Dungeon Fighter Online's Future's Up in the Air, but I'm Hopeful
Does the name Dungeon Fighter Online mean anything to you? Maybe not, but to millions of beat'em up fans worldwide, it means a lot. And a small portion of those are outside Asian gaming markets.
Dungeon Fighter Online has the international notoriety of being one of the most popular and longest-lasting MMORPGs out there. This is all thanks to its hybrid beat'em up and fighter gameplay, paired with some pretty nice spritework and an emphasis on group play and PvP.
Despite its success in China, Japan, and Korea; DFO Global didn't do well during its first release under publisher Nexon. Is it because of a lack of Western interest or Nexon's lack of support? It's hard to say, especially since it's been two years since the global version closed down.
It's funny - the original English version was labeled as a global release, when DFO Global initially had a widespread IP block. Potential players outside of North America had to use a VPN to play, and the game's iffy server infrastructure made it a complete nightmare.
... But that's all in the past. As of last week, Dungeon Fighter Online is back on the global market, and there are no IP blocks.
DFO's success elsewhere
This is a rare case of a game dying in a particular market and being brought back to life on a hunch. Anyone who played DFO Global during its last years under Nexon knows how empty the game was at that point -- and is well-aware of the lack of content updates and support at the time. Why the game's developer, Neople, has chosen to give it another go and self-publish is a mystery; and to someone unaware of the game and its international history it may seem like a big gamble.
Dungeon Fighter Online has been very successful in Korea, Japan, and China ever since its release in those countries. The Chinese version even reported to have reached over 3 million concurrent players in August 2012; despite being five years old in the Chinese market at the time. The game has done similarly well in its native land of Korea, maintaining its position as one of the top MMORPGs since its release in 2005.
Somehow in these other markets, DFO has staying power. The question is whether it will now that it's released again using the same Fatigue system seen in the other versions of the game.
From Blitz to Fatigue
Nexon's DFO Global used what was called the Blitz system, which effectively replaced the Fatigue system and allowed players to level as quickly as they wanted and even awarded more EXP the more they played.
Now we have the Fatigue system, which (as in the game's other territories), limits how much a single character can progress each day. It does this by deducting one point out of that character's Fatigue Point bar each time they enter a new room in a dungeon. Once that character is out of Fatigue, they can run towers or PvP; but they cannot run standard dungeons.
This type of system is not common in Western MMO releases, and anyone taking a look at the DFO Global Facebook can see how upset some people are over this change in particular. Sure, the game may be completely different from when Nexon was in control -- but the Fatigue system will just not do for some.
I personally am in favor of Fatigue systems, when they're done right. When my friends and I start on a new game, we're able to stay within the same level range and I don't worry about getting sucked in for nine hours straight. It also encourages me to roll new characters and try new things. For me, this is a win-win; but for many others it's downright unbearable.
The game is only in open beta, and it's just been a week, so we've yet to see how Neople will handle the Fatigue system moving forward. It has the very real benefit of slowing down bots and the game has been designed from the bottom up to use Fatigue, but Neople may find the Western market just can't deal with it.
The future of DFO Global
We've seen that Dungeon Fighter Online can do well in other markets, but only time will tell if it will be able to survive on a global scale.
The game has had a rough time in the West in the past, so it's hard to say this new release will be a definite success. The community holds it dear to their hearts and has a tendency to blame Nexon alone for the game's initial failing, but we may end up seeing a sad reality in a year or two once the hype has died down and the rose-tinted glasses are off.
At least I'll always have the memories with mai waifu Seria and our pet cricket Bugi.
I hope DFO Global does well, and intend to support it and Neople as the game moves forward. The changes brought about in open beta in comparison to the alpha and Nexon builds are very exciting, and it's great to finally have more content to do -- it's even better that a lot of this content is more difficult and dynamic than what we had before.
If you love the game, be sure to support it. This doesn't necessarily mean throwing money at Neople once the cash shop is open, but share it with your friends and get the word out. This time around it's even more important than before that we, the DFO Global community, get active and spread the word that Dungeon Fighter Online is back and better than ever despite the Fatigue system.