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Nexon Talks Alex Garden's Return, Target Importance

Talking to Gamasutra as part of an in-depth new interview, Nexon U.S. director Min Kim has been discussing Relic founder Alex Garden's work at Nexon and the company's U
Talking to Gamasutra as part of an in-depth new interview, Nexon U.S. director Min Kim has been discussing Relic founder Alex Garden's work at Nexon - and the company's U.S. success through its prepaid MapleStory game cards at Target and 7-Eleven. MapleStory, a PC free-to-play online RPG, has become a global success, with 72+ million users worldwide and $16 million in monthly revenues, according to Nexon's comments at Austin GDC last year. The title is so successful, in fact, that many Western publishers have decided to emulate the game's business model. But, as Kim explains: "We've been running the microtransactions business since probably the late '90s up to now. So we've got a lot of institutional knowledge." In addition, Kim talks briefly about Nexon's North American development team, based in Vancouver, which includes noted Relic (Homeworld) co-founder Alex Garden, latterly in 'stealth mode' on his new projects. Kim explains: "At the same time, we're bringing our best products out here, but we also have a development studio in Vancouver. That's run by Alex Garden, Steve Rechtschaffner, and Chuck Osieja. We firmly believe that the big moneymakers in this market are probably going to be made by developers in this market, because of cultural things and et cetera. We're trying to position ourselves by bringing products from Korea, while at the same time making products here." Following this, Kim was asked exactly when the first North American-developed project would debut for Nexon, and he explained: "I can't say, but pretty soon." Further on in the interview, the subject of prepaid game cards came up, and Kim explained how crucial to the success of MapleStory they were: "That's the biggest thing, even for us in North America. We didn't really take off until we got the cards into Target and Best Buy and 7-Eleven. Over 50 percent of our player base doesn't have access to plastic, between 13 and 17. They just couldn't pay, so we'd effectively lose more than half our business. So that payment side is, I think, one of the biggest battles that people will fight... When you do a subscription, you do 13 or 15 dollars a month. For us, certain customers pay nothing, and certain customers pay like 25 bucks a week. It really has to do with appetite and consumption." You can now read the full interview with Kim on Gamasutra, including lots more detail on MapleStory, the possibility of the Xbox 360 version of Mabinogi reaching the West, and lots more.

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