Disruption in the Triple-A Games Industry: An Interview with Owen Mahoney

Shortly after Owen Mahoney announced his decision to step down as CEO of Nexon next year, we had the opportunity to interview him about the reasons behind his choice. As the CEO of a company known for its triple-A games operating under a games-as-a-service model, Mahoney believes that the industry is ripe for disruption.

The Succession Plan and Future Direction

During the interview, Mahoney shared details about his tenure at Nexon and the achievements under his leadership. He mentioned that Nexon had consistently achieved growth in revenue and operating income, and the company currently has a robust pipeline of games.

The news of Mahoney’s planned departure in March 2024 came as a surprise to many, given his successful track record. Junghun Lee, head of Nexon Korea, has been appointed as his successor, and Mahoney will continue to serve as a senior advisor and stand for re-election to Nexon’s board.

Mahoney emphasized the importance of strong corporate governance and having a solid succession plan in place, particularly for companies operating in the long term. He explained that building long-term shareholder value requires a strong team and a well-planned transition.

“Most companies talk a good game about corporate governance, but when it comes to the actual implementation, they often fall short. It’s essential to ensure that you have a good succession plan in place for the benefit of the shareholders.”

Owen Mahoney

The Need for Reinvention and Innovative Ideas

Mahoney acknowledged the challenges faced by the gaming industry as a whole, with many customers and developers expressing dissatisfaction. He highlighted the need for a different approach, embracing new technologies, and empowering developers to create games they are passionate about.

“The best game development ideas don’t come from me. They come from someone who genuinely cares about the customer experience. Developers have a unique perspective and understanding of what gamers want. By nurturing iterative processes and smaller teams, we can focus on finding the fun.”

Owen Mahoney

Mahoney emphasized that rather than chasing trends or hot topics like blockchain, the industry should focus on creating fun experiences and investing in innovative ideas. By leveraging software tools and being more intelligent in development processes, the industry can disrupt existing norms and ultimately deliver higher-quality games.

The Role of AI in Game Development

Regarding the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on games, Mahoney sees AI as a software tool that brings developers closer to their goals. He believes that AI, when used effectively, accelerates the development of more enjoyable games.

“Software tools that enable us to create games faster ultimately result in better games. The success of ‘The Finals’ with a team of only 75 developers demonstrates the power of efficient software tools in the gaming industry.”

Owen Mahoney

Mahoney envisions a future where the industry leverages technology to lower development costs, create more engaging experiences, and attract a wider audience. By embracing a more innovative and intelligent approach, the gaming industry can thrive and deliver long-lasting, enjoyable games.

As for Mahoney’s future plans, he expressed a desire to delve deeper into coding and continue his education in software tools. While he joked about becoming an influencer, his focus remains on personal growth and staying connected to the evolving landscape of game development.

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