Game Market 1983 - Chapter 1
“About this project, no one has any objections about steering it towards being mobile-oriented, right?”
‘No, I disagree with that, you bastard…’
However, like always, I kept my thoughts to myself. God damn…
“How much time do we have to make the final deadline?”
“The beta is planned to be released by May, so won’t we have to finish it by February?”
‘What? They’re giving us only 6 months to overhaul the current project and remake it from the start? Are they playing with us?’
I was boiling with anger. The company CEO had been picking his nose and absentmindedly nodding his head from his seat. He probably thought that with just 2 months of working on the game, and a month of advertising the game, the dough would start rolling in.
There was no way that was happening. I could bet my 10 fingers that this project will be an utter failure.
At that moment, one of the directors must have seen the disapproval on my face and opened his mouth.
“Do you have a problem? You've been making that expression from a while ago”
“Director Han, the concept of this project is completely different from what we planned in the beginning. The game will charge the users serious money; if we release it like this, the users will be definitely be displeased. This won’t fare well for our company’s image.”
As I said that, Director Han looked at me with a wrinkled eyebrow. He had the habit of wrinkling his eyebrows like that whenever someone even slightly criticized his words.
“I even extended the deadline of the last project for you. You should remember exactly how that turned out..”
‘Bast*rd. You interfered in the middle of that and overturned everything!’
I had a plethora of words to say, but I wasn't stupid enough voice my opinions. All that would happen was the CEO, who was picking his nose, will remain oblivious, and Mr. Han isn’t the type of person that would stick up for me either.
“As you all know, the gaming industry of our country consists mainly of mobile games. The PC games that we thought would be immortalized have rapidly decreased in popularity. Anyway, we must prioritize our focus to mobile games. In the past, ‘NetBlue’ had about the same revenue as us but they instantly grew to a conglomerate in the top 5 rankings after releasing one mobile game. Do you all feel nothing after seeing this? You don’t have any thoughts on how to make the company hit the jackpot?”
“Yeah, that’s right. Director Han speaks well~”
The CEO sided with Mr. Han.
NetBlue… They hit the "jackpot" after releasing a mobile version of the popular board game “Blue Marble”, but after a while, due to a scam with the billing process being exposed, most of the users left the game.
“And the company, GameTown, which was smaller than us, is releasing new titles every quarter. Look at the state we're in! We haven’t released anything new for the past two-quarters. Does this make any sense?”
The CEO agreed with Director Han again.
“Yeah, that’s very good.”
The more I heard the executives speak, the more baffled I became. For the last project, we would have finished last April if we had strictly followed the initial plan. However, everything went south when changes were constantly made in an attempt to increase the potential revenue for the game. The project was inevitably delayed due to these constant updates.
On top of that, the game was switched to a mobile platform, so the effort that we've put into this project since last November was lost. Director Han was arrogantly talking with the idiot CEO backing him up.
“I was thinking it would be best for the Team Leader of the project, Mr. Kang Junhyuk, to drop out. How about moving to the customer service department for awhile? You like interacting with the users, right?”
“Mr. Junhyuk, the kind of games you make are too player-oriented. They don't make much money at all for the company. We’re not some kind of a charity service. If you make a free download game, you should be thinking of ways to extract money from the players, not shower them with free items. Anyway, I’ll be personally leading this project. Mr. Junhyuk can transfer to another department for now. Or you can just stay at the customer service department and take care of the players forever.”
It was obvious that the result would be garbage; you want me to clean up your trash?
And the fact that a design Director who didn't know anything about programming is going to take charge…
The faces of the programmers for this project were ugly.
“What’s the problem with everyone’s expressions? If you have any complaints, speak up now. I’ll put you in customer service with Mr. Kang.”
The room was silent after Director Han spoke.
The reason was because being transferred to the customer service department was the most humiliating experience for a programmer.
“Fuck, I can’t do this anymore, Team Leader. I can’t work under Director Han, that bastard.”
End of the shift.
I was talking to Mr. Lee, whom I had a deep friendship with. The hour hand on my wristwatch was pointing at 10 pm. Phew… To think that I would be working overtime the day before my department transfer.
After I organized my belongings in a box, I came out of the No. 2 Development Office.
