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Nexon Incoming CEO Seeking Growth Through Game Partners

Nexon Co., the Japanese maker of online games such as “MapleStory,” will invest in U.S. rivals and expand partnerships to woo consumers seeking role-playing and mobile titles, its incoming chief executive officer said.

“In the West, almost all mobile games are casual games,” said Owen Mahoney, who will take over as CEO March 25. “We and a few other companies will prove what a great gaming platform, or immersive experience, a mobile device can be,” he said in an interview at the Game Developers Conference, in San Francisco this week.

Mahoney, 47, who is currently Nexon’s chief financial officer, is succeeding Choi Seung Woo, who is retiring as CEO. Expanding in the U.S., which researcher App Annie calls the second-largest market for mobile games behind Japan, is a priority, Mahoney said.

In July, Tokyo-based Nexon announced strategic investments in Redwood City, California-based Rumble Entertainment Inc. and Baltimore, Maryland-based SecretNewCo. to bolster its 160-person studio in the Los Angeles area.

In September, Nexon announced plans to invest in Miami-based Shiver Entertainment Inc., the game startup founded by industry pioneer John Schappert. Now, Nexon is looking for other partners, Mahoney said. The company will seek publishing deals, investments or acquisitions, he said, without naming potential targets.

“As we think about targets, we look at really high-quality developers, those who really understand free-to-play games and are looking for long-term retention of gamers,” Mahoney said.

Nexon over the next two years plans to expand mobile offerings as a percentage of the company’s gaming portfolio from 20 percent of revenue to at least half, Mahoney said.

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