Friday, March 17, 2006

Catching up with inertia

Game bunny's (adorable lil'rascal, couldn't figure out how to hold the mic) interview with BOTS brand manager. The title of the piece is "Chat with Chan". Hehe.

The bunny asked an interesting question:

"Why do you think they're [Korean game industry] so far ahead of us? Does it all come down to a mass of Internet Cafes and extensive Broadband access? Do you think we’ll ever catch up or even surpass the Asian market when it comes to online gaming?

I have to confess, I wish I knew the Korean secret sauce that has made online games so mainstream there. You’re right though, no doubt Internet Cafes and Broadband played an important part to it. However, we’ve had internet cafes and our broadband numbers are getting up there as well, so why haven’t we gotten there?

I think a large part of it is a supply side issue. The industry went down a slippery slope towards the Hollywood model, that is, big budgets, big splashes and formulaic content. As long as we continue to cater to a narrow demographic (which, don’t get me wrong, is very lucrative), there will always be a lack of supply for a more general audience. Someone has to start taking some risks and create content for the rest of the public. Once that happens, games will be a more acceptable form of entertainment. The stigma will go away; the bad press should decrease (no offense to present company). We’ll definitely get there and we’ll definitely be bigger, more creative and more fun than the Asian market but it’ll take steps.

I know this is going to sound ridiculously self-serving but I believe Acclaim can nudge us toward this goal. We’re bringing some good content over here and eventually, we’re going to figure out the sauce that works for the U.S. market and then we’ll really shake things up."

I also chatted at lunch today with our Korean dev friends. It reminded me what a totally different world it is there. There are so many games and game types available that almost everyone plays something. They have 4 tv stations, 4!, devoted to games. A rough estimate is that from 100-200 people play games professionally, like sports players and earn a decent living.

We're going to get there. We're slow to start because we're so big but once we start catching up... like a sprinting sumo, we'll be hard to stop.

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