“Team Leader, are you really going to leave like this without saying anything?”
“What if I do say something? Do you think Director Han would listen to me?”
“But you should at least try.”
“It’s fine. I’m done with this. The current CEO and the past CEOs’ visions are completely the opposite of each other. Didn’t you see what he was saying next to Director Han?”
“You’re too much, Team Leader Han. If you persuaded me to join the company to make a great game together, then you should have at least stayed in the Team Leader position.”
“Then you want to follow me to the customer service department?”
“That’s not what I’m saying~!!”
“I’m really sorry. I didn’t know the situation would go this far. “
“You must be in a terrible mood, I stepped out of my position and vented my anger.”
“But it’s a relief that at least you are staying. Cooperate with Director Han and finish this project well…”
“Yes, I will try my best.”
“If you have time, do you want to grab a beer together?”
“Ah, because of my wife, beer at this hour is a little…?”
“Smack! That’s fine. Alright then, I’ll see you later.”
“Have a good night, Team Leader.”
After saying goodbye to Mr. Lee, I stepped outside and felt the cold air brushing against me. Was autumn coming already? I stopped and looked back at the company as I was heading to the parking lot.
I was 34 this year with 15 years of experience as a programmer, but tomorrow, I'd be going to work as a customer service representative… I was speechless.
I thought I could create any game I wanted when I first entered this software company, but in the end, I was busy making other people’s games for the first 8 years. This was no different after my promotion to Team Leader.
The games that I'd developed, instead of highlighting how my game was unique, I had to give a presentation on how much profit the game would bring in compared to the production costs.
In the end, the games that I made were unsuccessful. Of course, that was to be expected… while in the process of developing the game, many people added their input, so the end result was completely different from the original concept.
On top of that, due to the deadline being rushed on many occasions, the games were often riddled with bugs and server problems.
The recent trend for releasing mobile games was always speed. Within 2 weeks of a game's first release, the developers would make a decision on whether or not the game would be a hit or not and decide to discontinue the service. If it seemed that the game would be successful, the entire industry would replicate the concept of the game, make slight changes before releasing it, and argue that everyone else copied their program.
It was as if I was watching the Korean version of the ‘Atari Shock’.
In the 1980s, the American game industry went into a great recession which was known as one of the darkest moments in gaming history. Numerous games that didn’t go through a proper testing period flooded to the market. An example of this was the game developed by Atari called E.T.
The game, Extra Terrestrial, was developed in 5 weeks to be released in time for Christmas. Needless to say, it was a disaster. Millions of unsold game packages were dumped in the middle of a desert in New Mexico.
An industry of almost 3 billion dollars shrank to about a hundred million after this incident and was known as the ‘Atari Shock.’ The current situation in Korea was no different from back then.
“There’s no one waiting for me back home. Should I grab a beer for myself in a bar near my house?”
I grabbed the car keys from my pocket and headed towards the parking lot. I was 34 this year, and still single. Sigh.
Was this one of the benefits of being single? I parked my car at my house and got myself drunk with 2 bottles of Soju at the nearest bar. Yeah, how could I not knock myself out on a day like this~ Keke.
In my drunken stupor, I completely hammered myself and cackled while meandering in the streets. Tomorrow, I was going to be working in a completely different job from game development. F*cking hell… my dream of being a game developer was ending like this?
At that moment the sound of a beeping tune caused me to stop in my tracks.
It was almost like the background music one would hear from an old arcade shooting game, but my surroundings were nothing but old shops.
However, I heard this for sure. This was the sound of a missile shooting from an old arcade shooting game… Reminiscing my childhood memories, I hastily looked around my surroundings and looked for the noise.
This time, it was the SFX that Super Margee made when he jumps? Perhaps there was an arcade around here? But from what I know, arcade rooms should have disappeared by the 90s.
However, on the slight notion that there was an arcade, I hastened my footsteps toward the noise. It might've sounded silly, but these beeping noises were like a memory of an old pop song to me.
How long have I wandered around like this at midnight?
A brightly lit store in a remote alley came into my view. On the glass display of the store was an old TV box, as well as rows of game cartridges packed together.
“Welcome to my shop.”
Inside the store, a gray-haired old man was smilling as he watched me step inside.