Page C-5 of yesterday's Philippine Star contains a notice for the Pristontale MMORPG: It's a large, obnoxious, and badly-worded ad that makes you wonder how much the company's paying an editor to look over their press releases.
Snide comments aside, MMORPGs seem to be mushrooming around here. The popularity of Ragnarok Online apparently took everybody by surprise, and more than a few of the local entrepreneurs have decided to throw their lot in with the online gaming crowd. In a country of growing IT awareness, Counterstrike addiction, and rampant bandwagoneering, this does not come as a surprise.
Still, it's hard not to do a double-take when one sees all of their ads posted on the display windows of the local (computer) hardware stores, or in the various pop-culture magazines: Ragnarok. MU. Tantra. Khan. And now Pristontale (which has the strangest-sounding name among all of them yet).
At the moment, I'm wondering how far we can go without saturating the market. I fear that, given the sheer number of new MMORPGs released within a short time, we may have saturated the market already. Most likely the local audience will end up providing two or three games with significant audiences (at the moment, Ragnarok and Tantra appear to be the most likely candidates), while the others will either get along with lower subscriber numbers, or fold up eventually. I'm inclined to dismiss any future MMORPG endeavors as potential failures unless they've got "Everquest" or "Warcraft" somewhere in their names.
So there's the question that the entrepreneurs really should be asking now: How to tap into a growing market of MMORPG players. There are a lot of internet cafes around, so there's no shortage of places to play. Getting into game merchandise might be lucrative, but the rights are probably being controlled by the distributors already. I'm not sure how to go about this part, so I'll leave my nose out of it for the moment. But if there's anything that I'm sure we don't need, it's investors taking a chance on a few more dubious-looking MMORPGs for a saturated market.