‘Kartrider’ still young and racing full-throttle


Kartrider’s main character Dao (Nexon Korea)

Once beloved and called Korea’s representative online multiplayer racing game, “Kartrider” seeks to further go full throttle with enhanced user interfaces and a few new surprises to regain the former glory of its nascent years.

It has been 11 years since the country’s first racing game with cute characters was launched and created a stir and loyal fan base.

Cho Jae-yun, Nexon Korea’s point man in charge of Kartrider, said it owes a debt of gratitude to these fans, who not only have kept the game going but also shared their feedback and ideas to improve it. More than 30 percent of its gamers are female.

It is rare to see a game that has lasted for more than a decade in Korea especially amid the rapidly changing Internet landscape.

But Cho feels that “Kartrider” is still young and has a lot to offer to both loyal and new gamers.

Cho Jae-yun, leader of Nexon’s Kartrider unit

“In human years, the 11-year-old Kartrider would be in elementary school. It is still young,” said Cho, 34, who has been part of the Kartrider team since 2008, creating about 30 characters.

“The fans have made the ‘Kartrider’ game. What we at Nexon did was just provide a playground for them to let their imaginations run free, and share information and create related content.”

Fans have suggested ideas for new character designs, and even helped create one such as the Japanese maneki-neko lucky cat driver, Cho noted. The popularity of “Kartrider” and its main characters including Dao led to the creation of other games such as “BubbleFighter.”

Fans have also created and uploaded videos that looked like an automobile advertisement featuring the performance capabilities of the game’s karts such as in drifting and winding turns.

There are currently e-sports that live-stream races in the game.  

Kim Dong-hyun, business project manager

“These other platforms will spur the game’s sustainability,” said Kim Dong-hyun, business project manager.

And now Nexon, the country’s largest game developer, seeks to make a second leap in “Kartrider” not only by constantly communicating with its users, but also making adjustments and variables to its gaming environment enabling new users to narrow their performance gaps with long-time players.

“We are looking to climb back up toward the ‘peak’ we enjoyed in 2005 and 2006 when Kartrider was the No. 1 online game with services that can fill in the missing gaps,” Cho said.

“Kartrider has been seeing a decline in terms of number of users since its heyday amid a slew of mobile games.”

Such services include matching players new to the game to race together, and providing a training ground where they can practice their driving so that they can later compete with skilled players.

By Park Hyong-ki ([email protected])