Mr. Jungwon Hahn has an impressive career history, having served as Deputy General Manager of EA Korea, Regional Managing Director of Blizzard Entertainment, General Manager of Wargaming, and most recently as CEO of Majamojo, an Indonesian gaming joint venture. After encountering Mr. Hahn in 2020, TentuPlay has appointed him as an advisor to Sentience, Inc. this month.

An interview with Jungwon Hahn
<The advisor, Mr. Jungwon Hahn, during his visit to Sentience.>

Q. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Mr. Hahn. Thank you for joining Sentience and participating in this interview. If you don't mind, may I ask what type of games you enjoy in your free time?

I used to prefer playing PC games before 2010, but my favorite games have now shifted to mobile games. Currently, I play "Fieldrunners Attack!" daily, which is made by the same team as the original "Fieldrunners" game that I used to play when the iPhone was first released. I've spent a lot of money on "Happy Clinic" and have invested a lot of time in "Club Match Online&GoStop," a very "traditional" Korean game. While watching YouTube, I like to play Jigsaw puzzles or Sudoku. (Q. It seems like you do enjoy various games. Have you considered trying a PC strategy game like "South Pole Bebop," which our game team is developing?) I used to play complex strategy games on my PC before, but since I switched to using a Mac in 2008, I haven't played many PC games. However, I would like to try "South Pole Bebop." Is it compatible with Mac?

Q. We are working on making it possible soon. For Indie game developers, such as Sentience, what is the most important thing to keep in mind?

It's simple - "fun" or "meta" from a business perspective. In the case of successful games, users spend a lot of time experimenting this and that when they are not actively playing the game. The next important factor is "Product Market Fit(PMF)", I think. Most game companies often have concerns within their own country. They tend to lean towards the direction familiar with the local community and language. However, to expand globally, it is crucial to identify and provide the critical factors for each country.

Q. How can we make games more "fun"? This should be a concern for every developer.

It's important to step out of the comfort zone and incorporate ideas that seem interesting and fun, even if they feel embarrassing or unreasonable. It's also crucial to create an environment where everyone can share their opinions and have conversations, rather than an autocratic environment where ideas are dictated. Especially in Korea, there may be limitations on speaking opportunities or individuals hesitating to share their ideas based on hierarchical positions within companies.

I know it is not easy to be criticized for sharing your seemingly unreasonable ideas. However, sometimes great ideas come from seemingly unreasonable ones. The French tend to question ideas even if they agree, habitually raising doubts. Through this process, they can develop ideas without being led in the wrong direction by probing potential issues. I also had the opportunity to spend time with startups from Israel, who would have intense debates in the meeting as if they would never see each other again. Israel is known for having a strong startup ecosystem, and I think cultural characteristics like this may also have an influence.

Jungwon Hahn, the advisor of Sentience

Q. Based on your deep insights into the gaming industry, you officially started assisting as an advisor to Sentience this month. How did you first come across Sentience, and what aspects of our solution TentuPlay, a personalized analysis tool for game users, resonate with you?

About three years ago, a close friend introduced me to Marcus Kim, the CTO of Sentience. I don't usually expect much from the meetings, but as I heard more about Sentience from Marcus, I was surprised to find that it was a great company. With over 25 years of experience in game publishing, I've faced frustrating situations where the development team and I had different priorities. While the development team focused on creating new content to provide fun for users, my priority was ensuring users remained in the community and continued playing. Since Sentience's TentuPlay provided a solution to this exactly, I was completely hooked.

I believed in Marcus, the CTO, who had unwavering confidence and clarity, despite his eccentric nature. Since then, we've kept in touch and helped each other, bringing us to where we are now. I'm also very confident in the company's CEO, Hyeyon Kwon, who is one of the most hardworking CEOs I know among Korean startups that actively operate overseas.

Q. We will try hard to meet your expectations. I understand that you currently reside and work in Singapore, and your perspective seen from overseas would be special. Lastly, we would be grateful if you could share your thoughts on the Korean gaming industry and the direction it should be headed in the future.

I've spent a while in Korea lately and I've noticed that the Korean game industry is going through a rough patch. Their technological capabilities and game development environment are lagging behind China's, and the domestic market is smaller despite the quality of Korean games. To address this, it's important to think about globalizing. Product Market Fit (PMF) I mentioned earlier is key to this, and we need to look at which region to target first. About half of the market is in North America and Europe, and Asia is the other half. We need to determine which region to target first. We should identify our assets and approach the market step by step, focusing on regions where our content is popular.  

It's also important not to be too swayed by fads. Sometimes we get carried away chasing trends instead of concentrating on what we do well.  For example, the game industry's sudden interest in NFTs might not have been necessary. Not only in retrospect, but I have been saying this consistently. Sometimes, a solid and secure foundation is needed before jumping into new trends. Especially for smaller startups, it's important to be cautious about blindly chasing trends.

We wish to express our appreciation to Mr. Hahn, the advisor at Sentience, who spared his time to visit us despite the scorching weather.  We are confident that the knowledge and experience imparted by Mr. Hahn will enable TentuPlay to offer superior solutions to the gaming industry.

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