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Can Aion Dethrone the King of MMOs?

aioncrop1When NCsoft showed me a demo of their soon-to-launch, massively multiplayer fantasy game, Aion, at the E3 show, I saw a lot of reworked themes common to this fairly mature genre: A pair of at-odds races, each vying to wipe the other from their common home planet; user interface elements familiar to anyone who’s played any of NCsoft’s titles; and a persistent world that’s as dangerous as it is beautiful.

But what I didn’t expect was a discussion about the game’s launch in Asia, which happened some months ago, and how rapidly the game has caught on and expanded in China.

aion2The game’s International Development Manager (international, that is, for South Korea-based NCsoft), Yong Taek Bae, explained that the game’s initial launch broke all kinds of records. On Aion’s Korean launch day, beginning at 6am local time, when the company switched on servers and began allowing paying customers to join the game, 11,000 players signed on each hour. By noon, the company had to turn on four additional servers — in addition to the 21 running at launch–to accommodate the crowd. Each server is capable of supporting 7000 simultaneous players.

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