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Netmarble美国分公司总裁Simon Sim谈手游IP战略

Netmarble美国分公司总裁Simon Sim谈手游IP战略

原作者:Dean Takahashi 译者:Vivian Xue

网石游戏(Netmarble),这家韩国手游公司非常擅长打造爆款游戏,包括《天堂2:重生》、《漫威未来之战》和《BTS World》。

网石不断更新这些游戏,并且正在发行新手游《富豪争霸》(Rich World)和《拳皇:全明星》(The King of Fighters Allstar)。《天堂2》拥有超过3000万名玩家,营收超过10亿美元,这也是网石市值超过65亿美元的原因之一。该公司旗下有4000多名开发者,大多位于韩国,他们专注于制作原创游戏和授权IP游戏。

本周在阿纳海姆举行的Game Daily Connect活动上,我采访了网石美国分公司的总裁西蒙·西姆(Simon Sim),与他探讨了移动游戏的增长、手游开发中IP的使用,以及为什么该公司选择通过投资韩国流行乐团BTS(防弹少年团)走向国际化。我们还谈到了移动游戏的未来、大IP、Nexon(韩国电脑游戏公司)收购计划的夭折、手游画面质量和云游戏。

以下是经编辑的采访内容。

GamesBeat:你今天的演讲主要关于什么?

西蒙·西姆:主要关于我们如何使用IP,如何满足每个IP的粉丝们的期待。我谈到了网石在实践过程中的方法和经验教训。

marvel-kabam(from venturebeat.com)

marvel-kabam(from venturebeat.com)

GamesBeat:BTS是其中的一个大IP吗?

西蒙·西姆:是的,BTS是我们的一个大IP。我还介绍了其它例子,如《漫威未来之战》,以及为什么《天堂2:革命》是一种不同的类型。漫威的粉丝们有着不同的期待。他们喜欢动作类游戏和收集漫威英雄。我们试图通过《漫威未来之战》迎合粉丝需求。《天堂2:革命》是基于PC版MMORPG打造的手游,我们制作了一款满足粉丝期待的真正的MMORPG手游。

众所周知,BTS是一个非常受欢迎的韩国偶像团体。这是一个明星IP。但BTS的粉丝大多是休闲游戏玩家,甚至非游戏玩家。我们的游戏《BTS World》是一个超休闲的游戏,机制非常简单,易于上手,并专注于音乐。我们还发行了游戏原声带专辑。这款游戏与音乐不可分割。

GamesBeat:这些游戏的投资规模有多大?多少名开发者参与了制作?

西蒙·西姆:开发者的具体数量我需要核实一下。不过据我了解,在我们的韩国甲方工作室,有超过4000名员工参与了游戏开发。我们开发的都是大型游戏,需要很多人力资源。不过,取决于游戏的类型和规模。

GamesBeat:这三款游戏中,哪一款是你们付出最多的?

西蒙·西姆:就投资而言——很难说。如果你看看网石发行的游戏,我们在试图让产品多样化。《天堂2:革命》是一款真正的MMORPG。这是一笔巨大的投资。《剑灵》(Blade and Soul)是另一款真正的MMORPG。这类游戏需要大量的人力资源。同时,其它类型——《漫威未来之战》是一款动作RPG,但我们需要制作大量的内容。至于哪一款游戏付出最多,很难说。不同类型情况不同。

GamesBeat:我知道你们对BTS进行了实际的投资。这种做法很不寻常,也很复杂。‘

西蒙·西姆:是的,我们在Big Hit Entertainment(韩国娱乐公司)有25%的投资股份。我认为这是一个多样化游戏风格、拓宽玩家范围的好机会。这就是我们投资的目的。我们希望发挥更多协同作用。

GamesBeat:他们每次开演唱会,你们都能从中获益。

西蒙·西姆:[笑]是的,和漫威游戏一样。每当漫威推出新电影,我们就多了一个与他们发挥协同作用的机会。我们在电影上映的同时更新大量游戏内容。BTS也一样,我们希望未来BTS的团体活动和我们的游戏也能实现类似的协同效果。

GamesBeat:受欢迎的韩国流行乐团有很多。你们当初选择BTS是因为他们正在走向国际化,还是在此之前你们就察觉到他们将风靡全球?

