Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney gave us an image of how the gaming world has modified in the course of the pandemic. And thus far, the world is tilting extra to on-line video games.
Mahoney spoke in a fireplace chat at GamesBeat Summit 2020 with Michael Pachter, a longtime analysis analyst at Wedbush Securities. They did the same fireside chat on gaming communities at GamesBeat Summit 2019, however their matter was a lot completely different this 12 months.
“We’re experiencing the same thing other companies like us have been seeing,” Mahoney mentioned, noting he was not giving a forecast for the corporate’s upcoming earnings. “A lot of people are staying at home. A lot of people are consuming a lot more online video games. For all sorts of reasons. We are all home more. Also, I think we are looking for connection, ways to challenge together, communicate, and cooperate together.”
Nexon began in South Korea in 1994. Its first title was Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds, an internet fantasy role-playing sport. Nexon is a pioneer of online-only free-to-play video games, the place gamers can begin enjoying at no cost after which buy digital gadgets within the sport for actual cash. This enterprise mannequin propelled it to large success, producing billions in income for sport like Dungeon Fighter Online.
In 2005, it moved its headquarters to Tokyo. Today, the corporate generates about $2.5 billion in revenues a 12 months. The core markets are South Korea, China, and Japan, however the firm has been increasing within the West beneath Mahoney. In 2016, Nexon acquired Big Huge Games, maker of DomiNations. And in 2019, it purchased Patrick Söderlund’s Embark Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, as a part of its quest to turn into as well-known within the West as it’s within the East.
Above: Dungeon Fighter
Mahoney began his profession at Apple, went on to Pointcast, and later Electronic Arts. He joined Nexon in 2010, the corporate went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2011, and he turned CEO of the corporate in 2014. In the previous 12 months, Nexon added $300 million to its money, and it now has about $5 billion warfare chest. That’s fairly a cushion for exhausting instances and cash that it might use for one thing strategic.
Nexon runs plenty of PC gaming cafes, and people are shut down. But total, Mahoney mentioned the enterprise is resilient in instances like this. In the 1990s, the enterprise received closely examined by the Asian monetary disaster in 1998, and once more in 2008. In every of these instances, the enterprise received stronger, Mahoney mentioned. Dungeon Fighter Online, first launched in 2005, has turn into one of many high video games of all time in revenues.
MapleStory, which debuted in 2003, is an immersive on-line role-playing sport with cute 2D graphics. It has deep role-playing sport mechanics. Kart Rider has been performed by half the populations of South Korea and Taiwan. A brand new model of the sport is coming later this 12 months. The massive Nexon video games collectively have tens of tens of millions of gamers. Mahoney views these video games as working with stay occasions, form of like how a spot like Disneyland operates.
Above: Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney (left) and Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter.
“We take the perspective that you really want to be playing this game online,” Mahoney mentioned.
In increasing to the West, Nexon is taking classes that it has discovered from working on-line video games for a very long time in Asia and switch that studying to the West, the place storytelling in video games is extraordinarily sturdy.
While some on-line video games scrutinize their ranks for whales, or massive spenders, Nexon doesn’t try this. It tries to achieve a broader variety of gamers for monetization. It continues to be lower than 10%, however there isn’t as a lot a selection between huge-spending whales and common spenders.
As for making video games in the course of the pandemic, Mahoney mentioned everybody at Nexon is working at dwelling in most locations, however in South Korea, workers have been allowed again in beneath strict situations.
Above: MapleStory 2 is a beloved Nexon sport.
“We actually can develop content from home,” Mahoney mentioned. “We’ve been able to weather this quite well. Our content production has not stopped at all. In some cases, it has gone faster.”
He mentioned it’s at all times higher to work in groups. He feels for the leisure firms in Hollywood, the place all manufacturing of linear TV and film content material has stopped. So far, in-game spending is holding up.
“I think we’ve all gotten a lesson on what we don’t know, in the economy and science We’re living in crazy times. I think it’s an important time to take stock of what we don’t know,” Mahoney mentioned. “It would be impossible for me to predict. But it’s safe to say we are not going to stop going to entertainment. We look at entertainment as a way to escape, to connect, to be told stories, to share. If I could think of one place in the entertainment business to be is online games. Free-to-play games. And in particular, free-to-play games that don’t rely on whales. That’s not to diminish the scariness of what this world is for all of us.”
As for a restoration for the world, Mahoney mentioned, “I’m not an economist. I don’t think we are looking at a V-shaped recovery. The world economy has stopped dead in its tracks. I don’t think we are going to flip it back on overnight. We’ll emerge into a world that has changed significantly. Our families are doing birthdays over Zoom. We are living in a virtual world in many ways. In 1917, we entered the 20th century. I think this is the event that takes us into the 21st century.”
As for leisure, the video games enterprise and interactive leisure goes to develop larger and quicker than some other types of linear leisure, Mahoney mentioned.
“We are now in a new world, and I think everybody is waking up to that now,” Mahoney mentioned.