South Korea is home to one of the most advanced digital game markets in the world, ranking fourth in terms of game revenue by country after China, the US and Japan as of 2015. Fueling the growth are Korea’s biggest game companies including Nexon, Netmarble Games, NCSoft, and Smilegate — major content exporters that generate a significant part of their revenue from global markets such as China and Europe.
Led by these players, the local game industry grew 7.5 percent on-year to 10.72 trillion won ($9.62 billion) in 2015 and is expected to have grown another 5.6 percent to 11.32 trillion won in 2016, according to a 2016 game industry report from the Korea Creative Content Agency.
To retain their growth momentum, Korean game makers are shifting their focus to mobile games targeting worldwide audiences, partnering with global game studios and publishers for improved localization as well as building new games utilizing the intellectual property of popular games already familiar to users.
Korea’s leading online game company Nexon, listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, has set out to drive up its global business, which makes up around 60 percent of its revenue.
The firm said it would focus on retaining the success of hit online games like “Dungeon and Fighter” in China, its biggest export destination while partnering with overseas publishers to offer successfully localized games for different markets.
Nexon is also set to launch an array of online and mobile games utilizing the intellectual property of famous contents and video games including “Lego,” “Final Fantasy XI,” “Titanfall” and “Need for Speed: Edge” this year.
Netmarble Games, Korea’s biggest mobile game company, has announced ambitious plans to expand its global presence and become one of the world’s top five game publishers by 2020. It hopes to further raise the overseas portion of its revenue, which reached 51 percent in 2016.
The Korean mobile game giant is preparing to raise up to 2.66 trillion won in an initial public offering next month, with plans to use the newly generated capital to fund its global expansion. Netmarble founder Bang Jun-hyuk recently announced plans to launch 17 new mobile games, with aims to make role-playing games more mainstream in Western markets where strategy games dominate. To raise its international presence and diversify, Netmarble has been making strategic acquisitions, buying US game maker Kabam’s Vancouver studio last year and puzzle game developer SGN, now named Jam City, in 2015.
Going global is a vision shared by NCSoft, the developer of the hit online PC role-playing game “Lineage.” Overseas sales currently account for around 38 percent of NCSoft’s revenue, it said. NCSoft has divided its strategy for the Korean and global market. It has set up independent game development studios overseas tasked with developing localized games catered to varying markets, it said.
These include NCSoft’s Seattle-based studio which developed the hit online role-playing game “Guild War” and the recently-opened Iron Tiger Studios in Silicon Valley that develops mobile games designed to appeal to North American gamers. Meanwhile, Smilegate, the developer of the hit online shooting game “Crossfire,” plans to launch diverse new online and mobile games utilizing the intellectual property of its flagship game to retain its growth. The firm’s revenue driver is China, where “Crossfire” has enjoyed particularly high popularity.
Source: KOCCA, Koogle