French independent games studio Ankama is to build a UK-specific support team and community for Dofus, its self-published MMO, Develop can reveal.

Ankama starts UK MMO push

Dofus is an online turn-based MMO and has been running since 2004, in that time amassing a total number of 2,750,000 unique players with an average user base of 200,000 regular subscribers each paying £3.90/€5 a month.

Developer Ankama attributes the game’s success to its sub 100MB client download size and Flash/browser-based functionality which means the game works on PC, Mac and Linux.

Until now, however, the game has not had its own dedicated server for UK players – with just international and French servers. However that’s all set to change on April 10th as Ankama starts to bolster its global reach with investment in UK servers, community sites and the studio’s hiring of a community management and marketing team dedicated to building the audience in Great Britain. Similar moves for Spanish and German versions of the game are in the works also.

However, with 65 per cent of its user base being between 11 and 18 years-old, the UK launch will see Ankama go toe-to-toe with another independent development studio with online speciality: Cambridge-based Jagex and its game Runescape, an MMO with chat features that has a big after-school audience of its own.

“This expansion comes from our will to conquer the hearts of UK gamers and introduce them to the unique style of Dofus while growing a strong and dedicated community in the UK,” Cedric Gerard, international marketing manager for Ankama, told Develop.

He added that the company relishes the chance to challenge Jagex: “We would like to show Runescape players that there is an alternative to what they know at the moment. We want to show them that there is a possibility to achieve beautiful results with simple technology. They can get beautiful graphics, original artwork and unique gameplay concepts, all for free.”

Ankama is already working on a sequel to Dofus, called Wakfu, and while Gerard says the priority is behind the roll-out of UK-facing Dofus, he said that the expansion will help “as a stepstone” to the introduction of the new game’s beta in the coming months.

It’s a busy time for online worlds and UK-activity. Only yesterday a report from Screen Digest said that the Western MMO market generated over $1bn revenue in 2006, while another online world proponent Linden Lab was revealed to be opening a UK office.

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