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Korea Rising: Five Crucial Interviews

January 4, 2008 Article Start Previous Page 7 of 21 Next

How is the development going on that so far?

SY: We're getting busy, in crunch mode.

It seems like a very ambitious project.

SY: Yeah, it's very big. We have a lot of big features, and some ambitious stuff.

They actually wrote a postmortem of their Crackdown game for us, and they were mentioning that now they're fully cranking on APB. It seems logistically very difficult to create an MMO in a sandbox-type environment, because in that type of game, everyone just likes to screw around and do dumb stuff and throw trash cans on top of buildings and stuff like that. If you've got thousands of people doing that, it seems like...

SY: Crazy! (laughs)

Thousands of people trying to break the game at the same time.

SY: Yeah, you're right. We're trying hard, as realistic as possible, but there's some technical limits for us that don't really let us do those things in an online game. But we're trying hard to make it as close as possible to a console game.

Are you having to do a lot of instancing and stuff? In terms of the servers that people are going to be on, since it's going to be very... I haven't seen it, but I imagine it's going to consume a lot of resources to have these people doing this stuff at the same time. How many people do you think you can have in the same world?

SY: Generally, you're right. I'm not sure, because it's kind of a sensitive issue. I think that Realtime will [take] care about releasing the information about the project. Maybe the exclusive stuff. You might have to wait a little bit more.

Might as well ask! With Red 5, how did that come about?

SY: Red 5 is in the preproduction. They're working on stories, and prototyping game design. So far, they've been good. At this moment, we only watch them. So far, there's no problem. They're very experienced.

Did they come to you, or did you go to them?

SY: They came to us.

Have you seen much of the Project Offset engine yet? The engine they're using?

SY: Yeah, I'm seeing those things, but only for the gameplay prototypes, so it's not showing the true power of the engine. Three years before, they had it at E3. After that, I don't know. The Offset Engine itself, I didn't see a lot of detail. I've only seen a little part.

I was just wondering if you've heard a general impression of the engine itself yet. I know they're the only people licensing it. I know part of it is the vision of the company, but Webzen has this kind of eye toward the western market, in a different way from a lot of Korean-based companies. Releasing console games, and releasing the big-budget, graphically impressive games. You do have your MMO space as well -- traditional Korean-style MMOs. What was the choice to diversify like that? So many others are trying to focus on making the big money in the microtransaction space and stuff like that. It's a similar question to before, but basically, why are you not going for the easy money as much on the Korean MMO side?

SY: Easy money, like the typical Korean title? Making money in that way?

Yeah. You know what I mean?

SY: Yeah. We did that in Korea and the Asian market, with traditional Korean MMO games. We did that.

It's just not as much of an intense focus on that.

SY: Basically, the other markets other than Asia -- the European market, and the U.S. market -- are not really mature for the micropayment stuff. They also have a lot more games when we go for the western market. The rivals are totally different. Over here, we are competition to similar Korean games. If we go over there, there are a lot stronger games, and popular western MMOGs, and western users are used to seeing those things, and used to paying money like that, with monthly subscriptions. Micropayments... there is a barrier. There is a risk. We're trying to bring those things into the U.S. market very carefully. We can't really push for the Korean way. In America, it just doesn't work.

And another thing that I was trying to get at was... do you think that the Korean market for these MMOs and microtransaction games, do you think that it can support as many people as are currently in the market? There are a lot of people trying to do similar types of games.

SY: Still, it works, I guess.

I don't mean from the Webzen side, because Webzen obviously has large products. But I mean, do you think it will be able to support as many companies that are still trying to do this?

SY: I should think so.

I've heard a lot of different opinions. Some people say that there's going to be a big crash soon, and a lot of people are going to fall out. Other people say that it could keep getting bigger.

SY: I think that the goodness of these micropayments is that pay is very flexible. Depending on the game size and the number of users, you can balance it easily, rather than with a monthly subscription. I think there's a chance for us to study more of this. However, we have thousands of games that are with micropayments. I think we still have chances to make all of them be profitable.

I wonder if there's going to be another model beyond microtransactions that will work even better. First, subscription was the only thing. Then microtransactions came along and changed everything. Do you think there's going to be another big shift in the future? Do you see anything like that on the horizon?

SY: Definitely.

Any prediction what it might be?

SY: A mixed, hybrid model's already there. I think from the marketing side, a model would be a mix between timed promotions and microtransactions at the same time. It's possible.

So maybe ad-supported and things like that?

SY: Yeah.

Article Start Previous Page 7 of 21 Next

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