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.