Not a lot of people talk about it, and it doesn’t make headlines — why should it? After all, the side-scrolling MMORPG is an astounding 13 years old at this point. But it’s still plugging away, and according to publisher Nexon, tens of millions of Americans play the game. A nice 69 million players are registered for the English-language version of MapleStory, and it’s on the strength of those numbers that the first-ever MapleStory Fest touched down in Los Angeles.
The fanfest was free for players to register for, and over 500 attendees (plus guests) showed up at the Fonda Theater on Saturday, April 14. Before the doors opened at 9:30 a.m., there was a line wrapped once and a half around the block with players eagerly waiting to get in. There were panels, announcements, booths with games, demos … and yes, there were cosplayers.
The MapleStory fanbase has an interesting relationship with Nexon and the developers, as this is the only video game company that freely allows artists to create art and merchandise for MapleStory intellectual property without fear of litigation. In fact, at the regular MapleStory events in South Korea, fan vendors are invited to set up shop. And for the Fest in Los Angeles, Nexon brought in four of the top-selling fan creators to set up booths on the rooftop of the Fonda Theater and sell their wares. By the afternoon, a good amount of items at all four booths were completely sold out.
Fans were given a passport at the door and collected stamps at the various booths, and everyone who attended absolutely wanted to try out everything on offer, including a special endgame boss fight challenge, and some hands-on time with the upcoming MapleStory mobile game — which will mark the first time that the franchise comes to an iOS device.
In between booth time, there were trivia challenges for in-game credits, and two big panels with developers. The biggest announcements came in the afternoon when the development team made an expected announcement: MapleStory 2, the 3D sequel to the core game that has been out in Korea since 2015, will be opening its North American English-language beta on May 9. The crowd erupted at the announcement, but absolutely went wild for the unexpected announcement: all those in attendance at the MapleStory Fest automatically earned their spot in the beta.
From everyone I spoke with at Nexon, the first MapleStory Fest was a huge success. The Fonda was packed, everyone was thrilled to be there, and virtually no one left from the time the doors opened until things closed down with costume and dance contests. Clearly, the fanbase is deeply connected to this game, even if the gallons of virtual ink spilled on video games on a daily basis rarely touch on this corner of the gaming world.
While I spoke with a lot of gamers outside of the Fest who only really know MapleStory as a Korean game, the vast majority of those who have logged into the game in the past two years living in the United States. And as you might expect from a free-to-play MMO that’s over a decade old, a lot of those players have grown up playing the game. And that’s a big part of the reason why Los Angeles was chosen as the location for this event.
I had a chance to speak with Jungsoo Lee, President of Nexon America, at the Fest. He said they were “kind of cautious” not knowing whether fans would turn out for the event, given it was their first in the 13-year history of the game, but was “really happy” when he saw the lines prior to the doors opening and witnessed the excitement of the fans. He also talked about the balancing act of keeping an old game alive while announcing MapleStory 2 at an event celebrating the original.
“We are hoping that both games will grow old together,” Lee said. “It’s not like a sequel. We believe that [MapleStory 2] shares the same core, but it provides a different experience and a different dimension.”
Lee said that as early as next month, they may start planning more MapleStory events in the United States. There will be a significant waiting period before we know whether MapleStory 2 will similarly end up being a long-lasting success, but MapleStory Fest proved that there are dedicated fans out there playing relatively obscure games every single day. The passionate fanbase of this game just received a reward for their devotion, and MapleStory Fest served as a good reminder that it’s a massive, massive world of gaming out there. Even a game that’s a teenager can receive its day in the sun.
You can still sign up for the MapleStory 2 beta if you’re interested, and you can read more about the upcoming game here.
Want some Mesos in MapleStory M with the cheapest prices and fastest delivery, top-secured purchase experience as well? Click Maplestory M Mesos for more information and further consultation!