Blade & Soul - No English Release but Three Other Versions Coming in 2014
When was the last time we officially heard any news from NCSoft on Blade & Soul in North America? December 5th, 2012. It's 2014 now, and as the dramatic action MMO reaches other territories one thing is clear: An English release in 2014 is highly unlikely.
NCSoft recently released their 2013 earnings report, along with their Q4 2013 conference call. The earnings report shows Lineage, Guild Wars 2, and Aion as their top earners; the conference call reveals Blade & Soul is heading specifically to Japan, Taiwan, and Russia this year -- with no other territories listed.
The release of Blade & Soul in Japan and Taiwan is no secret, but the Russian release is a bit of fresh news. All three are mentioned to be based on the current Chinese build of the game. It is unlikely releases outside of China will carry over its fatigue system.
Western release unlikely
The question that arises is: Could Russia be a more profitable market for NCSoft than North America and Europe? Judging from their earnings reports from 2013 and 2012, it very well may be. It wouldn't be hard to make more than their North American branch does sans Guild Wars 2.
NCSoft (NCWest in North America) has a long history of their localized Korean games just not doing well in the West. With the company's primary focus being on Wildstar's launch for 2014, they may choose to skip localizing the niche Blade & Soul for the West altogether.
Anyone who has played the game for more than a few weeks can understand why NCSoft is pensive to release Blade & Soul to an English audience. Blade & Soul's evolution system makes gear grind an all-game affair. Not only that, but the world feels small despite the qing gong abilities and questing brings nothing new to the table.
While the above can be disappointing, the game makes up for this in sleek combat, beautiful visuals, fast-paced PvP, and an engrossing wuxia-style story. Unfortunately that would probably not be enough to hold your average North American nor European gamer.
To top all of the above off, simply translating the game would be a lengthy and costly affair. The amount of text (due to NPC dialogues) and voice acting is borderline excessive. NCSoft may not be able to afford that expense on a gamble.
In short, Blade & Soul NA and EU were dead before they even began.
It's disappointing as someone hoping for an official localization, but the game's releases in other regions are something to look forward to. It is likely the Russian and Taiwan servers will be as easy to get into as the Chinese servers, and the Russian servers will very likely have much better international ping than their Chinese counterpart.
No matter which version of Blade & Soul you play now or intend to play later, 2014 is an exciting year as it expands into China, Japan, Taiwan, and Russia and even receives its own anime series. It's just not exciting if you are holding onto hope for an English release.