Interviews// Interview With NCSoft Europe Marketing Manager, Veronique Lallier

I’m the ‘mother' of all the product

Posted 25 Jul 2007 17:59 by
Veronique Lallier, NCSoft Europe
Veronique Lallier, NCSoft Europe
Guild Wars: Eye of the North
Guild Wars: Eye of the North
Tabula Rasa
Tabula Rasa
SPOnG recently caught up with MMO specialists NCSoft - makers of blockbuster online PC games such as Lineage, City of Heroes and Guild Wars.

NCSoft made some major announcements at E3 this year ? not least about the exclusive new partnership with Sony Computer Entertainment to make MMO games for PlayStation 3 (more on this soon) as well as all the latest on all its forthcoming big-hitters in the online gaming sphere on PC, including the latest on Richard Garriott's Tabula Rasa, fantasy title Aion, new expansion pack Guild Wars: Eye of the North and the free-to-play Dungeon Runners.

Anything from Richard Garriott is surely going to be a game we?ll no doubt be talking about years down the line, and you can see SPOnG?s recent review of the Dungeon Runners here.

Meanwhile, SPOnG spoke with NCsoft Europe?s Marketing Manager, Veronique Lallier (pictured here) to find out more about the background of NCSoft Europe and how bringing an MMO game to market is quite a different kettle of fish to ?traditional? videogame marketing. Read on to find out what she had to tell us.

SPOnG: Hi Veronique, so can you tell us a little about what you do here at NCSoft Europe?

Veronique Lallier: Sure, I?m the Marketing Manager at NCSoft Europe and I look after the group of Product Managers here ? so I?m the ?mother? of all the product [laughs]. I?m mostly focused on Guild Wars, as when I first joined I was the Product Manager for Guild Wars.

SPOnG: So when did you first join NCSoft?

Veronique Lallier: Just over two years ago, a couple of months after this European HQ office had been set up [in Brighton].

SPOnG: So going back to September 2004, which is when NCSoft set up this European HQ?

Veronique Lallier: Yes, it was around that time that NCSoft set up the European office ? with only two people initially! But the company grew quite fast? It?s a really interesting company to work for actually. For those that don?t know, NCSoft is a Korean company that has been in business for ten years now ? it?s our 10-year anniversary this year ? NCSoft Corp. in Korea employs around 3,000 staff, this European office employs around 120 staff and the US office has around 200. Which gives you a good idea of the size of the company.

SPOnG: So, one of your biggest, best-known titles is Guild Wars. When did this originally launch in Europe?

Veronique Lallier: Guild Wars launched the same time worldwide in April 2005.

SPOnG: What was NCSoft doing prior to this?

Veronique Lallier: Before Guild Wars, well, our most popular game franchise is Lineage, which has had 43 million subscribers worldwide to date ? combining both Lineage 1 and Lineage 2.

SPOnG: 43 Million?!

Veronique Lallier: Yes [laughs]. We?re currently seeing a huge increase in the numbers of players in Eastern Europe, which is suddenly becoming a big market. You know, Lineage has always been targeted at the hardcore MMO gamer, so you really have to put the time into it, to achieve the maximum results. It?s a totally different style of game ? at the opposite extreme - to Guild Wars. It?s also worth pointing out just how different gaming is in Korea than it is over here in the western market. The Korean market does not have boxes ? everything is online, which is why the original Lineage took off massively over in the far east and took a little bit longer to take off over here.

SPOnG: Presumably because they had widespread broadband availability much earlier than we had?

Veronique Lallier: Absolutely.

SPOnG: And the culture of playing in cafés too?

Veronique Lallier: Yes, for us we think of internet cafés as somewhere to check email while travelling or on holiday, but for them such places are where they go to spend time with their friends and socialise. It?s a real cultural difference. People prefer to be playing in this kind of environment ? these kinds of game are heavily focused on the community aspect and usually when you go to the café you are playing with a clan in the café.

SPOnG: So in a way you could almost argue that we are kind of a bit weird in Western Europe in that we prefer to play alone on our PCs, shut in our solitary rooms?

Veronique Lallier: Yeah, it?s different. But some countries and areas outside of the Far East ? Turkey, Greece, Russia ? have huge cybercafé networks. And these are the countries in which MMO gaming really thrives.

SPOnG: There is still a fairly negative perception of people who play a lot of MMOs ? which is often couched in terms of ?gaming addiction? ? SPOnG covers such stories all the time. Is this a peculiarly European or even British attitude to gaming?

Veronique Lallier: Well, firstly it is not only MMOs or PC gaming ? you have many games on console that gamers get pretty addicted to, Grand Theft Auto to take one good example, that many players would play for hours and hours.

So it is not something restricted to MMO games, it is just that an MMO game you are creating your own avatar and it permits consumers to escape their home lives and enter new worlds of magic and be (virtually) wealthy and so on. So it can be a great escape for the player, which I think is why people often talk about addiction when talking about MMOs. But I think the problem with addiction is everywhere, in all sorts of hobbies and pastimes.

Also, in Guild Wars, players are regularly reminded to log off and have a break.
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