Koei Talks Online Strategy
02.02.06 - 11:08 PM

In a recent interview with GameWatch, Koei's Kenji Matsubara talked about the future of MMORPGs and his company's strategy for further growth in the online gaming market.

As far as the three next-generation consoles are concerned, Matsubara expressed interest in all three of them. Just like Square Enix's Hiromochi Tanaka, he hoped for PlayStation 3 shipping with a hard disk drive from the very beginning. If the platform would offer a hard disk and one could enjoy various online services, then Koei would probably bring Nobunaga's Ambition Online to PlayStation 3. He was not worried about anything else, given the high specs of PlayStation 3.

Furthermore, he expressed interest in Sony Computer Entertainment's online service strategy for the new platform. Instead of the PlayStation 2's rather simplistic BB Navgiator, Matsubara is expecting Sony Computer Entertainment to come up with an online service that is similar to or even more sophisticated than Xbox Live. Such an online platform would allow game makers like Koei to focus on creating games and integrating the platform's features such as chat or email into their games.

Regarding Xbox 360, Mastuhara acknowledged he too was surprised by Square Enix's announcement to bring Final Fantasy XI to Microsoft's next-generation hardware. Koei will continue to evaluate the situation, while talking to Microsoft.

In case a new version of Nobunaga's Ambition Online would be released for next-generation consoles, the game would receive a visual update. However, since the development costs for re-creating the game with next-genertion CG visuals would be very high, he wanted to do the necessary research, before reaching a conclusion over any potential visuals updates.

Matsubara also said that he hopes to release a new expansion disc for Nobunaga's Ambition Online sometime this year.

At the same time, Koei is thinking about releasing an expansion disc for its second MMORPG Daikoukai Jidai Online (Uncharted Waters Online) featuring additional sea areas and cities. A starter pack is also in the pipeline. After purchasing this pack, players will only need to enter a serial number to open up their own account and start playing. Afterwards, they can try out Daikoukai Jidai Online 44 days for free.

As previously announced, Koei is still looking at bringing the game to North America and Europe. While America was a rather big market for MMO games, Europe would only develop into a big market in the future. For 2006, Matsubara aims at further expanding Koei's online business in the Asia-Pacific region and ready two more online games.

Chris Winkler