NCSoft today released their earnings report for the 2014 fiscal year. While the company as a whole grew across the board, not everyone is presently drinking champagne and wearing silly hats at the NCSoft executive suite.
The good news is that 2014 saw NCSoft forging ahead into its third consecutive year of growth. In today's report, the company proudly proclaimed that they have hit historical highs in annual sales and profit with fourth quarter earnings matched only by the launch of Guild Wars 2. While net income saw a notable drop in the fourth quarter (18%), the publisher has otherwise been going nowhere but up.
Strong sales in 2014 were fueled primarily by the performance of NCSoft's legacy titles. Lineage, the developer's primary breadwinner, saw a massive explosion in sales this year (from $40 to $88 million) and currently brings in more quarterly revenue than each of the other five games combined (not counting the "other" category). Lineage 2 and Blade & Soul were the two other titles to see growth over the year, with the latter continuing to launch in new territories.
Guild Wars 2 and Aion saw a notable drop in sales, but both titles seem to be settling down from a single quarter spike.
Now for the bad news: The situation with Wildstar is more dire than many of us likely expected. The title doesn't just seem to be plummeting, it is actually picking up speed on its way down. Second quarter sales brought in $14.6 million, a 46.8% drop. This quarter, however, Wildstar fell to $5 million, a whole 65.7% down from the previous quarter. At this rate, and assuming Carbine Studios doesn't buck the trend, the game will be under $2 million in the first quarter of 2015.
At this rate, Wildstar will be pulling in less than City of Heroes did when NCSoft shut the entire studio down. City of Heroes, in its last year, averaged $2.9 million quarterly. Whatever NCSoft decides to do with the game, be it introduce free to play or just shut everything down, you can bet that we will know about it very soon. Wildstar was expected to launch in China in late 2015, early 2016, heavily dependent on whether or not the game is still around.
Regardless, 2015 is set to be a very interesting year for NCSoft. The company is currently embroiled in a power struggle with Nexon who recently announced that they would be taking a more hands on approach as the majority shareholder. ArenaNet has announced the first paid expansion for Guild Wars 2, Blade & Soul continues to expand its reach, and Lineage Eternal is somewhere on the horizon. Meanwhile NCSoft is targeting the mobile market, with acquisitions and new games in development for tablets and smartphones.
Let's raise a glass to 2015, it will certainly be an eventful year.
Disclosure: All data is sourced directly from NCSoft earnings releases. All conversions are based off of exchange rates on the day of publishing, as reported by the Korean Stock Exchange. Charts used are of my own creation, the tables for which are available upon request. The views displayed are meant only for informational purposes and are not meant as investment advice.