Money From Nothing: Neowiz and the Free to Play Model

neowizlogo.jpg Forbes has a lengthy look at Neowiz - the Korean company who has been raking in profits despite following the free to play model - and despite the author showing their inexperience with video games (the 360 is compatible with cartridges? Who knew?), it's a pretty interesting look at a company that's been garnering a lot of attention from abroad. But Neowiz and other like-minded Asian compatriots aren't headed for world dominance quite yet - while they're planning on expanding further, their portal in Japan in losing money and other operators were selected by EA to run FIFA Online in China:

Meanwhile, Neowiz is planning to expand to Japan, China and eventually the West. "The benchmark of game development is Korea," Choi says. "We believe it will grow in other countries." But Neowiz hasn't built a franchise abroad; its Japanese portal, launched last year, loses money. Despite the "borderless" world of the Internet, different Asian nations like different games, and language is a barrier. Indeed, EA chose a Chinese company, the Nine, to market FIFA Online in China.

In July Sony announced a partnership with Korea's NCsoft to develop its online games into console games for PlayStation. But Choi is convinced that the future of videogames is online. "In five to ten years all games will become online games," Choi says. "It will happen very fast."

I guess it depends on how broad your definition of 'online' is. There's no doubt that plenty of Western companies are watching the various companies in Asia and going 'Hmmm.' The question is - will the free to play model fly on a big scale in the West?

Money From Nothing [Forbes via cNet]


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