With his mobile games already megahits in South Korea, Jun-hyuk Bang hopes to win over America, too. THE LATEST EPIC SAGA to capture the world’s attention unfolds at fingertip speed: The mobile game Marvel Future Fight boasts a complex narrative set across alternative dimensions and an ever-increasing cast with such comic book A-listers as Iron Man and Spider-man. Since its April 2015 debut it has been downloaded more than 50 million times and cracked the top ten in 118 countries, including the U.S., Britain and South Korea.
Its Korean success isn’t a surprise. Marvel Future Fight was created by Seoul-based Netmarble Games, the brainchild of Jun-hyuk Bang, 47. Netmarble has developed hits such as the creature-capture adventure Monster Taming and Seven Knights, a mix of Norse myth and Game of Thrones. Bang knows how to spin a good tale in his games and his life story: He has been compared to Steve Jobs, given that both men left tech companies they founded (for health reasons, in Bang’s case), only to return and revive them. Bang founded Netmarble in 2000, departed six years later and came back in 2011, shifting its focus from desktop to mobile: “I saw the [increase in the] number of people using smartphones in Korea and felt this is going to be the new culture, more than just a phone.”
With his 32% stake in Netmarble worth an estimated $1.2 billion, he is eyeing the U.S. as his next growth market. He’s banking on his Marvel partnership to help, as well as the $130 million Netmarble paid last July for a majority of Los Angeles-based SGN Games. It’s a departure for Bang in terms of geography—and style. SGN’S biggest hit so far: the simply plotted but aptly named Cookie Jam, a Candy Crush-esque baked-goods game.