Gamers are at the heart of everything we do at Ten Ton Hammer and
they’re really the individuals that every MMO company is
trying to win over. Recently, NHN USA - North American publisher of F2P
games like target="_blank">Rohan: Blood Feud, Gunz and href="http://www.tentonhammer.com/taxonomy/term/661">Luminary:
Rise of the Goonzu - showed their dedication to the
gaming community by re-envisioning their overview portal href="http://www.ijji.com/" target="_blank">ijji.com,
making it more appealing to the “hardcore” gaming
crowd. On top of that, NHN USA recently appointed a new CEO, Philip
Yun, to lead their gaming enterprise in the North American market. The
Ten Ton Hammer staff caught up with Philip and asked him about his
gaming past, where he hopes to take NHN USA, and what sort of impact
gamers will see from the “new look” of NHN.
CEO, NHN USA
Ten Ton Hammer: To start,
can you give US gamers a brief synopsis of who you are, Philip? What
kind of games do you enjoy? Why did you decide to come to North America
and lead NHN USA?
First and foremost, I’m an avid gamer and have been for many
years. I actually flew to Japan to stand in line for more
than a day just to buy a PS2 (at that time PS2 was not available in
Korea). Later on, I was part of the team that launched the
PS2 in Korea.
Being a full time CEO, husband, and father makes it hard to squeeze in
all the games I want to play, but I still try! I enjoy a huge
variety of games ranging from FPS, MMORPG, RTS, and even puzzle
games. If I had to pick a favorite game of all time,
it’d probably be Starcraft. There’s
definitely something amazing to that game if people are still playing
it these days, so many years after it came out! Over the
years, I’ve played a lot of games but lately I’ve
been into online MMO games, especially for the PC – and
besides playing target="_blank">ijji.com games, I’m
still playing a lot of WoW. Online gaming is the reason I
joined NHN USA – I really believe the future of games lies in
the interactions that gamers have with each other.
Ten Ton Hammer: For most
companies, the CEO acts as a driving force behind the direction of his
or her employees. Where will you be pushing the company? What can
players expect to see from the future of NHN USA?
Philip: As I
mentioned, I think the future of online games lies in the interactions
that gamers have with each other. That philosophy is at the
core of how I drive the company, both externally and
internally. I know a lot of people say the same thing, but we
are really about building a sense of community around href="http://www.ijji.com/" target="_blank">ijji.com
and our games. So, to answer your question, we just
re-launched our website to have a more ‘hardcore’
feel to reflect the games we offer and the community that plays
them. We also have a big line up of new games coming in 2009
– including Huxley,
the Unreal Engine 3-based MMOFPS. You can also expect to see
even better service, which includes more events to engage players.
Ten Ton Hammer: In the
past, many of the Korean companies that have branches in the US tend to
have a disconnect between the games that are released in Korea and the
games hitting the shores of North America. Are you planning on
alleviating this discrepancy? Might we begin to see consecutive
releases of new titles in Korea and in the US?
It’s no secret that a lot of the games you find on portals
are developed by Korean studios, so they are originally developed in
Korean. Korea is a huge test bed for online games, because of
the way the infrastructure in Korea developed, and this leads to a
great source of content. When we bring them to the U.S., we
have to localize and prepare the games for North American gamers before
releasing them – from translating text to re-writing quests
to make them more appropriate and appealing for a Western audience.
For games developed in the U.S., we are definitely keeping our eyes
open for new and exciting content. If we find some great
games that originate in North American and would be a good fit
we’d probably have the US release before any Korean
release. We are definitely open to that idea.
It’d be great to this happen actually, and it probably will
in the future (saying with a grin).
hopes to bring games like Webzen's Huxley to North America.
Ten Ton Hammer: Most
gamers aren't particularly familiar with main branch of NHN in Korea.
What kind of games are being developed in that nation right now? Might
we see any big blockbuster sort of games coming out of the company to
rival what we're seeing from NCsoft in style="font-style: italic;">Blade and Soul and style="font-style: italic;">Aion?
might be surprised to know that NHN stands for “Next Human
Network”. And a core part of that network
is online games. Currently the NHN family has three game
development studios: NHN Games, Npluto and most recently
Webzen. I’ve seen some early stuff from all three
of those studios, and as a gamer myself, I’m pretty
excited. Some the projects we’ll see come to market
include NHN Games’ MMORPG C9 ( style="font-style: italic;">Continent of the Ninth);
an MMORPG from Npluto; and, of course, the MMOFPS style="font-style: italic;">Huxley by Webzen is
on its way to ijji.com in 2009. Will each of these games be a
blockbuster? They sure have the potential to become very
Ten Ton Hammer: On that
note, will NHN USA continue to focus primarily on free-to-play games?
Or will it be expanding to include more titles in the future?
Personally, I don’t like to think of
“free-to-play” (F2P) as a genre, or even category
of games. It’s more of a distribution
model. We’re giving the players the opportunity to
set their own price for the game. As a gamer playing
through target="_blank">ijji.com, I get to decide how much
I think my experience playing each game and being part of the community
is worth. Also, any game can be made F2P (some easier than
others) so I don’t think it affects what titles we will
release in the future.
That said, while F2P is the distribution model we are using now,
we’re not closed to other models if it makes sense.
However, F2P is where our expertise and experience is, so I would say
most of the games you’ll see us release will follow this
Ten Ton Hammer: What is
your first priority at NHN USA? What are you going to be adding,
changing or revising?
first priority is the gamers. Really, if it weren’t
for the gamers we wouldn’t be in business, right?
It’s kind of broad, but that’s where our priority
lies. This covers a lot of aspects of our business, such as
having great GM’s, good support, bug fixes, regular updates,
Priority number two is NHN USA employees. NHN USA is a pretty
tight knit company. A lot of us play games together outside
of work, and I think it’s that tightness that allows us to
work effectively as a team in meeting priority number one.
haven't, make sure you check out NHN's Rohan: Blood Feud.
Ten Ton Hammer: The
economic market seems to be on everyone's mind lately, and NHN has
surely felt the impact of the downturn. Will this effect any upcoming
NHN games? Or is NHN fairly solid in style="font-weight: bold;">its place as the largest Korean
Well, our parent company, NHN, is a really large company in
Korea. The economic downturn has affected everyone
I’m sure, but we’re not terribly worried. We
already made decision for the games coming 2009 and we don’t
foresee any reasons to change those plans.
Ten Ton Hammer: Finally,
is there anything else you'd like to tell the Ten Ton Hammer readers
and NHN fans?
this the spot for a shameless plug? I guess there are two
main things I want to say. First, if you haven’t
already done so please check out href="http://www.ijji.com/" target="_blank">ijji.com.
I’ll let you guys make the decision if you want to stick
around after that. For those already in the ijji community -
thanks! We appreciate each of you and look forward to
bringing new games to you, and continuing to expand and update the
games you are currently playing on ijji.com.
Secondly, I want to encourage everyone to keep bringing their friends
to MMO games – ours or anyone else’s. I
said it earlier, but one of the reasons I left Sony to come to NHN was
because I really believe in MMO gaming, and as a gamer and a business
person I believe it is the future of games.
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