Nexon head talks Dota 2

GameSpot speaks with Injun Kim, head of Dota 2 for Nexon Korea, about the game's development in South Korea.

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Valve recently announced that its free-to-play behemoth, Dota, will be released in North America and Europe this summer before The International 3.

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At the same time, Valve is currently working with their partners Nexon and Perfect World for release later this fall in South Korea and China, respectively. Nexon made an announcement itself at E3 that fell under the radar, which will see $1.7 million in prize money invested into their own competitive eSports leagues.

GameSpot had the chance to sit down with Injun Kim, head of Dota 2 for Nexon Korea, regarding the game’s development in South Korea. A standalone client and continued support for eSports is the works, he said, noting he is also weary of the difficulties that lie ahead.

What does it mean for Nexon to be able to release a game like Dota 2 in Korea?

Dota 2 is the result of Valve’s endeavors to take years of community dedication to the next level. We’re greatly excited about the opportunity to be able to bring such a quality game to Korea. We believe Dota 2 will be a worthy addition to the Korean competitive gaming scene.

What's it like to work with Valve?

Our working relationship with Valve started from the development project on Counter Strike Online. Valve is one of the longest and most trusted partners we have ever had, and we enjoy working with them a lot. They don’t have much time for words, but they make up for it with a focus on action and creativity beyond our imagination. They provide us with great inspiration both in and out of the game, and we hope to return the favor with our expertise in servicing it.

Will there be a standalone Korean client for Dota 2?

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In Korea we will have a localized Dota 2 client, where Korean users will be able to play globally, not just on Korean servers. There won’t be much difference across the board except some minor changes to the UI layout. Players in Korea can join matches in another region, and can also be joined by international players via lobbies.

Will players be able to watch tournaments via Dota TV and the league pass system?

Absolutely! Being able to watch live matches via Dota TV is something we can’t miss out on! The same is true for the league pass system. Our first official league, the NSL will be available there soon.

Will the client use Valve's matchmaking rankings on the backend or will you be independent of that?

There’s no reason for us to go with a separate rating system. We’re a big proponent of the global play aspect of the game, and we believe it’s the right thing for our Korean players to be included with the rest of the world..

Is Nexon itself providing all of the prize money?

Yes, by ourselves. We will continue to sponsor the Dota 2 competitive scene. It will be our ongoing effort.

Are only Korean players/teams allowed to play, or also those outside of Korea?

No restrictions on nationality, but participants must show up for the tournament matches.

Will there be any teams directly invited, and will there be Western qualifiers?

No, but there may be for the future leagues. There are no current specific plans for a Western qualifier.

Who will handle the broadcast/production of the event?

GomTV will handle the production and broadcast in Korean.

Why have you chosen GSL to run the production, as opposed to someone like OnGameNet?

"I have to admit that it’s always tough to get people to play your game for the first time. We don’t have a magic formula."

We’ve been in contact with every production studio we know of in Korea, and in the end our needs and requirements were met by GomTV’s proposal, in terms of broadcasting schedule and quality production setup. We are always open to working with other studios for future events, but it was simply not feasible to work with OGN this time due to their schedule constraints/conflicts.

Will there be an English broadcast for the broadcast partner, or an English-speaking broadcaster partner brought in?

We’re actually in talk with some of the western broadcasting studios. We would like to let as many languages casts as possible. We’re in touch with western studios for an English broadcast, possibly for other language casts too. GomTV will host Korean live from their Gangnam studio. We will be announcing our English partners shortly.

Will Nexon be working with KeSPA or the eSports Federation to get South Korean teams formed on current large eSport teams?

We’re open to any possibilities.

Do you believe Dota 2 will be a success at PC Bangs? Is this an important area for Nexon?

It’s hard to predict success or failure by any measure at this point, but we are going to do the best we can to be successful. PC Bangs are definitely an important area we want to take care of, and as a result, we’re looking into providing incentives for both the PC Bang business owners and their players.

Are there plans to expand outside of Korea?

Yes. Our hope is to see many Korean teams both professionals and amateurs alike, grow and succeed in quality matches. Hosting international tournaments will broaden the horizons for the Korean players. We will then determine the right timing where it all makes sense. We thank the western community for their attention and support. Wish us luck for the success of Dota 2 in Korea. We expect the western teams to compete and have fun in our future leagues.

With Korea only now getting Dota 2, what is the plan to get people playing the game?

I have to admit that it’s always tough to get people to play your game for the first time. We don’t have a magic formula. Rather, we are trying to be approachable to the community and reaching out to community leaders and casters of note. This will allow us to not only build connections, but also to gather greater insights into what needs to be done. Everyone starts loving Dota 2 after certain amount of exposure. We just need to figure out how to keep them interested until they reach that point where they love the game.

Secondly, we’re planning to run as many and various leagues as possible, in hopes that we can send out a consistent message that we take competitive gameplay seriously. From this point on we will work hard to deliver the best possible experience to both participants and spectators. Our goal is to help the community build more teams and pave the way for Korean teams excel in global competitive scenes.

With how big of a marketshare League of Legends has in Korea, are you worried that it'll be tough to get players in?

League of Legends has an unprecedented second-to-none marketshare that’s been rightfully earned through hard work. We can learn a lot from Riot Games’ track record. It will only be an agonizing uphill battle if our only concern was about the competition.

So instead, our approach is to start with a humble beginning and focus on slowly increasing the size of the overall pie, rather than just our portion. It’s great that we have quality games like League of Legends and Dota 2. I hope everyone enjoy and have fun with the game they choose to play.

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