Today, let us talk about the issues and challenges you can face bringing a game to Korea. You might think that just placing your game in the iTunes Store or Google Play Store in Korea is all you need to get a piece of the $4 billion pie, but it takes a lot more effort to enter any mobile space in Asia.
Before your game is even allowed to be shown in the marketplaces in Korea, by law, it must be scored by the GCRB (Game Content Rating Board) or GRAC (Game Rating and Administration Committee) for games intended for 18+.
Well South Korea has had a pretty rocky relationship with games since the advent of PC games. Stories of gamers living in internet cafes, increase in addiction to games, and a few stories involving the death of gamers or children of addicted gamers were in newspapers all over the world. The government decided that something needed to be done and released the “Game Industry Promotion Act” that make it a law that all games must be rated. This includes mobile games.
So include an additional budget for these costs when entering the country and be prepared for a lot of red tape. Here is the costs according to the Game Rating and Administration Committee:
If you want to know what the ratings are, Google has a list of Korean and other ratings from other countries at this link.
Play Nice With Messaging Companies
Instant messaging is a big thing in East Asia as SMS has been historically cheaper to use than phone calls. This continued to grow with instant messaging apps like QQ Messenger, ICQ, and MSN messenger being added to phones. This has now grown to today’s more popular messaging apps WeChat, LINE, and KakaoTalk taking over the Korean market.
Though many games are downloaded by Google Play store and iTunes store, most Android games are moving towards messaging apps as we discussed in my last story. Messaging apps now are including platforms that allow people to share scores, big wins, send invites to friends and other social media postings on the messaging services. It’s like what Facebook does with their wall postings and messages.
This growth in social gaming on mobile devices doesn’t seem to be stopping and growth is fast. KakaoGames made $55 million in revenue over the past year adding their social platform to their games. So if you want to get popular fast, you need to get in contact with these companies fast.
Gracia Monica of One Sky App has a great blog post on the details of working with these companies. I highly recommend reading her blog post for added study.
An issue that isn’t overlooked but can really catch up to you is localizing your game for the Korean market.
As you might have seen on the pricing chart for game ratings, costs increase when a game isn’t in Korean, so localization is a big issue. In Gracia’s blog post, she includes a few examples of advertising and language localization that could be issues you need to conquer.
But, another issues that TestBird wants to remind you about is the issue of phone compatibility. With so many phones available in Korea that are either from their home country or other neighboring countries, it can be quite difficult to test games on different phones for compatibility living outside these regions. This issue is made worse when many of these phones are impossible to export to developers or just too expensive for a studio’s budget to purchase, secure, and then replace in 3 years with the next generation of phones.
TestBird understands this issue and is working with Korean companies and research in the Korean mobile market to allow developers the use of our mobile compatibility testing on the most popular mobile devices being used in South Korea available in our lab. This allows developers to have the confidence in resolving issues with an app before it’s released in the marketplaces.