Nexon Co, Ltd.
Native name
Company typePublic
TYO: 3659
IndustryVideo games
FoundedDecember 26, 1994; 29 years ago (1994-12-26)
Seoul, South Korea
Founders
HeadquartersMinato-ku, Tokyo, Japan[1]
Key people
Revenue¥274.5billion (2021)[5]
¥91.5billion (2021)[5]
¥114.9billion (2021)[5]
Number of employees
7,067 (Dec. 2021)[6]
Subsidiaries§ Organization
Websitenexon.com

Nexon Co., Ltd. (formerly Korean주식회사 넥슨) is a South Korean video game publisher.[7] It publishes titles including MapleStory, Dungeon & Fighter, Sudden Attack, and KartRider.[7] Headquartered in Japan, the company has offices in South Korea, the United States, Taiwan and Thailand.[8]

Nexon was founded in Seoul, South Korea, in 1994 by Kim Jung-ju. In 2005, the company moved its headquarters to Tokyo, Japan. However, its largest shareholder is an investment and holding company NXC, headquartered in Jeju Island, South Korea.[9]

History

Founding

First logo (1994–2009)

Nexon was established in Seoul, South Korea, on December 26, 1994. It developed and published its first title, Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds, in 1996, which the company continues to service.[10] Numerous other games followed such as Dark Ages: Online Roleplaying, Elemental Saga, QuizQuiz, KartRider, Elancia, and Shattered Galaxy;[11] some of which are maintained by a company spun off of Nexon, Kru Interactive.[12]

MapleStory and Dungeon & Fighter

In 2003, game development company Wizet developed MapleStory in Korea, which later became one of its most successful titles and has been serviced for more than two decades.[13][14] The game was localized for Japan, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, North America, Europe, Brazil, and Vietnam.[15] Nexon is also the developer of Dungeon & Fighter, through its wholly owned subsidiary, Neople.[16][17] Dungeon & Fighter is one of the most popular free-to-play online PC games in China.[17][18]

2010s

Nexon went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange on December 14, 2011, in an initial public offering, the largest in Japan for 2011 and the second largest by a technological company for 2011 worldwide.[19] On March 9, 2016, Nexon acquired Big Huge Games, a mobile game developer in Maryland.[20] In October 2018, a labor union was established at Nexon.[21]

In April 2013, the programmer "DrUnKeN ChEeTaH" was sued by Nexon America for operating GameAnarchy, a popular subscription based cheat provider for Combat Arms. Nexon was awarded $1.4M in damages.[22]

On January 3, 2019, The Korea Economic Daily reported Nexon founder Kim Jung-ju and associates had put their 98.64 percent stake up for sale.[23] However, on July 8, 2019, Reuters reported the plan was abandoned.[24] On November 25, 2019, The Lego Group announced the acquisition of Bricklink, the world's largest Lego fan community from Nexon's parent company NXC,[25] for an unknown price, which is expected to finish before the end of 2019.[26]

2020s

On June 2, 2020, Nexon announced plans to invest $1.5 billion in listed entertainment companies.[27] By March 2021, Nexon had deployed $874 million of that amount on investments into Hasbro, Bandai Namco Holdings, Konami, and Sega Sammy Holdings. Nexon stated that they had no interest in outright acquiring or taking activist investor positions in these companies.[28] Nexon signed with Bandai Namco Holdings, Square Enix and Microsoft for a 10-year Japanese–South Korean video gaming partnership contract for media franchises through 2032, for example HoPals Echoes crossover project.[citation needed]

In a 2021 earnings call, Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney declined to offer hard launch targets for highly anticipated games.[29] In February 2021, Nexon announced significant pay increases for new and existing development talent in the company's Korean studios.[30] In July 2021, Nexon announced the formation of Nexon Film and Television, a division of the company focused on expanding the reach and value of Nexon's global IP, as well as development of new properties in both interactive and linear entertainment. The division is based in Los Angeles.[31] In January 2022, Russo brothers-owned film production company AGBO sold a $400 million minority stake to Nexon, which is valued at $1.1 billion as Nexon takes a 38% stake.[32] In February 2022, it was reported by Bloomberg that Saudi Arabian-based Public Investment Fund had purchased just over a 5% stake in Capcom and Nexon, reportedly worth US$883 million, while American investment company KKR acquired an 8.5% stake.[33]

In May 2022, Nexon announced the launch of Mintrocket, a sub-brand and division of Nexon that specializes on games "focusing on the essence of fun".[34] Its first game, Dave the Diver, was a commercial hit, selling one million copies within ten days of launch.[35] In late 2023, Nexon announced that CEO Owen Mahoney will be succeeded by Nexon Korea CEO Junghun Lee in 2024.[36]

