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Interview: Nexon Announces 2nd $1 Million Western Funding Initiative

Interview: Nexon Announces 2nd $1 Million Western Funding Initiative

February 22, 2011 | By Kyle Orland

February 22, 2011 | By Kyle Orland
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Nexon America has begun taking applications for a second round of its Nexon iNitiative program, which will fund $1 million worth of independent free-to-play games with a North American focus "that align with Nexon’s focus on community building and long-term user engagement."

Primarily known for major free-to-play MMOs including Maple Story, Mabinogi and Dungeon Fighter Online!, the initiative is part of Nexon America's effort to branch out to new genres and new platforms, with a specific focus on the North American audience.

"I think there are types of games that are just more popular here in the U.S. than in other markets," Won Il Sue, Nexon America's vice president of business development, told Gamasutra in a new interview. "A great example is the tower defense type of games -- they're hugely popular here in the U.S., not so much popular in the East."

That doesn't mean the company is focused exclusively on American developers and Western-targeted games for the contest, however. "We could have a studio from Singapore that has a great idea for the Western market," Sue said.

"Generally, though, the people here know the market better. ... If we find something that we think will work globally, we'll be very interested in that as well."

In fact, out of over 100 candidates from about 25 countries for Nexon's first million-dollar initiative last year, the two winning projects came from companies based in Canada and Poland.

The unannounced projects from those companies, one of which will be Nexon's first on American social networks, have already received more than the pledged million dollars in funding between them, the company said.

While Sue said Nexon hopes to generate profits from its significant investment in independent projects, the Nexon iNitiative is about more than just return-on-investment.

"This initiative is not just focused on making money," he said. "We could lose money here, but does that mean we're not going to have a 2nd, 3rd or 4th or 5th Nexon Initiative? Probably not. We'll continue doing this because we're seeding the development community."

"Maybe this game doesn't work well for both companies, but if we believe in these guys, we can come to them for our next project," he continued.

In the end, Sue said he thinks these kinds of partnerships can help create a project that plays to the strengths of both companies involved. "Hopefully with the experience and expertise that we have in microtransactions, combined with these fairly innovative projects, we'll be able to repeat this success on other platforms as we have on the client side," he said.

Developers can submit their project for consideration at the official Nexon iNitiative web site until April 30. Winnings titles will be published through Nexon's international distribution network in over 31 countries.

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