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Nexon looks beyond game; aims for 10 ‘super’ global intellectual properties

Nexon Korea CEO Lee Jung-hun (Nexon)
Nexon Korea CEO Lee Jung-hun (Nexon)

South Korea’s largest game developer Nexon will break the conventional boundaries of games and develop 10 “super” intellectual properties, or IPs, to appeal to a global audience, its chief executive said Thursday.

During an online media showcase, Lee Jung-hun stressed that the firm will only regress should it stick to the gaming business, as increasingly more new forms of entertainment are replacing games and carving out people’s time.

“The pandemic totally changed my thoughts. Before, I believed that the game business was all about owning people’s time. But after COVID-19 broke out, so many things beyond our imaginations are taking away people’s time,” Lee said.

“I have two kids who are 6 and 3 years old. When I saw my younger child meet and play with preschool friends on Zoom … for us, Zoom is merely an online meeting tool, but for kids, Zoom itself can become a game. This made me think that Nexon shouldn’t stick only to games.”

The CEO didn’t disclose details regarding the new content, but pledged to hire more than 1,000 employees, mostly developers, by next year to support the firm’s new direction.

Instead, the CEO unveiled seven key IPs Nexon is developing -- Project Magnum, Overkill, Mabinogi Mobile, Project ER, Project SF2, TalesWeaver M and Project HP.

Project HP, which kicked off its alpha test Thursday, is a medieval player vs. player brawler where users form squads of four to fight enemies. The PC game supports a 16 vs. 16 mode where two sides attack and defend until one prevails.

Project ER is another title raising expectations. In contrast to typical pay-to-win games where the most powerful gear can only be enjoyed by a few players, Project ER offers a 24/7 siege warfare game inside a seamless, one-server world where all users can participate and play a role. It took an “unprecedented” number of personnel to develop Project ER, according to Nexon.

As such big titles require massive resources, the CEO offered a “big and little” strategy that reflects the firm’s DNA, which emphasizes, “Small teams can also make fun games.”

“Focusing on big projects often blocked Nexon from staying vigilant and trying new things. Even if it involves risks, Nexon has to make edgy attempts the world has never seen before, but this isn’t easy for Nexon, which has become too big,” the CEO said.

“To escape from stereotypes and practices, Nexon created a sub-brand called ‘Project Early Stage,’ which will showcase the company’s small-scale games.”

According to the CEO, the way game companies release games is one-sided. Under the subunit, Nexon will launch raw, incomplete games and perfect them based on feedback from users.

By Kim Byung-wook (