If, as planned, Lord of the Rings Online can successfully launch in China next year, the game is likely to become only the second truly successful western MMO released in Asia, the game’s dev lead Jeff Steefel has told VG247.
“I would argue that if we could successfully launch LotRO in China, we will probably be the second western game to be viably successful in Asia,” he said.
“It’s taken a while for them to get used to our games and for us to learn a little bit more about what they like to do.”
Steefel said that LotRO won’t launch until 2009 in China as it’s taken time to work with local partners to prepare the game for release in the country.
“I think it’s like anything else: everybody’s going to be rushing to do it,” he said. “The people that have been working on it and planning it for a long time are much more likely to succeed.
“I don’t think Asia’s a place where you can just suddenly decide that you want to be there.”
The first western title to crack the MMO market in the East is, obviously, World of Warcraft. Steefel made no bones about how significant WoW’s Chinese launch was to the Blizzard game hitting its current 11 million subs level.
“I think WoW’s success in Asia has validated it for western markets in theory… If you look at World of Warcraft and the way their subscription numbers have grown, a significant, if not a majority portion of that has come from the East,” he said.
“That’s where a big part of the global gaming market is and it’s been that way for a long time, but we’re only just now figuring how western games can begin to tap into that market.”
Lord of the Rings Online’s Mines of Moria expansion releases in the US and Europe today.