Here is the second part of my visit to Mobicle. In the first part I discussed their game TK Online. In the second part YJ and I talk about the Korean gaming market and where Mobicle is headed. First we talked about how the gaming markets differ between some countries. The most obvious difference between Korea and the Western gaming market is that Korean games, with few exceptions, are free. Korean games, as we know, work mainly on a microtransaction model. You get the game for free, and as you play you can purchase small things like XP boosts, costumes and other things like that to change your game.
The Western model typically has one buying a game and getting the complete game. Later you can buy expansion packs to add to the game. In recent years a lot of publishers and developers have been experimenting with downloadable content (DLC), to the chagrin of some players. Many Western players take exception to this model, especially when DLC is available at release time, feeling it should have been included in the game. However, Koreans are quite used to having to buy their extras. Another big difference is that most games available in Korea include no single player content, campaign or story.
YJ said that they prefer the current style of microtransactions. He sees it as better for consumers and developers. People have more control over what they buy and what is made.
He also said that the Japanese market was difficult to crack. It is different as well in that the Japanese prefer single player games. So it is harder to get an online game to catch on. TK Online is currently in development there, but it is yet to be seen how popular it will be.
I mentioned to him that I found the long closed beta style of a lot of Korean development to be a bit of a tease. Sometimes you'll see a game added to a portal and be put into closed beta a year or more before it is playable. I felt that Some players might get tired of waiting for it to come out and give up on it or move on. He told me that most gamers here are used to that so they don't see it as having any kind of major impact on their business. He said that sometimes there are a lot of unforeseen delays.
The game portals here are like the publishers in other countries. They are currently shopping TK Online around and have had interest from Neowiz, CJ, and WeMade. Their goal is to eventually tie it in with one of the sites and get it off its standalone site. Good thing we can sign-up for most of the sites, I should warn him away from Mgame and Nexon.
When asked if he preferred developing mobile games or online games, he said that they were very different, so it was hard to pick one. He said that Mobile games can be developed pretty quickly. Less than 1 year usually, while online games can take a very long time to develop, as we've seen.
He said he was very interested in Netmarble's upcoming "Marble Station". This will be a standard platform for web-based games. Due to their partnership with CJ who is tied into Netmarble they'll be able to work with it. This plays into their company's direction.
Mobicle wants to focus on three things right now: iPhone/mobile games, Social Networking Games and Online games. They've released a few iPhone games already as I mentioned last time, and have several more on the horizon. They've integrated some of their games with Open Feint, a popular social networking app on the iPhone, but actually want to develop their own replacement for it.
Mobicle sees that socializing is key factor to game enjoyment. They want all their games to have some kind of chat and interaction built into them, it is why they have such a heavy multiplayer focus with their games. YJ feels the gaming trend is pushing to MP, and I'd have to agree with him. As much as I enjoy good single player games, it seems the market is moving very heavily towards multiplayer with a lot of shooters coming out with very short campaigns which are little more than the tutorials of old. No more 30 mission stories like Doom gave us. You barely work up a sweat and all you have ahead of you is multiplayer. At least I haven't heard too many 12 year-olds screaming in my ear here.
I quite enjoyed the visit to Mobicle and hopefully if they have some big happenings in the future I'll get to go up and see them again and write about it here.