Featured Studio – NHN Entertainment Labs

NHN Entertainment Labs is a new studio that recently opened in Santa Monica, and we’re helping them get the word out about their open jobs! You might not be familiar with their name, but that doesn’t mean that they’re starting from scratch. Their parent company is one of the largest and most profitable entertainment companies in South Korea, NHN Entertainment.

A Meeting of Erudite Minds

NHN is currently working on a “social mobile casino” platform that they’re calling Golden Sand Casino. We wanted to give potential applicants a better idea about that app and what life might be like at NHN, so we put several questions to Drew Smith (NHN’s Head of Talent Acquisition) and the NHN management team.

Since NHN Entertainment Labs is just getting started, let’s focus on the basics a little bit. How long have you guys been open for business? How big is the team right now?

“Planning began in earnest in September 2013 and hiring commenced in December/January. We’re at 30 full-time employees right now.”

It looks like a few of the founders have experience at other start-ups. Are they finding anything different about the experience of getting NHN up and running?

“There’s a substantial difference starting a company that’s a division of a multinational company vs. an angel or even VC funded start-up. The resources at your disposal, Board and employee expectations, and exit strategy are fundamentally different. Fortunately, the goals are the same – create a great game that effectively competes with the market leaders.”

Have any of the team members worked together at previous companies?

“Yes, several of our team members have worked together before!

  • Tony (CTO) and Arun (Backend Developer) worked together at Playgistics
  • Greg (Sr. Artist), Phelicia (Sr. Production Artist) and Wil (Core Artist) worked together at Electronic Arts
  • Al (Cofounder), Dion (VP Game Design & Mathematics), Alex (Designer) and Joe (Sr. Producer) worked together at WMS Gaming
  • Dan (Lead Frontend Engineer) and Corey (Sr. Frontend Engineer) worked together at Bottle Rocket
  • Steve (Lead QA Engineer) and Harry (QA Engineer) worked together at Bioware”

What are some of the goals that the team has in creating a “Social Mobile Casino” product?

“First, we want to create a truly “social” social casino. We want to create the most authentic gaming experience in terms of the player’s emotional roller-coaster, which really means giving them huge wins. We also want to effectively compete with DoubleDown, BigFish and Caesars. We’re building an extensive analytics and multivariate test framework, so there’s no hiding behind 1-2 year launch schedules where you simply build what you think is cool without regard to the players’ desires.

On the tech side, we’re using Unity on the front-end and Node.js and Socket.IO on the back-end, so if you lean nerd, we’re about as much fun as you can get. Even QA has automated just about everything about the build and test process.

Bottom line – we’re a place where if you want to really test your skills, we’ll give you the opportunity.”

What are some of the most unique aspects of the studio that you’d want potential candidates to be aware of?

“The company provides candidates with the opportunities of a startup — e.g., to have their voices heard, their ideas implemented and to make a difference.”

Are you guys planning to work on multiple titles concurrently, or just one?

“We’ll be simultaneously working on multiple games of chance (slots, slot tournaments, video poker, bingo, blackjack), and games of skill (poker), but all within the Golden Sand Casino app.”

Any word on when the beta might be released, or is that still under wraps?

“Very, very soon!”

Thanks to Drew and the NHN team for answering our questions!