A couple of big Korean companies have floundered as of late — or at least, some of their games have been big disappointments — and it's raising interesting observations about how companies handle shutting down free to play games and what happens to the money (some) players have poured into it? Nexon is pulling its disappointing ZerA and taking an unexpected road: repaying the people who purchased virtual items for real money:
The company will yank ZerA, a role-playing game that took three years and 10 billion won (about $7.5 million) to develop, at the end of January and is preparing to repay users who own paid items. ZerA got off to a bright start after its debut in February 2006, with the number of concurrent users peaking at 40,000, but has been losing popularity since with critics questioning the quality of play. The lukewarm reception here was enough to kill the company's plan to publish the game in Japan. The demise of ZerA touches off a sentimental response from Nexon and other Korean game publishers, as it had been anointed one of the ``big three'' from the class of 2006 ― along with Webzen's ``SUN'' and HanbitSoft's ``Granado Espada.'' At the time of their releases, the trio shouldered hopes to expand an industry that looked to be just entering its peak. Nearly three nondescript years later, the games have been reduced to examples of what can go wrong.
How much will people be getting? Time will tell, but it's an interesting good will gesture on the part of Nexon. The Korea Times piece is interesting, especially in context with some recent news happenings. NCSoft announced a dismal 50% drop in profits for the 3rd quarter, the same week Richard Garriott returned from space and announced his departure from the company. There's a lot of movement going on among companies, and a lot of it is due to expensive 'mistakes' — even ones that are reasonably popular abroad. Aion Shoulders New Hope As Old Games Fade [Korea Times via PlayNoEvil]