Game mak­ers shut out of Chi­nese mar­ket

The Korea Times - - BUSINESS - By Yoon Sung-won

Chi­nese mo­bile and com­puter games are in­creas­ingly gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity in Korea whereas Korean games haven’t even been able to en­ter China this year, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try sources, Fri­day.

Ac­cord­ing to Google Play, the dom­i­nant mo­bile game sup­plier in Korea, five Chi­nese-made mo­bile games — Sun­born Net­work Tech­nol­ogy’s “Girls Front­line,” NetEase Games’ “On­my­oji,” I Got Games’ “Lord Mo­bile,” Loong En­ter­tain­ment’s “Power: The Rulers” and Tienma’s “MU Ori­gin” — have been ranked on the top 20 gross­ing chart this week. Be­sides, more Chi­nese mo­bile games such as “Age of Ring” and “King of Valor” have also been named as pop­u­lar ti­tles.

“Chi­nese game com­pa­nies have heav­ily in­vested in the mo­bile sec­tor and have de­vel­oped ti­tles on the back of re­li­able fi­nanc­ing,” a game in­dus­try source said. “They have al­ready proven them­selves suc­cess­ful in the ex­ten­sive do­mes­tic mar­ket. Now it is stupid to be­lieve that Chi­nese mo­bile games lag be­hind Korean games in tech­nol­ogy and en­ter­tain­ment.”

In par­tic­u­lar, “Girls Front­line” had once been ranked No. 2 on Google’s top gross­ing mo­bile games chart here, where mul­ti­ple Korean ma­jor games such as NCSOFT’s “Lin­eage M” and Net­mar­ble Games’ “Lin­eage 2: Rev­o­lu­tion” have al­ready es­tab­lished solid mar­ket dom­i­nance.

“Girls Front­line de­picts di­verse firearms in the form of girls and re­al­ized the con­cept in a game sys­tem that is fa­mil­iar to many Korean game users. At the same time, it does not urge users to spend much on the game com­pared to many Korean mo­bile games. This has been con­sid­ered a key point of its suc­cess,” the source pointed out.

In the mean­time, Korean mo­bile games have re­mained un­able to open in the Chi­nese mar­ket for months. This is be­cause the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has stopped giv­ing per­mis­sion to Korean game firms to launch their games in the coun­try since March, a move highly sus­pected as part of trade re­tal­i­a­tion af­ter Korea’s de­ploy­ment of a THAAD mis­sile de­fense sys­tem on the penin­sula.

Ear­lier this year, NCSOFT and Net­mar­ble Games re­quested the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment for per­mis­sion to re­lease “Lin­eage: Red Knights” and “Lin­eage 2: Rev­o­lu­tion,” re­spec­tively. But they haven’t re­ceived it.

In re­sponse to the loss of the Chi­nese mar­ket, Korean game firms are chang­ing their global mar­ket strat­egy and turn­ing to other mar­kets such as North Amer­ica, Europe, Ja­pan and South­east Asia.

Net­mar­ble Games is push­ing to launch “Lin­eage 2: Rev­o­lu­tion” in the Western mar­ket on the back of its suc­cess in Korea and Ja­pan.

“Lin­eage 2: Rev­o­lu­tion is sched­uled to be re­leased in North Amer­ica, Europe, Ocea­nia and the Mid­dle East, fol­low­ing Asian mar­kets in the fourth quar­ter,” a Net­mar­ble Games of­fi­cial said. To this end, the com­pany will par­tic­i­pate in the U.S. game event TwitchCon 2017 in Cal­i­for­nia later this month and pro­mote the mo­bile game.

NCSOFT will also launch its mo­bile game “Lin­eage M” in Tai­wan within the year, tap­ping into the pop­u­lar­ity of its orig­i­nal in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty of the com­puter ver­sion of “Lin­eage” in the coun­try. Launched in June, “Lin­eage M” has stayed on top of Google Play’s top gross­ing mo­bile games chart for the last three months.

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