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Nexon: Market optimization key to free-to-play

Nexon's Min Kim explains the thinking behind its partnership with Splash Damage for the shooter Extraction

Nexon has been one of the pioneers in the free-to-play space from the very beginning, and while much of Asia has been capitalizing on free-to-play for years, it's only in the last few years that free-to-play has started to really take off in the West. Nexon is looking to grow its business in the West (with investments into Rumble Entertainment, Robotoki and SecretNewCo) and the company recently spoke with our sister site [a]list daily about its new partnership with developer Splash Damage.

Nexon will be publishing the free-to-play shooter Extraction for Splash Damage, but Nexon America boss Min Kim said that the company first has to connect with the community that's worried about how Nexon will affect the game Splash Damage makes.

"I can be completely honest and say that players are probably concerned about the partnership between Nexon and Splash Damage," Kim said. "Part of it just has to do with the fact that Splash Damage has a partner. If Splash Damage was running the game entirely by themselves then their inner circle of players would feel that Splash Damage is making all the calls, they don't have to water down any of their decisions and make mistakes that way. When we announced this partnership there was a little bit of that."

"I think there's also this stigma of Asian free-to-play games being pay to win," he continued. "Whether they've played our games or other Asian games or not, that's just a stigma that's out there, so that's another concern players have. The way I look at it is, rather than think about all the games that are out there, really thinking about what this partnership means, and when you say Nexon and Splash Damage are working on this game, this game is purely focused on North America and Europe. That's basically how it's been designed."

And optimizing a title for a specific market is key to making sure a free-to-play game succeeds. Kim is very aware of that, and it's one of the reasons Nexon is doing more with Western developers.

"...we've always felt domestic development allows developers to basically focus on what the player needs are for that specific market and optimize for over there. You see the guys at Riot, you see the Valve guys, and they're basically creating services that Western gamers are looking for," Kim noted. "With Splash Damage I finally found a developer that sees eye to eye with me, has the same community vision, and it's just basically creating a really awesome quality game that we believe in. I've basically been looking for this since 2005, so I'm pretty stoked."

Be sure to check out the complete interview at the [a]list daily.

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James Brightman avatar
James Brightman: James Brightman has been covering the games industry since 2003 and has been an avid gamer since the days of Atari and Intellivision. He was previously EIC and co-founder of IndustryGamers and spent several years leading GameDaily Biz at AOL prior to that.
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