Free-to-play mobile and PC developer and publisher, Nexon, will use the Nordic as a region for testing their upcoming mobile title, Fantasy War Tactics.
Many Nordic developers look towards the Asian markets these days, searching for a lucrative and profitable free-to-play mobile market. And some certainly also find what they’re searching for. But now it seems that Asian developers are looking towards the Nordic too.
Founded in Seoul, South Korea in 1994, Nexon has always been on the forefront of free to play titles in the Asian regions. And most of the company’s revenue has also originated from the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese markets.
But now, the nearly 5,000 employee strong company is looking towards the western markets, soft-launching their upcoming mobile title “Fantasy War Tactics” in Finland among other countries.
“Starting from Fantasy War Tactics our big push in 2015 is to enter Western mobile markets with titles such as Mabinogi Duel – NEXON’s tactical trading card game (TCG), Legacy Quest – a mobile action RPG developed by former teammates from Rockstar games and Deep Silver and much more!”, Head of Mobile Game Business at Nexon Korea, Tommy Lee says to Nordic Game Bits.
And the fact that Finland was chosen as one of the soft-launch testing markets is no coincidence, says Lee, who points towards the great successes of Rovio, Supercell, and Mojang as great examples of what the Nordic region can master:
“In Nordic territories, we see strong growth in mobile in general and in apps and gaming in specific, with outstanding success stories like Clash of Clans, Angry Birds and Minecraft leading the charge.”, he says.
And although Nexon is eager to enter the Western free-to-play market, they still feel the need to test their games properly, as Finland other Western regions are unknown territory for the large developer and publisher. Just as many Nordic developers feel as if they are on shaky grounds when entering the Asian markets.
“Since we are newcomers to these markets, we’ve decided to focus on a very limited number of territories – Netherlands and Finland in this case (along with Australia and Malaysia in the Asia Pacific region) – so that we can carefully monitor our game’s performance here and learn as much as we possibly can about these exciting new markets.”, Lee adds.
Going back 5-10 years, the Western free-to-play market was nowhere as big as it was in the Asian region.
“Free-to-play used to be considered extremely unusual outside of Asia, but now, some of the most popular and successful games in the West use this business model – League of Legends, World of Tanks and Hearthstone, for instance.”, Tommy Lee says.
And these titles, Lee says, are what is closing the gap between the Western and Asian markets at a fast pace.
“So while there may previously have been a gap between players in China, Japan and South Korea and players in the West who were more accustomed to premium games, this gap has narrowed considerably.”, Lee explains.
But in changing their focus towards a global free-to-play market rather than an Asian free-to-play market, Nexon will have to change its game design as well.
With Fantasy War Tactics, for example, the company tries to design characters and locations that appeal to and immolate real life people and locations, so as to attract players from all over the world, Lee adds:
“We definitely feel that there are measures that can be taken to broaden games to wider, more global audiences.”
“For instance, many of our titles have a great breadth of different characters and areas to explore, and this breadth has given us the ability to create characters and locations that evoke people and places that are familiar to people from many different parts of the world – rather than simply making a game with characters and zones that only appeal to a single country.”
With its newest mobile titles, Nexon targets the mid-to-hardcore audiences, thus differentiating their mobile efforts from some of their PC titles such as family-friendly Maple Story, which has a more casual audience.
“We’re not looking to make easy-to-play casual titles. Fantasy War Tactics is a turn-based, isometric strategy role-playing game (SRPG) in the vein of classic SRPGs of the 1990s and 2000s in which you can create varied teams of multiple Hero characters, each with unique sets of abilities, ranges, movement speeds and skills that affect the game’s tactical battles differently.”, Lee says.
And according to Nexon, free-to-play is here to stay. The Korean studio is especially fond of the free-to-play model due to its ability to mitigate risks and the fact that it scales well from a business standpoint, Lee concludes:
“We feel that free-to-play games are both the present and the future. We see free-to-play continuing to see great success in the years to come because of the way that it helps mitigate risk and scales well from a business standpoint, and continues to become popular with both casual and core gamers alike.“