NCSOFT vows to offer more user-friendly service for 'Blade & Soul 2'

NCSOFT vows to offer more user-friendly service for 'Blade & Soul 2'

The poster for NCSOFT’s new game, “Blade & Soul 2” / Courtesy of NCSOFT

By Baek Byung-yeul

Korean game company NCSOFT has vowed to offer more user-friendly services for its newly released “Blade & Soul 2,” after a number of gamers criticized the excessively high, pay-to-win billing system of the role-playing game (RPG).

The company, best known for its “Lineage” RPG franchise, officially began service for “Blade & Soul 2” on Aug. 26. The fantasy game based on Asian martial arts has gained much attention as it is the official sequel to the highly popular “Blade & Soul” released in 2012.

Despite the high expectations, NCSOFT came under heavy criticism shortly after the sequel’s release because the company prevented users from acquiring in-game items tradable between players unless they purchase what it calls a “Season Pass.”

Users criticized the company’s pay-to-win billing system, which forces them to pay too much, and as a result, “Blade & Soul 2” failed to make the top spot on Google Play’s top-grossing chart, unlike the company’s previous games such as “Lineage M” and “Lineage 2M,” which became top-grossing games, posting billions won in daily sales soon after their releases.

Due to the lukewarm response to the newly launched game, NCSOFT’s share price plummeted more than 20 percent on the KOSPI last week in just two days, to close at 659,000 ($567) on Friday.

In response to the harsh reaction, NCSOFT issued an unusual apology Friday afternoon and promised to improve its game system to improve user-friendliness. Through the renewed system, all “Blade & Soul 2” players are able to obtain tradable, in-game items regardless of whether they purchase the Season Pass or not.

“We deeply apologize for causing concerns to users since its launch. We will continue to listen to users’ opinions and suggestions and try to ensure they are properly reflected in the game service,” NCSOFT said in a statement.

After the highly anticipated game failed to get the response the company had been expecting, stock market analysts lowered their target price of NCSOFT. EBest Investment and Securities lowered its target price for the company to 700,000 won from 1.09 million won, and Samsung Securities reduced it to 720,000 won from 910,000 won.

“It is understood that the reason why Blade 2 failed to meet market expectations in Korea is due to user complaints and fatigue over the excessive billing policy, based on the drawing system,” eBest analyst Sung Jong-hwa wrote in a report, adding that “Lineage W” will be released in the fourth quarter of this year, and its success in the market has become very important for the company.

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