In early 2023, Nexon filed a cease and desist letter and a lawsuit against video game studio Ironmace, alleging that they stole files and ideas from Nexon's canceled project called "P3" and used them in their game called Dark and Darker.[37][38] Nine "P3" project members had left the company and joined Ironmace, which was started soon after the project's cancellation in 2021.[39][40] According to Ironmace, it is one of these former Nexon employees (who is alleged to have leaked the assets) who is the sued party, and not the company itself.[38] A police complaint filed by Nexon reportedly led to a police raid of Ironmace's offices in March 2023.[40] After the game was removed from Steam, Ironmace distributed it via BitTorrent, made available on the game's Discord server. A March IGN article described the situation as the "Dark and Darker legal scandal".[41] Nexon also filed a copyright infringement lawsuit in the United States on April 20, 2023.[42]

Organization

Nexon maintains various offices around the world that engage in the publishing and/or development of Nexon's games. Each region's local consolidated subsidiaries are independently managed and are responsible for developing their own strategy for their products and services.[43] The subsidiary that publishes a game does not necessarily indicate the region(s) that a game is available in.[citation needed] For example, some of Nexon Korea's games are published directly by Nexon Korea yet are available worldwide with no separate service published under the local consolidated company's portfolio.

Major Nexon group companies[44]
Region Company name
Japan NEXON Co., Ltd.
Korea NEXON Korea Corporation; NEOPLE INC.; NEXON Games Co., Ltd.; JoongAng Pangyo Development Co., Ltd.; Mirae Asset Global Innovation Growth Focus Equity Privately Placed Investment Trust; VIP Global Super Growth Hedge Fund
China Lexian Software Development (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.
North America Nexon America Inc.; Big Huge Games, Inc.; Pixelberry Studios
Other Embark Studios AB

Studios

Studios[45] Location Founded/acquired[46] Notes
Nexon Korea Seoul, Korea December 1994
Nitro Studios 2020 previously Nexon Korea Internal Teams[47]
devCat 2020
Nexon Games Nexon Games Seoul July 2010 previously Nexon GT
Nexon Games Pangyo Pangyo, Korea June 2018 previously NAT Games
Neople Jeju City, Korea August 2008
Embark Studios Stockholm, Sweden July 2019
Big Huge Games Timonium, Maryland, United States March 2016
Pixelberry Studios Mountain View, CA, United States November 2017

Free-to-play online virtual worlds

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Nexon is a pioneer in free-to-play online Virtual World games which operate in contrast to games that require a large initial payment and offer a comparatively short life cycle. Nexon's Virtual Worlds make use of live, in-game operations to provide ongoing content and manage service. Nexon Live Operations helps engage players over years and, in some cases, decades. [On the other hand, Nexon is famous for shutting down games after they reached enough popularity and brought in enough profits].

The logo of MapleStory, an MMORPG published by Nexon

Multiple Nexon Virtual Worlds are among the world's most valuable entertainment franchises:

Franchise Launch date[48] Registered players[48] Lifetime revenue[48]
Dungeon & Fighter 2005 + 850 million > $20 billion
MapleStory 2003 + 180 million > $3 billion
KartRider 2004 + 380 million > $1 billion
Sudden Attack 2005 + 23 million > $0.7 billion
Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds 1996 + 26 million N/A
Mabinogi 2004 + 20 million > $0.6 billion

Games for mobile and consoles

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Nexon began as a developer and publisher of PC games. However, in 2020, the company announced plans to begin releasing both console and mobile versions of key franchises. CEO Owen Mahoney noted that expansion onto the two popular platforms "collectively represent an order-of-magnitude increase in our total addressable market."

In July 2020, the South Korean launch of The Kingdom of the Winds: Yeon for mobile was the top-grossing title on the Apple App story and #2 on Google Play, 24 years after the launch of the initial The Kingdom of the Winds game in 1996. In August 2020, the highly anticipated release of Dungeon&Fighter Mobile in China generated more than 60 million pre-registrations before it was delayed. In March 2022, Dungeon&Fighter Mobile was released in South Korea, reaching the #1 spot on both the App Store and Google Play.

It has already announced it will be publishing ARC Raiders, The First Descendant, Project AK and KartRider: Drift for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox. Nexon previously published one title for PlayStation 4 in 2017, LawBreakers from Boss Key Productions.

Expansion in Western markets

Nexon operates in over 190 countries, but revenue and consumer engagement are concentrated in Asian markets. In 2021, the company announced a series of games in development for global release – with a focus on Europe and North America.  