西蒙·西姆:我们开始研发BTS游戏,是在两年多以前。过程可不容易。当时BTS已经很受欢迎了。我们预计他们会更受欢迎,但没想到会达到如今的程度。这很难预测。不过这和我们尝试其他游戏类型一样。我们会关注趋势,我们有一个焦点团队,他们会为每个值得投资的IP和类型建立期望值。

GamesBeat:你觉得什么是可以和BTS相比较的?你关注过《金·卡戴珊:好莱坞》和其它明星游戏吗?

西蒙·西姆:我们当然关注过这种类型。我们试玩了很多明星游戏,并且评估了他们的表现。粉丝群体存在差异。BTS更多的关于音乐。他们的粉丝中很大一部分不是游戏玩家。我们在开发时参考了已经存在的游戏,但同时,我们知道我们必须找准风格和机制,以满足这些粉丝的期望。

Gamesbeat:这是一个很大的机会。BTS似乎越来越红了。

西蒙·西姆:是的,他们会越来越火。我们对此感到很兴奋。

Gamesbeat:我最近对他们有了更多了解。我女儿是他们的忠实粉丝。她也玩这个游戏。

西蒙·西姆:正如我所说,我们试图让《BTS World》成为一个超级休闲的游戏。我们选择了一个慷慨的盈利模式。并且我们做了很多内容。我们拍摄了1万多张照片和100多个视频。你可以告诉你女儿,后续我们还会推出更多内容。 [笑]

Gamesbeat:你们在更新《BTS World》或者做游戏运营时,采取的做法和其它游戏有什么不同吗?

西蒙·西姆:差不多。每当漫威电影即将上映,我们会更新内容,发布新角色或服装。我们试图在漫威和我们所做的事之间寻找协同作用和市场机会。这就是我们使《漫威未来之战》全球流行的做法。根据我们对《BTS World》的经验,我们会采取类似的做法。我们试图通过双方的更新和营销活动发挥协同作用。不过,IP持有者有着很大不同。在某些方面,我们的想法不一样。

Gamesbeat:对Nexon的收购最终没能达成,某些人会对此感到失望吗?

西蒙·西姆:我不能谈这个。[笑]

Gamesbeat:这像是一场巨大的虚惊。“我们要卖……不,我们不卖了。“

西蒙·西姆:我不知道。我们公司对此不做任何评论。

Gamesbeat:但这确实让人感觉,游戏行业内的交易非常活跃。

西蒙·西姆:确实。这几天有很多投资在进行。我们也看到了。

Gamesbeat:埃里克·戈德伯格(Eric Goldberg)说目前大约有17家公司专注于游戏类风投,包括苹果,谷歌和亚马逊。投资额比以往任何时候都高。

西蒙·西姆:我们也这么认为。我们正在积极寻找投资机会。我们已成为Jam City的最大股东,并且收购了Kabam。Big Hit是另一个。我们投资了一些工作室,日后我们会宣布名单。我们还在西方市场寻找潜在的投资机会,以丰富我们的产品组合,提高我们的知名度。

Gamesbeat:手游仍然是你们的主要市场吗?

西蒙·西姆:是的,手游仍是我们的主要市场。但与此同时,我们试图扩展我们的游戏。几周前,我们宣布了一个基于HTML 5的MMORPG发行协议。我们一直在关注市场趋势。我们将尝试手游以外的平台。

Gamesbeat:你觉得电子竞技是一个机会吗?

西蒙·西姆:是的,电子竞技是游戏界的一个重要话题。我们已经在韩国和日本发行了《拳皇:群星》。这是一个很受欢迎的动作游戏IP,并且我们试图融入RPG元素。我们在日本和韩国举行了锦标赛。《天堂2:革命》也有实时PvP功能,我们在韩国举行了大规模比赛。我们在尝试为其它游戏添加电子竞技功能。我们一直在寻找适合开展电竞的游戏类型。我们会继续努力。

Gamesbeat:西方游戏市场的增长更多,这对你来说意味着什么?

