Amazon Games announced a publishing agreement with Korean-based studios: Smilegate. The press release doesn't mention Lost Ark in specific, but with the RPG game coming to Beta in Russia and Japan this year, it won't be surprising to want to expand into the west.
This isn't based completely on speculation. This is what Smilegate responded to a fan in June 2020:
“We are currently working hard to prepare for global release. We can’t mark the date yet, but we want to tell you that we are working on it and looking forward to announcing some good news in the near future.”
Then in August 19, Amazon Games dropped the bomb that they have a publishing agreement with Smilegate without announcing what game in particular they plan to publish in English and other European languages. Chances are high that this Amazon Games announcement and the June comment might be linked.
Other than Lost Ark, there are a few Smilegate PC and Mobile games that Amazon Games might be alternatively aiming to publish instead of Lost Ark, but Lost Ark is the one we know for sure Smilegate wants to launch globally and acknowledged to be working hard on making that happen:
War Reign (RTS, mobile) -- 2017
Arcane Straight (Card Battle RPG, mobile) -- 2018
ROGAN: The Thief in the Castle (Stealth action adventure) -- 2019
Crossfire X (Xbox One) -- 2020
Sky Saga: Inifinite Isles (Sandbox MMORPG, PC) -- TBA
Lost Ark has been in development for 7 years at a cost of 100 Billion Won (nearly $84 million dollars).
Though the game is an MMORPG, it is also a hack and slash game. If this game enters the west in english, the Diablo 4 team may have to adapt to the competition; and competition is a very healthy element that can drastically change the direction of the Diablo 4 game design as a whole.
If you take two minutes of your time to watch Lost Ark gameplay, you will notice that this game breaks norms of what players expect from a game visually and gameplaywise. Innovative in a way (this is a list of what I personally observed in the gameplay video):
in-game cutscenes using game assets
Character and NPC dialogues with dynamic camera movement and different camera angles. Every single quest is shown this way.
Dynamic landscape: bridges activate on approach to provide a path, ground that moves, elevators, objects you can grab to fly across chasms, aerial cable rail systems.
High-quality backgrounds with moving elements and gigantic monsters.
Bosses that stick to walls and jump across the arena.
Health/Energy bar, spells and inventory items in the bottom-center for short and faster eye-movement between the action and your UI.
You can drag the Skills, Character and other windows anywhere around the screen.
Each Class starts in a different location with a different story.
Test four specializations per class in Test Mode before you choose your spec path.
Reflection seen on the ground tilesets and other surfaces.
Grass, Flowers, foliage, and trees move constantly in the same direction of the wind.
High-quality gear and weapons that reflect light and shadows.
The shadows of objects such as trees are projected onto characters and their gear.
Anthem was a beautiful game. Very realistic. But gameplaywise, people abandoned it in large numbers. It was a horrible experience.
Lost Ark mastered the balance between beautiful, realistic and enjoyable to play.
Here is a gameplay video of Lost Ark Open Beta. The streamer played in the Russian servers, but with the localization patch that provides subtitles and dialogues in English. It is Diablo IV on steroids.
Something I noticed watching the gameplay videos is that there are many elements strikingly similar to what you can find in Android and iOS games. It is as if Lost Ark was developed as a PC/Mobile hybrid with the purpose of a mobile global launch some time after the PC localization and launch.
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