KartRider Dash gives Nexon a new shot at Facebook

Nexon’s popular online racing franchise KartRider has finally crossed the Facebook starting line with KartRider Dash, which launches in open beta today.

KartRider Dash puts players in the driver’s seat of a go-kart racing against computer-controlled components and live players on a 3D map. Gameplay is based on the original KartRider game, which allows players to acquire power-ups on the track which are then used to sabotage others. As of press time the Unity-engine KartRider Dash seems to be having problems running on Google Chrome, but we had no issues running it in Firefox.

The game’s main strength is that its races are synchronous, something other racing games on Facebook don’t currently offer. Cie Games’ Car Town is currently the leading title in the genre and it only features asynchronous racing.  There are two race modes in KartRider Dash: Quick, which randomly matches players with other opponents, and Buddy, which allows players to join or create private rooms and race exclusively with their friends. Each time a race is entered, a piece of fuel is used up. The game monetizes through virtual goods like extra fuel, costumes and Kart equipment but the option to buy hard currency isn’t turned on yet.

KartRider is the second time Nexon has tried to bring one of its most popular franchises to Facebook. The company’s first attempt was MapleStory Adventures, which peaked last Fall with 473,000 daily active users and 3.2 million monthly active users, but is now down to 40,000 DAU and 320,000 MAU.

Nexon’s other Facebook efforts, developed by other studios, have fared even worse. Zombie Misfits launched in October 2011, and quickly climbing up to 20,000 DAU and 150,000 MAU before traffic quickly bled away to the game’s current 2,000 DAU and 30,000 MAU. Wonder Cruise launched in December 2011 and still hasn’t taken caught on with Facebook players — the game’s traffic currently floats at 1,000 DAU and 20,000 MAU.

Overall Nexon has 340,000 MAU and 140,000 DAU on Facebook according to AppData. Outside of Facebook, Nexon currently has 82.8 million MAU. As Nexon’s EVP of Social Games Aron Koh told us in February, Facebook has a steep learning curve, but he believes the company “can do better than what we’re doing now.”

Nexon’s mobile game KartRider Rush proved an enormous hit for the company; in its most recent earnings call Nexon revealed the game has been downloaded over 8.2 million times since it’s launch on iOS and Android last year.