DEC. 19, 2013 • Perfect World Entertainment Inc., the North American subsidiary of Chinese parent Perfect World Co., Ltd., has set up a division to produce free-to-play content for current and next-generation video game systems. The Chinese publisher is well established as a provider of popular F2P MMO games for the PC while the U.S. branch is best known for publishing Blacklight Retribution, Forsaken World, Perfect World International and Star Trek Online. Specific Perfect World titles destined for console were not disclosed other than existing and future franchises would make the transition. As it does now for the PC, Perfect World intends to work with third-party developers to source F2P console content.
Impact: We are not sure how confined to the North American market this new focus on console development is supposed to be. Last September, the Chinese government set up an experimental free trade zone in Shanghai that lifted many barriers to outside imports including video game consoles. We have not heard of any launch plans for Western game systems destined for this zone yet, but we can see why Perfect World’s executives in China would want to be prepared for that eventuality. Tasking their American subsidiary with publishing F2P console content is an excellent way to test the waters for transitioning Perfect World’s franchises in established console markets. Bringing those franchises back to China later would also be eased considerably. Action titles aside, it has not been easy to bring PC content to consoles in the past, and building expertise in this area would also be extremely valuable. In this announcement there is also an opportunity for Perfect World to exploit. The arrival of F2P gaming to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 has been slow yet steady, but nothing like the wildfire spread experienced on the PC worldwide. That means there are few competitors to Perfect World’s entry into console free-to-play as the PS4 and Xbox One blast out of the gates. With much better input control options available on the latest systems, now might be the best time ever to transition top-of-the-line F2P PC content to video game systems. Now we have to wait and see how console gamers respond to the concept.