Black Desert Online, a South Korean massively multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG), has been confirmed to be released for Western audiences come 2016 after a huge localization effort. Its parent company Daum Games stated they are busy localizing “approximately 2.5 million words into English, German, and French” to meet the main languages they targeted for their North American and European release. But the changes to the anticipated MMORPG are not limited to the game’s content, and the cultural localization has extended to the very business model.
In South Korea and Japan, Black Desert Online is free-to-play, and players can choose to engage in microtransactions and buy purchasable items that in turn keep the game going alongside revenue generators such as ads. In North America and Europe, however, the game will be released as a subscription-free buy-to-play title. Players will need to pay a one-time upfront fee to purchase the game.
In-game transactions for vanity and convenience items will remain to support updates, maintenance, and further development. “Content and gameplay systems will be adjusted to accommodate Western players and our differentiating business model,” Daum Games said. This new business model, i.e. charging an upfront fee supported by in-game transactions, could reflect how much of an effort it is to localize the game and bring it over to Western audiences.
Indeed, when it comes to the cultural nuances of this western version of Black Desert Online, some other factors will also be tweaked, including game balancing (how all the factors in-game affect gameplay) and progress (how players go through the MMORPG’s world).
The MMORPG has been a highly anticipated title since 2014, when a slew of news coverage highlighted, among other things, the game’s highly customizable character creation options. Black Desert Online’s level of detail when it comes to character customization is unmatched by its would-be Western counterparts.