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Korean Game Makers Advances Abroad

Posted April. 01, 2003 22:35,   


In 1998, when NCsoft released an online role playing game called "Lineage," characterized by vivid and graphic scenes, online games were usually based on text.

At that time NCsoft targeted its sales toward Internet cafes that popped up here and there. By the end of 1999, its simultaneous visitors reached 1,000. By the end of 2000, the figure rose to 10,000 people and by the end of 2001, the figure exceeded 100,000, becoming one of the most popular online games in the world. Successive games such as "Fortress" and "Muonline" also secured millions of subscribers. The online game industry is emerging as an industry underpinning the Korean economy.

In its 2003 outlook on domestic online game industry, the Korea Game Development & Promotion Institute estimates that the industry will grow by 25% in 2003 to an industry worth some 553.1 billion won. The entire game market including video games, mobile games, and PC games will reach 4 trillion 124.3 billion won.

As the local gaming market is already full of game publishers, such companies are turning to overseas markets or they are trying to transform into multi-entertainment production companies.

NCsoft, an online game maker that advanced to Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong, and China, has earned 20 billion won in loyalty out of 50 billion won in net profit last year. The company once led the Korean fever of the game makers as Lineage was ranked the first in Taiwan. The game maker has been running studios of local employees in Austin, Seattle, and Los Angeles, in order to advance to the American market.

CCR, known for the game Fortress, made a hit with 35 million members in China. The company is trying to advance to the Japanese market by establishing a joint venture with the local game maker Bandai. President Yoon Seok-ho said, “Since we designed the game, we have dreamed about the global market. Now the dream is coming true.”

Webzen, about to list on the Kosdaq, has 250,000 Chinese members in October last year with the online Mu game service.

In the meantime, Netmarble is transforming into an entertainment portal providing movies and music along with games. It has been an online agency of singers such as god and JTL since last year. The company also has an online movie theater that provides 1,000 high-quality movies. “In the future, the game industry will be led by companies offering the contents that gamers want,” said President Bang Jun-hyuk.

Seong-Yub Ra cpu@donga.com