When the 500-employee Korean video game powerhouse WeMade Entertainment Co., Ltd. looked to establish a presence in the United States, Kirkland quickly rose to the top of its list. The presence of other video game companies, easy access to I-405, nearby hotels, and plenty of dining and recreational opportunities were all drawing cards. A reasonable rent at the Kirkland 405 Corporate Center helped seal the deal. In May 2008, WeMade Entertainment USA was born.
Its five-person team is charged with publishing and distributing selected titles from its parent company in all non-Asian markets. Their primary responsibilities include adapting the company’s games, including language translations, to function properly outside Asian countries. Its games are MMOGs (my 14 year-old son helped me with the translation – massive multiplayer online game) in which hundreds or thousands of players are supported simultaneously over the Internet.
Legend of Mir 3 and Digimon Battle are its two biggest games. Legend of Mir 3 features four distinct classes, unique game systems, and a vast user community. Players take on the identity of a Warrior, Sorcerer, Taoist or Assassin, and are invited to explore the mythical Mir continent where many powerful monsters reside. The goal of the game is to save the continent from the threats of these monsters and to become a true hero. Digimon Battle features Digimon, the character originally created by Bandai Group, one of the most famous Japanese toy companies. Digimon then became a TV series. Players control an avatar of one of the four main characters of Digimon Tamers: Takato Matsuki, Rika Nonaka, Henry Wong, and Jeri Katou. Players use their Digimons in battle to obtain stronger Digimons and to accomplish missions.
Following the Korean War, Korea invested heavily in its telecommunications infrastructure. As a result, it now enjoys some of the highest Internet speeds in the world. It has a population that is accustomed to making even small, routine purchases electronically, often through their cellular telephones. These factors have allowed Korea’s online game developers to flourish by having players with ready access to high speed Internet connections and a comfort level with paying for their play with in-game micro-transactions.
WeMade Entertainment USA operates in markets that do not enjoy these historical and cultural advantages. It is moving forward however, with making micro-transactions an acceptable and profitable form of monetizing game play. Most video games are either purchased outright for a flat fee, or paid for with a monthly subscription. Micro-transactions are small, impulse-driven purchases bought by players within the game itself for reasons of vanity, saving time, better communications or even moving up a level more quickly. Think of it like paying a $3.50 toll to drive across 520 from Kirkland to Seattle in five minutes instead of spending 30 minutes or more driving around the north end of Lake Washington.
Yes, there is an employee who gets paid to play video games all day. He is the game master and is a participant who has special duties to present the fictional setting, arbitrate the results of character actions, and maintain the narrative flow. It sounds like my son’s dream job.
WeMade Entertainment USA 12220 113th Ave. NE, Suite 100 Kirkland, WA 98034 www.wemadeusa.com