Nexon CEO blasts crunch and the ‘charade of launch timing’

    
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It’s Friday, which means it’s time to play one of my favorite weekend games: Check out what a top-tier gaming executive is saying about the industry. Today’s subject is Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney. Readers will recall that Nexon posted its second quarter earnings earlier this week, admitting that it had performed poorly because of a bad investment into bitcoin as well as unrest over lockbox transparency in MapleStory Korea.

Naturally, analysts grilled the company about this as well as its refusal to talk about launch dates for upcoming games. Mahoney turned the tables on them quickly, arguing that crunching to make arbitrary dates was a self-destructive sham.

“Crunch mode is one of the most pernicious problems in our industry. The charade of launch timing serves little purpose except this dance with equity analysts. […] Instead, the right thing to focus and push for is a game that blows people’s minds. If we achieve that, the game will last many years, and the revenues will dwarf what we would have made by launching a quarter or two earlier. […] I’m sorry nobody in my industry has explained this to you before. Within the industry, we all know it’s true, and yet few talk about it openly. Everyone should. So rather than giving you a date, this team is going to give to our customers and employees a commitment to make the best game we can, as soon as we can.”

As VentureBeat notes, it’s not the first time Mahoney has delivered a truth-bomb – and Nexon’s stock rallied in response.

Source: VentureBeat. Thanks, Anon!
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Narficus

Nexon could have just said “‘charade of launch” and would have been even more correct than usual.

creationguru
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creationguru

I agree with this (am a software engineer) but there is a balance too as you cant take the amount of time like Diablo 3 or Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy. There is a balance for delays and launch and it was to be walked correctly 6 months not so bad but 3 years is not gonna cut it

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Arktouros

You get one first impression. Up to you if you want to fuck with that or not.

I may not like New World very much as a game, but they’ve been doing things really smart in these regards. It’s just smart and good business that other companies are catching on and adopting these same delayed strategies till the product is ready.

Fisty
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Fisty

Very cool.

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Matt Comstock

That is a superb quote. A beautiful truth-bomb. Good on Mr. Mahoney.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

Is he suggesting that things like quarterly results are arbitrary and artificial metrics? Do tell.

PlasmaJohn
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PlasmaJohn

As an investor I want breakout performance every quarter excuses be damned. By the way my lawyer’s on speed dial and he’d love nothing better than a class-action investor lawsuit.

As somebody who’s done Business 101, as an engineer and hell, as a human I’m well aware that sacrificing long term profits for short term gains is counter-productive.

On the other hand, the irony of a Nexon C-suite trying to appeal to business common sense rings a tad hollow. Until they abandon their predatory monetization I remain skeptical.

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Greaterdivinity

The charade of launch timing serves little purpose except this dance with equity analysts.

I’ll clown on him for the Bitcoin nonsense, but like, preach it, brother. Nexon has the money to be able to afford to do this kind of thing which is great, I hope they mean it (though IIRC they’ve had plenty of internal problems with crunch, no?)

Because man…working on games that you KNOW needs more time and is just being rushed to make a launch date that can absolutely be pushed back is brutal. You know you’re in for a mess, but there’s nothing you can do about it.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

How often does that even happen in other industries?

“Ship this plane. NOW. We have orders to fill.”
“But sir, there was a supply problem and it’s missing a wing. We won’t even get the parts for-”
“Are you hard of hearing? SHIP IT NOW, or clean out your desk. We’ll patch it up later.”

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Harbinger_Kyleran

Err, the Challenger Space shuttle went down for almost exactly the same sort of reasoning, where the pressure to hit their “launch” date over ruled engineering concerns about the o-rings performance in cold weather conditions.

Those astronauts may have actually lived if the launch had been postponed to a slightly warmer day.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

I didn’t say it doesn’t happen. Although from what I know, they didn’t *know* that the O-rings were such a critical problem. In hindsight, yeah, should have waited. But with computer games, they’ll *literally* launch with a quarter of the intended product missing now, and the idea that they’ll do a day one/week one patch. (And then force everyone to work 25 hour days to get that patch ready.)

I think there might be a difference between “pushed to hit a launch date despite a critical issue no one knew about at the time” and “work people almost to death to launch 2/3 of the finished product, because the ship date is a fundamental law of the Universe and cannot be changed, so sayeth the Almighty Shareholders, ramen!”

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Ken from Chicago

“Cap’n, I canna change the laws o physics.”🤣🖖

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Bryan Correll

Crunch was a contributing factor to the Boeing 737 MAX debacle. They rushed to get the plane flying to compete with the Airbus A320neo which went into operation nine months before the Boeing craft. They didn’t disclose some changes to the navigation system to the FAA (or anyone else for that matter) until after two crashes with a combined 346 deaths and the grounding of the entire fleet.

EmberStar
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EmberStar

Okay, so it does exist outside of computer games. The difference seems to be that it *actually* kills people, possibly lots of them, when it happens in the “real world.” So… why it allowed ANYWHERE?

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rk70534

Boeing 737 MAX was the result of an attempt to save money, first by not designing an entirely new airplane, but trying to revamp an existing design, and when that caused stability issues, by trying again to save money by using a computer program to automatically correct instead of making structural changes to the airplane.

This money saving led to hundreds of deaths.

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Ken from Chicago

Agreed. That said, “When it’s ready” works in theory until it’s your game you’re waiting for and months turns into years. At that point it helps to take a break from constant coverage and turn to other games.

Now if only there was a site where one might find out about other MMO games … 🤔🤔🤔🤣