Super Evil Megacorp, the studio behind the mobile MOBA Vainglory, has just expanded its management team with a new general manager for the Asia Pacific region. Former Wargaming, Blizzard and Electronic Arts executive Taewon Yun will be based in Singapore and lead the developer’s growth across the region. Yun will particularly focus on adding more top talent to the company in Japan and Korea, where Vainglory launched most recently. Super Evil Megacorp noted that it’s seen an incredibly positive reception for the free-to-play title since launching with over 20,0000 five-star reviews. The developer is continuing to launch the title in other parts of Asia, and an Android version is forthcoming.
Yun gave [a]listdaily some insights into Vainglory‘s future in Asia in this exclusive interview.
Tell us a little bit about your background and how you ended up at Super Evil.
I have been a gamer since I first played Pong on my friend’s Atari when I was around 8 years old. While I was at graduate school in Korea, I got to know a team of students who were working on Text Mud and I joined them as a designer, which led to me dropping out of my PhD course and joining the team full time in 1995. Since that time, I have worked in the games industry at EA, Blizzard, Red 5 Studios and most recently Wargaming.
Earlier this year I was taking some time off after resigning from Wargaming, where I was the managing director for APAC. A friend of mine suggested that I try Vainglory and I was instantly hooked. Actually, I was beyond hooked. I felt like Vainglory had the potential to be one of those games that come out once in a decade and totally change the gaming landscape.
I immediately contacted Kristian Segerstrale (COO and Executive Director of Super Evil Megacorp). I had a few Skype calls with Kristian and CEO Bo Daly, and ended up jumping on a flight to China, and then Japan, where the team was launching Vainglory. My interview process was literally accompanying the team for several days around Asia, discussing the industry, games, ramen, and then singing Bohemian Rhapsody at a Karaoke bar in Tokyo. After the interview trip, I got back home to Singapore where an offer letter was waiting. I signed it and then got on a flight to San Mateo the next day.
How is the Asian market for MOBAs different from the West, and do you think those differences are important for a mobile MOBA?
I don’t think there are huge, fundamental differences between the MOBA markets in the East and the West, however there are general cultural differences, such as “PC Game Rooms,” in Asia as well as the nearly non-existent console market. Although the above differences are not MOBA-specific, I believe they have led to the greater popularity of the MOBA genre among Asian players. MOBAs are more accessible on PC, but I believe they have even greater potential for success on mobile. Smartphone and tablets are incredibly popular in Asian countries, and a MOBA as beautiful and fun as Vainglory has the potential to be very big here.
What’s the potential for Vainglory to become an eSport in the future?
I’ve been directly and indirectly related to eSports since I was a part of the Blizzard team. In order to be a successful, an eSports game must be fun to watch, support fast and advanced controls for pro-level competitiveness, host diverse strategies and counters, and also recognize the role of community in its initial growth.
Vainglory has all these founding pillars and more. The team at Super Evil goes above and beyond to listen to its community and if players say that the game is ready to become an eSport, than we will do our absolute best to make that request a reality. Our team can not wait to be able to have Vainglory played in front of millions of fans in a big arena some day!
How will you be marketing the Android version of Vainglory in Asia?
The Android market is significantly larger than the iOS market in Asia, especially in South-Korea. Because of this, I personally consider the upcoming Android release to be the “real” launch of Vainglory in Asia. While big TV commercials, performance-based ads, and offline ads have become a standard in big mobile game marketing in Asia, they will not be our focus. We will still be focusing on building community, supporting grassroot eSports activities and also creating partnerships with various companies to promote the game across Android and iOS devices.
How does the market opportunity in Asia for Vainglory on Android compare to the iOS version?
iOS is a growing market in Asia, but you still see the majority of people walking around with an Android device rather than an iPhone. I am very happy with the traction and noise Vainglory created with just high-end iOS device support and it makes us optimistic that we’ll be able to create an even bigger splash with the game’s Android launch in Asia.
How important is it to bring back intelligence from Asia to the US when developing mobile games?
While the West is still dominant in regards to console and PC standalone games, Asia has significantly advanced its PC and mobile gaming in terms of business models, game mechanics and more. Rather than saying that we’re going to bring back intelligence from Asia, I would say that we need to learn from all regions (including Asia) and apply those lessons to create a game that can appeal to global audiences. Not every game or cultural product is able to adapt, but Vainglory certainly has the potential to be a mass market game across the globe.