more appealing titles out on the Eastern market, which is a shame since the Western market doesn’t have nearly as many MMOs coming to it. We have had two games from the Eastern market that were officially announced for the International and Western market but, as mentioned earlier, have received no news on how the development is coming along and this has left its fanbase in the dark. These two games are the extremely popular Phantasy Star Online 2 and Blade & Soul.

Phantasy Star Online 2 has had incredible reviews all over and many were stoked to hear that it would have an English Version at PAX… in 2012. That’s right – It was announced that there would be an English version coming out back in 2012, there was even a playable English demo at PAX and now that we’re already into our second month in 2015 many have assumed that we will never see an English launch. It is pretty disheartening that after such a big announcement that hyped up many English speaking players the production of the release to the Western market has yet to have any news since. Needless to say, this game has received a lot of negativity from Western fans that have been waiting and many more that have stopped following the game altogether due to its utter disregard for its Western community.

A group of fans is even going to the extent of creating Polaris, a private PSO2 server project, aiming to bring the game to North America and Europe, but this is a task that needs a lot of time and could possibly never see the light of day. But some good already came of it: Sega replied to this project by saying “We don’t have a comment on PSO2 in general beyond what we’ve already said before – that the game is delayed and that we’ll update the public when we have any news.” So, is the game still delayed, but not quite canceled? And why such a long delay after all?

Another title that made its intentions known for the Western community before dropping off the edge of the earth is Blade & Soul. With a thriving Eastern community and the extreme amount of hype behind the game for the Western region, this game was delayed as it was originally projected to come out at some point in 2014. It appears that there is probably still development for the Western market of this game, however the amount of announcements and news that comes from NCSoft on the matter is sporadic (the last time the official US website was updated was in December 2012) and is now taken with a grain of salt. Hopefully this game will be brought to an international release officially in the near future, so for now we can only speculate on the reason for Blade and Soul's delay.

As someone who is in love with games of all genres I have to note that it’s pretty depressing that we don’t get to see some of these titles being released for the Western market. A lot of people, including myself will be at the edge of our seat – hoping that more content will be announced for us and maybe some news on the development of the games that people are already enjoying!

There are a lot of games to keep an eye out for and we at will keep pumping out updates for you all. Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter and check out our YouTube channel for more amazing content updated regularly!

By Michael Hack


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