Korea Entertainment and Technology
Yesterday I moderated a panel discussion as part of the Korea Entertainment & Technology Strategic Sessions at Digital Hollywood Fall 08. The topic was called “Expanding Gaming Horizon: Game Content, Community & Commerce,” which basically looked at what Korean and North American game companies could learn from each other.
The participants included Philip Yun, who was just announced as the new CEO of NHN USA, in his first-ever panel discussion. Joining him was: Robert Ferrari, vp Business Development of Turbine Inc.; Don Choi, COO of OGPlanet; and, providing an impartial voice, Chris Swain, Co-director, Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab and Asst. Professor, USC Cinematic Arts.
One interesting difference we noted was that American players prefer completely finished and highly polished games, while Korean players are more forgiving of beta versions and enjoy helping to shape the product.
Another important issue was whether gamers played at home or with others. With their pervasive PC café culture, Koreans have a central point of socialization, viral sharing, non-credit card payment mechanisms, and exposure to marketing campaigns. The panel discussed ways of achieving those goals in America.
We also explored free-to-play versus subscription as business models, the importance of having a local partner for multi-national games, micropayments, network speeds and latencies, customer retention, and the value and pitfalls of licensing a well-known property. Something that came up more than once was the recently announced partnership between Turbine and NHN to bring Lord of the Rings Online to Korea.