This years E3 Entertainment Expo brought a variety of pleasant surprises, and shocking revelations. Several came all the way from left field, or in a globally geographic sense, right field, all the way from Asia. Relative new comers to the video game rat race, and completely brand new to the American market, made some impressive debuts this year. The two companies that received the most attention were Yedang Online and Webzen, two companies that have both originated in Korea and are preparing to launch themselves into the furious battle for MMORPG domination in the American market. Yedang Online had an absorbing area in the back of the South Hall that was split into four sections to allow visitors to focus on the four games they plan to be releasing into the American market in the next year.
The first area was for 'Priston Tale 2, Second Enigma' the sequel to their highly successful first MMORPG released in Asia. This is planning to be the steamship game for the company. They are planning on making their servers global within the next several months and if there is sufficient interest in the American market then bring it strictly to American gamers.
The second area belonged to 'Laxelore' another MMORPG planning on being released, but interestingly enough it serves as a side story to the Priston Tale series, but still remains a completely separate game. Therefore, some of the sidekicks in the Priston Tale games will be available as main characters in 'Laxelore' allowing for the story to branch off and giving fans of the Priston Tale series an opportunity to continue playing as their favorite characters with different plots and storylines.
Their third area showed that Yedang online is not only concerned with MMORPG's. They have also decided to enter into the recent music game boom with their game 'Dance Dance Audition.' Players are able to compete against others online in what resembles the smash hit 'Dance Dance Revolution' except instead of using pads you use your keyboard to hit arrows to the beat of the song. The game has different levels, songs, and characters to choose from, and as the song goes on and you do better and better the combinations of arrows get more difficult to hit. The game has already been recently released in China and has over 9,000 users already which bodes well for an American release.
The final area was smaller then all the rest, consisting of only a few screens to play on and was the home of their 3-d shooter Shiro. This was a 3-d galaga type game and online play consists of flying around and shooting enemies and collecting items and points in an attempt to beat your opponents score. In the middle of the area was a huge screen which showed alluring cinematic sequences from all of Yedang's upcoming games. They also had an area where fans could get pictures taken with women dressed like characters from 'Laxelore' and 'Priston Tales'
After speaking with Minh Hyung Lee, one of Yedang's development employees, he gave me some greater details on the game and a more in-depth background on the company itself. The Yedang company itself is actually a management companies who manages celebrities and produces music. Recently they have decided to invest money into making online games and have spawned the partner company, Yedang Online. They promised to have a bigger and better booth next year that would show more of a variety of games that the company will have to offer.
On the other side of the South Hall, another Asian based company Webzen, was causing a lot of excitement also. Webzen was also at E3 for the first time also and decided to go in with guns blazing. Their area consisted of a huge stage which had dance shows and audience participatory events around the clock, as well as multiple areas that held competitions and demos of games they are planning to release in America soon.
Two of the biggest games they were showing off were 'Huxley' and 'Soul of the Ultimate Nation'. Huxley is going to be one of the first ever Multi Massive Online Role Playing Game First Person Shooters to exist.
It is planning for a release on Xbox360 this fall and was causing quite a buzz. Soul of the Ultimate Nation is planning on releasing on PC this fall and uses a system that focuses more on character development and storyline in a fantasy world that faces a violent civil war.
Despite it's fresh face at E3 this year, Webzen is no stranger to the MMORPG world. They are the developers of a game called 'Mu' the number one selling MMORPG in Korea, even beating out MMORPG goliath 'World of Warcraft.' They have existed for two years and their decision to jump into the American market happens to have correlated with the appointment of former Sony Online Entertainment Executive as Webzen's CEO.
Needless to say these are both extremely exciting prospects to see coming from the Far East. Lately Blizzard has had a stranglehold on the MMORPG market here in America and it looks like with the experience and success of Webzen as well as the youthful vigor and determination of Yedang Online we might finally see an explosion of variety in choosing a fresh, fun, and exciting MMORPG's in the United States and throughout the world.