Koei's PC free-to-play strategy game Uncharted Waters Online
launched in Japan and other Asian territories several years ago, and the game is planned to make its debut in the U.S. in 2010.
Although the franchise may be unfamiliar to Western audiences, the MMO is based on Koei's classic RPG series Uncharted Waters
, which began on the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1991. Uncharted Waters Online
allows players to become adventurers, traders, or explorers, and engage in large scale ship-to-ship battles on the high seas.
The game, which is just in the process of a closed beta in an English-language version via CJ Internet's NetMarble portal
, uses a free-to-play, micropayment-based model that allows players to purchase upgrades for their ship or character.
Producer Tomokazu Takeda recently sat down with Gamasutra, and told us the game aims to implement microtransactions that do not give players unfair advantages, but rather help those who have less time to play the game.
"It's about not purchasing power with money," says Takeda. "The kind of people who have time can play the game without spending money. If players don't have time, they may be able to purchase items to bridge the gap."
Takeda noted that Uncharted Waters
needs to find its own space in the Western MMO market, and Koei does not look at the title as a competitor to major players like World of Warcraft
or EVE Online
."This game is different from a lot of other games," Takeda explains. "I don't think this game will compete with the other games; rather, this game will develop a unique position in the game industry.
Koei has said it's using Uncharted Waters
to test Western reception to free-to-play MMOs. Takeda adds he's open to the possibility of bringing other Koei MMOs to the West, and says, "I will see how this one goes first."
The company's Uncharted Waters
is planned to release on the PC later this year in North America, and Takeda explained that he hopes to update the game with new content "every one to one-and-a-half years," with regular updates coming on "a regular basis."