Exclusive Interview with Nexon's Min Kim

Posted Wed, Apr 01, 2009 by Ralsu

It's hard to deny the powerful presence of Nexon in the free-to-play market. The company's wildly successful MapleStory was one of the first titles supported by microtransactions to shoehorn its way into the West. Mabinogi, another Nexon title has been in the top half of the Top Ten Free-to-Play Games for a long while, and the publisher continues to look for the next game that will make a big splash in Western markets.

Ten Ton Hammer's Cody "Micajah" Bye recently got a chance to chat with Min Kim, Nexon America's Director of Game Operations, about the status of the Nexon company, future plans, music, and more.

MapleStory is one of the giants of the industry.

Ten Ton Hammer: Is Nexon feeling any sort of pressure with the economic problems the nation’s had lately?

Min Kim: Everybody’s feeling it. Historically, I think our games really take off when we hit this kind of financial crisis. If you want to play online games and you know these games are totally free-to-play, there’s no reason for you do dump them unless you are cutting your Internet.

Ten Ton Hammer: How’s the development of Sugar Rush going so far? I know you guys closed it down at the end of December and it still hasn’t come back up yet.

Min Kim: I don’t know if you heard we shut down our Vancouver studio [which was working on Sugar Rush] some time in January. Not to say Sugar Rush is dead. We’re still trying to figure out how we’re going to do that. That we definitely did feel, I mean, [with the current economic situation]. That was really unfortunate because we still believe in it.

So right now, we’re really focusing on launching fewer titles but launching them better and putting more marketing dollars behind them and hope eventually they grow. We know what titles in Asia work for us, so bringing the ones that actually hit—really decent hits, or actually homeruns for us—just branching off from that would be a good way to introduce Dungeon and Fighter, which will be renamed for the States to Dungeon Fighter Online. It sounds a little weird to say “Dungeon” and “Fighter.”

Ten Ton Hammer: Yeah.

Min Kim: Grammatically, it’s probably correct, but it sounds like The Killers song, like, “Are we human or are we dancers?” [The Killers song “Human” is found on the album Day & Age—Ed.]

Ten Ton Hammer: [laughs] I love The Killers.

Min Kim: So they’ll change it to Dungeon Fighter Online, and that game is actually just taking no prisoners out in Asia right now. It’s one of our biggest titles. It’s probably doing better than MapleStory in Asia. I think we’ve hit 170,000 concurrent users in Korea. In China it’s hit [around] 1.5 million.

Nexon delivered another hit with Mabinogi.

Ten Ton Hammer: Wow.

Min Kim: It’s kind of like a throwback to the old arcade style games.

Ten Ton Hammer: Ah. Like Gauntlet? Is that what you’re thinking?

Min Kim: It’s more like a Final Fight-ish type game. It totally looks like it came straight out of the arcade. It’s very accessible and when we bring it out here, I think that’s going to be the growing trend…people playing games like that.

It’s a multiplayer online game, so you’ve got a lobby where everybody’s kind of hanging out but you join up with three of your other friends and basically hop in and go into instanced dungeons. It’s a lot of fun.

If you look at the graphics style, some people might look at it and say, “Yeah, I don’t know if it’s for me.” But if you look at it another way, I think the graphics style actually makes it really accessible. When we were playing another MMO, like [Mabinogi], [that] people that haven’t played games like that before, they are really hesitant because they don’t really know what to do. But I can see someone will be playing Dungeon Fighter Online and their friend coming over and saying, “Hey, move over. Let me try that.” It’s kind of the same for KartRider, too. So we think the game’s really got a lot of reach.

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