WarCry: For starters, what’s your name and what’s your role on Mabinogi?
Ray Cheon: My name is Ray Cheon, Product Manager and Sr. Associate for Game Planning & Design team of Nexon America. I’m one of the Product Managers for Mabinogi. Product managers oversee all of the steps involved with servicing Mabinogi.
WC: Can you give our readers who are unfamiliar with the game a rundown on what it is?
RC: Mabinogi is an MMORPG featuring an epic story based on Celtic mythology. It delivers a fantasy life experience through exciting and innovative activities for both hardcore and casual gamers. Mabinogi features almost limitless character customization, unique items and a distinctive real-time combat system. This game really offers so many activities other games do not offer, except constant grinding.
WC: How does Mabinogi differ from more traditional Western MMOGs?
RC: First of all, it’s FREE. Anyone can visit our site, http://mabinogi.nexon.net, download and install the client, and play within less than 30 minutes with a decent computer and high-speed internet service. Players can choose to purchase extra services or items with real money.
Second, it’s constantly being updated. We try to update Mabinogi at least once every month so the players are always engaged in a new experience. We promote our growing community with events and giveaways both in the game and at the Web site. Mabinogi has so much depth, it’s going to take awhile for a player say “Now, I have done everything.” The real-time combat system requires players to carefully observe an enemy’s color and movements to strategically plan your next attack. The game’s aging system changes your characters’ stats and appearance. There is a part-time job system which offers players another way to earn experience points, gold and items. The challenging and rewarding dungeons are different every time and the role-playing system allows you to play as one of the characters in the main storyline. All of these features and more make Mabinogi such a great game to play.
Plus, we’ve just released Generation 2: Paladin and part of Generation 2 is the Animal Character Card system. In other games, your pets help your character but in Mabinogi, you actually have the option to play as the animal. Imagine galloping through a forest as a unicorn or flying high over a mountain as an eagle. No other game offers this unique experience. If you play with your pet, it will give you a stat boost during a battle. Each pet has different skills and abilities. For example, cats have higher intelligence than other pets, so they have higher magic power, while dogs have a larger inventory.
WC: You sell items in the game via microtransactions. How has the Western audience responded to that?
RC: The Western audience appreciates our Nexon Games as a value-driven entertainment option. Players choose to spend money in Mabinogi on their own rather than paying $60 up front. Microtransactions also provide an opportunity to enhance a player’s unique, personal experience within Nexon Games. Plus, the add-ons help make your character an extension of your personality, which is pretty cool.
WC: How much does the average user spend on Mabinogi in a month?
RC: We don’t disclose financial information such as this but our most popular items are the Premium Character Card and Fantasy Life Club service. Players choose to purchase Premium Character Cards for $9.50 or 9,500 Nexon Cash. The Fantasy Life Club service, which is actually a bundled package of three services in one, costs $14.90 for 30 days, or 14,900 Nexon Cash. Mabinogi is always free to play but many players enjoy the extra benefits enough to pay for them.
WC: Who’s your target demographic?
RC: Mabinogi can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates manga art style and the MMORPG experience of fantasy life. I think gamers 15-years-old and older fully appreciate Mabinogi because of its style and depth. Unlike other MMORPGs out there, Mabinogi can be also enjoyed by casual gamers who like to take things slow because they don’t have the pressure of leveling up.
WC: How do players progress in the game? How much time does the average player spend adventuring? How much time do they spend socializing?
RC: It’s really up to the player because Mabinogi can be both relaxing and competitive. As a player, you may spend hours battling monsters in dungeons, upgrading your skills, or completing the Mainstream quests. At the same time, another player might just relax around a campfire with other players sharing food and creating music. In Mabinogi, players don’t have the pressure of leveling up. We have even noticed that some of our players spend more time and gold on dyeing their items to get that perfect color of their liking than they do on raising their characters.
WC: The game is based on Celtic mythology but its art style is very reminiscent of manga. Was it hard reconciling the two?
RC: Developing the perfect look and feel for a game is always challenging and Mabinogi hit the target. It has a serene and smooth feel to it but at the same time, there’s no problem finding a dark and edgy look in the monsters and dungeons. Our developers and art team really did an awesome job.
WC: How do you envision Mabinogi will grow as time goes on? How do you plan to add content over the years?
RC: Mabinogi’s updates are divided into Chapters, Generations and Seasons. Currently, the Korean version of Mabinogi is on Chapter 2, Generation 8, Season 4 (C2G8S4) and we’re scheduled to patch the North American version on June 25 to Chapter 1, Generation 2, Season 3 (C1G2S3). This gives us a head start as far as updates but we’ll also work on adding some localized features as the game becomes more popular. We know it takes more than translating some text to make Mabinogi a great game for our Western audience.
WC: In that vein, where do you think Mabinogi will be five years from now?
RC: Even with four years of service in Asia, there’s still so much to explore and add into Mabinogi. At that point, we’ll be in new territory. I’d love to see us add sea monsters and water pets and maybe even some additional character classes. In fact, the game could be so different from what it is right now, it might just be a sequel.