Japanese games firm Nexon bets big on faster networks, mobile devices

Nexon games company
The logo of Nexon is displayed at the company office in Tokyo, Japan November 16, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

TOKYO (Reuters) – Games company Nexon Co Ltd is betting on bringing long-running PC titles to mobile devices to drive revenue, as faster internet speeds and improved processing power improve the gaming capability of smartphones, its CEO told Reuters.

Mobile “will dwarf the PC numbers long term,” Chief Executive Owen Mahoney said in an interview on Monday, days after Nexon reported mobile’s proportion of July-September revenue grew to 42% from 26% in the same period a year earlier.

Nexon President and CEO Owen Mahoney poses for a photograph during an interview with Reuters in Tokyo, Japan November 16, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Mahoney is among industry executives who see the growth of demand for gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic as part of a long-term shift from traditional to interactive entertainment as the latest technology makes it ever easier to play video games.

Nexon, founded by South Korean billionaire Jungju Kim, is bringing franchises such as role-playing game “The Kingdom of the Winds”, which launched in 1996, and racing title “KartRider” to mobile.

“The computing power for most people is higher now on mobile and 10 times the number of people have them,” said Mahoney, a rare foreign CEO of a Tokyo-listed company.

Upcoming mobile releases include “Dungeon and Fighter” in China, published by gaming giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. Mahoney said the game, which was pushed back from August, would be released in the “near future”.

Other upcoming titles include “KartRider: Drift”, which will allow players to race rivals on different platforms, and a shooting game from Stockholm-based Embark Studios.

Nexon bought Embark Studios last year in an acquisition aimed at combining its experience in maintaining user engagement – such as with games like “MapleStory”, released in 2003 – with Western games development, Mahoney said.

The developer has also been putting its money into listed entertainment companies. It recorded an unrealised 19 billion yen gain on 86 billion yen ($820 million) worth of equity investments in July-September.

“In the new world of everything being virtual and being connected to the internet … there’s going to be some winners,” Mahoney said of Nexon’s equity investments.

($1 = 104.5600 yen)

(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Christopher Cushing)

Related article: Tencent considering bid for Korean gaming company Nexon

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