Conquering the World with Zombie Games! -BiNAREE
January 15, 2016 – Seoul, Korea – BiNAREE, Inc. had a interview with NCSOFT.
BiNAREE was founded early 2015 by experienced developers from various globally based game studios. Funded by NCSOFT, BiNAREE has released a mobile game called Zap Zombies™ in October 2015, and they are planning on releasing a strategy mobile game with a similar theme in late 2016.
Just like their witty and creative name, BiNAREE is creating unique games. To find out more about what makes them tick, NCSOFT visited BiNAREE office to listen to their vision and aspiration.
#We are targeting the Western Market.
In the heart of Seoul, Korea, 15 BiNAREE people were busy dealing with binary. Having diverse team members from all around the world, Kyungheon Kim (aka KK), founder and CEO of BiNAREE, has global experience and deep roots in game development. He was a key developer for Rovio and Com2uS. Along with KK, the majority of employees have experience working for global mobile gaming studios.
BiNAREE has decided to target the Western market specifically, and each member’s thoughts were reflected in the decision. This is because BiNAREE values storytelling based console games over the typical mobile RPG. From the business aspect, targeting Western market was somewhat predictable.
Kyungheon Kim (aka KK), founder and CEO of BiNAREE
“Considering our preference and business aspect, targeting Western was inevitable. Since 80% of the current domestic mobile gaming market is dominated by a few giant companies, it is almost impossible for startups to reach the top of the market without support from publishers. On the other side, we saw great potential in Western Market. We just couldn’t neglect the size of the market. It would still be competitive but there will be less resistance for a startup like us when we enter the market.” said KK.
“There is no such polarization when it comes to preference of genre. A wide range of game genres is appreciated by the public. There are many partially paid games, and people are willing to purchase paid games. Considering that, we saw potential that we might succeed in the market with a zombie themed strategy game.” Said Daegon Kim.
Daegon Kim, Lead Game Designer
Developers at BiNAREE believe in ‘the game should be fun not only to us but also to the public.’ It shows how confident they feel about their product.
“I believe the western people will also enjoy things that we like. We cannot estimate western people’s taste by just looking at one aspect, but the fact that they have no problem in buying games that they enjoy makes me think we have an opportunity to challenge the market.” Said KK.
# Zap Zombies and APO
On October 2015, BiNAREE released their debut title Zap Zombies™ globally. Unlike other zombie games, Zap Zombies has cute graphics. The fast and sensitive touch response is the most enjoyable part.
Because Zap Zombies is relatively simple to play, the game is prefered among casual users. The game review is about 4.5 on the App Store, and Android version will be released on January 22 globally.
Zap Zombies: Eliminate Zombies by Tapping the Screen Fast.
“We released Zap Zombies with the purpose of testing global market before we release Project APO, which will be out in the market by late 2016. We have learned so many lessons including marketing. We’ve got positive responses from users, but there are a few things that we need to alter.” said KK.
At this moment, along with Zap Zombies, Daegon Kim, lead game designer, leads the project APO. The game has an apocalyptic setting like the TV show ‘The Walking Dead’ or the movie ‘28 Days Later.’ Its target launching date is October 2016.
“APO is a strategy social game like ‘Clash of Clans.’ With human characters who survived in an apocalyptic scene, you can build a terminus. You can either collaborate or compete with others in the dangerous settings where zombies exist. Also, you’ll train troops to make them steal resources from other camps. Over all, it is a zombie-apocalypse game.” Said Daegon Kim.
“Unlike Zap Zombies, APO will have serious looking zombies in it. We are putting so much time and effort into developing characters. We even signed a contract with a freelance illustrator. We are planning on soft-launching APO in August 2016 and officially release the game in October 2016 right before the Halloween season. Other than Zap Zombies and APO, we are also developing a shooting RPG game. As of now, we are working on 3 projects in total.” Said KK.
#Work Hard, Communicate Easily
3 pm: the time when everyone suffers from food coma. It seem like people BiNAREE could have a coffee break or have little chitchat, but the office is extremely quiet.
