Despite Setbacks Nexon Sets $1.2 billion IPO for Dec. 14

With the upcoming Zynga IPO—and the subsequent roller-coaster ride of scheduling, rescheduling, and then getting raked through the mud—the massively-multiplayer gaming front almost feels like it’s a little bleak but for the drama of late. So it’s with some new news that we look at Nexon, a free-to-play MMO game company with several titles under its belt, will be seeking their own initial public offering in Tokyo set for December 14th and fixed at $1.2 billion.

An article published at Reuters explains that the IPO of the online gaming firm will happen with the Tokyo Stock Exchange and is the biggest that Japan has seen this year. Nexon intends to sell shares at 1,300 yen each—apparently the middle of a book-building range of 1,200-1,400—but coming in lower than the initial reference price of 1,360 yen.

According to documents the IPO will raise 191 billion yen ($1.2 billion).

The news came after Zynga reduced its estimates “due to weak markets and macroeconomic uncertainty.”

Nexon sports 77 million active monthly users, whereas the online giant Zynga shows 260 million.

As a massively-multiplayer online gaming company, Nexon brings a lot of excellent games to the table; most of which are not Facebook games as part of Zynga’s fare, but smaller rivals to Blizzard’s flagship go-to MMO World of Warcraft. Amid them are Vindictius, Dragon Nest, and MapleStory; although Nexon does have a few Facebook titles such as Maple Story Adventures, Zombie Misfits, and Wonder Cruise.

These MMOs do not sell subscriptions, but instead profit from virtual item malls that run on microtransactions paid by users to purchase equipment, aesthetic changes for characters (such as costumes, mounts, special effects) and also buffs to boost gameplay.

In a quickly evolving landscape of social games and massively-multiplayer online game outfits, Nexon is holding its own in the middle bracket by providing the freemium model with microtransactiosn and an item mall. Last December, we heard from Nexon when the MMO publisher partnered with Playspan to better monetize their NX microtransation currency; obviously this has worked out extremely well for them.

So far, this has proven extremely lucrative for a multitude of other free-to-play MMO publishers like Perfect World International.

Nexon’s MapleStory November Hack

Not all has been rosy in Nexon-land, however, mentioned in the Reuters article as well. A massive security breach struck Nexon’s Korean branch of their highly-popular game MapleStory, exposing the data of 13.2 million users in one fell swoop. The attackers took a lot of personal information on the subscribers, but no financial information.

This event probably caused some timidity with Nexon’s investors about their upcoming IPO and that caused them to aim a little bit lower than their original intent. This sentiment was corroborated by a Japanese broker not involved in the offering who said that the breach might have taken some of the shine off the IPO.

Although the breach felt massive at the time, however, it doesn’t seem to have dampened the online game publisher’s spirits. We can all expect to see their IPO coming on December 14th.

About Kyt Dotson

Technology and civilization walk hand in hand and civilization is nothing without the skin of society, brushing up against itself, speaking strange nothings across dimly lit avenues and computer screens. If we're going to understand ourselves in this digital era, it will be through watching the adoption of technology by people to express themselves as people. I am an anthropologist and an author of science fiction and fantasy--and with my technology, I hope to open up new and exciting worlds that will not just enlighten the humanity of my friends and fans but also educate and enhance the expression of their own personhood. Find more of my work on Google+; send tips to @kytsune.