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David Lee

Publishing executive

South Korea-based online publisher Nexon just might have found the solution to the threat of piracy: Offer the games for free.

The company pioneered the hugely successful free-to-play business model in the late ’90s following the success of “The Kingdom of the Winds,” the first graphical MMORPG (massive multiplayer online role-playing game).

Now, under Nexon Japan CEO Lee, the company is setting its sights on a new market with its first North American-targeted title, “Sugar Rush.” He also helped introduce an innovative system to generate revenue through microtransactions — hardcore players purchase items to create an avatar identity using “Nexon Cash,” a virtual currency available at Target, 7-Eleven and other retail outlets. That’s one way for the company to cover its operating costs, as could new partnerships with MTV Networks and Nintendo.

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