Nexon: We're letting consumers down

Chief executive Owen Mahoney says mobile isn't delivering

New Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney has accused the mobile industry of letting its customers down when it comes to content, especially when it comes to clones of a certain popular bird game.

"As an industry haven't delivered that for gamers yet," he told GamesBeat.

"A third of what we've done in the last few months is Flappy Bird clones. We're letting consumers down. I know that, because as a consumer, I really want to play a different kind of game than just a casual, short-format game. I want to play a more immersive experience."

In the interview he highlights the fact that a third of all games being approved on the App Store were clones on Flappy Bird, but also saw a brighter future for mobile the platform became closer and closer to PC.

"I think the platforms are converging. At some point, it'll be all mobile or all PC. It'll be all the same thing. That's how we think about it. We're not solving toward a mobile percentage. What I expect is a natural outcome of the types of things we're doing, as mobile devices become stronger under the hood."

In February Mahoney revealed the company was interested in acquiring North American IP to add to the companies Asian products.

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Latest comments (8)

Nick Parker Consultant 3 years ago
Doesn't sound like he's played many mobile games but I accept his point about clones at this stage of the industry - markets tend to stagnate as they mature.
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Ralph Tricoche Studying MA, CUNY3 years ago
The issue as I see it is not about power but about platform, there is only so much you can do on a mobile device with smart glass (read "touch") technology. We wont even speak about battery consumption at this time.
When these games have been brought over to the PC they wither on the vine. He speaks of immersive experience, which I understand as complex. But the real question is how do you get all that complexity into your small touchscreen with an audience that plays while commuting in crammed buses or trains with limited time, perhaps standing while holding the handrails with one hand free.
Easy enough to play Flappy Birds, doubt you want to play Tom Clancy's The Division.

Add micro transactions to your complex game and you start losing street cred for being a money hog.

I'm afraid that mobile gaming, will suffer the same fate that the Wii did. You cant depend on casual gamers. There is a reason they are called casual.
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Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance3 years ago
I think a major hurdle here is the price point. If you're above $6.99 in the mobile market, you probably priced yourself out of the competition. Yet with the growing power of mobile devices, mobile games are starting to grow in length, budget and support (particularly when you consider the range of devices available - I have to guess that mobile support is probably as vigorous if not more so than PC support).

For most non-mobile specific developers, it may be too much to ask to develop new IP, engine, implement a support staff, etc, and charge $6.99 or less per title. Especially if you are attempting to avoid the wrath of the consumer via microtransaction fiesta. With those kinds of constraints, is it any wonder developers go for the short-cycle development involved in clones and casual? (not excusing clones, but still)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Steve Wetz on 24th March 2014 7:09pm

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Show all comments (8)
Spencer Franklin Concept Artist 3 years ago
"... But the real question is how do you get all that complexity into your small touchscreen with an audience that plays while commuting in crammed buses or trains with limited time, perhaps standing while holding the handrails with one hand free..."

I don't hold this to be true... I find myself playing these games while sitting on my couch in front of the boob tube, or lying in bed. This holds true for my daughters, who often times are playing mobile games while lounging on the couch themselves in the evenings. Immersive experiences, like the tale tale games are what I play during these times (I don't really play any of the short on the go games, candy crush or the like...). More games along this line would be fine for me. It all comes down to the type of game... Maybe more focus on creating quality experiences tailored to the platform, and not so much about trying to make every game fit every platform.
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Kevin Corti Product Manager - Games, Mobile, Odobo3 years ago
Whilst I totally agree that this industry needs to be much better in terms of product quality and variety, it is a massive mistake to see mobile as 'mini consoles'. Anyone that thinks that the answer to Flappy Bird clones is to squeeze Titan Fall onto mobile devices is deluded. The opportunity is not for hardcore games on mobile. It also smacks of crass arrogance I believe, when people say that players dont want the more simple games. They do. Unquestionably. The challenge is to innovate in that space, both in terms of gamplay but also in pricing/business models. There may be a dislike/distrust of micro transactions both from traditional games folks and some of the casual player base but $6.99 ain't going to work either people!
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Alan Resnin Journalist 3 years ago
He is totally right. Mobile still isn't even up to GBA quality in terms of original content.
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Yvonne Neuland Studying Game Development, Full Sail University3 years ago
The problem with all the clones is that they completely bury any real games that come out. The Apple and Play stores are so stuffed with knockoffs of knockoffs of knockoffs that it is literally impossible to find anything else. Unless a game gets featured, it might as well have been submitted to the Pacific Ocean as the app store. The Play store absolutely baffles me. Google created the Google Search Engine. They have made it possible to easily locate everything on the entire internet. Except decent android apps.

I don't really understand the the logic people use when they decide to make the 5 billionth clone of a popular game. Just consider your own process of deciding which games to purchase. Have you ever, even once, thought to yourself...."You know.....I bet the LAST person to clone that game everyone's playing is the one who got it right! Let's buy their version!!" If not, then why do you think anyone else is going to?

There have been some great mobile games, in all different genre varieties. Assuming you get the controls to work well with a touch-screen environment, I would guess that there are all the same markets for mobile devices that there are for all the other platforms.

Making it impossible for the customers to locate the great games will destroy the markets though. Which is exactly what all the clones are doing.
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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd3 years ago
"a third of all games being approved on the App Store were clones on Flappy Bird"

Even if this is true (which I seriously doubt), it's meaningless. If the barrier to entry is low, you will always get a lot of hobbyist/opportunist rubbish that sinks without trace.

He's right about everything else though. The distinctions between mobile, PC and console are quickly becoming irrelevant for many kinds of games.
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