E3 2018: Pearl Abyss’ CEO on Black Desert’s Xbox port, Switch considerations, and PvP

Oh, great.
Pearl Abyss’ Kyungin “Robin” Jung isn’t just a CEO. He’s also got a background in engineering. He may not have developed any game-saving tech for Black Desert, but at least he’s the kind of boss that understands when his developers’ plans don’t quite work as intended.

Maybe that’s why he was also unaware of the Hysteria Hackers problem we’ve previously discussed. It’s something the community managers and customer support should be handling, rather than the CEO himself. Nevertheless, Jung and Senior VP (and translator) Jin “JJ” Jeonghee said they’d look into it after our interview. With the team preparing for E3 and the Xbox One beta, there’s a lot for a CEO to be dealing with.

Console wars

When I asked Jung about what makes BDO a good fit for consoles, I was surprised to hear that he thought was it was the opposite: that consoles are ready for MMOs in general, not just specifically BDOBDO does have the advantage of being a tried and true market tested MMO, but the fact that consoles are stronger and better connected to the internet means it’s easier for players to appreciate them, and there’s apparently some demand that can be met. Combined with its graphics, it felt like a natural fit.

That being said, other MMOs don’t faze Jung. While Bless has now come to the west and TERA is also entering the MMO console market, Jung feels they don’t have an effect on BDO or Pearl Abyss. As the game already has a strong following and good amount of content, as well as market performance, Jung seemed unconcerned by potential competition.

However, Jung is concerned about bringing the mobile version of Black Desert Online to the west. Admittedly the west is a tough market for mobile MMOs, and there’s certainly a culture gap. Jung feels the game is strong enough to do well and hopes to introduce the game here, maybe in the first half of 2019. That being said, the game will see some localization to help close the gap between what the game is and what a Western audience expects.

As the original game is heading to a major console, I had to address the rumor that the Pearl Abyss is considering a port to the Nintendo Switch. Considering Nintendo’s near non-support with MMOs beyond Dragon Quest – in addition to its lagging behind in terms of online play, which renders many titles limited to local multiplayer only – I’d assumed the only reason it might even be considered is its portability.

However, Jung corrects me: While Pearl Abyss is considering the Switch, it’s because of the network environment. The UI layout and controls lend themselves well to the game. It also helps that the console is doing quite well, though that may be due to its mobility. It makes sense, but for a Nintendo fan, hearing a developer express confidence in the Switch for online games is surprising.

PvP thoughts

For me, BDO has been a game that originally seemed aimed at PvPers but has tried to discourage ganking in ways that drive off a lot of free-for-all fans. The recent PvP tweaks also don’t seem to faze Jung. Admittedly, he didn’t want to speak for the whole team, but Pearl Abyss is aware that players have their own desires for what they want out of PvP. As for what Pearl Abyss wants out of it, well, Jung didn’t want to speak for the development team, so we’ll perhaps need to ask another Pearl Abyss employee about this.

Similarly, Jung mentioned an understanding that people may not be happy with class balance. No specific goal was communicated to me, but the team is doing its best to ensure balance and is monitoring how changes affect the game.

However, the game is entering the console market, and console players have their own playstyles. With any hope, during the beta, Pearl Abyss will become more comfortable with explaining its understanding of its various communities and the company’s own goals on how to give players the best experience possible. Clearly they’re doing something right with the growth we’ve seen!

I’d like to thank both Robin and JJ for making time to meet us during E3 and answering our questions.

Massively Overpowered is on the ground in Los Angeles, California, for E3 2018, bringing you expert MMO coverage on Anthem, Fallout 76, Elder Scrolls Online, and everything else on display at this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo!
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