西蒙·西姆:我们最近公布了第二季度的收益,其中40%的收入来自北美和欧洲,其中包括Jam City和Kabam的收入。西方市场已经成为了网石的重要市场。今年我们将继续推出强大的IP,更受西方市场青睐的IP,比如《拳皇》。我们还会继续寻找投资机会。

对西方市场,我们将继续投资,同时向西方玩家推广我们的原创IP。我们手头的产品阵容非常强大,将在今年剩下的时间内到明年初陆续发行。拭目以待吧。

Gamesbeat:Gamescom游戏展上的《黑色沙漠》(Black Desert)手游令人眼前一亮。他们没有选择通过谷歌Stadia(云游戏)让它登上移动设备,而是把这款美丽的PC游戏移植到移动平台上,并根据移动设备硬件做优化。这两种方法都是可行的,但他们认为最佳方式是为该平台专门打造一个版本。

西蒙·西姆:我们在开发《天堂2:革命》时有着相似的经历。我们在开发西方版本的同时,也为亚洲版本定制了许多功能。例如,亚洲玩家喜爱的男性战士,在西方玩家中并不那么受欢迎。我们在视觉效果、用户界面和体验方面做了很多调整。此外,亚洲玩家和西方玩家对内容的偏好,以及每天的游戏市场也不一样。只做一个版本很难满足不同玩家的需求。这就是为什么我们选择分别开发。

在内容消耗方面,亚洲玩家对游戏结局的追求更强烈。在亚版《天堂2:革命》中,游戏结局是一场实时的大规模战斗。而西方玩家很少会一次性从头打到尾。因此我们在西方版本中加入了更多小规模PvP内容。我们在本地化的过程中学到了很多,学习了如何适应两个市场。不同市场的用户行为迥然不同,特别是在MMORPG游戏中,这需要我们投入大量时间精力钻研。

Gamesbeat:随着谷歌Stadia的发展,如果未来你们想和Stadia合作,你们会为Stadia平台专门开发一些游戏吗?

西蒙·西姆:我们还没讨论过和Stadia或是其它云游戏平台的合作。但我们日后会考虑这个方面。一旦我们做了决定,我们会告知大众。但我们考虑的选择有好几个。

Gamesbeat:你还有在密切关注什么别的东西吗?

西蒙·西姆:《拳皇:群星》即将发行了。我们在试着做一款更迎合西方市场的游戏。这个IP已经在北美甚至拉丁美洲流行起来。我们感到很兴奋。

我在先前的会议中谈到,我们正在试图推广我们的原创IP游戏。《Everybody’s marble》在亚洲大获成功,《七骑士》(Seven Knights)也是。我们正在研发围绕这些IP的系列游戏,把这些IP推广给更多玩家。我们在研究两种策略,敬请期待。

本文由游戏邦编译,转载请注明来源,或咨询微信zhengjintiao

Netmarble has a knack for coming up with mobile game hits, including titles such as Lineage 2: Revolution, Marvel Future Fight, and BTS World。

It is updating those games constantly, and it is launching new titles such as Rich Wars and The King of Fighters Allstar. Lineage 2 has more than 30 million players and generated more than $1 billion in revenue, and that’s one reason why Netmarble is worth more than $6.5 billion in the stock market. The company has more than 4,000 developers, mostly in South Korea, and they’re focused on both original titles and licensed games.

I spoke with Simon Sim, the president of Netmarble U.S., about the growth of mobile gaming, the use of licenses in mobile games, why the company chose to invest in the BTS K-pop group as it was going global. We spoke about the future of mobile games, big licenses, the aborted Nexon deal, mobile graphics quality, and cloud gaming at the GameDaily Connect event this week in Anaheim.

Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.

GamesBeat: What was your talk focused on today?

Simon Sim: The topic was how we deal with IP, and how to meet the expectations of the fans of each IP。 I talked about Netmarble’s approach and the lessons we’ve learned。

GamesBeat: Is BTS one of the big ones there?

