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Veronique Lallier

NCsoft West's Europe MD on why the publisher is fitter than ever before

Back in 2009, the landscape wasn't exactly rosy for NCsoft - at least in the Western markets. Tabula Rasa, hugely expensive to create, had failed to make an impact and relations with lead designer Richard Garriott were strained. The company opted to streamline operations and end development of new titles in the UK headquarters in Brighton, leading to a number of redundancies.

Two years on and under the stewardship of MD Veronique Lallier the boat has stabilised - the recent financial results were solid, and here Lallier explains how the business is more focused than ever before, and looks ahead to future developments.

GamesIndustry.biz Take us through the development of the business since you took on the role of MD for Europe.
Veronique Lallier

Well, since early 2009 we launched Aion, which is one of our biggest MMO franchises, and coming from the East we also had Lineage II. It was crucial for us to launch that game globally - at the same time in the West - and we're very happy. We take great satisfaction from the results.

As you can see from our recent financials we're maintaining a steady course, with both of those franchises central to our success. Lineage has been amazing - but then we've also got the City of Heroes and Guild Wars titles, and they're bringing in millions of players.

So back in 2009 when we restructured the team with NCsoft West we focused on making sure we were launching our games in the best manner possible. The products we launch aren't so much games as they are services, so it's critical to be organised and make sure we have the best team in place here in Brighton to support them properly.

At the moment we're very focused on customer support, and the publishing side of the job - but over the past couple of years we've been looking to add key talent to our team... Cat Channon being one of them, for example, so that we can build more bridges with the press.

What we've been doing has perhaps been a little unclear, but we were lacking those talents - we've also appointed a couple of executives in the NCsoft West headquarters, so finally that team is complete. We're really excited, and looking ahead to launching future games.

GamesIndustry.biz The last real batch of news we had from NCsoft in Europe was a bit difficult - you mention the restructuring that ended game production in Brighton. What's the landscape like now?
Veronique Lallier

Our focus is really triple-A MMO games - big games like Aion, Lineage II, Guild Wars and so on. 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 of MMOs, but we decided to focus.

I've been in the games industry for ten years, and previously publishers might launch 100 games in a year. If you look at the market today that's changed to really focus on the very big titles - fewer games but with higher quality - and that's the strategy we're really going for, targeting those MMO games that we know will be successful.

We don't want to launch ten smaller games which might be more niche - we're looking for global success, and that's what we're getting with games like Aion.

In terms of how the European team looks now, we have a publishing team, that incorporates communication. We've got a sales team, a marketing team - that includes community and localisation - and a big customer support team that's split between games.

Then there's finance and HR, and that's basically it - we're really focused on how to serve our customers and how to bring our products to market.

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