JULY 03, 2008 • Headquartered in Karlsruhe, Germany with an office in San Francisco, Calif., Gameforge focuses on both browserand client-based massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs). Gameforge products are in a category that DFC Intelligence is now calling MMOG Lite. This is a rapidly emerging area and features products that are not as complex as traditional MMOGs and do not have the $10+ monthly subscription fees associated with high-end MMOGs.
Gameforge’s products are mainly known in its home market of Germany, but the company is quickly expanding on a global basis and is also starting to distribute some products from Asian developers. The company got started with the text-based strategic space simulation Ogame that has attracted over 30 million users since its launch in 2002. Some recent Gameforge products have soared out of the gate almost immediately. These include Gladiatus, Ikariam and Legend Online, all of which surpassed 1 million users within two months of their release.
Gameforge can build such a large user base in large part because its games are free. Gameforge makes their money from game add-ons and premium features. Furthermore, most Gameforge products run directly from the browser and are thus easy to access. With these low barriers of entry, Gameforge has been growing steadily: the company currently claims 60 million registered players and 11 million active accounts.
All Gameforge games are free of charge. Most games are browser-based, although a few require a free client download. Getting in to play a game only requires a valid email address to access content and play. However, all Gameforge titles offer premium accounts with in-game items and add-ons. Four payment methods are available to players: PayPal, Visa or Mastercard, via SMS on user’s phone bills, and through MoneyBookers.
Although different in content and narrative, the following games all depend on the same system of virtual currency, at more-or-less similar prices.
Originally started as a hobby project, this game is Gameforge’s crowning achievement. Originally released in 2002, this is a text-based, resource-management game with a sci-fi space adventure theme. Like most of Gameforge’s products, the game is played entirely within a browser. The in-game currency is called ‘Dark Matter.’
Legend Online was developed by German studio Master Creating in Hamburg and was added to the Gameforge portfolio in May 2008. In only two months Legend Online built up more than 1.5 million users. Legend Online is a fantasy adventure game notable for its sophisticated graphics – novel for a browser game.
Released in February 2006, the game revolves around the war between werewolves and vampires. Players complete quests to gain experience and gold, which can be used toward building a stronghold. PvP-play also centers on the two races fighting over experience points and gold.
Most Gameforge products are browser based, but playing Metin2 requires a free client download. Originally published by G4Box, Inc. in Korea and SilverBirch Studios Inc., this game is similar to Diablo. Players fight both monsters and other empires and a 3D perspective makes this game similar to the other more well-known MMOGs out there. The in-game currency is called Yang or Gold.
This city-building strategy game similar to products like Sid Meier’s Civilization and the Settlers series. Ikariam puts the player in charge of a newly founded town, set in the time of the ancient Greeks.
The game focuses heavily on cooperative play, as “every clan of fighters, however dauntless, is doomed without forming alliances and making commercial agreements.” Developing a functional economy of military and science, players may purchase ‘Ambrosia’ to speed progress along. This game was launched in early 2008 and by March had over 1 million users.
Set in ancient Rome, the player is put in the role of a gladiator striving to “glorify Rome in [their] own image.” In order to generate gold, necessary to pay for critical supplies from the General Goods store, the game offers a variety of activities, each with different pros and cons. Obviously, working in the stables is a lot safer than fighting in the arena, but it also does not make as much money. This was another Gameforge product that passed the 1 million user mark only several months after its early 2007 launch.
A medieval knight-based combat game.
Developed by Entwell Co., Ltd. and first released in Korea in 2006, this is a fantasybased MMORPG. Gameforge runs both the local German and UK versions. This game requires a free client download.
Three major alliances battle over domination of the galaxy. The in-game currency is called ‘Thorium.’
This game revolves around a space pirate’s universe in which four major factions fight over resources. The connected message board claims 3,172 registered users.