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NCSoft Europe CEO: New City of Heroes titles planned, Aion for Q4 2008 release

Thursday, 14th February 2008 15:22 GMT By Patrick Garratt

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Speaking to VG247, NCSoft Europe CEO Geoff Heath has confirmed that the company is planning to launch new titles in the City of Heroes franchise “in the next couple of years” and will bring Korean swords-and-sorcery MMO Aion: Tower of Eternity to Europe in “Q4 of this year.”

“We have some major plans for City of Heroes for the future,” he said. “Again, for this year we’re going to be doing regular updates, but there’s a lot of exciting stuff going on around City of Heroes, not for this year in terms of new releases, but certainly in the next couple of years.”

He added, talking of an Aion release date, “We’re being as brave as saying Q4 of this year. Within a month or two I’m sure we’ll firm the exact date up.”

Heath was talking on the back of strong full year financials, which showed near-static sales but good profit increase.

“They’re a solid set of results,” said Heath, adding, “For the UK and Europe, I think it’s good that the group made a good profit, and also we’re forecasting growing again this year. Europe is a healthy part of it these days.”

Heath also confirmed previous reports that NCSoft’s first PS3 MMO is to be shown this year.

“We’re going to be showing some stuff on PS3 later this year,” he said. We’re not quite ready to say what it is yet.”

Read the full transcription of our interview with Geoff after the link.

VG247: You must be pleased with the figures?

Geoff Heath: Yes, I think they’re a solid set of results.

And what do you think they mean for the UK specifically?

Well, for the UK and Europe, I think it’s good that the group made a good profit, and also we’re forecasting growing again this year. Europe is a healthy part of it these days.

Tabula Rasa was a bit of a stand-out in those financials. Obviously, you only launched it towards the end of last year but it’s already taken $5 million. Would you see that as a success?

Yes, I think it is a success and I think we can build on it. It’s always difficult launching an MMO that’s different. We did it with Guild Wars and it worked, although it took a little while, and I think it’s the same with TR. We try to keep doing different things. With TR, it launched, and it attracted a lot of interest, and it’s building very nicely. In terms of this year, we’ll have regular updates on it throughout the year, and we feel confident that we’re going to grow the player base.

City of Heroes dropped down a little bit there. What sort of life-span are you putting on it?

We acquired 100 percent of the IP recently, so we have some major plans for City of Heroes for the future. Again, for this year we’re going to be doing regular updates, but there’s a lot of exciting stuff going on around City of Heroes, not for this year in terms of new releases, but certainly in the next couple of years.

An interesting statistic in terms of City of Heroes, because we track these things to see how the players enjoy playing the games, shows that the average duration of a City of Heroes player is 17 months, which we’re pleasantly surprised at.

Are you planning on increasing the amount of revenue that Europe adds to the overall group?

Yes. We’re the youngest part of the group with the oldest CEO [laughs]. But yes, we’ve just finished our third year of trading as such and we’re already a fairly decent size of the overall group and yes, I think we’ll grow. But then the whole group’s planning to grow.

Obviously, you published NetDevil’s Auto Assault, and that game isn’t active any more. How do you feel about the fact that NetDevil’s Jumpgate: Evolution went to Codemasters?

Well, we tried with Auto Assault: as I said earlier, we’re trying to grow the MMO market by doing different things. You know, the guys want to work with Codemasters, and that’s fine.

It was a very solid set of results. Are you happy with the way things are going at the moment?

Yes. We’ve got an absolute wealth of product in development at the moment. We’re beginning to really get some traction now on what we’re doing on PS3. We’ve got Aion coming out later this year, which we feel could be our most successful product to date. So yes, I think we’re feeling quite comfortable about what we’re doing and we’re confident that we’re going to keep growing.

It was confirmed a couple of days ago that you were going to show something on the PS3 game this year: is that right?

We’re going to be showing some stuff on PS3 later this year. We’re not quite ready to say what it is yet.

And when will Aion actually be released?

We’re being as brave as saying Q4 of this year. Within a month or two I’m sure we’ll firm the exact date up.

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