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Korea Rising: Five Crucial Interviews

January 4, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 21 Next

Webzen: Sang Woon Yoon, development strategy manager in global studio management

Can you tell me some basic stuff, like the number of employees in each market for Webzen right now?

Sang Woon Yoon: I'm not exactly sure about subsidiaries, but in the whole world, we have 600. And then we have development studios in Shanghai, and Webzen America, Webzen Taiwan, and Webzen China. We also have small offices in some other places in East Asia. Right now, they're focusing on the East Asian area. They're pushing forward to the U.S.

How much development is in China?

SY: For the most part, it happens in Korea. We only have one project in China. That project is targeted to the Chinese market, mainly. For other projects, we have two western developers.

Right. Realtime Worlds and Red 5. How big is the development staff in Korea?

SY: In Korea, overall, about 300.

I'm just trying to figure out the scale of a lot of companies here. There seems to be a big variety, but a lot hover around 100. Why has there been such an interest from Webzen in consoles recently, like the 360? Well, it's not exactly recent, because Huxley was announced a long time ago. Things are going to start coming out in the next year for the consoles. What is the reason behind that?

SY: For the most part, I think our company's vision -- especially the CEO's vision -- is originally, he's an animator. We're looking to a lot of western games, actually. What he really cares about is graphic styles. So far, we have been working on online games for PC, but we still have a lot of interesting western style -- like console style -- in graphics. It's more polished. In addition to that, online games are quite risky. Console games are... the U.S. market is big, and generally sells a lot. We can calculate ROI easier than online games. Also the next-generation consoles like the 360 shows great graphics, and a lot of CPU power. So generally, it's all over the place. We have no choice but to go for those. Up until now, it's not really easy for us to get into the console market, as we are strongly based in MMO PC games. We're trying.

Yeah, I've been discussing with lots of people about how not many companies are able to create finished, boxed products in Korea yet. Did you have to get any additional outside help in terms of learning the project flow and how to create a project that's finished?

SY: So far, for those console technologies within the company, we don't have the original staff that was working on the console. So far, the strategy was for us to try hard to collect people from other companies. Actually, sometimes we try to hire whole development studios, but now we have a different strategy for things. Probably I think in the near future, we'll talk to outside companies to make things work. Until now, we were just trying to solve everything within the company.

But also bringing in some foreign developers, is what you're saying? Inside the teams?

SY: Of course, if there are no communication problems. We try hard. We have some foreign developers. They have some console experience. What they do here is they develop online games. We are targeting a game title for consoles pretty soon, right after we handle some PC first. Like Huxley. Always, PCs are first, and then we go for the consoles.

But you're trying to keep the porting to console in-house, but maybe in the future you're going to change that?

SY: We are looking at several solutions at this moment. There are other games than Huxley, like some casual games. We have some strong interest in Xbox Live also, for casual games. For the porting or the conversions, we'll look at some way to get some help from other companies.

What kind of stuff are you looking at in terms of Live Arcade? Do you have any projects we've announced yet, or anything coming soon?

SY: Not yet. We've been discussing within the company. So far, the only plan we had for Live was Huxley. We've crossed platform to the PC and 360.

So you're looking at the smaller, more casual game-type stuff? It seems like the downloadable Live Arcade space is pretty natural, coming from online space.

SY: Yeah. We're discussing within the company. There is a possibility.

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 21 Next

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