Ragnarok Online was Gravity’s first popular MMORPG, and one of the first Korean titles ever to make a significant splash in Western markets.
The game was most popular in Japan and Korea, and that’s where the userbase remains strongest. In 2007, Ragnarok II was released to open beta in Korea on the Unreal 2.5 engine, and was relatively poorly recieved.
Nothing has been heard about this sequel until now. In Busan at Korea's G* conference, we asked Global Business Manager Yunghun Lee what happened to Ragnarok II.
“It’s a difficult question to answer,” Lee admitted. “We launched Ragnarok II in 2007. That version wasn’t really enough for the market, so we tried to revise all the systems, but it takes time. We changed the engine and everything, it’s like a totally new game. The engine changed several times, but now we’re using Gamebryo.”
The game is nearing completion now, and Lee says “We’re going to release the game next year.”
Gravity had attempted to release games in various genres over the last few years, but Lee admitted that those were rather unsuccessful. Gamasutra has learned through financial filings that the company’s board felt the previous CEO, Il Young Ryu, was taking the company in inadvisable directions.
This carries forward a thread of distrust in Gravity’s management, after accusations in 2006 that the previous chairman, Jung Ryool Kim, was diverting money from the company to himself.
Under the new (as of 2008) CEO Brian Yoon Seok Kang, the company has refocused its efforts on expanding and extrapolating the Ragnarok brand, similar to what Square-Enix has done with Final Fantasy VII.
The original Ragnarok Online is still getting content updates, but more interesting is the company’s side-move into social networks. “Right now we’re developing a Ragnarok web game, a social network game,” says Lee. “It’ll be released next year as well, with an announcement coming before the end of this year. SNGs are one of our major concerns, so that includes directly linking to Facebook or other social networks.”