Granado Espada goes commercial
By Alex Villafania, hackenslash Reporter INQUIRER.net THE KOREAN triple-A title Granado Espada has finally gone commercial in the Philippines after three months of beta testing. The photo shows one of the cosplayers portraying a character from Granado Espada during the commercial launch festivities. GE will be one of the first locally distributed games whose servers are actually located outside the Philippines. It will also be officially the first commercial localized game where Filipinos can compete with other players abroad, in particular Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam. Another game being introduced in the Philippines hosted on an international server is Lineage II from Asian Media. Philippine online game publisher IP e-Games made the announcement last weekend in a major bash at the Esplanade in Pasay City, attended by GE players during the closed beta test, as well as executives of the Infocomm Asia Holdings, a partner of IP e-Games and a regional distributor of online game titles across Southeast Asia. In a press conference, IP e-Games president and chief operating officer Steve Tsao said the game has enjoyed significant growth in terms of registered players, which are mostly from the niche but profitable hardcore online gaming market. Photo shows the officials present at the press conference, including (l-r) CyberWorld Corp. CEO Victor Vy Ngo, IP e-Games president Steve Tsao and IAH Deputy CEO David Ng. So far, GE has about 300,000 registered players across Southeast Asia, with about 30 percent, or 90, 000 players, coming from the Philippines. Tsao even said that of the number of Filipino players for GE, only a very small percentage is coming from RAN Online, another title distributed in the Philippines by IP e-Games. "It shows that we’re spreading our wings with new markets, particularly with the hardcore gamers. We don’t expect GE to overtake RAN Online but GE would contribute significantly to our business in terms of revenues," Tsao said. Hardcore gamers, as described by IP e-Games, are players between 18 to 25 years old and are more financially stable, allowing them to purchase more items in an online game. They are also among the few who play online much longer than most gamers. With the start of the commercial availability of GE, the company also introduced a new hybrid payment scheme. While RAN Online is a completely free-to-play game, GE uses a mix of purchasing for playing time or buying virtual items. Along with the new payment scheme is the introduction of prepaid GE Game Value cards, with denominations from P50, P100 to P300, each with a corresponding number of days as well as "G-points" which are the in-game currency to buy items. Among the plans for GE in the future is establishing a dedicated local server where Filipinos can compete with each other. "But we’re not looking at 2007 yet for the localization," Tsao said.
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