Which one doesn’t fit:
a) A game of super-cute fantasy characters whacking snails and mushrooms for gold coins
b) A superstar pop-culture dance game
c) A gritty deathmatch between mercenaries.
Sorry, that was a trick question. South Korean game company Nexon produces all three – “MapleStory,” “Audition” and “Combat Arms,” among other titles. Unlike the offerings from more traditional gaming companies like EA, each of these games follows the company’s trademark free-to-download and free-to-play formula. Nexon first came stateside with flagship “MapleStory,” a massively multiplayer online game that’s one part “Super Mario Brothers” and one part “World of Warcraft.”
We had a chance to sit down and talk with Nexon America’s vice president of marketing, Min Kim; “Combat Arms” producer Herb Yang; and associate Bob Holtzman.
The company’s newest game, “Combat Arms,” is a first-person shooter and currently up and running. The 3D first-person shooter’s realistic style is a significant departure from the super-cute, super-deformed style in its other games. But competition has been a fairly core component of many of the company’s games. “Audition” features head-to-head dance competition, while “KartRider” is a cart-racing game in which players, well, race against each other. In karts, I guess.
Nexon’s games generate revenue through “micro transactions,” in which players use real money to buy new facial expressions, haircuts and clothing for their characters. They’re micro because the items – which are often rented or one-time use items – aren’t very expensive. A “MapleStory” player could purchase an angry expression for his or her rogue for a dollar or three.
While its shop — called the black market — isn’t up yet, the same will be true of “Combat Arms.” The market will let players buy new clothing, body types, faces, gun textures and other customizable elements. Yang was emphatic that items that help a player by providing statistics, like new or improved guns, won’t be available for purchase. Better and more specialized weapons would only be available to players who played enough games to use the in-game points system to purchase them. Read the rest of this entry »