China is the biggest country in the world for gaming, and in 2018, 20 percent of all consumer spend on games came from the Asian country. That same year, China made $37.9 billion from the gaming industry, with the whole of Asia-Pacific bringing in $71.4 billion. This equated to 52 percent of the global games market. These telling figures show how China is dominating the games market, and part of this is due to the quality of games it produces. But how do their MMORPGs stack up against some of the best offerings from around the world?
The MMORPG is one of the most popular genres of videogame in 2019. The genre as it is defined today began with Meridian 59 in 1996, which was soon followed by The Realm Online and Ultima Online in 1996 and 1997 respectively. These early offerings were all Western produced, and created a market for the huge games which exist today. Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft and ArenaNet’s Guild Wars are two of the most popular titles on the market and were both developed in the USA. Along with these, the Japanese-made Final Fantasy series has been hugely successful.
While China hasn’t produced any offerings quite as famous worldwide as these, a number of MMORPGs from the country are played by millions. Moonlight Blade, for instance, is a free-to-play 3D martial arts adventure from TenCent Games, a Chinese developer. However, the game was published by the Korean-Japanese company Nexon. The game from Aurogon, GuJian, was also widely successful in China. So much so that it led to the creation of a television drama, Sword of Legends, based on it. The romance fantasy was the most-viewed online drama in 2014.
Chinese MMORPGs are played by residents of the country, but few have managed to reach mass audiences across the globe. In this regard, Western-produced games which aim to appeal to people from a wide range of countries are winning. Even on mobile, a medium which has grown fastest in Asia, European and American-made MMORPGs are finding the greatest success.
Developers such as Plarium are producing regular content which continues to attract high playing numbers. After the mass popularity of Stormfall: Age of War in 2012, the developers came up with a wide range of strategy games for mobile. One of the most recent offerings, Raid: Shadow Legends, is a wholly fictional fantasy set in the deadly land of Teleria. The games encourage cooperative play between multiple users online and due to the need for upgrading and levelling up, there is lengthy play potential involved.
Chinese themes have been consistently prevalent in gaming, but when it comes to creating MMORPG content which is played by numerous nationalities, the country is behind the rest of the world. One of the main criticisms with Chinese MMORPGs has been the fact that a lot of them are pay to win, and users need to invest money to reach the high levels. When players realize that they need to pay significant sums in a freemium game in order to succeed, they often lose interest.