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New publisher En Masse opens doors

Bluehole Studio subsidiary recruits management from Blizzard, EA, NCsoft

New game publisher En Masse Entertainment has set up business in Seattle, headed up by a management team comprised of former Blizzard, NCsoft and EA employees and execs.

The enterprise is a wholly owned subsidiary of leading Korean MMO company Bluehole Studio, established in response to the studio's desire to release its inaugural MMO TERA in the West.

Its management team - which was formed towards the end of 2009 - is made up of CEO Dr Jae-Heon Yang, COO Patrick Wyatt, publishing VP Chris Lee and senior producer Brian Knox.

Yang is the former CTO of NCsoft, prior to which he developed one of Asia's first 3D MMOs, Sephiroth.

Meanwhile, Wyatt is one of the three co-founders of ArenaNet and developer of Guild Wars, and also former CTO of NCsoft. Before ArenaNet, he was a key contributor to Blizzard's legendary Starcraft and Warcraft franchises.

Lee has managed marketing campaigns for franchises such as Halo, Age of Empires and Aion, at companies including EA, Microsoft and NCsoft; and Knox is an NCsoft MMO veteran who worked as producer on Aion.

It is this vastly experienced team that will stand En Masse apart from other companies in the publishing space, Lee told GamesIndustry.biz.

"The calibre of talent we've been able to recruit extends well beyond the leadership team and includes top industry talent in the areas of writing, marketing, operations, customer support and more," he said.

The formation of the company came as a result of Bluehole Studio's desire to establish a publishing entity for TERA, added Lee.

"Bluehole sees the West as a critical market, and they felt it more advantageous to invest in creating a Western publisher than self-publishing in their home territory.

"The En Masse leadership team came together towards the end of 2009, with the purpose of bringing TERA to Western audiences, as well as looking forward to future titles. This is a team with a track record of successful products, and the skills to realise some exciting and ambitious goals."

The individual senior management members were attracted to the business opportunity after seeing TERA, said Lee - "The game made the decision easy."

"We're attracted to the opportunity to enter a rapidly-growing industry with a polished, high-potential product," he added. "Combine that with the complete support of the senior management at Bluehole Studio, and you've got a rare chance to make a real difference."

While the company's focus will be on TERA initially, it is looking out for other publishing opportunities too.

"We are building a multi-dimensional organisation. En Masse's strengths could easily be applied to games developed in either the East or West, as indicated by the franchises this group has worked on in the past. We haven't signed our next project yet, but we have our eyes open for the next big thing," said Lee.

He added that the team has an acute awareness of what is important when launching a Korean MMO, such as TERA, to Western audiences.

"The biggest key is cultural relevance. We need to ensure that we go above and beyond compulsory localisation in terms of gameplay mechanics, storyline, writing, security, marketing, PR and community," he esplained. "Every detail matters because consumers know the game's origin, and are hyper-sensitive to those details. With the understanding that consumers will scrutinise our efforts, we hold a high standard for everything that we do,"

TERA is scheduled for release in Korea later this year, and the US and European releases will come at an undetermined point afterwards.

En Masse has also confirmed it will be hosting meetings at this year's GDC 2010 in San Francisco.

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