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NCsoft confident on European growth

New markets and renewed focus puts company in strong position, says MD Lallier

NCsoft West's European MD, Veronique Lallier, has told GamesIndusty.biz that she's expecting to see solid growth in the region, as new markets continue to evolve their broadband penetration infrastructure.

Speaking in an exclusive interview published today, following on from the company's recently-released financial results, Lallier explained that the process of restructuring the NCsoft West business - after a disappointing period in late 2008 - was now complete, and that a renewed focus on core strengths had helped position the MMO firm for the future.

"Our focus is really triple-A MMO games - big games like Aion, Lineage II, Guild Wars and so on," she said. "That's the key focus for NCsoft West - we had been looking at other kinds of more casual games, that were free-to-play or browser- or small client-based, but back in 2009 we decided to completely refocus our efforts on what we're good at.

"We know how to launch big MMOs, and I think our focus has been very successful. Our recent financial results were good, and I think for us it's key to provide to the market a new gaming experience - something very exciting for the players. We tried different genres, but we decided to focus."

Lallier added that while it was unlikely that the company would bring back game development in Europe any time soon, she noted that the region was taken very seriously in the design of games.

"Our European input is received in the US and Korea, and we have a lot of meetings to make sure that when we bring a game into a market, it's not only localised, but adapted to that market," she said. "It's what we did with Aion - the recent patch applied some new features for the European market, and we'll always make sure that the game is in sync with player expectation.

"That's also part of the reason why we have such a large customer service and community team in Brighton - to be able to gather customer feedback at every stage of the development; but also when the game is live in order to make improvements.

"It doesn't really matter that we don't have a development team based in Europe, because the goal of our game is to provide an amazing experience globally - we make sure that Europe is factored into that."

And that approach, coupled with an expected improvement in user numbers over time, should lead to the EMEA market becoming NCsoft's third largest market for revenue, behind Korea and Japan - but ahead of the US.

"The two markets [EMEA and US] are close to each other in terms of revenues today in our business - there's not much difference between North America and EMEA in terms of user base," she said. "But for EMEA there's a bigger growth potential, because of the broadband penetration levels that are increasing in Eastern Europe, while the North American market is mature.

"I expect that the evolution of those Eastern European revenues will be greater in the coming years - territories like Russia, Greece and Poland are really important. We're definitely looking at those markets to bring more to our bottom line in the future. We have tailored offerings for every territory, and we're using distribution partners for each EMEA region - it's a total of 50 territories altogether."

The full interview with Veronique Lallier, in which she also discusses the success of social network games and how that informs NCsoft's thinking, is available now.

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