Perfect World’s First Pay Game
FEB. 1, 2016 • Later this year, Chinese publisher Perfect World Ent. Inc. will publish its first pay-to-play title, Livelock, from Tuque Games in Montreal, Canada. The top-down shooter is slated for PC, PlayStation 4 and the Xbox One. Livelock is the first game from Tuque, which was founded in 2012. The title was originally conceived as World War Machine, an action RPG, and was one of the inaugural projects in Square Enix’s Collective community publishing platform two years ago. World War Machine did not reach its $50,000 funding goal on the Indiegogo crowdfunding site, however, raising just over $12,000. Since then, Perfect World stepped in as a publishing partner and worked with Tuque to adjust the game content to better match what the North American division of the Chinese publisher thought was viable for the market.
Impact: As discussed in several DFC reports on the freemium game market, Asian companies have struggled to establish freemium models in Western markets. Like Korean based NCsoft did with the successful Guild Wars franchise it makes sense that more Asian companies will look to pay-to-play models. In its original incarnation, Livelock looked like a futuristic take on Diablo with some Total Annihilation thrown in for good measure. Now the game has been re-done as an isometric shooter that fits in well with the currently hot MOBA trend, featuring a co-operative design focused on three hero characters that have had their consciousness transferred into powerful machines. Aside from its status as a paid game, Perfect World has said nothing about whether there will be add-on items that can be purchased separately. Even so, this is a notable business model departure for the publisher. As DFC has said recently, mixing elements of the free-to-play and paid models is a trend we see increasing. This is true for free giveaways of titles such as Rocket League, as well as paid games such as Guild Wars 2 that added in-game stores for virtual items. Perfect World has the resources to market and promote Livelock sufficiently to introduce a large swath of gamers to the chaotic and intense action the title delivers. We don’t necessarily see the game as a MOBA play, however. Top-down shooters were a staple of the arcade, 8-bit and 16-bit eras, which leads us to think that Livelock could be a popular modern-day equivalent for the current generation of consoles. It would not be the first time that a title from an indie studio got hot and paid dividends for the publisher that took a chance on the original IP.