It's easy to say today that Lost Ark would have always been a great success in the West, now that it broke records for everyone. But before that success became a reality, fans have been shouting that there's a market for this stunning, content-rich ARPG in the West – and seemingly no one wanted to listen.
That is, until Amazon Games showed up to undertake the herculean task of localising this massive game in four languages, and launch it properly in Western territories. That gamble paid off, and Lost Ark quickly became Steam's biggest launch of 2021 – and one of its biggest ever – with amassing 1.3 million concurrent players within three days of its release.
Setting aside some of the missteps a launch of this magnitude was bound to run into, Lost Ark's journey to the West came with a few caveats and unanswered questions from the off. For instance, Lost Ark is only available in certain countries, and not the usual list you'd expect when you think of a launch in this region of the world.
Lost Ark is also out of reach for a number of other countries that typically get lumped in with the EU crowd. The Middle East is entirely out of the picture (including North African countries which get great pings to EU servers) which are often included in those launches.
We asked franchise leader at Amazon Games, Soomin Park, to clarify some of these geographical issues for us, and delved into their thoughts on a few of the longest-running questions regarding Lost Ark that many players have beenm dying to ask since launch.
"This is a matter of publishing rights; Smilegate RPG is the developer of the game and owns the IP, while Amazon Games is in partnership with Smilegate RPG as a publisher for the game in the West," Park told us over email.
"This partnership allows us to bring the game to select regions in North America, Europe, Oceania, and South America, but does not allow us to publish the game globally or in all regions where it has not previously been available."
Considering the success Diablo 3 has seen on consoles – which itself inspired other, less-popular ARPGs to make the jump – Lost Ark's fate on consoles remains a mystery. Neither Smilegate nor Amazon has said anything about the potential of seeing the game on Xbox and PlayStation, and Lost Ark's controller support on PC is spotty at best.
Park's answer is elusive. "If Lost Ark on consoles is something that fans really want, then I think it’s something both parties would consider!" he revealed.
On the subject of Diablo, there's always been this unspoken rivalry between Blizzard's game and practically any other decent ARPG that comes out. Lost Ark has definitely been part of that conversation, and it's been somehting the development team has been aware of well before teh gamee came came Westward. While Smilegate and Amazon did not comment on these comparisons, they're aware that there's a gap in the ever-changing market that Lost Ark can fill.
"We definitely feel like there’s an opportunity for Lost Ark to establish itself as a major player, as proven by the amount of success the game has seen so far," says Park.
"One of the things that makes Lost Ark unique is the massive amount of content that allows you to play how you want. If you want to just have a solo RPG experience and play through the story, it’s easy to do so. One consistent aspect of the game is that the combat is designed to be satisfying whether you’re running solo or in a group. Lost Ark definitely scratches an itch for fans of ARPGs, and also implements MMO aspects so well that it’s appealing to fans of that genre as well."
Lost Ark does indeed have a wealth of features beyond its ARPG combat. Some of those are rooted in its MMO lineage, while others are inspired by survival games. You can go on chopping down trees, crafting, building settlements and so on. But do I have to do any of that?
"There’s a way to play for everyone in Lost Ark, from experiencing the solo campaign, character customisation and class-based gear upgrades, to a deep storyline that spans the seas of Arkesia," Park explains.
"There will be new content updates released on a regular cadence as well. So yes, if you came for the action and combat then you’ll be pleased [with] just the story content. But don’t be afraid to try out some of the more MMO-focused features either."
The biggest question concerning Lost Ark's transition into a worldwide game has been why it took so damn long to get there. Park says Amazon knew there's massive demand for the game, and saw an opportunity.
"The demand was there, Smilegate had put years into refining and polishing the core game experience, and we worked together to adapt it to an entirely new audience, with millions of players now getting to experience the game for the first time," Park recalls.
More broadly, Park adds that entertainment is no longer regional. Korean media, in particular, has produced several hits globally over the past few years, and games needed to catch up.
"I think there’s an evolving trend of globalisation of content across all entertainment media and an interest in international experiences that allow us to experience cultures from around the world," they point out.
"Korean pop culture like music and television has been growing in popularity in the West. Games are a natural evolution of that trend.
"There’s also been a major gap in action role playing games – what Lost Ark does best is give fans of ARPGs what they crave while combining the richness of an a full MMO with social engagement and an ongoing end game experience. The game takes the best features of both those genres into highly compelling loops."
If you're still on that Lost Ark train (or you're about to hop on), our Lost Ark classes guides has wealth of information on which to start with, and how to build them.