BiNAREE encourages employees to work efficiently during the work hours and not over work. The philosophy is based upon the KK’s experience in working with European companies.
We can only hear the sound of typing.
“I learned a lot when I worked for Rovio. No one gets tired easily in the company because they are well-balanced with their work life and their personal life. In order to make a better game, I believe we should have well-balanced life.” Said KK.
BiNAREE has a flat company structure, and there is no hierarchical title for their working positions. Instead of calling colleagues by their title, everyone is called by their name. (In Korea, people are often addressed by their work title in the office. For example, if you have the last name Kim and your work title is Marketing Associate, you would be called ‘Associate Kim’ instead of your real name.)
“I don’t think of myself as a ‘boss.’ I am just taking the role of CEO. At BiNAREE, employees are classified with their role. Nothing more nothing less. I think there should be nothing between us when we communicate with each other.” said KK.
Do you want to know my secret? That is…
The reason why we chose to work in this agile method is to achieve an efficiency and flat work atmosphere. The key to this method is sharing regularly. To avoid meaningless meetings, we meet once every two weeks. In the meeting, we plan for the next two weeks, share in-progress tasks and get a variety of feedback.
“The advantage of a small group is that we can make a decision right away without scheduling a meeting or a review session. Well.. some say they might die while they are in a meeting. (laughed) We can directly communicate with KK we make small talk and share opinions easily.” said Daegon Kim.
I work in standing position because my back is precious.
BiNAREE highlights ‘ownership.’ Ownership meaning that employees can express their opinion freely.
“If you meet people from Supercell, whoever you meet, they act like a CEO. Because each employee can make decisions on their own. In such atmosphere, each employees’ self-esteem and responsibility can go up.” said KK.
Programmer in standing position
Then, what specific type of individual does BiNAREE look for?
“I prefer someone who can express their opinion without any hesitation. If a person says nothing during the meeting or always agrees on every issue, the person seems less attractive as a team member no matter how talented the person is. Currently we are recruiting a Unity programmer. Those of you who have such a personality, please apply for the job!” said KK.
#The Faithful Alliance: BiNAREE and NCSOFT
BiNAREE raised funds from NCSOFT at the moment of their establishment. Two companies share core values; both consist of qualified game developers and value development process.
“Investor and investee should be under a solid alliance. If investee is in trouble, investor should get the investee out of the situation. Both have to pay attention and have responsibility to each other. Since NCSOFT’s key business is game development, they put product and tech in priority. It takes a long time to get the return on investment. NCSOFT is one of the few companies that understands the time-consuming process and is patient enough to wait for an investee to make a profit” said KK.
KK was impressed by how detail-oriented the investment team was when they reviewed BiNAREE’s business proposal. The investment team is so talented that they could map out the game proposal, which was only composed of text, and pointed out the missing part of the business.
“After I got funded, my acquaintances wanted me to introduce them to NCSOFT. Each time, I gave advice to expect detailed and critical questions, which are related to game design and development, from NCSOFT. In an investee’s point of view, investor’s interest in investee’s game is a pleasant experience, but their keen question could be a burden at the same time.” said KK.
Resting Area where you can chat and play games
BiNAREE aims to make games that have a strong system and storytelling. Then, turn the game into one solid brand.
“When you think of a game, you expect something entertaining. However, when you think of making a game, it is far from entertaining but painful. However, I want the making process to be fun! I want BiNAREE people to enjoy the process of making a game. And I want our future users to have fun while they play our game.” said Daegon Kim.
“In order to amplify the entertainment side of a game we need to let users become a part of the game. Let them believe in the world and characters that we’ve created for users, it is only possible if we succeed in storytelling. Often, people call it ‘branding.’ I don’t want the branding to slip away from my hand. I would like to create a game where system and storytelling are well harmonized.” said KK.
Source: NCSOFT Blog – http://blog.ncsoft.com/?p=12522