In a 2008 ION Game Conference panel held yesterday, a group of MMOG developers, including Nexon America and Turbine, talked about the differences in culture and expectations between Western and Asian markets that should be considered when localizing a game. The discussion, titled "Creating a Global Marketplace for MMOGs: Can East and West Really Play Together?" gave the developers an opportunity to discuss the difficulties in adapting games for either markets.
"One thing North American developers are still learning that players need to have is a stage on which to show off their achievements," said John Young, manager of John Romero's Slipgate Ironworks. "Sure I can get unique items, but how do I show my friends that I have unique items? It's a social experience. North American developers tend to think of those things as not being 'fair,' which may work best for North America, but it doesn't work in Korea."
Added Min Kim, director of gamer operations at Nexon America: "The difference is the experience players had as they were growing up. In Korea, video arcades were the way to play games from the get-go, so it has always been a social experience."
"In the US market," Kim continued, "it's a personal experience, as players bought a console and brought it home. Asian companies don't even really consider the single player experiences until they localize to the US, although that is changing now somewhat."
Business development Robert Ferrari from MMORPG publisher Turbine's suggested changes were imminent in the future, saying "one way the East and West will learn how to work together better is by studying successes. As we see more success, we'll learn how to do it better."
Neowiz's Won Il Suh clarified the idea of the "Eastern style of gaming," saying that the term is too simplified: "The Koreans play differently than the Chinese, than Japan, and so on. We had to change the gameplay completely for a Korean game that was released into China. And that's important, he concluded. "You should think about localizing gameplay and not just language and culture."