Cryptic bought by who?

On my way into work this morning I glimpsed a couple of Tweets about Cryptic getting bought but didn’t see by who. So once I got to work I found this article on Gamasutra and thought, “Oh. Ok…. Who’s Perfect World?” I’m not a fan of the eastern-style MMOs and I long ago stopped paying any attention to that aspect of the genre. So I had to do some catching up to get an idea of whether or not I should be worried or elated.

Two interesting items on the money-side of the story. Atari bought Cryptic for $28 million (plus sales-incentives) in 2008, and Perfect World is paying $50.3 million. Perfect World is coming off of a good first quarter compared to the prior year, as payoff for investing in long-term projects. If that’s truly representative of PW’s attitude towards business then Cryptic’s in much better hands.

Besides their fiscal history, I didn’t realize that Cryptic isn’t the first development studio that PW has purchased. They bought Runic Games in May last year, but has stayed mostly hands off since then.

There’s still some important details unknown about the deal though. Does Atari still has publishing writes for NWN? I assume they do. If that’s correct, is Cryptic still developing that game? I’m guessing that Atari has passed the risk on to Cryptic and PW and is charging a licensing fee. This gives them a piece of the revenue with little further investment.

Since PW is primarily in the F2P end of the MMO market, what happens to STO? For that matter does Champions stay a hybrid model or does it go full cash shop? I’ll give even odds on STO going F2P but if it does it’ll go hybrid like Champions did. I think that’s a ways out though, I get the impression that Cryptic wants to see how regular weekly content releases affect their subscription numbers. I don’t see either game going full F2P like their eastern-market counterparts. There are very few games, Runes of Magic is the only one I can think of off the top of my head, that do well in the western market as full cash shop. Perfect World seems (in my limited research) to be a bit smarter than that.

One other thing I’m unclear on is what the actual corporate structure is. There’s Perfect World and there’s Perfect World Entertainment. PWE seems to be their western-market facing corporation, and I assume that PWE would be handling management of Cryptic. But the press release announcing the acquisition was on PW’s site.

In the end, it’s much much too early to panic. For the short-term, this is good. It removes uncertainty about the fate of the development teams and their games. For the long-term we’ll have to wait and see, but I’m optimistic based on what I’ve read so far.

11 Comments

  1. YeeboNo Gravatar says:

    I think the mere fact that they got bought for almost twice as much as before is a good sign. Perfect World has experience with MMOs and seems to think modern Cryptic is worth it. I also always thought Atari was an odd choice for a partner to Cryptic.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      That definitely says something about PW’s opinion of Cryptic. PR-speak aside in the press release, $50 million dollars shows some confidence. The other thing that was interesting was there were no incentive mentioned as with the original Atari acquisition. It probably has no significance at all, but I’d like to think it’s another factor that shows PW’s interest in long-term success.

  2. My guess is PW will leave Cryptic be at least for the foreseeable future. You don’t buy a company to try to break into the western market and then turn around and mess with the games.

    As for STO going F2P, that possibility has been on the radar for a while now, right? I figure if the game does go that route, it wouldn’t be a surprise to me. And then I think the decisions would probably be Cryptic’s.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      On the radar sort of, Stahl’s said they want to see how Champions goes first which makes complete sense to me. The question is how long do you wait to see, and do you go hybrid or cash shop only?

      If they announced F2P anytime in the next month or two I would be surprised. I got the feeling that they shifted priorities recently when they saw how much regular weekly missions resulted in new subs. At one point it seemed like the Featured Episode series were going away and then they announced plans to do them for the full year. I’ve been thinking that this was an experiment to see if doing that kind of regular small content update would net them more consistent long-term subscriptions with C-store money being supplementary.

  3. YarrNo Gravatar says:

    I just started playing STO; bought it during the recent $3.75 Steam sale. I think Amazon just had their digital download version priced at $3.00, so hard to pass that up at those prices. Atari squeezing the last few dollars/euros/pounds out of Cryptic before the sell-off to PWE goes final?

    Aside from the launcher crashing 3 times during the patch process, I’m actually somewhat impressed with STO, after being totally underwhelmed with Champions Online. But the game does seem to be more a “MMO-lite” than full blown MMORPG. Spending over an hour in the character design advanced options I was able to make a pretty good ‘alien’ looking officer, at least as alien as Star Trek aliens ever get. :)

    I can’t see myself playing this past the first month, at least not at $15 (or their tiny discount for multiple months options), so I hope the new owners will go with a hybrid model. Something that will reward those that subscribe (including lifers), while letting the rest of us choose a ‘pay as you go’ route. I’d certainly spend some now and then to play occasionally, but I already have one subscription game, which is enough.

    I’ve tried PWE’s Perfect World and Ether Saga Online (now Ether Saga Odyssey). Both, were nicely made but with rather expensive cash shops. All their games seem well supported with new content, so this is probably a positive move for Cryptic’s players.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      That’s good to know about PW and ESO, well not the prices part but the rest. :)

      If you haven’t yet, I highly recommend getting your Captain to Lt6 and giving the Romulan Featured Episode arc a chance. That’s about the best content in the game and pretty easy to get to.

      The MMO-liteness is very true, and I think that’s where a lot of hardcore fans were disappointed. People were looking for more of a virtual world rather than a Trek game. For me that’s preferable since I can play for an hour or two and have a good time.

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  7. AnjinNo Gravatar says:

    I think the wait and see stance is the right one here. If anything, I suspect that Perfect World is a better fit than Atari. From everything we’ve heard from Runic, they sound like a good and understanding publishing partner.

    • BrianNo Gravatar says:

      I hope and think so, but that optimism is up against years of disappointment by management decisions in my working life.