Innovation used to be a major buzzword in the online gaming industry, to the point that its saturation made it pretty tired. The term’s overuse, that is – I’m sure you’d argue that actual innovation is few and far between. And you’re not alone, as a new VentureBeat interview with Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney demonstrates.
The interview spans multiple topics, from Nexon’s Developer Conference to AI tools, but the most intriguing parts come when Mahoney laments the lack of creativity and innovation in the industry when it comes to pitches. He pins a lot of the problem on the push and pull of investment from venture capitalists and tech companies that simply fail to understand game design, never mind profitable game design.
“Everything that’s come out of our industry that’s been really good and really a breakout hit in the last 20, 25 years since I’ve been in the industry, you’re like, ‘What the heck did I just see? That’s crazy.’ StarCraft was like that when it first appeared. Maple Story by us, for sure. Roblox, for sure. You and I have talked about Minecraft in the past. When those products first hit the market everybody said, ‘I don’t get it.’ Look at Roblox. What is it, $45 billion market cap when it went public? To this day people say, ‘How does Nexon keep doing this?’ It happens to us. It happens to everybody. A lot of people have counted Nintendo out many times over the years.”
Incidentally, Mahoney doesn’t sound impressed with crypto. When asked whether he’d heard any good crypto pitches, he says, “In games, no.” Once again, he argues that’s because typical venture capitalists do not understand the games from the start.