Quick Brief on South Korea’s Mobile Game Market

Quick Brief on South Korea’s Mobile Game Market

In the beginning, South Korean video game culture was a crazy hybrid of its big brother China and its very rich brother Japan. Though today, Korea has built their own gaming style and have the deepest and longest life of mobile gaming compared to others in Asia. Korea has also created itself as the most internet connected country in the world and with a saturation of well over 100% using mobile phones, it’s a market that needs attention.

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As TestBird enters G-Star, Let’s look at a brief summary of the Korean mobile gaming industry today and the companies that are involved. Let’s start with the facts:

Facts

In NewZoo’s latest research:

  • Over 25.2 million people are gaming on their mobile phone (about 49% of the South Korea’s total population)
  • 55% of gamers will spend money on games, spending about $290 per player per year.
  • Estimated $4 billion in revenue for this year, fourth in the world
  • But a very low growth rate of 2.6% for the next 3 years

Koreans love their phones and with an estimated 110% penetration rate by Research and Markets, this has huge potential for game companies. With over 20 million using smartphones and having 3G/LTE and Wi-Fi pretty much throughout the country, downloading and playing mobile games on a network seems to be zero issue.

Mobile Companies in Korea

Samsung – As one of South Korea’s greatest companies. In 1995, the company moved themselves from cheaper home electronics into high-end computers, TVs, and mobile phones. The company is now the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile phones.

LG – Formally Goldstar, LG has been the main competitor for Samsung since the early years. It was one of the first companies to grow in the early 20th century in Korea and has gaining growth in the Korean and American markets with their newest phones.

Top Korean Game Companies in Mobile

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Nexon – Nexon is one of the biggest internet game companies in Korea with classic online games Ragnarok, Kart Racer, and Maple Story. Though it continues to work with internet games FIFA, Dungeon Fighter Online and others, it is continuing to grow in the mobile market.

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NetMarble – They are the kings of mobile currently using Kakao, the leading instant messaging company in Korea, to help advertise their games. Like Nexon, they started as online games and have moved to mobile games. They currently have six games in the top ten grossing games for Android compared to one for Nexon.

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Webzen – An MMORPG creation company, they are one of many in the early PC industry of Korea to implement the Free to Play model with micropayments. This has now become the norm for all of the mobile industry. Their largest game, MU Online, an online MMORPG, has been popular in Korea as well as China for years and now has a mobile counterpart.

Gamevil – One of the earliest Korean companies to find success before and throughout the iOS and Android era, the company is well known for its quality in games directed towards Western audiences as well as in Asian markets.

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Com2us – A quiet but powerful company, Com2us built an MMORPG for mobile in 2008 and continues to surprise many with its innovation and diversity in their games. Today the company focuses mostly on RPG and Sports titles.

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NCSOFT – As the most well-known of Korean companies in the west with Guild Wars, Linage, and City of Heroes series, NCSOFT entered the market later than others in 2011. It continues to be a powerful player in the Korean game industry.

Kakao’s influence on the market

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A final note about the game market in Korea today. In Asia, social networking and messaging companies have added crossover support for games to allow gamers to share scores, big wins, etc. to friends just as you would on your Facebook wall. Companies in China like Tencent’s Wechat and Momo have are also using their networks to promote games and have seen great growth in activity from their users.

KakaoTalk is the most used messaging app in Korea allowing you to chat, get a taxi, news, shopping and a whole lot more. The company has over 48 million active monthly users at the beginning of the year and $55 million in revenue from KakaoGames alone last year. KakaoGames, a platform that integrates games into KakaoTalk is the leading gaming platform a must to be a part of if you want traction in South Korea.

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