Global gaming giant Nexon founder Kim Jung-ju passed away at age 54 on Feb. 28 in Hawaii. Photo courtesy of Nexon

Suspicions rise over gaming giant’s future

Nexon founder Kim Jung-ju passed away at age 54 in Hawaii of the United States on Feb. 28, according to the global gaming giant on March 2.

The company did not disclose an exact cause of the unexpected death but said that the online game icon had been undergoing treatment for depression, and his condition had seemingly worsened of late.

Kim, whose English name was Jay, is survived by his wife and two teenage daughters.

“It is difficult to express the tragedy of losing our friend and mentor Jay Kim, a man who had an immeasurably positive impact on the world,” Nexon CEO Owen Mahoney said in a statement.

“As a founder and visionary leader, Jay encouraged those around him to ignore the skeptics and trust their creative instincts. He will be deeply missed by his Nexon family and many friends,” he said. 

Kim set up Nexon in 1994 to release the world’s first massive multiplayer online role-playing game, called The Kingdome of the Winds.

The corporation also came up with such megahits as KartRider, Dungeon & Fighter, MapleStory, and Sudden Attack. Presently, up to 35 games of Nexon are available across the globe.

Nexon is now based in Tokyo, where the game publisher was listed in 2011. The IPO made Kim one of the richest men in Korea as his wealth is estimated to surpass $10 billion.

In 2019, Kim tried to sell a controlling stake in Nexon, but the attempt fell apart because of disagreement over the price.

CEOs in the gaming industry paid condolences to the late pioneer of the free-to-play game model. Even politicians of Korea paid their last respects to him.