One of the topics Kim addressed was the specific relationship between En Masse and BlueHole, a topic that’s been big in our own TERA comments lately.
“At the super high level, BlueHole is the developer of TERA and En Masse is the North American publisher for TERA. There are variations to the model but, at its base-core, the roles and responsibilities break down as such: The developer is responsible for the game, content update, balance, in-game features, event tools, web, monetization systems, and backend integration pieces. The publisher is responsible for account integration, billing, community engagement, player support, marketing, web development, event planning, monetization feedback (as it pertains to their market), gameplay feedback (as it pertains to their market), and testing (market testing, possibly some QA).
The extra thing with En Masse and BlueHole is that we’re part of the same company (En Masse is a wholly owned subsidiary of BlueHole). And because of that, we’ve been able to work more closely with BlueHole on a lot of things. We had more access to in-game mechanics than a publisher typically would with games. And while things haven’t been perfect ALL of the time, we’ve seen impact that we wouldn’t have seen in a super-traditional partnership.”
As to the layoffs themselves, Kim explained that the staff reduction was in large part to “ensure that TERA’s service lasts for a long long time.” More than 35 people remain at En Masse, “almost all of them […] working on TERA in some fashion.” He says En Masse aims to improve visibility on the status of game updates, and though he’s tight-lipped on the precise reasons his predecessor, Chris Lee, resigned from the studio, he reassures players that “TERA and En Masse aren’t going anywhere.”
And what about the player population in the face of stiff competition? Kim answered players worried about a dwindling playerbase:
“I totally feel your pain, a bunch of folks that I play with are also trying out [Blade and Soul] and [Black Desert]. I like those games too, but I feel like TERA is still fun and has special qualities that can’t be mimic-ed (is that a word?). It’s why I think TERA still has a long life and I believe that, given time, hard work, and awesome things from our part, players will come back.”