While free-to-play is the standard MO in regions of the world like South Korea, it's only been the past couple of years that the F2P model has really become an established business in the West. California-based Aeria Games has reflected the evolution of free-to-play games in the West, handling publishing for Korean, Chinese, Japanese and American games in the U.S., South America, and Europe. Aeria purchased ijji Games and has begun the transition of some of that portal's largest title's onto their own service – we caught up with JT Nguyen, COO of Aeria Games, to discuss the reasons behind the transfer and about their business plans in general.
[a]list: Why are you deciding to make the switch with these games from ijji to Aeria?
JT Nguyen: Earlier this year we announced the acquisition of ijji Games in conjunction with a strategic investment with NHN Corporation. Since then, we’ve been working closely with NHN to instrument how to best fold ijji Games into Aeria Games. The decision to migrate the ijji Games was driven by our ongoing desire to offer players the highest level of service and we feel the best way to deliver that is through our Aeria Games distribution platform. Compared to ijji, our platform is more robust in terms of community, support and monetization. From simple things like how games are downloaded, updated, and launched through our Ignite distribution platform to how players interact in the community to how they get support when they need it—in their own language—we have spent a lot of time trying to perfect our approach so users get the best experience.
This will also allow us to cross-promote between the two communities, and of course the Aeria Games community is the larger of the two with 40 million registered players.
[a]list: Is the plan to offer seamless transitions for players of those three games while potentially expanding its audience to new people?
JT Nguyen: That’s right, we have a combination of two things with the transition: we will expand the audience by introducing these great games to new players across our Aeria Games community and we can increase the level of service offered to the current ijji players. We look at as a win-win for all involved.
The migration is happening now so we wanted to let everyone know what to expect. It should be a seamless transition in that players can just log in through their iiji account and get prompted to move their characters over to Aeria. At that point they’ll be on the Aeria Games platform.
We’ve put a lot of work into this migration. Another point of good news for the players is that finishing the migration allows us to put our focus back into creating content. For instance, we’ll be seeing new languages for A.V.A. in the future—that’s something we already have in progress.
[a]list: Will we be seeing more similar transitions as time goes on for ijji titles?
JT Nguyen: We are very familiar with the ijji titles and have determined these three games as the best candidates to fit into our community. Not only are they outstanding games, but they have the most active user base. They also bring something new to our portfolio. We’re not looking to bring over any additional titles at the present, as making this transition to our Aeria Points currency with characters intact is a one-time operation.
[a]list: Why, in particular were Alliance of Valiant Arms (A.V.A.), Soldier Front and GunZ chosen for this switch over?
JT Nguyen: As three unique shooters, they fit very well into our mix of games, so that’s important. You look at A.V.A. where you jump into strategic shooter combat in an alternate timeline, it has UE3 graphics, and a strong sense of competitive play—that’s very attractive to our players. A second factor is they’re three quality games with a strong audience of dedicated players. Third, they were created by developers who have proven their ability to create games of quality, and that’s also very important to us as we continually look to partner with great development talent.
So we want to take what A.V.A. and the other games already have and make it even better through offering the highest level of support and the opportunity to become part of a very strong online gaming community. There’s a reason our players stick around for longer and more frequent play sessions—Aeria Games is a good home for players.
[a]list: What sort of extra promotional support are you looking to give these games on Aeria's game portal?
JT Nguyen: They’ll be featured in our mix of games, where they will get exposure in front of our audience of millions of players. We’re really excited to be able to integrate them into our Ignite platform. Ignite is the most powerful means of communicating with our players on a real-time basis we’ve had to date. It opens up new ways to interact in real time. Our community team will also be driving some new programs to welcome these games and their players to Aeria Games. We’ll have some packages and bundles to encourage the new players to migrate, and we’ll be giving away virtual items. Details are already starting to roll out on www.aeriagames.com.
[a]list: How are you looking to expand and promote Aeria games in the coming months?
JT Nguyen: We will continue to invest in our PC and online business but we see mobile as a very key area of expansion. As you may know, we recently launched Aeria Mobile and it’s an important initiative as we expand from PC and browser games to more platforms, including mobile and tablet. We’ll not only be bringing new titles to mobile, but we’ll be taking our games to new platforms and new languages so expect to hear more from us in the coming months with more details. We see ourselves becoming platform agnostic and we’ll bring our games to wherever our mid-to hard-core players live.
Aside from business initiatives like mobile, it’s important to keep our players happy. Happy players encourage organic growth and you can’t underestimate how important that is.
[a]list: How is the cooperation with NHN Corporation and can we expect the first game from them this year?
JT Nguyen: NHN is a fantastic partner and we’re very excited about these titles we’re bringing into Aeria Games. The partnership has been working very well and they have been very helpful in terms of title migration and we’ve brought over a lot of their team members. Born to Fire is the first game we’ll be publishing from NHN—it’s a class-based MMOFPS that will have a beta coming up soon. Head over to www.borntofire.aeriagames.com if you want to see how things are developing!
[a]list: JT, thanks.
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