Neowiz, the South Korean online game operator for EA Sports' FIFA Online 2
soccer game, said in a recent earnings presentation that the game -- co-developed by Neowiz itself in association with EA Singapore -- hit new highs in July, prompted by World Cup fever.
On July 10 this year, the game hit 220,000 peak concurrent users, a new record for the game, Neowiz said. June revenues for the titles, which is relatively under the radar in the West, exceeded 5 billion won ($4.2 million), hinting at annual revenues of around $50 million for the game. (Peak concurrent users only reached 130,000 during June.)
In July, FIFA Online 2
temporarily topped online game rankings at internet cafes in the region, and Neowiz said it expects accelerated growth for the game into the second half of this year. Pearl Research recently said that the Korean online game market could surpass $2 billion
in revenues next year.
FIFA Online 2
is a free-to-play, massively multiplayer soccer game that generates revenues through microtransactions, a common business model throughout Korea. Electronic Arts launched the game in 2006, with the online-only format motivated by rampant piracy that discourages packaged product sales in the region.
Allison Luong, managing director at Pearl Research, told Gamasutra in a phone interview that in the grand scheme of EA's business, FIFA Online 2
's revenues may not mean much that much, but the fact that it's recurring revenue from a single product is important to note. The company does not have to reinvest vast amounts of money every year as in an annualized boxed franchise.
Electronic Arts is also taking steps towards more online models in the West. The company last year acquired social game developer PlayFish
for up to $400 million, and in January announced a microtransaction-based Western version
of FIFA Online
, currently in open beta.