Black Desert Online nears the $2 billion mark six years on

For analyst Daniel Ahmad, the success of Pearl Abyss' popular MMO is a testament to the developer's ability to adapt to varying markets.

Black Desert Online, the perennial sandbox MMORPG from Korean studio Pearl Abyss, has generated nearly $2 billion since it’s 2014 launch, the company announced this week. According to the press release, 40% of that revenue comes from North America and Europe, with 26% coming from Korea, and the remaining 34% coming from other Asian countries like Japan and Thailand.

For Daniel Ahmad, senior analyst at Niko Partners, the success of Black Desert Online speaks to Pearl Abyss’ impressive design chops and its ability to adapt to different global markets.

“Pearl Abyss has built up the Black Desert IP by offering an MMORPG with high quality graphics, combat, and gameplay systems,” Ahmad told GameDaily. “The developer has been able to tailor the game for certain markets with a free-to-play model in most Asian markets and a buy-to-play model in the West, catering to each region’s preferences. Pearl Abyss has also extended the game to additional platforms including console for the West, as well as mobile for Asia and other markets.”

Last month, Niko Partners released a report examining the various monetization models in the Asian games market, and free-to-play was far and away the most popular; according to the data, F2P accounted for 80% of all digital games revenue in Asia last year. Additionally, mobile is the most lucrative gaming platform not just in Asia, but globally. With Black Desert Online, Pearl Abyss has clearly managed to take advantage of both of these trends.

“F2P games can reach a much broader audience than premium or subscription games,” Ahmad told GameDaily at the time. “As F2P titles become more challenging and competitive, developers have an opportunity to drive revenue in more ways without disrupting the experience.”

Ahmad pointed out that while Black Desert Online has indeed done very well, it still hasn’t reached its full potential. The game has yet to receive a license in China, where it is likely to perform very well.

Black Desert Online may be nearly six years old at this point, but Ahmad said the last year and a half has been critical for the game.

“It has doubled its lifetime revenue and registered player base,” he explained. “New updates, community events, and a connected experience across all platforms has helped the game succeed since its launch. As players expect more from traditional MMORPG’s, Black Desert stands out as a unique high quality title.”

The success of Black Desert Online is part of Pearl Abyss’ 10th anniversary celebration. Founded in 2010, the company has found success on the back of the Black Desert IP, and has been slow expanding on it. Earlier this year, Pearl Abyss announced Shadow Arena, a F2P action-RPG/battle royale hybrid set in the Black Desert universe.

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