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[Nexon continues its assault on the Western market with a console-like PC MMO, Vindictus, which marries action gameplay with the microtransaction framework and online gameplay knowhow the Korean studio is most famous for -- and director Eun-Seok Yi explains it all to Gamasutra.]
Nexon slipped into a position of leadership in the U.S. market by exporting its Korea-developed and targeted titles, along with their free-to-play, microtransaction-based business model. Soon, thousands of teens were playing Maple Story before most in the game industry had even heard of it.
But the company is continuing its focus on the market with new development. While there have been stumbles with Kart Rider's no-go launch and the middling popularity of ultra-cute MMO Mabinogi, the publisher and developer has come back with a new wave of titles.
One of the most promising, and most obviously palatable to Western audiences is Vindictus [YouTube trailer]. With realistic yet stylized graphics and action-RPG mechanics in an MMO framework, the game seems like it could be a hit on consoles as well as the PC.
But as Eun-Seok Yi, director of Vindictus explains to Gamasutra in this new interview, things are not quite so simple. Read on to find out more about why he chose an action gameplay style for this title, what he expects of its audience, and on working on a game targeted at multiple markets.
This game is developed as almost a console-style game, and I was wondering if you could talk about the thinking behind the game mechanics and how that relates to the audience.
Eun-Seok Yi: When the online games first started, there was the text-based game, and then the next generation of that was the graphic MUD, but it was still very text-oriented. Now we're at the MMORPG, and sometimes it still feels like you're not actually in a battle. You're just dealing with the UI.
The overall trend of the games is that interactivity is going up; they're very interactivity-oriented. I think the online game trend is trying to make the game look like what you see is what you get. You're given exact interactivity with the environment and not the UI. So I think that the next generation of online games will be very action-oriented and fully interactive, and that was my approach as well.
There's been some discussions of who the audience for games like this is. Is it young kids who are growing up and moving straight to PCs? Is it going to attract people away from consoles? Who do you see as the player of this game in North America?
EY: There is no exact target as you categorized, but if we had to categorize it it wouldn't be for such young audiences since the game itself is very mature. It is targeted for an older, more mature audience. Since the game is very intensely action-oriented and an MMO, you interact with your friends and whomever. Instead of seeing the game as targeting certain platforms or PC or console users, I thought of it as whoever wants to have this action game with friends experience -- those people are our target.
I know that you had worked on Mabinogi, and there was an announcement that it was going to come to the Xbox 360, but that didn't happen. I have the impression that it was because of the free-to-play business model not being supported. I would think otherwise that a game like this -- this game in particular -- would fit really well with that. So I guess you're still restricted away from that market right now?
EY: The choice was not because of the business model but because of the nature of the game. Of course, [Vindictus] would be a good packaged game, but this is a game that needs to be constantly updated. We're continuing to create content, so even if we were to make it into a packaged game we would still have to feed the users updates through the internet. So it was less of a business model and more of the nature.