Despite plenty of good news for NCsoft in the past couple of weeks (acquiring new IP and Tabula Rasa finally going live for all the non pre-order people), some of the higher ups are expressing doubt over the future of NCsoft in the gaming world: The Korea Times reports on one of NCsoft's new directions, and while it's still in the virtual realm, it's a definite shift away from gaming, moving towards social networking and the like. The reasons? A quickly declining stock price, a plateau in the Korean game market (and a declining subscriber base for the Lineage games), and somewhat lukewarm response to their other gaming ventures:
Korea's largest game company this year has released a series of social-networking services from Openmaru, an in-house software studio, with strong support from its CEO Kim Taek-jin. Meanwhile, its stock price almost halved over the past two months, as investors raised doubt about the prospect of its online games business.
CEO Kim said Wednesday that the firm will increase investment in the online services sector, which is dominated by big portal operators such as Naver, Daum and SK Communications.
"After games, the Internet has become my new dream,'' he said during a special lecture to students of Seoul National University ....
Steve at PlayNoEvil sees this as a potentially bad move and wonders why they don't just shift gears in the gaming market. Tabula Rasa may not have been the best advised project ever: "... Social networking / Web 2.0 type businesses are intensely competitive and a lot of innovation has come from new startups, not existing companies. It would seem more sensible for NCSoft to work on acquiring additional game properties and build on its existing market than move into a completely new direction." This might just be excitement over moving business in a new direction, but it will be interesting to see how this develops.