MMO publishers are notorious for keeping population numbers strictly internal, but this past week Daum Games pulled back the curtain a bit to celebrate Black Desert Online’s success. In an official press release, they announced that the game has sold over 400,000 copies in the US and European markets since launch.
Black Desert Online Success
The press release gave us a few additional details, such as:
- BDO is on track to achieve one million sales this year, which “far exceeds the domestic (Korean) market”
- The release specifically praised the “premium business model” over free-to-play
- The success has ensured “near-monthly” content updates for the NA and EU market
- While they didn’t give a specific number, apparently BDO’s cash shop conversation rate is “much higher” than the standard 11% in free-to-play games
- The game has an average of 100,000 concurrent users
While press releases are obviously marketing tools rather than plain statements of factual truth, if you read between the lines we can glean some pretty interesting insights.
What it all Means
First, it’s fascinating that Black Desert Online seems to be securing more of an audience in North America and Europe, so far, than in its home region of Southeast Asia. In fact, while it’s difficult to find an authoritative current list of the most popular MMOs in Korea, of the ones I can find BDO appears… nowhere. Aion, Blade & Soul, even the grandfather of all Asian MMOs, Lineage 2, appear to be more popular than BDO in the Korean market.
Meanwhile, 100,000 concurrent players in North America and Europe puts BDO pretty solidly in the Top Five, if not the Top Three (World of Warcraft and FFXIV are the two obvious choices for more players).
This is great news for us! If we become the primary market, then Daum Games will almost certainly listen to the needs of the NA/EU players. Existing Korean and Russian content will be localized faster, and perhaps Daum will even decide to dedicate programming and design resources primarily to our requests rather than always getting “hand-me-downs.”
The other interesting piece of information from this press release is that we’re buying things on the cash shop at a better rate than our Russian or Korean counterparts.
There has been a lot of talk about the unfairness of the cash shop, from the prices to the things it has in stock. As is so often the case, though, it appears that as players we like to talk in one direction about how much we hate the cash shop while spending money with the other hand.
The press release seems to imply that the reason we’re spending so much on the cash shop is the buy-to-play business model of Black Desert Online, but that seems pretty unlikely to me. Daum phrased their release oddly as a win for B2P over F2P, when there’s really very little difference between the two as implemented in Black Desert Online. Sure, you buy the box, but it gets pretty firmly free-to-play after that point.
Instead, I would guess that the North American and European audiences put a higher premium on individuality and making their characters stand out from the crowd. Black Desert Online has a limited number of customization options available in-game after character creation, and looking around any major city shows a number of characters sporting for-pay dyes and costumes.
All in all, the facts that prompted this press release is great news for North American and European players. We are rapidly becoming the dominant market for Black Desert Online, the game has a healthy cash flow, and it’s definitely found a home among Western MMOs.Related: Black Desert Online, Calpheon Journal, Column, Daum Games, MMORPG