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Korea Rising: Five Crucial Interviews

January 4, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 19 of 21 Next

This is kind of an obvious question, but how do you find the Korean and U.S. markets to be different, in terms of mobile stuff?

JP: When Verizon first launched mobile titles, we launched about four or five games. At that time, they were really basic titles, like bowling and baseball. As time goes by, many web publishers had to do the business and they had licensed the titles. I feel that the gameplay itself is not different. I feel that our game title, in gameplay itself, was really exciting. I'm very confident in the content. With our brand, it's really hard to persuade the carrier. It's a big barrier. US players try to buy brands and combine brands and games... It's kind of hard to persuade the carriers.

Yeah. The other problem that happens with that is that when people are buying the licensed titles, they're usually not very good, and then they think that all cell phone games are like that.

JP: Everybody has limited resources. We put orders on developing titles. That means that we put 12 months with a full team developing and testing and leveling and separate things. But with a branded title, capital for development would go to acquiring the license, whereas we focus on development itself and making quality games. Developers should reduce the development costs to get the brand. It's really tough to make a better game.

Some of your games seem to have a very Korean art style. Do you think that is a plus or a minus in the U.S. market right now?

JP: In the mobile platform, it can be a minus, because there is a gateway to persuade a person. It's really up to the person who chooses the game in that market. If he likes that style, then it will be great. If he doesn't like the style, then it is really tough. In Korea, carriers don't decide it. Carriers have usergroups to play the games. They rely on the gameplay and the usergroups. We think it's really good for us in the Korean market, but in the U.S., usergroups are not that popular. We should get to do the research later, whether this game is good for you or not. Then we need to decide to upgrade or not.

DL: In Korea, each carrier has their own usergroup. They change the user every time, in every genre. So each usergroup gives feedback, and a score, and then for each game, the carrier gets a score and feedback. It's more open and clear.

JP: On the development side, it's beneficial, because we can reduce the size of the graphics and put more on the gameplay. In mobile games, the size of the game file is very limited, so we put more real-style art on the mobile games. That will take over half the size of the game for us. But if we simplify the graphics, that will only take under 30 percent of the whole file, so we can put in more stages or make more playtime, or put the scenario of the games. With that, we can do more.

It seems like a much better way to do things, but it seems like it's really hard to push over here, because it's all very carrier-driven, rather than being a publisher or developer-centric market. It's very unfortunate. I hope it'll change, because if it doesn't change, mobile games aren't going to get any better.

DL: My philosophy of the mobile game is to increase the game experience, and the playing of the games. At your first impression, you're like, "It's okay," but as you play, you become more addicted, and you start to like it. But for some publishers in the U.S., their first impression of the sound and the graphics is so powerful, and people have a very high expectation for these games. As she said, the game itself is just a very generic game, or a simple game, and the gameplay time is so short that you can't play for more than ten minutes.

A lot of them seem to focus their attention on the intro screen and the music at the very beginning.

DL: The attract mode.

Yes, that's right. It's totally that, except it's unnecessary, because you can't actually see it from the menu. This is a total market question, but why do you think that Korean companies have excelled so much in mobile and online games more than consoles?

JP: For consoles in Korea, people need to buy before they experience. That means that people should buy additional console platforms, and should buy titles at first before they experience something. Those console titles were [pirated] a lot on the market, and the market itself had a very hard time. Same with the PC game market.

The offline PC market.

JP: Yeah, right. So all the game developers moved to the Internet platform. That means that people can download games for free, and after they spend some time with it and they like it, they decide to spend money. It can happen because we have a really good infrastructure, Internet-wise, where mobile-wise we had a really rich network and rich computer system. It's a power source in everyone's house, and there are Internet PC cafes. Almost all of the gamers are very good at games, because there are a lot of games that can be played without paying any money. If they like it, they can pay. We need really good games which can persuade them to pay money, so they make us really concentrate. But after we persuade the user, it's really a full market.

That makes sense. Do you think that something like Xbox Live Arcade could do better in Korea than previous consoles, just based on what you said? After you buy the console, you can download demos of smaller Arcade titles as well as big titles. Do you think that could do better there?

JP: There are still lots of people who love console boxes. With those people, it really makes the market. But people who already enjoy online games already have good PCs in their house, and pay to have network. In Korea, the PC or mobile platform will be the better platform for games, for the time being.

Article Start Previous Page 19 of 21 Next

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