Games

Year Title Developer Publisher Notes
1996 Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds Nexon Korea Nexon
1999 Elancia
Dark Ages
2001 Asgard
Crazy Arcade
2003 MapleStory Wizet Nexon (KR, JP, NA, EU)
TalesWeaver Softmax Nexon
2004 Crazyracing Kartrider Nexon Korea Also known in short as KartRider
Servers closed in March 2023 as Nexon Korea has shift their focus on KartRider: Drift
Mabinogi devCAT
2005 Sudden Attack Nexon GT (now Nexon Games)
Dungeon Fighter Online Neople Nexon (KR and JP)
Neople (Global)
2007 Elsword KOG Studios Nexon Publishing for Korea only (KOG to handled Global server)
2008 Counter-Strike Online Nexon
Valve
2008 Combat Arms Nexon Server closed in November 2017; while the Global server was carried by VALOFE in both Reloaded and Classic version
2009 Crazy Shooting Bubble Fighter
2010 Vindictus devCAT Also known in Asia as Mabinogi Heroes, prequel to the original game
Dragon Nest Eyedentity Games Nexon to share the publishing rights in Korea (ENP Games now handled KR server, while Eyedentity Games handled rest of World ex. Chinese territories)
2011 Cyphers Neople
2012 FIFA Online 3 Electronic Arts Publishing for Korea only
2013 ArcheAge XL Games Nexon to share the publishing rights in Korea (XL Games was later brought by Kakao Games)
Final Fantasy XIV Square Enix Business Division 5 Square Enix Nexon to share the publishing rights in Korea (Actoz Soft now handled KR server)
Counter-Strike Online 2 Nexon
Valve
Nexon Servers closed in April 2018
2014 FreeStyle 2 JOYCITY Publishing for Korea only
Closers Naddic Games Publishing for Korea only (Naddic Games to handled Global server)
Monster Squad Nexon GT
Timecast
Mobile game
Servers closed in December 2016
2015 DomiNations Nexon
Big Huge Games
Mobile game
Publishing rights was handed over to Big Huge Games in 2020
MapleStory 2 NSquare Both Japanese and Global server closed on Early 2020 with Korea as the only server available
2016 Tree of Savior IMC Games Publishing for Korea only (IMC Games to handled Global server)
Sudden Attack 2 Nexon GT Korean server closed shortly after launch following the controversy
Titanfall Online Nexon (Licensed from Electronic Arts) The game was never fully released
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex - First Assault Online Neople Server closed first in Japan on November 29, 2017; with Global server closed few days later (December 6, 2017)
2017 Dynasty Warriors: Unleashed XPEC Entertainment (Licensed from Koei Tecmo) Mobile game
Server closed in March 2020
Dark Avenger 3 Boolean Games Mobile game
LawBreakers Boss Key Productions Released as the debut title from Cliff Blasenski's new studio, servers closed in late 2018 with Nexon currently retained the IP rights
AxE (Alliance x Empire) Nexon RED Mobile game
Server closed in June 2022
2018 Darkness Rises Nexon Mobile game launch June 2018 [50]

Server closed October 2022

Durango: Wild Lands Nexon
What! Studio
Mobile game
Server closed October 16, 2019
FIFA Online 4 EA Spearhead Publishing for Korea only
MapleStory M Nexon
2019 KurtzPel KOG Studios Publishing for Korea only (KOG to handled Global server)
Godzilla Defense Force Neople
Studio 42
Mobile game
Crazy Arcade BnB M Nexon
2020 KartRider Rush+ Nexon Mobile game
V4 NAT Games (now Nexon Games) Cross–Platform (PC and Mobile)

Server closed March 20, 2024. [51]

The Kingdom of the Winds: Yeon Nexon Korea Mobile game
Currently available in Korea
FIFA Mobile EA Mobile Nexon (JP and KR) Mobile game
2021 Blue Archive NAT Games (now Nexon Games) Nexon (Global, ex. JP and CN) Mobile game
KonoSuba: Fantastic Days Sumzap Nexon (Global ex. JP) Mobile game
Publishing rights was handed over to Sesisoft from June 1, 2023[52]
2022 Dungeon & Fighter Mobile Neople Nexon Mobile game
Currently available in Korea
DNF Duel Arc System Works
Eighting
Neople
Also available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5
Nominated for The Game Awards 2022 Best Fighting Game
Argent Twilight: Secrets Of The Dark Orbs[53] Mobile game
Currently available in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Canada
TalesWeaver: Second Run[54] Mobile game
Currently available in Japan
MapleStory Worlds Nexon Korea Cross–Platform (PC and Mobile)
Only available in Korea
2023 KartRider: Drift Nitro Studios Cross–Platform (PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Mobile)
Dave the Diver Mintrocket Mintrocket For PC and MacOS; also available on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4/PlayStation 5
Warhaven[55] Nexon Korea Nexon Server closing in April 2024[56]
EA Sports FC Mobile EA Mobile Nexon (JP and KR) Mobile game; FIFA Mobile successor
The Finals Embark Studios Embark Studios Cross-Platform (PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC)
Dynasty Warriors M Neobards Entertainment (Licensed from Koei Tecmo) Nexon Mobile game
2024 The First Descendant (fka Project Magnum) Nexon Games Nexon Also coming to PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC
TBA ARC Raiders Embark Studios Embark Studios Also coming to PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X|S
Nakwon: Last Paradise Mintrocket Mintrocket
Wakerunners
Mabinogi Mobile devCAT Nexon
OVERKILL Neople
The First Berserker: Khazan
MapleStory N Nexon Korea PC version of MapleStory that uses blockchain technology
Vindictus: Defying Fate Nexon Korea

See also

References

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