AxE: Alliance vs Empire Undergoes “Culturization” for Western Release

During a hands-on event with Nexon Red’s upcoming mobile MMORPG AxE: Alliance vs Empire, Noisy Pixel had the chance to learn more about the company’s localization process and how they plan to release the game that includes some changes fans in the west might not want to hear.

Daehwon Kim, CEO of Nexon Red and Hun Im, Lead Game Designer of Nexon Red, shared how Nexon Red is making a number of changes to the western release of AxE, and referred to the process as “culturization” instead of localization. Nexon Red is changing the look of AxE’s costumes and characters for the west in hopes that the game will appeal to the western market more. However, more surprisingly, the team has also altered the design of character models altogether.

Get a good look at the changes in character models by looking at the two images below — the first is a promotional art image for the eastern release, the second is a promotional art image for the western release:

Axe: Alliance vs Empire

Axe: Alliance vs Empire

The developer went on to add, “Because of our past experiences with previous titles on different platforms, we decided to take localization a step further and did all the changes [in AxE] because we thought it would be best.”

In addition, the developer also mentioned how mobile games generally have one global build, but they wanted to instead, release multiple builds of AxE for certain markets — saying, “As you can see, the build in Japan and Korea is vastly different from the build that will release in the west. If this [AxE] was a more simple game, then there would be just one build, but this is much more of a hardcore game with a lot more serious content. We wanted to make sure that AxE is a fit for the hardcore gamers in each region, and that the game satisfies all players.”

This brings up an issue that many overseas developers are encountering when trying to get their games picked up in the west. Generally, these types of games receive backlash regardless of what they do with their product. Usually, the issue is that releasing a game as is will result in media and critical backlash which will limit the player base, but altering the content in a game will end affecting the overall experience for players.

Representation in games has been a hot topic, recently. Despite this, gender locked classes in games, including in MMORPGs, continue to be prevalent. Similar to the already released Japan and Korea version’s of AxE, AxE‘s western release will also have gender locked classes. When asked about this, the developer elaborated on why this feature was left unchanged for the western build of AxE: 

The biggest reason comes from the character model designs themselves. With the designs, we wanted to make sure that each design highlighted distinct and unique characteristics for certain classes, which is why we decided to not have both genders, and why we locked certain character models with a class. We are used to the Asian market style where the whole choice of gender is not a big issue, so we decided not to edit out the [gender locked classes] feature.”

The developer stated that there are currently no plans to unlock gender locked classes, and instead, they plan to add more classes to the game after it releases in the west. If there is a high demand for the feature to be changed in AxE‘s western version, then the developer mentioned that they will take the feedback into consideration.

 AxE: Alliance vs Empire will be releasing soon on iOS and Android for the west.


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Brad Crespo

Editor-in-Chief - On a quest to play as many new games as possible while trying to finish an endless backlog.