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Crossfire owner Smilegate on the hunt for global game developers

Publisher eyes esports to establish Crossfire in Europe and US

South Korean-based publisher Smilegate says it's not placing any restrictions on the types of games it's looking to sign.

The firm, most famous for its Crossfire online title, is on the hunt for new Western developers to boost its business in Europe and the US. In February, the firm opened a dedicated European business unit in Berlin.

"We are constantly investing in promising startups and game companies to discover content with potential and offer services through Smilegate Megalab and Smilegate Investment," says Ina Jang, CEO of Smilegate Worldwide.

"We're always looking for fresh gaming content that is intrinsically fun and complete, without being bound to genres or platforms. Smilegate has the intent and capabilities to publish great games without regard to quantity or genre."

Jang's comments echo that of Bernd Beyreuther, who told that there 'are no limits' in terms of title it is looking to sign.

Although Smilegate isn't quite the household name in the West as it is in the East, the company believes it has the publishing power to attract decent studios. The company says it can offer financing, publishing and localisation services, not to mention access to the potentially lucrative Asian markets.

Yet Smilegate is not just looking for new content to launch in Europe and the US. The publisher is also eager to establish Crossfire as a strong brand in the Western markets, too.

The online shooter first debuted in Europe in 2011, but it originally launched in South Korean ten years ago. Smilegate says it has 8m concurrent users and 650m registered players, yet the tactical first-person shooter has yet to crack Europe and the US in the same way.

"I believe one of the biggest reasons is because eastern and western gaming markets have different characteristics," continues Jang "Crossfire is naturally very popular in the East, with the exception of Japan, where online games are strong. Compared to eastern markets, there is more of a disadvantage in the West as that market is mostly comprised of console games rather than online titles. However, the online gaming market is steadily growing in the West. As Crossfire brand recognition continues to climb through various esports competitions, we anticipate positive results in the future."

The esports element was one of the driving reasons behind setting up Smilegate's European publishing office, but there are other ways that the business is looking to grow the IP. Jang says she hopes to established a "Crossfire culture" by bringing the brand to new platforms. There's also a sequel in the works, and even a movie.

"Expanding IP value is extremely important to diversify the brands that Smilegate has," she says. "In order to do so, we need a new form of content, besides games, to provide a experience that gives a new interpretation to users that have played Crossfire and that informs future users who have yet to experience it. This decision was made because we believe movies are the most effective entertainment tool to deliver this content-recognition value to these targets."

Outside of Crossfire, Smilegate is also working on the MMO Lost Ark.