Late last week Nexon America announced that PopTag! would be headed to North America. WarCry has scored the first interview with the development team. Find out all there is to know about PopTag! below:

1. Please introduce yourself and describe your position at Nexon.

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Hi, my name is Jaeho Hwang and I’m the producer of PopTag!. I have experience in publishing this game in the Asian market, specifically China, Taiwan and Vietnam, so I am confident about it and glad that I’m introducing a wonderful game to U.S. market.

2. Nexon has just introduced PopTag! to the western MMO market. Please tell us about PopTag!.

PopTag! has seen great success in Asia. In 2004, it reached 700,000 CCU (concurrent users) in China, which is a world record at the moment. The game still shows strong numbers in Korea and all other countries. This is because the game, itself, is easy to learn and extremely addictive. PopTag! has both cooperative and competitive aspects. Various rich contents that maximize gameplay also help users stick to the game for a long time.

3. PopTag! has been released as “BnB Crazy Arcade” in Asia. When was BnB Crazy Arcade originally released? How successful has it been?

It was released in Korea in 2002. It was the very first successful game using the micro-transaction business model. Additionally, it reached 330,000 CCU in Korea, which is exceptional considering the gamer population at the time. Then the game knocked on the door of the Asian market, successfully launching in China, Taiwan and Vietnam. The game broke the record of the highest CCU in China when it hit 700,000. It quickly became an icon in Asia and the characters became as famous as pop stars.

4. When was the decision made to bring BnB Crazy Arcade to the west?

Nexon America has had a very strong line-up, but was still looking for a game that would appeal to the more casual gamers and allow them to easily jump in and enjoy. Considering this, PopTag! appeared to be the best game to bring to the west. The decision was made only last summer, but thanks to the previous experience in our overseas service, we will be able to release the game very early.

5. Why change the name?

We were looking for a name that perfectly describes the gameplay. “PopTag!” completely shows the essence of the game, which requires a “tagging” action to “pop” the bubbles. I also didn’t like people asking if “BnB” stood for “Bed and Breakfast!”

6. Explain the localization process and any difficulties bringing a successful “eastern” game to the west.

Well, it was not easy to find terms that wholly show the mood of the game. Since the game has a “cute” aspect combined with a “competitive” aspect, we wanted to keep the balance between “kiddie” and “aggressive.” Additionally, adding personality to the characters required quite a bit of discussion. Because ‘localize’ doesn’t only mean ‘translate,’ we tried our best to reach U.S. casual gamers closely when adding personality. We prepared a flash game demo to give users a taste of the game beforehand and we will release an avatar rental system to allow them to experience dressing up their character.

7. Please give a thumbnail sketch of the game play.

Basically, the only keys needed are the arrow keys and space bar. Players drop water balloons at the right moment to lock their opponent in a water ball and pop their trapped opponent to become the victor. If you get locked in a water ball, your team can come the rescue by tagging you. Players also have the option of using “Monster Mode” where they can cooperatively work with teammates to beat the boss monster. PopTag! also supports ‘co-play,’ which gives players the option of playing side-by-side on a single keyboard.

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8. You recently indicated that PopTag! has MMO-like characteristics. Would you please expand on that thought?

Well, to expand the horizons of casual games, we created “Quest system.” Players will receive missions to complete, and will earn a reward once the quests are completed successfully.

9. Can player characters ‘level up’, gain or find new items? Please explain.

Yes, players can level up by simply playing the game and the speed at which they level up depends on how well they play. There are consumable pick-up items on the maps contained in boxes that players can reveal by destroying the boxes.

10. Are there different types of player characters, what some in an RPG would call “classes”?

Yes. Actually, it’s more like a “fighting game” like Tekken. You choose a character by skill or looks every time you join a match.

11. Will PopTag! be free to play?

YES! Free to download and free to play! But don’t doubt the quality – believe me, this is a superior casual game.

12. Will there be an item mall? If so, what types of items will be included?

There will be an item mall that will offer some functional items and hundreds of decorative items. You can decorate your character itself or the background. We will introduce the avatar rental system soon to maximize this experience.

13. Which purchasable item is your favorite and why?

I love to decorate my water ball. Why? So that I can clearly see that my opponent is locked by MY water ball!

14. What is your favorite map and why? May we have a screenshot?

I like the Village10 map. You start from the corner end of the map, but must gather good pick-up items as you work your way to the center in preparation to meet the opponent for a battle.

15. When do you expect PopTag! to go into beta? Will there be a closed and/or open beta? If so, how can players get involved?

We are currently planning to forego the closed beta phase and directly open the game to the public to allow users immediate access to the game. Although we are running at a fast pace, we are doing our best to make it stable. You will see the finely-tuned game very soon.

16. When do you expect to release PopTag!?

We haven’t set a date yet, but I’m pretty sure that you will get addicted to the game before Springtime comes.

17. Please add anything else you wish!

a. I’m proudly introducing the best casual game that Nexon has created. I hope you all can enjoy the various and rich contents that PopTag! has to offer and get lost in simple but frantic gameplay.

Thanks to the Nexon America team and to Mr. Hwang for their input! We’ll keep you posted about PopTag!’s progress!

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