[Speaker Profile] Kiyat Games CEO, Sun Cho

The Kiyat Games team.

In part two of our speaker profile series, we introduce Kiyat Games. Kiyat Games is a bridge between East and West, bringing games from Korea to the US market. We talked with their CEO, Sun Cho.

Why did you decide to start Kiyat games?

With over a decade’s worth of experience in free-to-play games I knew that I had what it takes to create and run my own company, this time with my own vision. I felt that with my time in two different countries (Korea and the United States) I had also gained the varied experience to be able to properly bridge the gap between these two very different cultures.

You’ve started three games so far, how are they going?

All three titles are in different stages, right now. “Nomocraft” is being prepped and not yet released. “Cannon Whiskers” is out in the Oceania territory in its own ‘soft launch.’ Our team is working on getting it ready and polished for its main release in the United States soon. The big project we are working on is “Tiny Conquerors” which is still in the prepping stages. It will be ready by this summer and we are incredibly excited for that title.

What are the biggest challenges of bringing a game from the East to the West?

There are a number of factors involved when bringing a title from a completely foreign territory to the West. The biggest challenges we’ve faced have all been due to the culture difference. This can be expanded into in-game text issues, to also difficulties in communication between the developers and the publishers.

What is unique about East Asian games that western gamers probably don’t know about?

East Asia, in particular Korea, has had a lot of experience in the free-to-play/microtransaction based model and it is considered ‘normal’ and even expected in games. The West, on the other hand, is still fairly new to this monetization system and has had some issues fully accepting it as the ‘standard.’ The East Asian developers have aptitude with this model and have been very good at implementing it into their games. The developers can make it fair to gamers without ever really crossing that threshold and turning the game into ‘pay-to-win’ model which many Western gamers despise.

How much change do you give your games in the localization phase?

For text localization we actually do quite a bit as straight translation rarely ever fits or even makes sense. Culturally, a lot of word play can also be completely lost in the translation. Sometimes a joke that makes sense in Korean (or Japanese or Chinese) just sounds weird in English. Our localization editor takes the game theme/genre/context into consideration before they make the appropriate changes so that it would best suit the audience and the overall atmosphere of the game.

Do you expect we will ever see more cross over from East to West, or will it always be slow trickle of only the most successful games that make it in either region? 

As the mobile market grows there will come a demand for more games. There are developers in the West who are creating their own titles but there will also be publishers who will want to find existing successful games and bring it over. At this point, the mobile game market is still in its early stages so we don’t know exactly what will happen but it looks promising. We expect more titles from the East making their way to the West as there is a growing desire to expand out of existing territories and into newer turf.

Get in touch with Sun Cho or follow Kiyat games online:

Sun Cho Linkedin: www.linkedin.com/in/suncho/
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