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Korea Rising: Five Crucial Interviews

January 4, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 21 of 21

Something I meant to mention earlier about the Korean art style is that sometimes it seems like it is...we still have this anime and manga culture that's growing up over here. It seems like for those people, it could be appealing. I think that's one of the big reasons that MapleStory is doing well. It has that distinctive, cute, and fun art style, but it's a super-Korean art style. You would never think it was anything but Korean.

DL: They spend a lot of money on advertising. As far as the Korean MMOs go, they've probably spent more money on advertising than anyone, like maybe all the others combined.

But it's also the only one I would ever even consider trying, since it's side-scrolling and casual, and I don't like playing games on my PC. So 3D stuff where it's got like deep stats and stuff, I don't want to touch it, even though you could consider me a hardcore gamer type. It's not for me. It's possible that it could be a draw for some people. It just depends on the market.

DL: I read in Wired that manga has taken over America.

I know. Well, that article is several years late.

JP: We are focusing on easy play, but after you play, you can play whenever you want to play. For a mobile game, its playtime is very short. So while waiting for someone for about three minutes, I can play this game and when my friend comes, I shut down. And then another time, my gameplay is still stored on the phone. Those kind of mobile lifestyles we researched, and then we put that kind of function on the handset games. We can make our mobile game unique, and people think it's really easy to play.

Do you have to put that functionality for each handset in each game? All the handsets obviously have different capabilities -- like, you can close it by flipping it closed, or you can slide it closed, or maybe you have to press "end." Do you have to make sure that's the same?

JP: We record the [ending] point, and we automatically record the progress. Some games make the game itself very short in playtime.

Do you have any interest in handheld console platforms like the DS or PSP?

JP: Yeah. We are interested in them. But before entering the market, we need to do some projects. Each platform has a difference, so we think we need some experience. We will try something, and then for serious after that we enter seriously. It will be in two years.

It seems like it's kind of difficult to get into in different markets. It's good not to rush into it. But right now, I think there are maybe only three Korean companies doing their own titles. Not all of them are developing themselves, but with their own IP. There's MapleStory, Ragnarok, and...

JP: Pangya.

Korea's popular online casual golf sim, Pangya.

Pangya is on the Wii. [Note: Pangya is known as Super Swing Golf in the North American market.]

JP: Yeah, I saw. It's developed in Japan.

DL: That comes through Tecmo.

And then there's the one doing the touch dictionary.

JP: Oh, touch dictionary?

They titled it very unfortunately. They abbreviated dictionary as "Touch Dic." It's really funny. But there are only a few companies doing that. It would be interesting to see how it goes. More Korean companies actually seem interested in Sony platforms like the PSP, like Pentavision.

JP: Yeah, because we feel that Nintendo has a more closed environment for developers. That's why.

Although they're trying to change that a lot now. This may change over time. We'll see. About the console games -- what do you think it will take for consoles to be important in the Korean market?

JP: I think that the major Korean developers start to release titles, at least. The timing will be important, because now there are many Korean publishers, and they announced that they will develop console titles, but none were really released, besides MapleStory and Pangya. But I heard that it was also developed in Japan.

So, the big publishers getting on is what you think it'll take? The thing is, the large Korean companies have not been making offline games very much anymore, and consoles are starting to be online, but it's mostly offline titles. So you've only got companies like Phantagram and just a few companies doing those sorts of titles. It's a strange kind of thing where it seems like no one wants to take the first step, and nobody wants to fail.

JP: Phantagram was merged with NCSoft, but again they divided. So maybe the culture of online games and offline companies might be really different as it is, but soon they should find out to grow more, a Nexon or NCSoft kind of company should go from online to offline, and offline companies like EA or U.S. companies should grow to online and mobile. It's really the same mission, to see who can do well and be successful in the next eras. I think it will be the mission of the companies, so we'll see who can do well.

It's going to be interesting to see that.

DL: The big offline hurdles for MMOs and making them connected here is that your basic U.S. living room is not set up with an online connection. You may have it as a cable box, and you may have it as a satellite dish, but your basic family doesn't consider the TV something to play against other people online.

It's kind of funny, because I live in one room. I have my computer right here, and my TV right here. But still, I don't hook up my console. I have to go out and buy some stuff. Like I have to buy a wireless adapter, or a cable. Actually, even for my 360, I would have to buy a different router so that I can actually get another ethernet cable to plug into it.

DL: For the computer, they say, "We have to have the Internet for homework and business." Nobody buys a computer without hooking up to the Internet, but consoles are considered game machines.

JP: About the Nokia, I heard that their N-Gage platform is going to a general platform for all Nokia handsets, right?

Right now they've only announced six, but eventually it may be supported on more.

JP: We believe that the platform of Korea or Japan will eventually be at the same level. It will be the next model of platform, I think, of European or U.S. handsets -- a type of game platform. So we want to try to do something for the Nokia, because it will eventually be the same. I think we want to do that.

Article Start Previous Page 21 of 21

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