It's funny, because I mailed someone at Nexon asking if Mabinogi was going to come out for the 360 in the U.S. and he was like, "Well, if you talk to Stephen over there, I think he might actually know more than me." It was sad. So do you know if you're going to bring it here?
MK: I know for a fact that I'd be responsible for it, and no, we haven't been doing anything for it, so not anytime soon. Right now, we're launching Mabinogi for the PC.
We just did the closed beta and got a tremendously good response, so we'll see how that picks up. It's really about how many Xbox Live subscribers there are, and how we can offer that, because all of our games are free-to-play. Unless we can offer it completely free, it doesn't make sense.
What kind of model do you think will be possible with the 360 for that, or even PSN?
MK: They have the same model. We'll probably just port it exactly the way it is, selling different items and hats things like that for a price, or cards.
Is that what they're going to do in Korea?
MK: For the 360?
MK: I imagine. I'm thinking it's probably going to be similar. We don't want to break the formula of what works.
I know that Microsoft has not really allowed free downloads of full games yet, so you might be the first.
MK: I think we will be the first. We wouldn't do it unless we could do that. A lot of people don't understand. They're like, "Why don't you just charge a little bit? It's not that much, just a little bit."
But for some people, they don't want to pay anything at all, and you lose that customer that could have been business down the line. As I've said before, we make our content for other people, and there will be paying customers and non-paying customers, and we need that whole ecosystem for the business to work.
I think one of the critical things is going to be how easy it is to add money to your account.
MK: I was just going to say that. You read my mind. Yeah, that's the biggest thing, even for us in North America. We didn't really take off until we got the cards into Target and Best Buy and 7-Eleven.
Over 50 percent of our player base doesn't have access to plastic, between 13 and 17. They just couldn't pay, so we'd effectively lose more than half our business. So that payment side is, I think, one of the biggest battles that people will fight.
Yeah, definitely. Luckily the 360 does have prepaid cards, so that's pretty good, and it's pretty easy to redeem them and stuff.
MK: I think as more and more things come out, and as they start running products and services like ours, they'll probably sell a lot more. When you do a subscription, you do 13 or 15 dollars a month. For us, certain customers pay nothing, and certain customers pay like 25 bucks a week. It really has to do with appetite and consumption.
Yeah. I was thinking about Final Fantasy XI. That has a subscription for your console, and then it also has a subscription to the general Square Enix PlayOnline service. It's like two subscriptions, and that's super-complicated when you've got consoles.
MK: It's a huge psychological barrier. It's like, "Oh man, every month I'm going to have to be hit up with a subscription." I'm not saying that subscription models are going away, but for certain players, you just can't justify that. It's like, "I know I'm only going to be able to play three hours this month, or next month." It's hard to do.
It's a big barrier for me, because I don't want to sign up for more stuff. (laughs)
MK: That's why our business took off. In Korea, it all started with the core MMOs that were subscription. We were a very small business at the time, because we were going for mass. Now the business has turned into mass, and it's totally blown up for us.
It's funny. People still don't really believe that you guys are going to have the future model and that MapleStory is going to do well.
MK: It's because we're private and we don't put out any numbers. (laughs)
That's part of it. Well, that's probably a big reason, but there's a lot of skepticism about a lot of stuff coming out of Korea, because it seems like everyone is launching a Korean MMO.
MK: Right. With shoddy localization and stuff.
Right. But you obviously have the advantage of having an actual American office. And I was asking them what the benefits are of that. But from your perspective, can you say to Nexon Korea, "Hey, we really need to do this. Give us the resources to do this thing," or is it all them saying, "All right, you've got to do this now,"?
MK: It's a little bit of both. I think it really depends. They trust us with the U.S. business, so when it comes to the U.S. business, we're pretty much guiding that effort. If we need help with certain types of development,
Nexon's a huge company. I don't know what their numbers are. It might be like 2,000 employees now. So if it has to do something with systems or individual games, we're always pulling from each other to get resources.