‘Game firms face con­tin­ued bar­ri­ers in China’

The Korea Times - - FINANCE - By Jun Ji-hye [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

Korean game com­pa­nies will con­tinue to suf­fer dif­fi­cul­ties in ex­port­ing their prod­ucts to China next year as the gov­ern­ment there is not ex­pected to re­sume is­su­ing per­mits for games any­time soon, ac­cord­ing to a re­search re­port, Fri­day.

Wi Jong-hyun, a pro­fes­sor at Chung-Ang Uni­ver­sity and the head of the Korea Game So­ci­ety, said in the re­port that Bei­jing has been car­ry­ing out a game quota sys­tem.

Wi added it will con­tinue to put pri­or­ity on Chi­nese games in is­su­ing per­mits over for­eign ones.

“Even if the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment re­sumes is­su­ing per­mits for Korean games, the num­ber will be very lim­ited,” he said.

Ex­ports of Korean games to China have been blocked since March last year when the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment sus­pended is­su­ing per­mits as part of the coun­try’s protest of Korea’s de­ploy­ment of a U.S. Ter­mi­nal High Alti­tude Area De­fense (THAAD) sys­tem.

Pres­i­dent Moon Jae-in’s visit to China last De­cem­ber raised ex­pec­ta­tions that Bei­jing would re­sume giv­ing out per­mits as at the time some of­fi­cials of game com­pa­nies were in­cluded in an eco­nomic del­e­ga­tion ac­com­pany- ing him.

But no Korean games have ob­tained a per­mit since March.

China is the top game mar­ket in the world — the scale of on­line and mo­bile games in 2017 was es­ti­mated to be about $29 bil­lion, ac­cord­ing to mar­ket re­searcher Euromon­i­tor In­ter­na­tional.

About 10 Korean game firms have ap­plied to Bei­jing for per­mits.

Net­mar­ble Games ap­plied for “Lin­eage 2: Rev­o­lu­tion” in De­cem­ber 2016, while NCSOFT did so for “Lin­eage Red Knights” in Jan­uary 2017.

Blue­hole is also wait­ing for a per­mit for “Play­erUn­known’s Bat­tle­grounds” that was a huge hit on the global game mar­ket last year.

Pro­fes­sor Wi claimed that the THAAD is­sue was not af­fect­ing cul­tural re­la­tions be­tween Korea and China so much these days, say­ing Bei­jing ap­peared to be tak­ing a more flex­i­ble at­ti­tude on ex­changes be­tween the two coun­tries.

But Bei­jing is still hold­ing back on Korean games as they have been hugely pop­u­lar on the Chi­nese mar­ket in the past, Wi said.

“Korean game firms need to uti­lize an es­ports area as an in­di­rect method to en­ter the Chi­nese mar­ket,” he said. “They need to nur­ture es­ports based on whole­some games with less vi­o­lent and sex­u­ally sug­ges­tive con­tent.”

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