It is often said that nothing is truly finished and it's a saying the games industry has taken to heart in recent times.
Long gone are the days of developing and publishing a game without the need to tweak, adjust and patch it after launch, with new titles requiring constant operation and updates to keep them at the forefront of consumer thought.
Here at PocketGamer.biz, we want to take the opportunity to highlight games that have bucked the trend and found an audience that has kept them thriving long after launch.
That leads us to our semi-regular Live and Kicking series, where this week we spoke to Nexon producer Dennis Bernardo regarding the one-year anniversary of KartRider Rush Plus and how the company adapted the racer for mobile.
PocketGamer.biz: With KartRider Rush Plus now more than one-year-old, how do you reflect on its performance as a series – from launch to the title it is now?
Dennis Bernardo: The KartRider series has performed exceptionally well since launch - especially in South Korea where it has the longest-running esports league in the country and in many other territories as well.
When we first considered bringing this successful title to the global market, the biggest hurdle was figuring out the right way to adapt KartRider Rush Plus for a mobile audience. We had to look at things differently, such as the monetisation structure in order to reflect what mobile players want today.
The biggest hurdle was figuring out the right way to adapt KartRider Rush Plus for a mobile audience.Dennis Bernardo
How big is the team currently handling live ops?
We have a pretty sizable team that spans across several different offices all around the world, which provide support for the game. With the many different countries and regions we support, it is important for our teams to ensure we have specific team members who can support the game in their local regions.
How important do you consider customer support and updates to be? What has been your approach to this?
Customer support and related updates are key to the success of KartRider Rush Plus. From the start, we provide players with more than 50 tracks and 20 new karts to enjoy. As time goes on, we’ll be looking to add even more content in terms of tracks and vehicles. The most consistent rollout, in terms of new content, will be the pieces of the game that allow for customisation.
Since players can unlock customisation options right at the start, it provides us with an opportunity to continually build on these options which will include exciting new outfits and add-ons for each playable character.
What steps have you taken to ensure that KartRider Rush Plus maintains a sizable and active player base all this time after its launch?
Our main inspiration for KartRider Rush Plus came from the original PC version and we tried to ensure players would feel at home in terms of the racing and drift mechanics.
We have also added updates to gameplay in an effort to make it more accessible, fun and casual while still incorporating a competitive aspect. In addition, we gave the game added familiarity for fans by including favourite characters such as Dao and Bazzi in the mobile version.
To what do you attribute KartRider Rush Plus consistently impressive grossing performance, and how do you sustain it?
With a real-time multiplayer game like KartRider Rush Plus some of the things we need to consider are making sure aspects of the game feel balanced and enjoyable when playing solo, and also when playing with and against your friends.
We feel this is something we achieved very well in KartRider Rush Plus and players continue to return to experience the engaging racing mechanics, collect all the unique characters and Karts we have to offer and enjoy the exciting new features we add with each update.
We are constantly learning from our players what they like and what they don’t like and we use that feedback to improve the game...Dennis Bernardo
We believe that with continued support from our teams by constantly adding new content and events, we can continue that excitement from players.
Can you tell us how you have approached the game under the current pandemic? Any changes you have put in place?
What is interesting about our company and our team specifically for this game is that we were already communicating remotely to different teams all around the world working on this game. So many of our work processes already fit well with a work from home situation.
In terms of the game itself, we did not really need to change our approach to the game or the content, events or sales for it. We were able to maintain the same strategy and approach to the game along with the same schedule and dates we had planned well before the pandemic.
What would you consider KartRider Rush Plus' biggest achievement since launch?
We feel that KartRider Rush Plus' biggest achievement is the massive community that has shown their support and rallied around the game since launch. These passionate players and their love for the game are the reasons we have been able to be one of the most successful mobile racing games.
Any KPIs such as downloads, DAU or retention you’re willing to share?
Since we launched KartRider Rush Plus in May 2020, our game has seen over 23 million players all around the world download the game. We are really excited that so many players are enjoying the game we have worked so hard to release.
What lessons have you learned/are you still learning from KartRider Rush Plus? Is there anything about the game that, in hindsight, you'd now handle differently?
Every day is a learning experience working on KartRider Rush Plus. We are constantly learning from our players what they like and what they don’t like and we use that feedback to improve the game and our service all the time.
These can span from simple cosmetic or UI changes in the game, or changing the way we communicate to players.
Finally, how has your experience with KartRider Rush Plus informed where you are/what you're working on now?
With every game, you work on and every game you launch there is always something new to learn about how to approach that game. For KartRider Rush Plus working with an established IP and game that is successful in one region and trying to expand that success globally is a unique problem to solve.
And those learnings we take from our own experience and from the player's response to that experience is something we use to improve the way we approach other titles we work on.