First Person (FPS) and Third Person Shooters (TPS) are among the highest-rated video game genres in the industry, and history has given us a lot of masterpieces. One of those is CROSSFIRE — a game on top of the shooting games market, with various records, including highest sales and most concurrent players.
Released in March 2007, CROSSFIRE recorded 8 million concurrent players. Currently, there are about a billion player accounts. Playable in about 80 different countries, CROSSFIRE is especially popular in China, Brazil, and Vietnam.
But what makes CROSSFIRE so unique?
Back in the 2000s, the FPS/TPS scene in North America was largely console-bound but in Korea — just like in Europe — PC was still the preferred platform. Midway through the first decade of the new millennium, during the boom of online video games, Korean developer Smilegate decided to bring its flagship product overseas. Smilegate co-operated with Korean game published Neowiz to expand its domain and looked at China for the step of its expansion.
When CROSSFIRE was being designed, Smilegate wanted to create a high-difficulty shooter with highly detailed graphics, focusing on military details. But after researching the Chinese video game market, they realized there would be some challenges ahead CROSSFIRE. At the time, China's IT infrastructure was below average, and a high-quality graphics game would be largely inaccessible by average games.
So, Smilegate decided to pivot. CROSSFIRE became an easier, more accessible game that anyone could play on low-spec systems. Its difficulty and complexity were also tuned to make it easy to learn, yet still hard to master.
For the next year, Smilegate went all-in on localizing CROSSFIRE for the Chinese market. Everyone on the dev team physically moved to China and researched the needs and tasted of the local players. After a year of preparation, the localized version of CROSSFIRE finally launched in 2008.
Fortunately for Smilegate, it wasn't a wasted effort. CROSSFIRE became a national sensation in China. The upkeep of the game was restless. To keep up with the huge player influx, the devs updated the game with new game modes and firearms every two weeks — a routine that's rare even by today's standards.
CROSSFIRE's growth was meteoric. By April 2009, there were a million concurrent players in China alone. By the end of the year, the game also set foot in Japan, North America, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, and Russia. 12 years later, CROSSFIRE’s concurrent global players exceed 8 million players with a billion accounts made all across the world.
Now a worldwide phenomenon, CROSSFIRE is looking to expand its IP beyond just the video game. A Chinese TV drama series based on CROSSFIRE was aired, currently recording 1.9B views. CROSSFIRE also signed a movie production contract with Original Film and a partnership contract with Sony Pictures last January.
Furthermore, a CROSSFIRE-themed in-door sports park opened in Suzhou, and a mobile game based on CROSSFIRE's IP was released. A console-based sequence "CROSSFIRE X" is currently in development, to be launched later this year.
Nowadays, video games aren't just about entertainment and esports is a global industry. CROSSFIRE is no exception and soon, more and more competitive stages appeared where high-skilled players could prove their merit. At the turn of the decade, CROSSFIRE became a mainstay at the World Cyber Games and made an appearance in the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2019, and 2020 editions — the first FPS game to be played at three consecutive WCGs.
In 2011, 11 countries competed in the first WCG CROSSFIRE tournament for a total prize pool of $34,000. China’s Liaoning Dongjia won the finals against the USA’s Team HAMMERTIME and became the game's first world champions. The CROSSFIRE esports hyped continued and two more Chinese teams, iG and QCES.QQVIP, won WCG 2012 and 2013, respectively. Lang “70kg” Shuai, Xu “LEE” Hongyu, and Feng “N1ce” Yongqiang were inducted into the WCG Hall of Fame after winning two championship titles.
WCG and CROSSFIRE paused their partnership for six years, when in 2019, the game returned to the WCG stage even bigger, with an increased prize pool of $140,000. In repeat final match-ups in 2019 and 2020, SV defeated AG to become the first back-to-back WCG champions. SV's team members Dai “18” Yueqiang, Ma ”MZiN” Zhe,Zhou “DBQ” Xingwei, Du “ANKE” Dingjie, and Wang “N9” Hao joined the WCG Hall of Fame, an honor to their incredible performance.
CROSSFIRE's accessibility, optimization, and quality gameplay have made it a global sensation and it is no wonder that its fanbase continues to grow. Tournaments like WCG are just the start, where fans from all over the world can gather together and compete.
With a TV drama series, movies, and a console version, the CROSSFIRE franchise is yet to grow and they billion accounts are sure to grow even higher.