The popular multiplayer role playing game Blade & Soul dropped in North America and Europe today, just as scheduled. What’s interesting is how scheduled it was. The Korean game developer NCSOFT, which launched the first versions of Blade & Soul in 2011, set the January 19, 2016 Western target date nearly four years ago, on September 13, 2012. That is hitting the target right in the middle from a great distance — and it’s not the standard operating procedure for big video game releases, where delays are commonplace.
Opening up Europe and North America now nicely coincides with the emergence of more serious investments in e-sports as a category. As the new Blade & Soul players in the West swiftly upgrade their experience — today’s launch will be swiftly followed by more additions to the content — the e-sports potential player base expands massively. Last year’s World Championship Grand Finals featured Korea’s Jungho Yoon v. Korea’s Sinkyum Kim. The player field is expected to broaden swiftly, though it may be sometime before Western players are competing at the level of Yoon and Kim.