Korea Rising: Five Crucial Interviews
January 4, 2008 Page 14 of 21
T3: Yoo-Ra Kim, CMO and director
Can you talk about the company's history, first off?
Yoo-Ra Kim: T3 was established in 2000. As other companies did, we also started with a PC singing game. In 2002, we changed our business sector to online, because as you probably know, there are a lot of illegal copies in Korea. We couldn't make any profit from the game, so we decided to change our business sector. Then we made three or four types of different casual online games at the time.
In 2003, we faced financial difficulty, so we had to choose one of them. That was Audition. So we just focused on developing Audition, because it's not a blockbuster huge game, but we were sure that it has a unique point to appeal in the market, so we decided to keep going. Finally, we made it. Since we launched in 2004, Audition has more than 300 million registered accounts worldwide. Especially in China, where we have 800,000 concurrent users. Worldwide, there are more than one million concurrent users.
So China is the biggest market?
Why do you think that is?
YK: I don't know exactly. People said it was Korea's actors, actresses, movie, [TV] drama, [became] popular, and in China, exactly the same things happened. Audition has fashion and dress, and music, and dancing -- current, up-to-date dancing. These three types of things, plus community things.
We created a lot of gamers not from another game, but non-gamers. As you know, the game market is dominated by male users -- like 90 or 80 percent. But in Audition's case, it showed fifty-fifty. So we created a lot of female users from this market. That's one of our big issues when we do Audition research. It is true that in many of the countries we've launched so far, it's so successful, especially when we put the marketing with a media company, like a broadcasting company, and a lot of media [types]. Radio stations, TV channels -- things like that. Then the power became really huge.
A funny story in Vietnam is a report that's known as Small China. Now, Audition is the number one casual game in Vietnam. Our partner, VTC, never operated an online game before. Audition was their first time. But they had five TV channels. So they're the only one and the very first [game that] appeared on a TV show in Vietnam for the first time. Also they did some kind of music audition competition, so a lot of their users pick very cute and beautiful users on TV. The audience is there, and it was on TV nationwide, so it became an annual festival. This year, also, they did this audition in Ho Chi Minh city.
That's impressive. How did you decide to choose that partner? Obviously it worked out really well, but it's surprising if they've never operated a game before.
YK: The first thing is that when we were so small in Korea, we couldn't find any proper partner in Korea at the time, in 2004. What I decided was, "Okay, let's do some TV shows." So we met some game TV people, and I suggested, "Why don't you guys make a TV show with Audition?" So far, game TV was shooting or killing monsters, or fighting, or racing, or sports, or something like that, but never had there been a dancing game on TV. Once it appeared, people would just see what it is. People got a lot of curiousity, and since we started a TV show in Korea, our concurrent users became double. When we did three months, it became thousands, thousands, thousands. So I thought it's kind of a mixture of media [beyond games]. Not just simple games -- game business.
So now, we have a regular TV show, where we invite celebrities on TV, so they're talking about gossip things and their current views and they are bringing their new album, if they are singers. So they just introduce, and with Audition users, they play the game, on TV. So it gives another [way of having] fun, you know? Because certain singers have a lot of fans. That's how we created the market in domestic and overseas, and so far, that's why I think Audition became one unique specific genre in the market.
Now Audition is on PSP.
YK: And arcade machines.
Yeah, and arcade. So you've got it in multiple game media right now. Why did you decide to do that?
YK: We wanted to show in the market that we're not only just using the online game section, but also if something is happening in the market, we just want to make a variety of business. So the PSP was kind of challenging. We didn't expect a profit from the title's release -- just 10,000, or something like that. It's not that much. But it was a very good try for us, and once the company made certain general games, people just say, "Oh, how long is this game's lifecycle?" or something. But if the lifecycle is going to be longer and longer, then we need to do something, not only online as it is, but in many different related sectors. That's why we decided to make Audition musical, and Audition arcade machines, and Audition for PSP, and later, we could make Audition for the PlayStation 3 or Xbox or something like that.
Do you have any plans for any of that yet?
YK: If the Xbox people suggested us a very good condition, then we'd love to. That's one of our goals to achieve -- not just the online section, but we want to broaden our brand.
Page 14 of 21