Korean online gaming company NCsoft is increasing its play in the MMO space with PlayNC, the company’s new plan to offer free games. During E3 this week NCsoft provided a preview of four of the MMOs under PlayNC. The company believes its “free to download, free to play” offer is one that many gamers won’t refuse, especially given the popularity and addictive nature of NCsoft’s already-published titles such as Guild Wars and Guild Wars Factions.
How will NCsoft support this model of free games? Well, we should all known by now that nothing is free. While the games themselves are initially free, gamers will have to pay for additional features once they’ve play through the introductory phase. The idea, of course, is to hook the consumer with a hot, new and free MMO and get them to make payments after they’ve already invested in the game. Along with offerings specific features for a price, NCSoft may also leverage advertising to support PlayNC. “We’ve got the capability for in-game ads for these games,” said NCSoft’s Chris Doerr, “but we’re not sure if all of them will have in-game ads.”
Here’s a look at the four titles under PlayNC:
Dungeon Runners: An action-fantasy MMORPG currently in Beta and scheduled for release this year, this title has a similar look and feel to World of Warcraft and Warhammer Online. The visuals were attractive, and the game play of the demo looked exciting enough to buy Dungeon Runners, let alone download and play it for free. Plus, areas of the game are generated dynamically so that players get a slightly different experience when the cover the same ground.
eXteel: A third-person action combat game, this title puts players in the role of customizable robot warriors. The game supports up to 16 players and provides intense-looking combat with a variety of weapons and attacks. Of course, the real hook is being able to customize your mechanical warrior. Like Dungeon Runners, eXteel was available to play at the show and is schedule for release sometime this year.
Smash Star: A cartoon-ish tennis game, Smash Star isn’t so much a sports title as it is a fantasy game. Players aren’t limited to simple tennis moves; instead, they can use an array of wizardry, devices and acrobatic moves during each match. No demo was available for Smash Star, only a trailer of actual game footage. Smash Star is currently in beta in Korea and may be released under a different name in North America.
Soccer Fury: Imagine a world with no red cards and no referees and some truly aggressive soccer players, and you’ve got Soccer Fury. A truly bizarre combination of sports and martial arts combat, this game puts players in an urban setting for a not-so friendly game of soccer in an urban setting. Besides kicking the ball, players can thrash, elbow and knock down other players and also customize their characters and enhance certain skills.
There’s more: Read all E3 2006 stories on TG Daily