Red Stewart chats with Simon Sim about The King of Fighters/WWE collaboration…
Simon Sim is the President of the United States branch of Netmarble Corp., a South Korean game developer best known for their work in the mobile genre. Their most recent release was the The King of Fighters ALLSTAR, which received an update temporarily allowing players to add famous WWE wrestlers to their roster.
Flickering Myth had the chance to speak to Mr. Sim, and I had the honor to conduct it:
Thank you, sir, for taking the time to speak with me. I know how incredibly busy you are, running your respective company. You’ve often talked about the growth of the mobile gaming industry, and how it’s only going to get bigger as device specs get better optimized. I have to ask- we’ve heard a lot about Microsoft making forays into the cloud gaming market, which is something that Google obviously tried to do with the Stadia.
Do you see cloud gaming taking off in a serious capacity and, if so, will it compete with the mobile market?
We have watched player trends and the mobile gamer base continues to grow. We are seeing “non-gamers” begin to find games they enjoy. We saw this with the launch of BTS WORLD last year and see a similar trend with the recent WWE collaboration and The King of Fighters ALLSTAR. Our mobile devices are more accessible so we believe it will continue to grow.
Cloud gaming is a newer trend we are observing and could change or adjust player behavior. We aim for high-fidelity graphics and ask for more time from players and as the mobile gamer base grows the higher the expectation. We were already started seeing cross-platform play with PC emulators. With the introduction of cloud-based gaming, we believe it could provide gamers with more seamlessly.
Crunch time and overworking staff members has become a serious topic of late in recent years. My personal theory is that this has arisen over the need to create photorealistic graphics: investing hundreds of millions of dollars into a AAA project so that it resembles the real-world is a grind for even large companies, leading them to have to focus extensively on ensuring their product is released as soon as possible to generate profits i.e. longer crunch time.
I realize that mobile gaming is getting to a point where its graphical output is rivaling game consoles. It’s actually a fact that modern-day smartphones have more processing power than older NASA computers from back in the day.
I bring all this up because, I’m genuinely curious- being a high member in a game development company, do you ever see mobile gaming developers encountering similar issues of exploitative crunch time as consumer technology gets increasingly powerful? Are there any steps devs can take now to prevent such incidents from ever arising?
Netmarble will continue to aim for triple-A, console-quality games, but crunch time isn’t helpful for long-term stability. We want to think about our teams and work/life balance. Our headquarters and its offices manage our employees time and take their well-being into consideration. We will continue to strive to be the best but not at the expense of our team members. We are a mobile game leader and want to set an example for the industry.
At first glance, the mobile platform seems restrictive for the fighting genre. A touch-based control interface, for example, seemingly limits the amount of combos you can do when compared to a controller or mouse/keyboard. What advantages have you found with this format, particularly with regards to the creation of a good action schematic?
We’ve learned a great deal about UI/UX over the years and we know it is quite different for mobile players so we’ve monitored player behavior to make our games more player friendly.
As per your first question, we are also watching cross-platform trends and we are committed to providing the same great experience to our players whether on mobile or PC.
Based on the success of this venture, can we expect future collaborations between WWE and Netmarble Corp.? And/or can we expect future entries in The King of Fighters’ series to have WWE individuals?
Netmarble is always looking for new ways to bring fun to our existing players and expand the fanbase of not only our titles but expand the mobile games industry. We found an innovative way to bring The King of Fighters ALLSTAR franchise to new players and those who were familiar with the games. With WWE we want to bring that same fun to the WWE audience, and it was an exciting partnership. We paid particular attention to the character molding and movements to ensure an authentic experience for the WWE fans. The WWE event may be complete, but we are always open to working with our great partners again.
What advice would you both give developers/publishers/companies in general that are struggling to recover from the economic damages of the COVID-19?
During the period, no one expected this, and working from home can be a challenge, but finding the cloud-based infrastructure and finding ways to adapt as a team is what we had to do. As an industry we are still growing and that is a testament to our perseverance. We will continue to overcome and look for new ways to innovate and grow together.
Flickering Myth would like to thank Mr. Sim for chatting with us.
The King of Fighters ALLSTARS is available on Android and iOS.