Will MapleStory on Facebook Succeed Where Dragon Hunter Failed?

Nexon, the Korean gaming giant, has just announced that it’s entering the mobile and social gaming markets by bringing two of its most popular titles onto Facebook and iOS. KartRider Rush will be available for the iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad as well as the Android devices, while Maplestory will be launching on Facebook. Despite what some other blog sites may have reported, KartRider will not be launching on Facebook. Rather KartRider will be a freemium title with single player gameplay and Facebook connect functionality to enable players to compare their scores against their friends.

Several days I ago wrote a post about how more hardcore games will slowly begin to make their way onto Facebook, so it wasn’t a surprise when I heard Nexon make their announcement regarding MapleStory Adventures. For those of you who have never heard of MapleStory, it is a free-to-play 2d MMOPRG that has a combined total of over 100 million user accounts in all of its versions.

There is already a game on Facebook that is a replica of MapleStory called Dragon Hunter that is rapidly losing its players (down to 149k MAU from over 220k just a month ago). If you look at the side by side comparison of the two games (see below), it’s pretty difficult to tell them apart. What’s even more humorous is that MapleStory already offers a hero named Evan, who is a young dragon master who raises a draggling to become his badass pet dragon. Oh wait, in Dragon Hunter you slay dragons as opposed to raising them as pets, what a unique twist! (http://apps.facebook.com/dragon-hunter)

(Dragon Hunter – left, vs MapleStory – Right)

Despite Dragon Hunter being a destined failure, I expect that Maplestory will be a large success due to the support of their massive and loyal fan base and their strong presence in the Asian market. In December, 2010 Nexon America announced that it has around 12 million subscribers (7 million in North America), out of which over one million players have made a microtransaction purchase in 2010.

MapleStory Aventures (Facebook version) will offer a simplified interface and allow users to participate on quests with their friends. Currently the full MapleStory game offers synchronous multiplayer gaming, but it’s fair to assume that the Facebook version, which is most likely built in Flash, will not have this feature due to performance related issues.

We will keep a watchful eye for the appearance of more “hardcore” games on Facebook throughout the year, and closely monitor their key performance indicators. Stay tuned!