Jane Cruz-Walker is the Present and Chief Executive Officer for Level Up! Games, which is the NO.1 game publisher in Philiphines. She is a charming and conversable lady, and the following interview is our reporter Shine sending from ChinaJoy 2007.
MMOsite.com: What are your major goals for attending the fifth Chinajoy?
MS Jane: China is fast-becoming a major player in the online game industry and global trends will soon enough emanate from this region. Level Up will continue to support ChinaJoy by sending representatives to maximize this opportunity.
Early this year we acquired our first Chinese developed game called Perfect World from Perfect World Beijing. I am amazed so far based on what I have seen during the localization and testing phase. PW is set to go open beta next week and we know it is going to be a big hit. We are currently finalizing our content line up for 2008 and I hope to see what we are looking for in Shanghai.
Korea will continue to be an important source for Level Up as Korea s experience in this industry is unrivaled so far. Our visit to Shanghai widens our network. We d like to see what s new in terms of content, solutions and platforms. Cost continues to rise so we are looking for other alternatives most suited for the Philippine market. I ve seen Grade A contents in other exhibits and conferences but the acquisition/licensing cost doesn t make sense in a market in its early stages. We are hoping to see contents most suited for a market where infrastructure is less developed, buying behavior of players with less purchasing power and micro-payment are well studied.
MMOsite.com: What are your criteria in selecting game to distribute?
MS Jane: Players anticipate the coming of new games and their expectations are much higher now. They want more choices, more player generated contents etc.. so it is important for the 1st criteria to be the content s strategic role within the portfolio / product line. Our portfolio is much more diversified now – different genres catering to different needs.
Longevity of the game. The usual problem is the game developer s ability to generate new content/features fast enough to retain avid to hard-core players. It is very important to keep these players as they are the more often the leaders of that game. What they say carries a lot of weight with the new players. For this, we are seeking at least 1-year of existing content prior to purchasing.
Choosing the right partner is crucial in both marketing and technical aspects. Without full support, a game s success is limited. To emphasize, Philippine games benefit from offline events which not only promote the game to new markets but also gives advertising companies an easy (and understandable) entry point to the youth market. The excitement such an event brings is a win-win situation for both the game developer and the game publisher. The advertising companies are then a step closer to in-game advertising. An example is Coca-cola which appeared in both our Ragnarok and Freestyle games.
The speed in resolving game issues such as fixes in lag, bugs, item duplications, and other hacks is also an important factor. It cannot be over-emphasized that technical support here is the life and death of the game.
On the back-end side, we also look into whether the game fits the Philippine s network infrastructure. Given our thousands of islands, overall connectivity is a problem for some game developers.
Lastly, the business model has been evolving recently. At this time, LU is looking at subscription and free-to-play hybrids that fit the Philippine market.