NCsoft turning Japanese

MMO giant from Korea accelerates globalization push; builds out Japan operation, adds dev studio to create games for pan-Asian marketplace.

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Tack Jin (TJ) Kim, the small-statured founder and CEO of Korean MMO giant NCsoft, is anything but diminutive when it comes to business. It took him only days after meeting game designer Richard Garriott to know the Ultima creator was the right person to head up NCsoft's US operation--and he hired Garriott less than 72 hours after the game designer's non-compete clause with Electronic Arts expired back in May of 2001.

Since founding NCsoft in 1997, the company has grown to be Korea's biggest and most profitable online game operation, with subsidiaries in the US and Europe, and joint ventures in Japan, China, Taiwan, and Thailand.

Today, the company said it was further solidifying its presence in Japan by establishing a wholly-owned subsidiary, to be called NCsoft Japan KK, that will focus on game development and localization.

NCsoft already has a Japan-based joint venture up and running--with local partner Softbank--which provides customer support and marketing for NCsoft games currently targeted to that market. That JV was started in 2001 and supports both Lineage and Lineage II. According to documents, the Japan operation contributes 20 percent of worldwide revenues to the Seoul-based company.

The new development studio will act as a base for the creation of "online casual games" and "MMO games" for the Japanese and pan-Asian gamer, according to the company. The move is reflective of Kim's "global infrastructure, local content" strategy he has espoused for years--a strategy he presented in a Game Developers Conference solo appearance in March 2003.

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