Korea Rising: Five Crucial Interviews
January 4, 2008 Page 8 of 21
I'm wondering if there will be some more convergence-type stuff. We're already seeing things like games that are playable across Windows Live for the 360 and PC, and some companies are trying to do things where you can keep playing your MMO in certain ways on your cell phone. Do you think there's going to be more convergence in the future?
SY: Yeah. Convergence will tie everything together. It's all about flexibility, micropayments. So we have chances.
It also seems like the way people use money is changing. Here I've got my subway card. In Japan, with this, I can also buy stuff at a convenience store, or a vending machine. In America, Nexon has released their Nexon Cash. It seems like with all of these things that money is becoming really virtual. It's very strange.
SY: Every day, we're looking for those solutions in new ways for billing systems. Sometimes, we look at credit card companies and how they do bonus points and all those things. We're also looking for other possible methods. Building it up is probably the things we have to solve. We're looking for all of the possibilities.
It seems like game companies these days are having to become much more financially aware, like really thinking about and dealing with ways of using money. I feel like they're almost pushing virtual money forward much more than any other media. It's very interesting to me, to see that progress. Maybe some day I'll be buying my dinner with Webzen dollars! (laughs)
SY: (laughs) Or you get some item after you have some dinner!
It could be! I guess that's already happening. You can buy a Coke can and get some item in your game.
SY: Yeah, we do a lot of that.
It's very strange.
SY: But it works! (laughs)
It works! And it works for everybody. In the past, those kinds of tie-in promotions would be like you buying some cereal and it comes with a little toy inside that a kid plays with for like five seconds and throws away. But now, it's like you don't even have to have anything in the box. You just have a picture, and maybe you can scan it and it goes into your... it's the future.
SY: That's because we have too much confusion. More than 50 percent of users want to play the game for free. We do an open beta for several months, many, many months, until we realized that enough people willing to pay for the game. But we still needed to do the free game service. That's why we're looking for all sorts of things that generate profit to keep the test part going on, to make it finally commercialized.
In the U.S., Sony Online Entertainment made all of their games free, but they didn't have any microtransaction model, so it was just free. They weren't making any money. They were just losing money only. Everyone was kind of laughing at them, but if they could introduce some sort of model, maybe they could be profitable. It's very tough in the U.S.
SY: We're trying hard to bring those things into projects like APB. APB is going global, but we're not going to have different games. It's one game for a global market. That's why both companies are working together, bringing Webzen's know-how and experiences with the development team's. APB is really western originated, and we can make this work in the U.S. and Korea at the same time.
So you're going to try to have people from multiple regions playing together in one space?
SY: If you don't care about lag, then you can.
Are you going to have to deal with language stuff at all, or are you going to let people speak whatever language they want?
SY: That's probably... in a few more months.
Then we'll know the answer to that?
I think that's interesting in some ways. It would be like California or something, with different districts where people speak certain languages and stuff like that, and you can go there.
SY: That's a good idea. I think Crackdown did a similar thing. In some areas of the city, they speak Spanish.
I think it's a good idea, because it's like a real virtual world that way. People do speak different languages in the world, you know? Like I came here, and I can't say anything to anybody, for instance! After APB and these kinds of things that we know about, what's next for Webzen? I don't necessarily mean specific titles, but just in terms of your thought about the future for Webzen.
SY: At this moment, we still have concept things to finish up. We do think about the future. Not much changed. We've got the online games, and also the console-styled thing. They're very strong IPs, and we go for those. Not much changed from three years ago. It's really the same.
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