GDC 2011: Nexon's future is so bright, it's gotta wear shades

Justin Olivetti
J. Olivetti|03.05.11

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GDC 2011: Nexon's future is so bright, it's gotta wear shades
Not only are Nexon's revenues on the way up with no sign of slowing, but the company's famed "Nexon iNitiative" is already producing hearty results. Unlike the Dharma Initiative, the Nexon iNitiative is a force for good, as the company is funding promising indie developers and their pet projects. Last year, Antic Entertainment and one2tribe both received a chunk of the $1 million funding to make games that would be published worldwide by Nexon, and a similar program is underway for 2011.

At GDC we sat down with Nexon America CEO Daniel Kim to talk about the future direction of the company. Nexon's in its 17th year and considers itself the most accomplished global provider of online games. Whether or not you agree with that statement, the fact that the company has over 30 titles under its belt in over 71 countries is impressive, and that's not even looking at the way Nexon casually drops how many hundreds of millions of players check out its titles daily.

Interesting Nexon tidbit: The name comes from the company's philosophy, to look for the "next online" trend. Now you have something to say during awkward silences at dinner parties.

Hit the jump to hear about some of the future projects and developments of this online pioneer, including MapleStory and Dragon Nest!

As Nexon's flagship product, MapleStory continues to impress with its success. For a seven-year-old game, it is still growing and even broke the all-time concurrency record for any Korean MMO last year. In the U.S., MapleStory hit 136,000 concurrent users in December following the Big Bang update.

In a few months, Nexon plans to release MapeStory Adventures for Facebook and will adjust the MapleStory formula to fit the more casual experience to which Facebook gamers are accustomed.

This year the company is looking to branch off from PC development to include the mobile gaming market. Nexon originally focused primarily on PC games because it wanted to reach as many gamers as possible, and the computer was the most accessible device worldwide. However, now that mobile platforms such as the Android models and iPhone are becoming much more prevalent, Nexon has decided to make headway into portable gaming.

One of the new titles to explore this territory is KartRider Rush, a multiplayer go-kart racing game that's slated to come out for both iOS and Android devices. As with Nexon's PC titles, KartRider Rush will be free to download and will offer a variety of goodies and extra racetracks in an in-game item store.

And what about consoles? While Kim admitted that it's an "attractive option," the company has no immediate plans to branch into consoles but hopes that it will be a possibility for the future if consoles open their gates to Nexon's business model.

The difference between the Asian and North American markets is at the forefront of Nexon America's strategy, which is why Nexon took Mabinogi Heroes and retooled it for Western gamers, retitling it Vindictus. This is an indication of how the company is going to forge ahead with future projects to expand the NA field.

"We're trying to present games that are free-to-play but are at a quality level that people expect here on consoles and in AAA titles, and Vindictus is just the start of that effort," Kim promised.

So if Vindictus is the start, what's next? Kim pointed to the upcoming Dragon Nest as an action MMO that the company is trying to position as the third point in the "Triangle of Awesome," along with Vindictus and Dungeon Fighter Online.

Kim hopes that Dragon Nest will appeal to a wider, more family-friendly audience with its fast action and cartoonish style. To whet your appetite, check out a couple new trailers for it below:

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