The cultural industry, including games, is led by blockbusters. However, due to the nature of the cultural industry, it is impossible for the industry to grow healthily only with blockbusters. So, in the film industry, there are always works that make various attempts with small capital, apart from masterpieces. In some cases, even major film distributors run these small projects separately.
This kind of look has recently emerged in the South Korean game industry as well. A representative example is Nexon’s sub game brand, ‘Mint Rocket’. Nexon has carried out a number of bold projects in recent years and has tasted the bitter taste. Big projects require a lot of development costs, so Nexon can't help but pay attention to business. In the midst of this, several new games failed. This vicious cycle continued for a while.
Nexon had to break the vicious circle. So Nexon re-verified big projects that had been in progress for a while, and had time to organize what needs to be sorted out. And last May, it created a new brand called ‘Mintrocket’. It is a brand that focuses solely on ‘fun’ rather than business and profit. It is a structure to develop small-scale games that thoroughly emphasize 'fun' while leaving only a few blockbusters that can be successful in the game market.
And it has been about half a year since Nexon publicly announced this ‘big and little’ structure. As a result, it was an ideal year in which both ‘Big’ (Masterpiece) and ‘Little’ (MintRocket) worked well. Both ‘Dungeon and Fighter Mobile’ and ‘Hit 2’, which were released ambitiously, took first place in sales in mobile markets, and are still popular to this day. This is probably the first time that Nexon has released two mobile games that ranked first in sales in both major markets in the same year and achieved long-term success. In addition, 'Dungeon and Fighter Mobile' won the grand prize at the 2022 Korea Game Awards.
MintRocket, which corresponds to ‘Little’, also has a success story. This is ‘Dave the Diver’, which was released on the PC game platform Steam in October. It received attention with an 'overwhelmingly positive' evaluation on Steam, and also rose to the top of the South Korean Steam sales rankings. Based on this popularity, it was also exhibited at the G-Star 2022 Nexon booth held last November.
It's encouraging that both 'Big' and 'Little' have come out with such great success, less than a year after Nexon announced that it would take the development focus to 'Big and Little' when announcing Mint Rocket. Thanks to this, it seems that this stance can be maintained internally for the time being without major shaking. Then, this structure could lead to a ‘virtuous cycle’ in which another success story emerges. Then, the South Korean game industry will be able to grow a little more qualitatively and healthily. Personally, I hope so. This is because I think it is the only structure in the game industry where a large company can make various attempts.
Let's develop this story a little more. If the 'Big and Little' structure works well for a certain period of time at Nexon, other South Korean game companies will also start to refer to this structure. Of course, this structure will have to be accepted according to each individual situation and environment. Personally, I think that the area corresponding to 'Little' should exist in some way even in large companies. I hope that the day will come when major South Korean game companies develop their own 'Little'.
김창훈 기자 firstname.lastname@example.org
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