A Bridge to Korea's Gaming Market

Click to Dynamic Korea HOME... LINKS: ....Korean Stars Image gallery. Stars Video Archives. Photo Puzzles of Korean Stars. Video Guide to Korea. Beautiful Korean Autum Season Photos. Traditional Clothes. Traditional House & Architecture. Traditional Dancing. Mountains. Foods. Korean Celebrities.... Art.. Music.. Society.. Future

A Bridge to Korea's Gaming Market


The MMO and mobile games markets in Korea have been big revenue generators. Because Korea has been a leader in these areas, the Korea Culture & Content Agency (KOCCA) is helping to spread awareness of the opportunities Korea presents to American companies and vice versa. We speak with KOCCA USA marketing director Alexis Wallrich and Gravity Interactive marketing manager David Kim about the Korean gaming market.

The Korean gaming market is huge and constantly getting bigger, especially in the massively multiplayer online and mobile games sectors. Figures from Datamonitor show that the global online game industry generated nearly $2 billion from subscription revenues in 2003, with Asia contributing approximately $1.4 billion, which is about 70 percent of the total subscription revenue.

Korea in particular has been a dominant force in online gaming largely because of the country's high-levels of Internet penetration, and the growth of Internet cafes that were equipped with super high-speed networks of over 10MB capacity. According to IDC, the Korean online game market is the largest online game market in the Asia/Pacific region based on online game subscription revenues. The Korean online game market grew by more than 37 percent in 2003 with aggregate subscription revenues of $397.1 million. By 2008, subscription revenues in Korea are expected to grow to $586 million.

Cross-cultural bridge

To help spread awareness of Korea's content and to help forge direct associations between producers and distributors worldwide, not just in games, but also in animation, comics, licensed characters, music, mobile & Internet content and edu-tainment, KOCCA?the Korea Culture & Content Agency?was established in 2001 by the Korean Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Alexis Wallrich, KOCCA USA's marketing director, explained to us that under the Korean Ministry of Culture there are several agencies, each dedicated to different sectors. For games, there's Game Infinity and KOCCA has been able to help them promote the Korean game sector in other regions of the world. The goal of KOCCA, says Wallrich, is to act as a cross-cultural bridge so that Korean content companies and American companies can exchange ideas as well as business.

"We really operate behind the industry rather than doing business per se. The way we work is to provide marketing support to both Korean companies coming this way or American companies going to Korea. We also help with seminars, exhibitions, B2B conferences, targeted marketing initiatives, funding programs, and showcases on a regular basis of Korean content," explained Wallrich.

E3 symposium

Because many of the Korean developers aren't that big and don't have large budgets, KOCCA has also helped in getting them set up for E3. And this year at E3, KOCCA has teamed with Game Infinity (aka The Korea Game Development & Promotion Institute) to present a special symposium called "Global Gaming: Korea Challenges the World." On Wednesday, May 18 from 6:00PM-8:30PM at the Wilshire Grand in Los Angeles, executives from five Korean companies at the forefront of online and mobile gaming will share their unique insights into the future of online and mobile gaming in the U.S. and around the globe. The panel includes Robert Garriott, President, NCsoft USA, Richard Kim, CSO, Gravity Interactive, James Wee, Executive Vice President, SkyZone Entertainment, Kyu Chang Lee, General Manager, GameVil, Inc. and U-Jin Jeon, Director, Mirinae Corporation. Richard Aihoshi, Editor-in-Chief of IGN.com will act as moderator.

Societal reinforcement

So why has Korea been such a force in the online gaming sector? Aside from the advanced infrastructure, high numbers of Internet penetration in the domestic market (Korea has more than 11 million broadband users), and explosion of Internet cafes, online gaming was also seen as a way to avoid piracy, which is unfortunately something that is rampant in many Asian markets. "Console games and selling software leaves you more vulnerable to piracy. If you're going straight to online, you cut out a huge amount of potential piracy," said Wallrich.

Korea's society has also reinforced its mobile gaming market because, unlike in the U.S., many citizens take public transportation on a regular basis rather than drive, and as such there are more opportunities to play mobile games. In fact, the cell phone has become such an important item to have on you in Korea that many retailers are beginning to implement devices that will let consumers pay for products straight from their phones, bypassing credit cards and cash, Wallrich told us.

Cultural phenomenon

David Kim, Marketing Manager for Gravity Interactive (Ragnarok Online), explained to GameDAILY BIZ that the success of the MMO and mobile markets in Korea is very much a cultural phenomenon as well. "From a Westerner's standpoint, we have a very different perception of games than people in Asia do... because the Internet and broadband gaming has really permeated society in Asia, you have people that play games not necessarily for fun but for other reasons," he said. Kim went on to mention that a gamer in Korea could be anyone from a 50-year-old businessman trying to blow off steam after a hard day's work to a teenage girl who is into the game more for the social aspect than the game itself.

Playing MMOs in Korea and other parts of Asia is also done very often for status reasons. "The sense of achievement and having a higher level character in a game can be a very big deal to many people?looking different, being more powerful, etc.," Kim explained.

As for the mobile market specifically, Kim attributes the growth in this sector to the fact that Korean consumers "are fashion-conscious and are very much up on the latest and newest things." He pointed out that fashion in Korea can change a lot over short periods of time and that, in a sense, that extends to cell phones. People want to upgrade to always have the most stylish and fully featured handset. In Korea, Kim told us the need to be trendy and stylish has helped to push the mobile sector forward. "For people who want to stand out and have the tools to maintain a vast social network, technology plays a large part in that," said Kim.


Click to Dynamic Korea HOME... LINKS: ....Korean Stars Image gallery. Stars Video Archives. Photo Puzzles of Korean Stars. Video Guide to Korea. Beautiful Korean Autum Season Photos. Traditional Clothes. Traditional House & Architecture. Traditional Dancing. Mountains. Foods. Korean Celebrities.... Art.. Music.. Society.. Future