Local game makers should go global

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Local game makers should go global


From Top to bottom “Huxley,” “Tabula Rasa” and “Hellgate: London.” [JoongAng Ilbo]

With an eye on overseas markets, game maker Webzen has spent almost four years and 13 billion won ($14 million) on developing its virtual shooting game, “Huxley.” The game is scheduled to be released early next year. In the development of the game the Korean game company Webzen, famous for its online multiplayer games, hired Cedric Fiorentino.
Fiorentino is the developer of the “Unreal” game series, a first-person shooting game popular in the United States. In anticipation of an overseas release of the game, Fiorentino came to Korea and designed maps and game characters targeted at game players in North America and Europe. The background music for Huxley was composed by Kevin Lyttle, the well-known American game music composer.
“We narrowed down the concept of the characters by looking at hundreds of photographs of famous actors and actresses, not only in Korea but also in the world, with Fiorentino,” said a developer at Webzen. “As a result we were able to create characters that are very different from the pre-existing local characters, as they have a more global image.”
When news broke that Fiorentino was participating in the Korean game development, the international news media showed strong interest in Huxley.
“We haven’t introduced the game to the overseas market but there are forecasts on the popularity and sales of the game [from foreign media],” said Kim Nam-ju, president of Webzen.
In October of 2006, the company held a focus group test of the game in the North American market through its branch office in Los Angeles. According to Webzen, of the 100 players who tested the game (including seven developers from Red 5 Studios, creators of the famed “World of Warcraft”), 93 percent said they would like to play the game once it is in full service.
As the number of foreign game developers creating games targeted for Korean gamers has grown, so has the number of Korean game developers, like Webzen, who are turning their eyes from the local to the international market.
Some of the companies are hiring famous foreign game developers for the early stages of development to create games that will strike a chord with game players abroad.
“For companies to expand their market from the local level to the international stage, companies need the help of foreign developers,” said Kim Taek-jin, president of NCsoft.
HanbitSoft recently released its first person shooting game, “Hellgate: London.”
The company used a similar game development strategy employed by Webzen.
Although the Korean game company is servicing the game, Hellgate was developed by Flagship.
The game targeted for the more international audience has set the background of the game in London.
“The characters are very different from the usual characters found in Korean games, which sometimes have unrealistic features and body figures,” said Yoon Bok-geun of HanbitSoft.
“The characters look Western, so they are more familiar to players from North America and Europe,” he said.
Tabula Rasa, a sci-fi multiplayer online role playing game developed by NCsoft, recently employed American game developer Richard Garriott.
“It will be helpful for Korean companies to gain competitiveness by going global: hire American developers, create graphics in China, where labor is cheap, and find ideas for content in Japan,” said Wi Jong-hyun, a professor of business at Chung-Ang University.

By Chang Chung-hoon JoongAng Ilbo/ Lee Ho-jeong Staff Reporter
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