Sim: Yes, BTS is a big IP of ours。 I also explained examples like Marvel Future Fight, and how Lineage II: Revolution is a different genre。 Marvel fans have different expectations。 They love action and collecting the Marvel heroes。 We tried to meet that audience when we launched Marvel Future Fight。 Lineage II: Revolution is based on a PC MMORPG, so we made a true MMORPG on mobile to meet those fans’ expectations。

BTS, as you know, is a very popular K-pop idol group. It’s an artist IP. But the fans are very casual gamers, mostly, or non-gamers. We made our game BTS World a very casual game mechanically, something that’s easy to play, and focused on collaborating with the music side. We have a soundtrack release. The game works together with the music.

GamesBeat: What’s the scale of investment in those games? How many developers work on each of these things?

Sim: I need to check the actual number of developers。 But my understanding so far is that in Korea, where we have our first-party studios, more than 4,000 people are developing games。 These are large-scale games。 We need lots of human resources over there。 It depends on the genre and the scale of an individual game, though。

GamesBeat: Does it feel like any one of those three is the biggest effort for you?

Sim: As far as the most investment — it’s hard to say. If you look at our track record at Netmarble, we’ve tried to diversify. Lineage II: Revolution is a true MMORPG. That’s a big scale of investment. Blade and Soul is another true MMORPG. Those kinds of games need a lot of human resources. At the same time, other genres — Marvel Future Fight is an action-RPG, but we need to put a lot of content in there. It’s hard to say which one is the biggest effort. It depends on the genre.

GamesBeat: I know you put actual investment into BTS. That seemed very unusual, and very complicated.

Sim: Yes, we invested in 25 percent of Big Hit Entertainment。 We think there’s a good opportunity to diversify our game genres and reach a broader audience that way。 That was the thinking behind that investment。 We’re looking for a lot of synergy there。

GamesBeat: You benefit every time they do a concert。

Sim: [laughs] It’s the same with the Marvel games。 Marvel Future Fight, whenever Marvel brings another movie out, we have an opportunity for synergy between Marvel and us。 We do a lot of content updates alongside the movies。 BTS is the same。 We update with a lot of new content。 We expect a similar synergy in the future between the activities of BTS as a group and our game。

GamesBeat: There are a lot of K-pop groups that have become very popular. Did you catch BTS as they were going global, or before that? Was it already obvious that they were going to be a global phenomenon?

Sim: When we started work on the BTS game, that was more than two years ago. It wasn’t easy. At the time BTS had already become popular. We expected them to become more popular, but we didn’t expect the kind of scale they’ve reached. It’s hard to predict. But again, it’s the same when we approach other genre. We watch the trends and we have a focus team that develops expectations as far as which IP and genres we should work in.

GamesBeat: Was there anything you could compare BTS to? Did you look at things like Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood and other celebrity games?

Sim: We definitely looked at that genre, at other games featuring celebrities. We played a lot of games and benchmarked their performance. At the same time, the fans are different. BTS is more about music. A big chunk of their fans aren’t gamers. We referenced existing games, but at the same time, we knew we needed to deliver the right style and mechanics to meet those fans’ expectations.

GamesBeat: It’s a big opportunity. They just seem to be getting bigger and bigger.

Sim: Day by day, they’re becoming more popular. We’re very excited about it.

GamesBeat: I’ve become more aware of them lately。 One of my daughters is a big fan。 She plays the game。

Sim: As I say, we tried to make BTS World a very casual game。 We went for a generous model of monetization。 Also, we make a lot of content。 We have more than 10,000 photos and more than 100 videos。 You can tell your daughter there’s more coming。 [laughs]

GamesBeat: When you’re updating BTS World or doing live operations, is it very different from when you do that with Marvel and other games?

Sim: The approach is similar. Whenever a Marvel movie is coming, we do content updates and new character releases or costume releases. We try to find synergy and market opportunities between what Marvel’s doing and what we do. That’s how we’ve kept Marvel Future Fight popular around the world. In our experience with BTS World, we have a similar approach. We try to find synergy in our updates and marketing activity. The IP holders are very different, though. In some respects we think differently.

GamesBeat: A deal between Netmarble and Nexon never happened. Were some people disappointed?

Sim: I can’t talk about that. [laughs]

GamesBeat: It seemed like a big false alarm。 “We’re going to sell… No, we’re not going to sell。”

Sim: I don’t know。 I don’t think our company has any comment about that。

GamesBeat: It does feel like the deal-making space is very active in gaming.

