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Nexon's new CEO preaches respect for the creative

"What’s exceptionally hard to do, and what our industry has to give a lot of respect for, is the creative person, the game developer who is not asking [business-related] questions."
"It’s hard to do that, right? It’s a lot easier to talk about buying revenue, about trends, about what game is popular this month. What’s exceptionally hard to do, and what our industry has to give a lot of respect for, is the creative person, the game developer who is not asking those questions."
- Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney In a new interview with VentureBeat, newly installed Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney speaks openly about the industry's tendency to ignore creativity in favor of trend-chasing and business-speak. Mahoney became CEO of the Tokyo-based online game publisher, perhaps best known for MapleStory, in March. He's been the company's CFO since 2010. Nexon has, of late, been heavily investing in new studios and signing deals to publish games. In the interview, Mahoney discusses the "five bad years" the industry recently went through, where there was "precious little good art coming out of the industry." Console studios chased graphics fidelity, he argues, while social game developers exploited their audiences -- only to mostly disappear once those audiences wised up. "Those hot up-and-coming companies of a few years ago did not end up having sustainable businesses at all. That indicates to me that our industry lives or dies based on the quality of its creative output. That's the lesson of the last five years," Mahoney says. His views are also shaped by his time at EA, where he says business development staff who didn't play games played too big a role in shaping the company's lineup. "If you look at Pixar, I would posit that what made them a great film studio was this absolute insistence that they are an art form. You can’t just shovel out junk. That might work for one or two movies, but it’s not going to work consistently over a period of decades." The full interview with Mahoney is available on VentureBeat.

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