Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame: James Song

Gamevil's CEO on striving for success

Hall of Fame: James Song

While attending Seoul National University, James Song founded and was elected as the first chairman of an entrepreneurial club named Venture.

Song went on to found Gamevil Inc. in January 2000, where he remains CEO.

Including offices in the US, Japan, China, and Korea, Gamevil now consists of more than 300 employees, developing high quality games and providing global services.

In October 2013, Gamevil announced it was buying a controlling stake in rival Korean mobile publisher Com2uS for $65 million.

Combined, the companies will have an annual turnover of around $140 million and a market capitalisation of over $500 million.

Gamevil's motto is to be the leading global mobile gaming company.

Pocket Gamer: What were your favorite games as a kid?

James Song: Road Runner is definitely the first game that comes to mind.

When did you realize you wanted to make games as a career?

I've always enjoyed gaming, and it was a part of my life growing up. In college, I was inspired by the idea of mobile games, which could be readily played and enjoyed at any time.

I became involved in an entrepreneurial club interested in mobile gaming and eventually founded a company.

What was your first role in the industry? How did it go?

When my friends and I founded the company, we all took responsibilities to make the company grow. Since I was the one who suggested and led them to establish the company, I took on the role of president.

One of Gamevil's first success in the west was RPG Zenonia

After a decade, the mobile gaming industry has developed at a very fast pace. Many talented personnel have joined our company and we've expanded tremendously.

But just like when we first founded the company, all of our employees continue to share the same goal - to develop and provide fun and enjoyable gaming experiences on mobile devices around the world.

What do you consider your first significant success?

Despite what the company has been able to accomplish, I still see myself striving for my personal take on success.

When did the potential for mobile games become apparent to you?

When the mobile gaming business first came to surface starting with feature phones, I realized the importance and potential of mobile devices and their availability.

With various mobile markets emerging around the world, I definitely see more upside in the industry with different and fast-paced business flow.

What do you think is the most significant event in mobile gaming?

The mobile gaming industry is always rapidly changing, so it's crucial that companies react and adapt to these changes quickly and effectively.

Gamevil has been able to adapt to various events including changes in business models, distribution channels, monetization, user acquisition, etc. to maintain its reputation as one of leading global publishers. In light of this, I believe the emergence of global mobile markets such as Google Play and App Store has been the most significant event to-date.

What are you most proud of? Any regrets?

I'm very proud to see a great foundation of over 300 million users on Gamevil Circle. I definitely see more and more fans continuing to play our games with high expectations.

Things have moved on: 2013's Zenonia 5

As one of the pioneers in the mobile gaming industry, Gamevil has never been shy of trying new things. If I had any regrets, I wouldn't even dare to try something new, right?

Which mobile games have you most enjoyed recently and why?

Golf Star by Com2uS - though no particular reason comes immediately to mind.

What are your predictions for the future of mobile games?

More and more devices with higher specs will become available. Therefore, we're expecting to see the transition from casual to high quality, mid-core titles. Additionally, the emergence of social platforms has made it so that the mobile gaming business can't flourish without constant updates and support.

Creating a fine product and continuing to nurture and improve it are essential in having a successful title. I believe it's also important for a company to venture into a wide range of genres to satisfy different global mobile users. Gamevil is actively looking to publish games with talented developers as well as developing more polished internal titles.

In which area of the industry do you hope to make a difference in future?

I hope the mobile gaming industry will be defined as a global cultural trend such as in the case of the music and film industries.

The door is open to anyone, anywhere to create and develop ideas into fine, unique products. As more demand grows for mobile devices, I believe the importance of mobile content, notably mobile games, is growing higher than ever.

Thanks to James for his time

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.