In a discussion with Gamasutra at the Gstar 2009 video game trade show in Busan, Korea, Taiwan's XPEC Entertainment revealed that its upcoming sci-fi MMO, Bounty Hounds Online
, was inspired by massive piracy of the original Bounty Hounds
"In 2006 the game went to market on the PSP platform," said XPEC Chairman Aaron Hsu. "Although it didn’t get released in mainland China officially, it was illegally downloaded more than 2 million times through the illegal download sites. So we figured we didn’t get a single penny from the China market, but the title has a lot of potential users, clearly."
The original game was a collaboration with Namco, sort of a Sci-Fi Monster Hunter
-like title. "At the time we were the first overseas studio to work on a title with them, where they dispatched a producer to work with us for 18 months," said Hsu.
After two years of market evaluation, the company teamed up with what is now Namco Bandai. "We decided to make Bounty Hounds Online
," Hsu continued, "to use the MMO PC RPG platform to get money from that market. Out of those 2 million illegal download users, if 1% converts to the MMORPG in mainland China, then the game will be financially successful."
“It’s our form of anti-piracy,” Hsu said, as the game will be a free-to-play, item-based microtransaction-funded title, which is continuing to gain massive popularity in China.
Bounty Hounds Online
] is more MMO than Monster Hunter
, with its sci-fi themes and robotic pets that transform (Hsu jokingly added that the company's outsourced artwork on Transformers
titles prepared them for this), and is specifically tailored for the China market.
Hsu and XPEC hope that the game's themes will appeal to western audiences, but will be content if the game simply does well in China, where he says “we have those many illegal downloaders to act as our product base.” Bounty Hounds Online
is due out in 2010 in Asia, with a Western release not yet confirmed.