Sim: True. These days there’s a lot of investment going on. We’ve seen that too.

GamesBeat: Eric Goldberg says there’s something like 17 game-focused VCs working right now. You have Apple, Google, and Amazon. There’s more money than ever being invested in games.

Sim: We think so too. We’re proactively looking for investment opportunities. We’ve become the largest shareholder in Jam City, and we acquired Kabam. Big Hit was another case. We’ve invested in some studios that we’re going to announce later. We’re also looking in the western market for potential investments, to extend our genre portfolio and our presence on a larger scale.

GamesBeat: Is mobile still going to be your main market?

Sim: Yes, mobile is still our main market. At the same time, we’re also trying to extend our games. A couple of weeks ago we announced a publishing deal with an HTML5-based MMORPG. We keep watching the trends. We’ll try other approaches beyond mobile.

GamesBeat: Does esports feel like an opportunity for you?

Sim: Yes, esports is an important topic for gaming in general. We’ve already launched King of Fighters: All Star in Korea and Japan. It’s a popular fighting IP, and we’ve made a beat-em-up with RPG features. We’ve had tournaments in Japan and Korea. Lineage II: Revolution also has realtime PvP features, and we’ve held massive tournaments in Korea. Some of our games, we’ve tried to experiment with esports features. We keep looking for the right genres and the right games that are more esports-friendly. We’ll keep trying.

GamesBeat: As far as growing more in the west, what does that mean for you?

Sim: We recently announced our earnings for the second quarter, where 40 percent of our revenues came from North America and Europe, including revenue from Jam City and Kabam together. The west is already a big market for Netmarble. We’ll keep bringing strong IP, more western-friendly IP, like King of Fighters, within this year. We’ll also keep looking for investment opportunities.

Our approach to the western market is very important, through both investment and launching our own IP to western audiences. We have a very strong lineup for the rest of this year and early next year. We’ll be showing you more games once we’re ready.

GamesBeat: I got a good look at Black Desert on mobile at Gamescom. They had an interesting decision to make about taking a really beautiful PC game to mobile and optimizing it for mobile hardware, versus bringing something like Black Desert Online to Google Stadia and then having it be playable on mobile devices that way. Both approaches would work, but they decided that optimization for mobile would work a lot better. The best way to play that kind of game was with a build that was made for that platform.

Sim: We’ve had a similar experience already with Lineage II: Revolution。 We customized a lot of features from the Asian version when we developed the western version。 An Asian-friendly male warrior, for example, isn’t as popular with western gamers。 We changed a lot of things about the visuals, UI, and UX。 The content balance and playtime per day is different between Asian gamers and western gamers, too。 With just one build it’s hard to match different behaviors。 That’s why we made the decision to separate the builds。

Content consumption-wise, the Asian market is very interested in growing toward the goal of endgame content. In Lineage II: Revolution, the end content is realtime massive-scale battles. Western gamers, though, they don’t as often get to the endgame content without dropping partway through. We put in a lot of smaller-scale PvP content during the journey to the endgame. We’ve learned a lot doing culturalization, learning how to fit the two markets. The user behavior is very different, especially in MMORPGs, which call for so much time and effort.

GamesBeat: If Stadia comes along, do you think you’d have to build something just for Stadia, if you wanted to work with Stadia?

Sim: We haven’t talked about our strategy with Stadia or other cloud-based platforms yet. But we’ll keep discussing and thinking about what will be the right way to go. Once we’ve made a decision, we can share more with you. But we have a couple of options we can consider.

GamesBeat: Is there anything else you’ve been paying close attention to?

Sim: King of Fighters: All Star is coming soon. We’re trying to make a more western-friendly game. The IP is already popular across North America, and even Latin America. We’re very excited about that.

Another topic I talked about during a previous session, we’re trying to embrace games based on our own IP. Everybody’s Marble has been very successful across Asia, and so has Seven Knights. We’re trying to build franchises around them, to extend that IP across a bigger fanbase. There are two approaches we’re working on now. Stay tuned and we’ll keep you updated.(source:)

 


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