The multiplayer game launched in November 2018. As with other mainstream games, it broke a record when it officially launched its service, attracting a record 350,000 concurrent users. Over time, its popularity waned as fickle gamers migrated to other games, forcing Smilegate to reduce the number of servers.
If Lost Ark followed the conventional cycle, it would be time for the best managers in Smilegate to decide whether they should continue to invest in the game. But Lost Ark has overcome the typical cycle in dramatic fashion and is now experiencing a resurgent boom, attracting no. only beginners, but also veterans of video game streamers.
On August 13, Smilegate said the number of concurrent users surpassed 240,000 shortly after updating a new character. Other metrics, including new and old players, also skyrocketed, as the number of active users hit the one million mark.
In response to an increase in the number of players and reports of a long login queue, Smilegate rushed to open a new server.
According to data released Monday by Inven, the nation’s largest gaming community, Lost Ark ranked second after League of Legends, surpassing other online titles from “3N” game developers – Nexon, NCSoft and Netmarble.
The resurgence of Lost Ark is widely seen as the result of a mixture of internal efforts and external developments. Since the start of this year, Smilegate has rolled out a series of updates at a steady pace, introducing new terrains, raid routes, and characters that provide new experiences for existing players.
Smilegate’s strategy of keeping a flow of updates helped solidify key metrics, including the number of concurrent users, while improving its reputation with local PC gamers.
Another key factor in the game’s popularity is a relatively gentle pay-to-win approach. A growing number of local gamers are fed up with regularly injecting huge sums of money to stay competitive in major mobile and PC games, especially those developed by the 3N companies. Lost Ark also offers items that users can purchase to strengthen their virtual characters, but Smilegate allows players to choose whether or not to opt for the program that allows them to rise through the ranks faster. If they opt out, they just take a leisurely pace without spending any money.
Aside from internal efforts, Lost Ark has welcomed an influx of new players largely because its rival companies made operational errors and disappointed paying users.
MapleStory, a popular game from Nexon, has lost loyal players after being accused of manipulating the ratio of random cash items. Many MapleStory users who were irritated by the developer’s policy quit and migrated to Lost Ark.
NCSoft’s Lineage M sparked a storm of criticism from paid users after the game maker canceled the character ability upgrade system. The scandal brought another new group of users to Lost Ark.
In recent months, players of other games have also paid attention to Lost Ark, in large part because the game is seen as the new top destination for those who want to play a popular PC game.
Existing mobile and PC game developers are said to be developing new marketing strategies and events targeting users who are considering migrating to Lost Ark.
A clear sign of a game’s popularity is the number of video game streamers who opt for a title. On the Twitch streaming platform, many of the top ranked streamers have moved on to Lost Ark. In recent weeks, well-known World of Warcraft streamers have switched to Korean gaming after Blizzard came under fire for an alleged sexual harassment scandal, as well as the departure of the leading figures.
Since Lost Ark has benefited from these external factors, it is possible that its position will be affected by a new series of developments in the gaming industry.
Experts point out that Smilegate has made efforts to communicate with users and keep the game playable without forcing players to shell out huge sums of money. They say that if Lost Ark is to remain popular, Smilegate should maintain the combination of constant game updates and smooth communication with players.
By Yang Sung-jin ([email protected])