Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor

At the ION Games Conference, it’s easy to rub shoulders with
the big-wigs in the MMOG industry. However, few are as easy to talk to
or as honest as Nexon America’s Min Kim, the current director
of game operations for the phenomenally profitable company. After
returning from one of his various appointments over the week, Min sat
down with me for a quick chat about the plans for Nexon America over
the next year.  

Since our coverage of Mabinogi
has been fairly extensive over the past three months, I wanted to make
sure that Ten Ton Hammer wasn’t ignoring any other games that
Nexon America was working on. Surprisingly, Kim had a bevy of subjects
that he wanted to talk about, including several new projects.

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At ION, Min Kim
discussed their latest game, Combat Arms.

“We have two new games coming out,” Min Kim
explained. “And they’re coming out really soon. One
of the games will be our first MMO out of our Vancouver studio, so
we’re really excited about it. My litmus test for whether a
game is good or not is if our employees play the game around the
office, and using that as a judge, I’m thinking that our
Vancouver game is going to do really well.”

However, Kim couldn’t really discuss the project coming out
of Vancouver at the ION Conference. Instead, Kim turned to a game that
we could chat about which was style="font-style: italic;">Combat
, an online first person shooter with its
particular style. When asked about the game, and its relationship to
MMOGs, Kim gave a fairly detailed explanation of the product and where
they’re aiming with it.

“It’s not an MMOFPS,” he stated.
“It’s more of an online FPS. It’s not
like Huxley. We’re really hopeful for the game over here
[North America], because the market is really saturated over in Korea.
We’re going to be making tweaks to it before release, but our
QA team is really excited about this game.”

When I asked how Combat
will fare against the games that have already gone to
market in North America, he was very confident about the future of the
title. “It’s going to kick ass,” Kim
stated. “It was made later than those previous games, so
it’s going to look and play better. With online FPS games,
you really want good graphics ,but you can’t push the
envelope too much. While this will definitely be above everyone else,
it won’t push machines too hard.”

But what about the standard shooter market? In my mind, I
couldn’t help but pit anything that Nexon produced in the FPS
realm against other North American titles like Crysis or Team Fortress
2, and I asked Kim about where he saw style="font-style: italic;">Combat Arms falling
in that category.

“I don’t think someone playing style="font-style: italic;"> Team Fortress 2 will
come to this game and say that it’s the only thing
they’ll play,” Kim said. “But I do think
everyone else playing America’s
Soldier Front
, and War
; this will probably be their best option.”

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Audition, another
Nexon game, has been received well in North America.

While the new games are great to hear about from a first hand
source, Nexon America has a whole slew of other games already pushed to
market, and Kim was definitely interested in talking those over as
well. With the vast number of customers Nexon is pulling from the North
American MMOG market, one of my initial questions about the rest of
Kim’s games focused on their demographics and whether they
followed the standard MMOG ratios.

“We’re doing a research study right now to try and
find out exactly who our customers are because a lot of them
aren’t traditional MMO players,” Kim said.
“Some of them don’t even own a console; they
don’t play games besides the one game they do play, which
could be MapleStory.
We really just want to know what’s going on.”

But MapleStory
isn’t the only incredibly popular game in Nexon’s
pocket. Kim wanted to make sure we talked about every massively
multiplayer online game, especially any title that hasn’t
been widely covered by the general press.

“One of our other games, href=""> style="font-style: italic;">Audition,
is doing really well right now,” Kim added. “Music
licensing, up to this point, has been pretty tough, but we’re
at a point now where we can get pretty much any songs we want.
We’ve gotten Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Lifehouse, and
all these major guys on board.”

Before he could continue, I wanted to make sure I had a clear picture
of how Audition played. I had always assumed style="font-style: italic;">Audition played
like Dance Dance
using a keyboard, but that turned out to be an
incorrect assumption. “It’s really not,”
Kim corrected. “You get a whole bunch of arrow combinations,
you finish them, and then the beat bar goes and you have to time the
beat to it. The space bar is rhythm based, but all the arrow keys are
just sequences that you’re trying to get through in a certain
amount of time.”

As Kim and I chatted, he explained that the demographics for the game
were incredibly different from the normal MMO ratio.
“It’s like 60%-70% girls,” Kim said.
“If you check out the MySpace page, you’ll notice
that it’s all girls. I think other gamers would definitely be
interested in checking out the title because there’s such a
huge demographic of women for the game. In Korea, people play style="font-style: italic;">Audition to meet
other people, and it’s something we’d really like
to establish in North America.”

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KartRider will make
it into the US soon.

Finally, I asked Kim about the business model that Audition runs on.
Apparently, Audition is just like any other item-based free-to-play
game with one exception; all of the items in style="font-style: italic;">Audition are vanity
items. None of them have any influence on the actual gameplay.

“Most people that don’t get the MMO business or
only work with one product, all they keep talking about is vanity
items,” Kim said. “And I just can’t help
but think that the person doesn’t know what they’re
talking about, because every game is very different. It depends on what
the goal is of the game, right? If you look at style="font-style: italic;">MapleStory, one of
our best selling items is our “2x XP” card. For
some players, gaining levels is one of the most important things they
can do in the game. For other players, it’s buying

“In Audition,
vanity items are the key, because who cares about how high your level
is in the game?” Kim continued. “It’s all
about this social competition. That’s why so many people buy
these vanity items.”

My next question focused on Nexon’s most popular game in
Korea, KartRider.
Although Kim couldn’t go into details on when the game was
going to be officially launched in the US, he did mention that the game
was still being tweaked for the North American audience and that we
would have more details on the game soon.

“It’s our biggest property, so we’re
trying to do it right,” Kim explained.

At that, Kim and I both looked at our watches and realized that we were
running late for other appointments. However, be on the lookout over
the next couple weeks for more information from the Nexon America
developers. We know that our readers are interested in the popular
trends in North American gaming, and we’d be remiss not to
keep a tight watch on Nexon’s progress.


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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016